If you want to improve your batting for the next season, or you are looking to impress your coach increase your bat speed is a great place to start. Improving bat speed is something that every batter hopes for.
Whether you are a beginner baseball player or you are playing to a high level, there are many methods and techniques to try to improve your speed when batting.
Many batters are naturally talented at hitting the ball, however, there is a lot of technique that makes up a proper baseball swing. Improving power on the field can also be achieved by strength and conditioning in the gym.
Strength and Co-ordination
Core and arm strength play a major role in bat speed and combined with a good swing technique, it makes for a powerful batsman/woman. So, increasing the time you spend in the gym can have a major impact on your baseball game.
Preparing in the off-season by working hard to improve your strength in the gym can make a huge difference during your next baseball season.
Batting is one of the hardest positions in the game, thus it is important to take advantage of any extra preparation that you can do to improve your swing.
Consistent practice is also a huge part of developing a powerful batting swing. Hitting the baseball at the right point in your swing takes a huge amount of coordination and technique.
There is no point in being extremely powerful and strong if you have no coordination to hit the ball at the right position in your swing. Too much emphasis on either co-ordination or power can be detrimental, it is important to find a balance between the two.
During the season, it is important to keep strength-building training to a minimum, to allow your body to rest and recover after each game. Work on maintaining the power that you built during the off-season, rather than increasing it further.
It is important to include rest and recovery in your baseball schedule to ensure you do not overwork or tire your muscles. Focus on co-ordination and rehabilitation during the season.
During the off-season is the time to really increase your power on the field. Do as much weight work as possible during this time so that you see the effects during the season.
Exercises to Increase Bat Speed
Despite that the movement of batting visibly looks like a movement of the arms, it is important to strengthen the legs and core to maintain stability and power.
Much of the power in a batting stance will come from the strength within your legs and your hips. This power is transferred through the legs, to the hips, core, and arms. It is thus important to focus on full-body strength training when you are in the gym.
While beginner baseball players, may swing solely with their arms, an elite player will utilize the power of their entire body. The player’s legs maintain stability while loading with power.
The subsequent rotation of the hips transfers the power to the core and finally through the arms to complete the swing at the highest force and speed possible.
The batting swing is a kinetic movement that involves the player’s whole body. It is thus important to remember this in the gym. Focusing merely on arm strength, will not result in much more power on the field.
If you have weak legs but strong arms, you will struggle to significantly increase the speed of your swing. It does not matter how strong your arms or shoulders may be, without core and leg strength, you will not reach your full swing potential.
Focus on a training program that involves full-body strength training. Focus on core, leg, and arm strength at the same time. It is also important to strengthen your hands and fingers to ensure you have a strong and powerful grip on the bat.
Despite that this may sound overwhelming, creating a program will ensure you can strengthen your whole body. This is the best way to reach your batting potential and maximize your speed.
1. Core Strength
Core strength is one of the most important aspects of your swing. Without strong abs or core, you will be unable to maximize your speed when batting. Creating a strong and stable core will give your swing a powerful base.
Add a core or ab workout to the end of an arm or leg workout. Complete each exercise for 30 seconds or 10 reps and repeat the set 3 to 4 times. Choose 4-5 of the below exercises in each core workout:
- Side plank
- Bicycle kicks
- Ab twist with a medicine ball
- Leg raises
2. Rotation Strength
Most batsmen that struggle with increasing their batting speed will often have low rotational strength. Without rotational strength, they will be unable to make use of their arm or shoulder power.
In most cases, players have the potential to reach high batting speeds, however cannot do so because of their lacking rotational strength. Using a medicine ball can help to significantly increase power in this area.
Include 10-12 reps of each exercise for 3-4 sets including:
- Medicine ball step up twist
- Rotating medicine ball throw
- Rotating medicine ball shotput
3. Shoulders and Back
Without strong shoulders and back, you will be unable to maximize your batting speed, no matter how strong your arms are. You may also be prone to injury due to the important part that your back and shoulders play in your swing.
If you have been suffering from injuries as a batsman, consider how much emphasis you put on training your shoulders and back in the gym. If you do not focus on this area, start to include it in your strength training.
All of the shoulder and back muscles need to be trained and conditioned to ensure strength and reduce the risk of injury. Training this area of the body can require a lot of planning and a detailed program, however, if you want to improve your bat speed, it is vitally important.
