A bat sensor, such as a Diamond Kinetics Swingtracker, can be a great feedback tool for hitters
Data taken from Major League Baseball shows that exit velocity (hitting the ball hard) consistently is one of the contributing factors to player success
(I do not own the rights to the photo above. Use is intended for educational purposes only)
Our in gym athletes reflect that overall bat speed is the largest contributing factor in hitting the ball hard at all levels of the game from youth to top-end college players.
Factors of Training Bat Speed
Rotational Power Potential
In developing a powerful swing we want to take a total body approach. This means that we want to have the ability to transfer power from the ground, through the torso, into the arms and ultimately out the bat. The ability to produce a powerful sequence is a swing trait shared by every major leaguer regardless of their particular style.
The problem is that If you have a weak core then all the power produced in your lower half during the loading phase of the swing will dissipate during the transition and never make it into the bat.
Having a strong core will not only mean that a player be able to rotate more powerfully, but there will be a more efficient transfer of energy while being able to decelerate and stabilize the segments of the kinetic chain more efficiently
Our primary focus in training ground up rotational power potential is med ball throws
All of our in-gym athletes have daily med ball routines to ensure that we are developing the foundational elements of ground-up power outlined above.
View the rest of the Hit at Home program that includes the entire med ball progression
Segmenting and Sequencing
One of the most important commonalities in MLB hitters is their rotational sequence
What this means is that they accelerate their swing in order of hips, torso, arms, & bat.
(I do not own the rights to the above gifs. Use is intended for educational purposes)
In all of the above gifs you will see that regardless of their stance or how they load, the acceleration of their swing is identical. Hips, torso, arms, the bat last.
In order to maximize a player’s “rubber band” effect they need to be able to produce what is commonly referred to as hip-shoulder separation.
This refers to degrees of rotation difference between the hips and the shoulder during the acceleration of the bat.
(Screenshot from in gym 4D motion data)
Imagine trying to fire a rubber band as fast as possible. Would you only pull it back a short amount creating minimum stretch? No, you would pull it all the back creating maximum stretch thus maximum speed. The same thing happens when a player produces a good amount of hip shoulder separation which maxes out the “rubber band” effect produced in the torso!
One way we train this is with mobility exercises such as the rip stick turn progression before our athletes swing their bat.
Free up the movement in your hips and watch your potential to produce efficient bat speed skyrocket!
Anchor your feet
For decades we classified power hitters as reserved for only the largest players (height & weight) and this was true in many ways but why?
In understanding how your feet and weight interact with the ground it’s evident that larger players that weighed more were just able to produce more force into the ground with their legs naturally.
But do you have to be big and weigh a lot to do this?
No, but it does require you to be strong and load correctly.
Basically, you want to feet rooted in the box. You want to feel like your weight is directly in the center of your foot. Doing this will help you activate your glutes. The more connected you feel to the ground, the faster you will turn. Think of the opposite example: If you were hitting on ice, sure you could rotate but your lower body wouldn’t be much help.
Counter-rotating into your back hip is key and it all starts in your feet.
We address grounding your feet with crossover drill and the 1/2 kneeling drill in the hit at home plan
In cueing these drills we tell the athlete to imagine having a scale under your back foot. As you stand up/move forward you want to make the number on the scale go up. This will make the forces produced into the ground equal to those of players much larger.
Motor learning takes time. Particularly In a complex open skill such as hitting.
It is important to understand that no one can give you an MLB quality swing in 6 weeks or 10 mph of bat speed in a month. It just can’t happen. Using your bat sensor you will be able to track your incremental progress better than ever before.
If you are patient to a process and work on the above principles you can see improvements in your bat speed metric and ultimately on the field when it matters most!
Good luck and do damage at the plate!