By Shelbie Harris sharris@journalnet.com Jun 25, 2017
Courtesy of the Idaho State Journal

POCATELLO — It’s Rory and Jennifer Erchul’s dream to one day see professional baseball players warming up with the couple’s lightweight resistance parachutes attached to

idaho state journal, best swing training aid, chute trainer

Rory and Jennifer Erchul of Chute Trainer, LLC. Courtesy of the Idaho State Journal.

their bats before they approach the plate.

It’s called the Bat Chute and if the Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission (IGEM) grant created in partnership with Idaho State University is approved, Rory Erchul said they will have the opportunity to further research and test the product, which will provide the scientific backing needed to turn their dreams into reality.

“Instead of using the donuts, the camera will focus on these professional ball players and they’re swinging with our Chute Trainer,” Erchul said. “And this IGEM grant and these studies can help us get there someday, which will boost our intent to hopefully change the world’s perspective of using weights when warming up.”

The Erchuls started the Pocatello-based company, Chute Trainer, two years ago by selling the first of their multi-product line of athletic training tools, the Golf Chute. Not much different from the parachutes used by Olympic sprinters, the device consists of a lightweight parachute that users clip to the shaft of a golf club. And its manufactured locally as well, by Dawn Enterprises in Blackfoot.

Unlike using traditional weights or manual clubs that trigger slow-twitch muscles, the Chute Trainer uses wind resistance, which triggers the fast-twitch muscles associated with explosiveness and power moves.

“This will fire those fast twitch muscle fibers which are key for more speed,” Erchul said. “Slow twitch is for heavy lifting and endurance, something like marathon running and fast twitch muscle fibers are used for swinging a bat, throwing a baseball or swinging a golf club, stuff where you need explosive growth.”

After a successful first year of marketing the Golf Chute at multiple shows around the country, Erchul said they secured over 20 retail contracts.

Erchul said athletes can put it on the end of a golf club, swing it 6-10 times, then remove it. On average, it helps people swing their golf clubs 5-10 miles per hour faster.

“Golf Chute users play better golf simply put,” Urchul added.

And last fall, they also expanded their product line to include the Bat Chute and Throwing Chute.

“They are larger and have a different attachment. But the bat chute has become our most popular seller, which was surprising to us but we will take it,” Erchul said.

Erchul said that previous studies have shown that athletes warming-up with weighted bats or clubs lose speed and consistency when they switch, but no studies exist to determine how Chute Trainer tools can improve an athlete’s swing or pitch.

“The thrust of what we are going to study with ISU is exactly that,” Urchul said. “What are the hoping to prove that our product works better than weighted bats or clubs.”

ISU and Chute Trainer are developing a testing protocol, including specialized testing equipment and robotics to create a network of motion-capture and force-measurement cameras and sensors, as well as muscular and neural activity sensors to scientifically verify the efficiency of Chute Trainer products.

The IGEM program is designed to be beneficial to Idaho’s economy. Through its support of new businesses and Idaho’s research facilities, it helps create new products, companies, and jobs while increasing Idaho universities’ research capabilities.

The grant application is currently under preparation, and ISU plans to apply at the next submission date later this summer.

Tentatively due for completion between September and November 2017, the grant would ideally allow the testing of both the Bat Chutes and Golf Chutes.

“If we can test both the Golf and Bat Chutes, that would be ideal and is what we are hoping to do,” Erchul said. “It will depend on the researchers and what they are able to do with the grant and timing.”

To learn more about the Chute Trainer products or to purchase them, visit their website: https://chutetrainer.com/.

To learn more about the IGEM grant and ISU’s role in creating it, contact Christopher Fasel at fasechri@isu.edu.