If you follow pro football, you know that the NFL Scouting Combine is extremely important for coaches and scouts in testing and evaluating a prospective draft selection.
So what does this have to do with softball?
Plenty, according to Allen Goodwin, who’s training and testing his 16-year-old daughter Elizabeth "Buffy" Goodwin, a class of 2022 catcher on the Southern California Firecrackers, on the same laser timing technology the NFL uses to clock top college prospects in the 40-yard dash every year.
Goodwin began researching timing equipment earlier this year when a college coach informed him that Division I college softball scholarships can often be decided by tenths of seconds.
“Like football, softball is a speed sport,” he said. “Softball has close base paths and it’s played on hard dirt and fast infields; the difference between being called safe or out is usually a matter of tenth of a second.”
Not willing to guess on accuracy, Goodwin knew he needed something better than a stopwatch to work on Buffy’s speed game so he began searching for equipment that was precise and proven.
He stopped looking when he discovered Zybek Sports, which has provided its fully-automated timing system to the NFL Combine for the last 10 years. In addition to its work with the NFL, the Colorado-based company tests over 30,000 youth athletes a year, including over 1,000 at softball combines around the country.
Zybek’s CEO and Founder Mike Weinstein said capturing and tracking an athlete’s performance metrics is becoming more widely accepted in sports other than football, including the diamond sports of baseball and softball so he said he wasn’t surprised when Goodwin contacted him about purchasing a timing system for his daughter.
“Exact timing eliminates any false or inaccurate time reporting,” Goodwin said. “The fact that the NFL uses Zybek at the combine is proof that Zybek’s equipment is the best product available. Athletes’ forty times may determine their draft value for multi-million dollar contracts while NFL owners invest millions in a player based on their combine times.”
Goodwin’s investment came in at just under $1,000 for two gates (starting and finishing), two sensors and catcher pop time equipment.
“I see this as a small investment in my child’s future as she chases her lifelong dream to play college softball,” said Goodwin, who also drives Buffy to her Firecrackers’ practice in Huntington Beach from Palmdale, a four-hour round trip, twice a week. “As her dad, I owe it to her to be as committed as she is in pursuing her dreams. We only get one chance in life.”
Three weeks in, Goodwin’s investment appears to be paying off: Buffy’s pop time and home-to-first times have already improved markedly. At workouts, Buffy and her siblings have been involved in fierce competitions, trying to achieve new personal best times on every 20-yard dash and every sprint around the bases.
“I am loving the Zybek equipment,” said Buffy, who will be a junior at Paraclete High in Lancaster, California this fall. “I’m having so much fun I don’t even view it as training. Tracking and documenting my times allows me to consistently improve.”
--- Dave McKibben
For more on Zybek Sports and the company’s products and what to use for team or individual training and testing,, click HERE.