What is Launch Angle?
First of all launch angle has nothing to do with the swing. It is the measurement of the ball off the bat. It should be the goal of every hitter to produce optimum outcomes of batted balls. The problem is with most coaching and approaches is that we are not exactly sure what that is. With the growing library of data collected by Statcast, there is more and more clarity about what those outcomes are, and with guys like myself using this data to develop movement patterns and concept to produce them.
I want to take a look at four types of hitters that you might coach in a typical high school setting and how you can help them with their approach to producing optimal outcomes.
The Below Average
I am going to classify this as a hitter with an average exit velocity of 65 mph or less. This hitter is not very strong, and doesn’t turn heads with how hard he hits the ball.
In 2016 there were 251 balls hit in the range of 20 to 39 degrees. That’s not a huge sample size, but it is enough to give you some perspective. In that range, players hit a combined average of .815.
From launch angles in the range of 10-20 degrees the combined average was .315.
From launch angles in the range of 0-9 degrees the combined average was .118. I know there are some variables in this like depth of the outfielders, but the data is pretty clear. If you want to get hits you have to elevate the ball.
Anything below 0 was meaningless.
These hitters have an average exit velocity of around 75 mph.
The top end of their success range is around 20 degrees, so we will start there. With launch angles between 10-20 degrees players hit .784
From launch angles in the range of 0-9 degrees the combined average was .255
From launch angles in the range and -5 – -1 the combined average was .118
Everything below -5 was meaningless.
Again elevating and driving the ball sees higher rates of success.
These hitters have an average exit velocity or around 85 mph.
Again their top end of success is 20 degrees, so we will start there. With launch angles between 10-20 degrees players again hit .784
From launch angles of 0-9 degrees, the combined average is .436
From launch angles of -5 – -1 degrees the combined average is .229
Everything below -5 again was insignificant once again.
These hitters have an average exit velocity or around 95 mph.
Again their top end of success is 20 degrees, so we will start there. With launch angles between 10-20 degrees players again hit .575
From launch angles of 0-9 degrees, the combined average is .508
From launch angles of -10 – -1 degrees the combined average is .323
Everything below -10 was insignificant .
What This Means For You
As you see, depending upon how hard you hit the ball, your window of successful launch angle outcomes differs. Every hitter should be developing his/her strength as well as movement patterns to produce effortless, efficient bat speed that produces high exit velocities. As well as practicing launching the ball between 10 to 20 degrees (or high if your EV is low).
What This Looks Like
There is a constant battle of coaches online about whether you should hit the ball off the back of the cage or if hitting it off the top of the cage is better. I think as outlined above we see the value of practicing inside the right launch angles. Using HitTrax, I can definitively tell you that the top of the cage is a more efficient way to use your practice time squaring up the ball.