VR Baseball Training Offers Quality At-Bats

VR Baseball Training Offers Quality At-Bats
December 31, 2016

The Saitama Seibu Lions’ Kazuhisa Makina is a submariner who has an extreme style of pitching in Japan. To say the ball is difficult to pick up for a hitter would be an understatement.


But the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles are looking to virtual reality in order to solve Makina and other pitchers who they might have trouble facing.


Rakuten infielder Ginji Akaminai was recently seen facing Makina in VR while testing out the coaching system from NTT DATA that the team will use in the 2017 season. The VR coaching system was developed in collaboration with Rakuten and announced in September.


Rakuten hitters used the head-mounted display to participate in trials that tested virtual pitchers’ characteristics and pitches. For the hitters, it’s a virtual trip to the batter’s box that feels realistic due to the virtual pitchers’ repertoire.


How is the system able to replicate pitching behavior? It computes pitching data from Rakuten games.


“When you use this, everything is different from the first at-bat,” Rakuten infielder Toshiaki Imae told Nikkei Asian Review last month after participating in the trials.


NTT DATA plans to offer the VR coaching system to Major League Baseball.


“The U.S. market is huge, and our goal is to convince MLB to use the system, not only for batting practice by the players, but also as a service for fans at the parks,” a department director at NTT Data told Nikkei Asian Review.

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