Focus on shoulder and back strength and stability in the gym if you are looking to maximize your batting speed and power.
Include 10-12 reps for 3-4 sets of each of the following exercises in your gym program. Complete each exercise to near failure by increasing the weight:
- Shoulder press
4. Grip Strength
There is no use in having a strong core and upper body without being able to hold a strong grip on the bat. This is one of the major parts of a batting swing and one of the major reasons many players fail to reach their full potential.
If you are looking to improve your speed as a batsman, including grip strength training in your routine. It is often a part of the training that is overlooked by players, despite its major importance.
Grip training can improve bat speed and strength and it also allows them to hold the bat more comfortably. A more comfortable grip enables players to make full use of their strength and power.
A player’s hand muscles can quickly tires if training is neglected, thus affecting their whole swing. Training your hand and grip strength can help prevent fatigue on the field.
It is important to train all of your hand muscles from different angles, to develop your hands properly. Don’t focus on one single exercise, rather combine a few into your weekly training routine.
Add grip strength exercises to the end of your workout a few times a week. Include 10-12 reps of each exercise for 3-4 sets:
- Barbell hold
- Weighted carry
- Grip pull up
- Plate hold
5. Lower Body
Despite that the swing appears to be carried out by a player’s arms, the lower body plays a major role in affecting speed and power. if you are looking to improve your batting speed, don’t neglect training your lower body and legs.
The movement and stability of your legs in your swing help you to load and transfer power to your core and upper body. They create most of the power that goes into the actual swing.
If a beginner player tries to swing without any lower body movement, they will likely be unable to create much power. A professional swing involves the whole body.
A forward movement is carried out at the beginning of the swing, the lower body rotates while maintaining a strong foundation to prevent any swaying motion.
A strong lower body will enable the player to generate power from the ground up that is then transferred into the core and the arms. Leg strength will help to greatly increase the power and speed of your batting.
Add a leg workout to your program 2-3 times a week. Include 10-12 reps of each exercise for 3-4 sets. Increase the weight so that you are reaching near failure at the end of each set.
- Leg press
- Weighted squats
- Weighted lunges
- Calve raises
- Hip abductions
- Hip adductions
Bat Speed Drills
Once you have included strength training into your program, it is important to look at bat speed drills to hone your techniques. Include some of the following drills during your batting practice.
1. Barrel Rotation
This drill will help you utilize the rotator strength that you have worked to build up in the gym. The barrel rotation will help you increase your speed and strength when batting.
When following the barrel rotation drill, twist your body forward, then backward around the ball. There are many benefits to this movement which help to maximize speed and power.
Your body does not have to move quickly as a whole, rather, your core or barrel rotates quickly before hitting the ball. This generates more speed and power in the bat as it hits the ball. The speed is then transferred into the ball.
Make sure, when implementing this movement, you do not begin to sway or quickly move your whole body. Practicing this movement correctly will enhance your bat speed on the field.
2. Hand Drills
Many players lose strength by throwing their hands away from their shoulders and through the ball. This movement results in a loss of power as the bat is released too early.
The hands move forward, thus the bat is ahead of the ball. Any energy that is loaded from the player’s lower body is lost and is thus not transferred to the ball.
Create power from your legs upwards, the hands should be the last movement of the swing. This allows players to maximize the energy produced. Use the lower body to create power and then move the upper body.
Keep your hands near to your shoulders throughout the swing so that you maintain complete control of the bat. The hands move after the ball makes contact with the bat.
3. Weight shift
A weight shift in the swing is a great way to properly utilize the power created by the lower body. Use the movement of the lower body to increase the speed of your swing.
Do not sway onto the front foot, rather rotate onto it. Do not allow your weight to go past your front foot, make sure it is still centered on your back leg. Maintain a bend in your hips rather than standing up straight.
4. Stretch and Release
This drill will help you to maximize the strength created by rotation. The body doesn’t need to move as quickly as possible. To make the most of the energy that is created depends on your upper body remaining behind as the lower body rotates.
Without this type of rotation, any power created will be lost. If the swing does not make use of the lower body, you will not reach your potential as a batsman.
To sum up…
Increasing the strength and speed of your speed as a batsman comes through power training and conditioning, as well as increasing your co-ordination and improving your technique through batting drills.