During the summer of 2020, when the pandemic first hit, Lincolnwood dad Mark McCall was striking out in keeping his two young sons optimistic when their baseball seasons were cancelled.
McCall and a few other neighborhood dads began to play baseball at a local park with their kids daily. It was during this time that McCall, who has always been “baseball obsessed” took a special interest in helping the kids perfect their swings.
The hobby turned into a passion and soon blossomed into an idea out of left field that became a reality when McCall opened SwingScience Hitting Lab (2425 W. Lawrence Ave., Chicago) in Lincoln Square last month.
What is SwingScience Hitting Lab?
SwingScience is Chicago’s premier data-driven live baseball and softball hitting facility with state-of-the-art pitching simulators, 3D body movement analysis, bat sensors, pressure and force plates, high-speed cameras, and other tech tools to help players improve their game.
“I always thought baseball practice was boring,” says McCall, an avid Cubs fan who grew up playing baseball and still coaches his kids’ baseball teams. “Most kids are visual learners, so we built the entire system around a visual learning approach, blending traditional aspects of baseball with video game entertainment.”
SwingScience’s state-of-the-art entertainment system allows hitters to practice by choosing the type of pitch, speed of the ball and type of strike zone that they want to work on. To make the experience even more immersive, they can even choose to hit from any MLB ballpark including Wrigley Field and Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago.
McCall says when it comes to more serious players, the goal of SwingScience isn’t to augment traditional training, but to make it better by collecting data to measure and improve upon.
“We are here to help bridge the gap between players and coaches to help them understand the what and the why,” says McCall, who comes from an IT and data career background. “We are here to make training fun and exciting through technology and capture benchmark data along the way to identify areas for improvement.”
In addition to offering base training, pitching simulators, swing analysis and customized hitting programs, SwingScience offers private instruction with in-house trainer Jason Williams, a former Division One baseball player at Indiana University.
While training is an important aspect of SwingScience, McCall says that players as young as four come in and play with foam balls. Pitching simulators, which can go as slow as 35 mph can be used by kids starting at age eight.
“We have the tools to make better players and make the game more fun,” says McCall. “If we can help build their interest from the ground up, that’s pretty cool … it’s a lifelong dream for me.”
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