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NCPA LaunchBox helps baseball and softball players train using virtual reality
June 8, 2023
DuBOIS, Pa. – For baseball and softball players in Pennsylvania, including those at Penn State DuBois, the offseason months mark a time where skills can dull. For hitters, reading pitches and having your timing locked down are two skills that can deteriorate when they are not used regularly. With that in mind, the North Central Pennsylvania (NCPA) LaunchBox, powered by Penn State DuBois, presented a way for both teams to keep their hitting skills sharp when they aren’t on the field.
In many parts of Pennsylvania, including DuBois, the offseason for baseball and softball teams have several months in which getting on a field is nearly impossible because of cold weather and snow. Combine this fact with time at indoor facilities that are set up to handle batting practice comes at a premium, if they are even available at all in a given area. To fill this gap, Brad Lanshinsky, program director for the NCPA LaunchBox, proposed the idea of using the virtual reality (VR) technology available through the LaunchBox’s Idea Lab to allow student-athletes to practice their hitting indoors in a safe environment without having to travel long distances off campus.
“I feel, with the technological advancements, we are now able to not only educate, but also athletically train students through the use of virtual equipment,” Lashinsky said.
Using Win Reality, a fully immersive VR baseball and softball training system, hitters can attach a control to their own baseball or softball bat and complete batting practice reps against pitchers of all caliber levels. By using VR headsets, players are seeing immersive visualizations and hearing authentic sounds that they would normally hear when hitting during a game. The overall goal is to give each player a realistic experience to hitting like they see on the field during the season.
With multiple training options that go above and beyond a normal batting practice session, combined with various pitching skill levels for both baseball and softball, this technology has given players at Penn State DuBois, and the surrounding community, a great and fun alternative to continue with their batting practices during the months when the weather makes that hard to do.
“Brad was instrumental in putting everything together,” Tom Calliari, Penn State DuBois head baseball coach said. “He is awesome. He supported us fully.”
Calliari highlighted that repetition is important for hitters and that has been very hard for his teams to get in the area during the winter months. This new VR option opened the door to training reps for players even during the snowy months around campus.
“I think it’s a great benefit for the players to utilize technology,” Calliari said.
Players can schedule times around their class schedules to come to campus and get their batting reps in against virtual pitching as high as the professional, major-league level for each sport. The software allows them to see different pitches, at different speeds, from multiple pitchers with numerous different arm angles and pitching styles.
With this technology being available at Penn State DuBois, the campus now adds itself to the list of users of Win Reality that includes many high-level programs. Win Reality is directly connected with Major League Baseball, with several professional teams using their software to help batters be better prepared and gain an advantage over their competition. There are numerous high profile collegiate baseball and softball teams that are using this software to help their student-athletes as well.
Calliari noted that this is one of the many items that makes Penn State DuBois so unique in the area.
“I think this is one of many things that make our campus unique,” Calliari said. “This campus is so special and there are so many things that people can take advantage of right in our own community.”