How we developed SPEEDREVO, the metal baseball cleat that lets players pitch faster
Increased pitch speed is something countless baseball players want to achieve. At Mizuno, we’ve developed SPEEDREVO, a new kind of metal cleat equipped with functions that enable players to realize their dream of faster pitching just by wearing these shoes. SPEEDREVO metal cleats, scientifically proven to increase pitch speed by an average of 0.73km/h*1 in the players wearing them, came into being through several different co-creation processes.
*1 The verification process looked at young players and excluded underarm throws; the effects of the spike and the way it feels to the player will vary from individual to individual, depending on the environment and other conditions, in comparison with previous Mizuno products.
Key factors behind the creation of SPEEDREVO are “biomechanical analysis” and “function verification using MA-Q (a proprietary product of Mizuno)*2”
In our biomechanical analysis, we carried out joint research with the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Kanoya, looking how differences in the orientation of the metal spikes have an impact on pitching movements. The results showed that changing the orientation of the metal spikes causes changes in the grip strength of the leading foot, with increased grip resulting in greater pitch speed. They also showed that as the ball travels, a considerable force is exerted on the leading foot in the opposite direction. Based on the theoretical concepts drawn from these results, we adopted a horizontally-aligned arrangement for the metal spikes on the front foot.
*2 MA-Q is a ball fitted with a special embedded sensor. By throwing this product, users can record, measure, and analyze their number of revolutions, rotational axis, and speed. (https://jpn.mizuno.com/baseball/products/MAQ)
Obtaining data from testing at the Sports Performance Research Center, National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Kanoya
We then worked with 39 baseball players (comprising both high school and university students), to measure and compare their pitch speeds by having them throw Mizuno’s proprietary MA-Q ball while wearing either currently-available metal cleats or our SPEEDREVO prototype. The results showed pitch speeds to be 0.73km/h faster when the SPEEDREVO cleats were worn. The results of this function verification were also presented at the 15th Footwear Biomechanics Symposium, an international academic gathering that brings together experts on shoes.
SPEEDREVO is a product that has come about as a project involving our research department, which handles the development of new functions, basic research and the like, and our planning and development department which is responsible for metal baseball cleats. In fact, Mizuno already had experience of working on the challenge of boosting pitch speeds via spikes, but due to the complexity of functions and the difficulty of verifying them, these efforts never led to the development of commercial products.
On this occasion, the research department had become aware of the possibility of raising pitch speeds through changing spike constructions, while at the same time the planning and development department wanted a commercial metal cleat that would answer the heart’s desire of so many baseball players—“To be able to pitch faster.” The two departments combined their different kinds of knowledge, looking for possible ways to verify such functions and make this kind of product a reality.
The departments faced many challenges and issues; nevertheless, by continually exchanging opinions and engaging in co-creation with relevant people, including those at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Kanoya, they were able to surmount these barriers and demonstrate the product’s functionality through quantitative data. Finally, the product itself was launched on the market.
Since SPEEDREVO went on sale, it has been worn not only by Mizuno-sponsored professional baseball players, but also by players appearing at the National High School Baseball Championship of Japan (Koshien) in the summer of 2022. We are confident that through such real-life settings, these players have been able to verify for themselves the kind of concept that we’ve aimed to realize. Finally, our research and development for this product led to our receiving a Good Design Award in 2022, in recognition of the way our biomechanics-based research and development has led to the realization of “a pitcher’s spike cleat that boosts pitching speeds”—a product sure to excite countless baseball players.
Going forward, Mizuno is taking up new initiatives to create value through co-creation while also working on resolving challenges with our partners inside and outside the company, as part of the broader vision we are setting out.