What are your goals as a hitter? For most hitters this includes hitting the ball harder, farther, and more consistently.
How do we do this? First, lets take a look at some of the keys to hitting the ball hard.
Bat Speed - the observed speed of the sweet spot of the bat at impact.
Exit Velocity - the speed at which the ball comes off the bat.
Quality Contact - how well did you square the ball up off the sweet spot?
Bat Weight - swing the heaviest bat you can control
Pitch Speed - the speed at which the pitched ball is thrown.
Swing Decisions - swinging at good pitches - chase less.
For years people have said the pitcher supplies the power. "The harder they throw it the farther it goes." While this is not entirely false, let's take a real look at what translates to real power for the hitter.
Bat speed vs pitch speed - how does it impact your power?
For every 1 mph of pitch speed = an additional 0.2 mph exit velocity = 1 ft distance.
For every 1 mph of bat speed = an additional 1.2 mph exit velocity = 6 ft distance.
The faster you can swing the bat - the more it translates to hitting the ball harder and farther. The hitter controls power way more than the pitcher supplies it! How do you generate more bat speed? How do you train it?
Swinging the bat fast is something hitters can train and improve. At Matthews Baseball & Softball Instruction, our hitters train bat speed through movement work and overload / underload training. Mastering the Baseball Rebellion Rebel Rack movement teaches our hitters to improve rotational acceleration while sequencing their swing properly. Learning how to turn faster and maintain posture directly translates to more bat speed, power, and exit velocity.
We also use overload / underload training principles. For example, we use medicine ball throws to overload core rotation and we also used weighted bats. We have the Driveline weighted bats and the SpeedSlugger bat speed program. Essentially, hitters are able to hit with bats slightly heavier, and slightly lighter than their game bat. This produces strength and fast twitch muscles. Swinging fast is key and it can be trained! We measure bat speed using Blast Motion or Diamond Kinetics swing sensors.
Simply swinging the bat fast is only part of hitting the ball harder and farther. Hitters must translate that speed into quality contact - hitting the ball square with the sweet spot of the bat. We use Driveline plyoballs during BP to swing as fast as we can while maximizing quality contact. The plyoballs provide immediate feedback to the hitter on the type of contact they made. For instance, if you don't hit the ball flush, it will change shape and hardly travel any distance. This helps hitters work on timing and quality swing path!
Hitters also need to swing the right bat. Often times, hitters are swinging a bat that is too light because it simply feels good. A bat that is too light does not translate into exit velocity as well as a heavier bat. Swinging the heaviest bat that does not compromise a hitter's bat speed is ideal. Bat fitting is key here. We use swing sensors to test our hitters bat speed using multiple bats. Finding your fit is a must to get the most out of your swing.
If we have all the bat speed in the world, but our swing decisions are awful we won't find much success. This is as simple as swinging often at pitches you can hit hard, and swinging less at pitches you can't hit hard. Take when you need to take. Swing when you need to swing.
In summary, hitting the ball harder is fun. We can do this by improving our bat speed, quality contact / swing path, and swing decisions.
Hope this helps,
See you on the diamond!