Olympians Create RISR To Help Next Generation Of Hitters
When someone asks Amanda Chidester what RISR is, she has a go-to response.
"The quickest way for me to get people to understand is I ask them if they’ve ever done Peloton before," Chidester told Softball America. "And then I say, 'you know how you can get on Peloton and you can do your running, your workouts and training? Well, that’s exactly how RISR is for softball, but it’s all for hitting and mental training.'"
For the eight-time member of Team USA and 2020 Olympic silver medalist, RISR is the product of two years of hard work behind the scenes with specialists from HitTrax, a data capture and simulation system used to help hitters in both baseball and softball.
It all started three years ago at an NFCA Convention where she met Elena Bowman, the director of softball operation for HitTrax, who asked her to help arrange a home run derby. Chidester was then introduced to HitTrax technology, and after becoming more involved in it, met up with Mike Donfrancesco, the CEO and founder of HitTrax, who had an interesting request.
"The whole HitTrax team wanted something more specific for softball outside of HitTrax," said Chidester. "So they came to me with the idea of, 'okay, if we were to bring something else to the softball world, what would it be?' And so, obviously, HitTrax is hitting, so we were really wanting to create something with hitting."
So, what is RISR? It is an app that is due to be released in early- to mid-March, and it is designed to help hitters at any stage in their softball development, from absolute beginner to advanced to expert, with skills and mental training.
The instructors on the app teaching the skills will not only include Chidester, but also three other well-known professional softball players and Olympians—Alabama great Haylie McCleney, Oregon All-American Janie Reed and Italian Olympic Team captain Erika Piancastelli.
The idea of having multiple instructors, according to Chidester, is for a hitter to find someone they’re comfortable learning from. On the app, a user will be able to learn from as many instructors as she or he wishes. The end goal for the app, through a partnership with HitTrax, is for each hitter to take an assessment at a HitTrax facility and then have lessons tailored to that hitter’s strengths and weaknesses.
"When the assessment is ready to go, you will be able to go to a HitTrax facility, take an assessment and based on the assessment, they’ll let you know what level you are at," said Chidester.
For Chidester, one of the reasons behind the creation of RISR was to give kids who can’t afford hitting lessons a chance to learn from those who have seen and done it all in the sport.
"There is so much information on the internet and you can spend hours trying to search for different things," said Chidester. "So, what’s good? What’s bad? We’re able to put all of the good right in one spot, so it’s going to be easier for people to learn more."
RISR also offers kids an incentive to download the app and take lessons. When a user completes a lesson, points are given. The more lessons a user completes, the more points that user can get, and there will be a leaderboard on the app for the users who have the most points. There will also be a friends feature on the app in order for hitters to share their data with friends.
In addition, RISR also has options for coaches who want to download the app for their teams. Coaches will be able to assign lessons for their players to complete outside of or during practice, depending on what the team is working on.
While being able to take an assessment through HitTrax will be an essential part of the app, a user does not need to have access to a HitTrax facility in order to have success.
"There are going to be lessons on there that are specific to using a HitTrax if you can get on one, but it’s not necessary," said Chidester. "There’s going to be plenty of lessons where you just need a bat, a ball and a tee."
There is a scheduled webinar on March 1 at 7:30 p.m. ET that will involve all four instructors and tips on how to create an efficient swing. Sign ups are available here and more information on RISR is available on their Facebook and Instagram pages.