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As spring approaches and we head into baseball season, many coaches around the country are already preparing for another year on the diamond. In working with younger pitchers to get their arm strength up, the importance of a good baseball radar gun to track progress and measure pitch speed cannot be overstated. Previously coaches may only able to track pitch location; with a baseball radar gun they will be able to measure speed, which is a crucial component for all pitchers. If you’re a baseball coach and you want to find an effective tool to track your team’s progress, it is essential that you find yourself a good baseball radar gun that can accurately measure pitch speeds.
Is A Radar Gun Right For Me?
A common question asked by parents is how young is too young to introduce the use of baseball radar guns? Before committing to purchase a baseball radar gun, a buyer should make sure that they actually need one, as not everyone should get a baseball radar gun. For amateur players or parents of young pitchers, you may not need a baseball radar gun and should instead focus on other player training tools to improve mechanics and strength. For younger pitchers, pitch velocity and speed seems to be all that is talked about; however, control, location and the mental part of pitching (mound presence) are all things that must be learned before paying attention to pitch speed.
Still, a coach is fooled if he turns a blind eye to pitch speed, as it really does matter once you move up through the amateur levels into collegiate ball. Pitching is ultimately about how fast and hard you can throw the ball, and any coach who wishes to take his players to the next level will need to invest in a good baseball radar gun.
The multi-functionality of baseball radar guns makes it a great tool for any coach that is committed to helping his or her players improve. Although the most common (and primary) use for baseball radar guns comes in the pitching cage, coaches are starting to realize that this is not the only use for baseball radar guns. Coaches can also use them to track batted ball exit velocities, which is a great indicator of a batter’s ability to make good contact with the ball. Exit speed on a batted ball is one of the best predictors of how well a batter is squaring up the ball and driving it properly. This will help a coach work with a player to improve their swing mechanics and weight distribution as they drive through the ball.
Another use for the baseball radar gun is to measure a player’s speed on the basepaths. This is especially important for higher level youth leagues where players are allowed to steal bases. Often a fraction of a second can make the difference between an out or safe call, so coaches need to measure not only the speed of a baserunner but also the acceleration. A baseball radar gun can give a coach these readings and help train players to take better reads and improve their baserunning techniques.
Product Reviews – Which Is Right For You?
Here are five options for baseball radar guns in 2018:
The Pocket Radar Ball Coach is one of the most accurate radar guns available today and one of the highest-rated radar guns over at Amazon. It enables instant feedback for coaches to help with pitching and hitting, giving valuable help to players with real-time results. One of the great things about the Pocket Radar Ball Coach is that it comes at an affordable price without sacrificing too much accuracy.
- Small size fits great in your pocket – comes with a case that clips to your belt.
- Fairly accurate readings.
- ‘Constant-on’ mode enables you to focus on coaching.
- Excellent customer service responsiveness.
- Must be at the right angle to get an accurate reading.
- Takes a bit of practice to get used to it.
- Accuracy not as precise as high-end radar guns
The Pocket Radar Ball Coach comes at the fraction of the price as a high-end Stalker, the undisputed industry leader, but accuracy and precision are right up there.
The Bushnell Velocity Speed radar gun is a great entry market offering for coaches at lower levels looking for an accurate reading of their pitcher’s throws. The simple to use, easy design means it is a short learning curve for any coach and player. Just press, hold and release to get the reading. One drawback is that you will have to be in direct line of sight of the pitch in order to get an accurate reading – veering to either the left or right will throw off results.
- Simple design (only two buttons) makes it incredibly easy to use.
- Affordable price.
- Accurate readings within one mile per hour.
- LCD screen is easy to read with large text.
- Target must be in a straight line from the radar gun (i.e. you must stand directly behind the catcher.
- Short range.
A great choice that doesn’t break the bank, Bushnell has scored a winner here with their baseball radar gun.
The baseball radar gun from SKLZ is actually a multi-sport radar gun, but many have tried it out for baseball with varying results. The low price tag makes this a worthwhile consideration for amateur coaches or those not looking to spend too much money on a radar gun. Still, you get what you pay for as the readings can range greatly with varying levels of accuracy. There are times when it works great, other times when it does not.
- Lowest price baseball radar gun available on the market.
- Adequate for amateur level players and coaches.
- Fairly easy to operate and understand.
- Small and fairly portable.
- Poor accuracy and inconsistent readings.
- Need to press the buttons fairly hard.
- Works only when ball comes directly toward the radar gun.
An adequate low-priced option for anyone looking for a beginner one. If you run a casual team or work with younger players, this option is more than suitable for your coaching.
The undisputed king of the baseball radar gun world. Stalker is one of the oldest names around, and here the Stalker Pro 2 baseball radar gun improves upon the original, leaving no doubt why it is the preferred radar gun for scouts at the major league level. Be forewarned though – owning a Stalker will cost you an arm and a leg.
- Used by professionals at all levels.
- Accurate to within one mile per hour.
- Comes with hard case for carrying.
- Undisputed market leader.
- Expensive and will be over budget for many coaches.
- Large size.
- This level of accuracy is not needed for players from lower levels.
An incredibly accurate baseball radar gun used by all the pros, this definitely is not the radar gun for those on a tight budget. Still, if you can afford it, this is one of the best options out there.
Likely the only baseball radar gun on this list that can challenge the Stalker for the title of best radar gun. Jugs Sports makes the list with a high-priced upper-tier baseball radar gun that advertises itself as even more accurate than the Stalker, and it is starting to gain more traction and use at high school and college teams. The Fast / Last mode enables the coach to see the speed at both the pitcher’s release point (Fast) as well as when the pitch reaches the plate (Last).
- Digital Signal Processing (DSP) technology is actually supposed to be accurate up to 0.5 miles per hour.
- Distance works up to 300 feet.
- Operates in two modes (Trigger and Continuous).
- Has ability to capture speed at both release point as well as at the plate (when the ball reaches the batter)
- Expensive and not for everyone.
- Heavier and bulkier, will not just fit in your pocket.
The jury is still out on whether or not the Jugs baseball radar gun has enough in it’s tank to challenge the Stalker for the market lead, but make no mistake this is an incredibly powerful and accurate radar gun.
Finding the right baseball radar gun for you is no easy feat – take your time to weigh your options and figure out the right choice for you. I would recommend the Bushnell if you are just starting out as it offers a great combination of accurate readings at an affordable price. If and when you are ready to take it to the next level, invest in a Stalker and you’ll be set for life.