If you want to increase bat speed when you’re playing baseball, the simplest thing to do is choose a heavier bat. Besides that, it helps if you develop your core strength and spend some time doing resistance training.
All this will help you increase bat speed and hit the ball hard.
Players estimate where they want their balls to go even before they’ve swung their bats. Now, all that’s left is to ensure their bat swing generates enough speed during impact to help reach the expected distance.
The speed at which you swing your bat plays an important role in sending your batted ball to the exact location you envisioned.
Here’s a guide on how to increase bat speed.
Exit Velocity and Bat Speed
Harder-hitting bats tend to offer much more favorable outcomes compared to lighter bats.
The heavier the bat, the more force and velocity it will exert when it comes into contact with the ball. It even leads to more production on the plate.
The bat weight and the player’s pitching speed combined move the game of baseball from point A to point B, but bat speed is a determiner. It determines the exit velocity of the batted ball and gives players a far better shot at getting a solid hit.
Increasing bat speed can drastically change the face of your baseball game.
Tips on How to Increase Bat Speed
Bat speed is a skill that can be improved with time and practice. Here are a few pointers that can help in improving bat speed.
#1. Turn the Barrel
If you want to move your bat quickly, focus on turning the barrel correctly when you swing. Concentrate on maintaining proper form.
Do not exert strength to tip the barrel of the bat forward, then move it backward and then around the ball.
This ability will improve bat speed early on in the swing and give you plenty of momentum to nail the swing. This bat-path technique offers you, the hitter, a running start.
Remember, you don’t have to move fast, the barrel does. This batting tip will help you maximize your bat swinging capabilities.
The barrel turn is the most efficient way to improve your bat speed.
Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, and most great hitters have used the barrel turn to their advantage. It’s time you start too.
#2. Your Hand Stays Back
When hitting the ball, keep your hands back at your shoulder. Do not push your hands forward and through the ball.
Most hitters make this mistake. All this does, however, is put your upper-body muscles to work.
And since these muscles are significantly smaller than your lower-body muscles, this causes an energy surge from the top down.
Due to this, the bat does not get behind the ball early which leaves room for error and messes with the kinetic chain.
Hitters must generate power from their lower bodies and not their torsos. The energy must start from the ground up, led by your hips and torso and move up to your upper body.
This puts the bigger muscles in your legs ahead, pulling your upper body with it, thus giving you more bat control.
#3. Focus on Weight Shifting
Use your weight, not your upper-body strength, to generate bat speed. This allows you to focus all your energy on your baseball swing.
This is easily mistaken as hitting from your front foot, but that’s far from the case.
To weight shift, center your weight over your back leg as you stride and fall forward. Most hitters have trouble carrying out this step because they focus on the wrong end of weight shifting.
You can do this by leaning back a bit and keeping your shoulders a good 2-4 inches backwards in comparison to your hips. By moving your shoulders towards the baseball and putting all your energy into the process, you will increase momentum in your swing.
Shifting your weight from the front of your body to the back helps generate more power. This helps increase your bat speed and maximize your power output.
#4. Stretch, then Explode
Push your back leg off the ground before your hands have the chance to move at all. This way, your upper body stays back while your lower body is all set to work forward.
Use your energy to swing faster. Your body does not have to move fast to generate good speed.
That’s a misconception. Instead, it all boils down to how you deal with the motion.
You have to use the barrel turn to effectively utilize the stretch. This form equips the barrel of the bat to move early in the swing and stay on the path that offers square contact.
This also improves bat speed, gives you more power to hit to the opposite field, and puts you in a great position to anticipate a fastball. You can easily adjust to an off-speed pitch, even if your timing is early.
This can be hard to nail down. After all, most players do it correctly when they’re throwing the ball as opposed to when they’re hitting.
Focus on the correct form and put in lots of practice.
#5. Pull Your Elbow Back
Often called “the load,” this part centers around your hands. To nail the load, you have to focus on creating tension between your upper body and lower body.
Many hitters make errors when creating this load. They push their hands back towards the umpire.
Do not do that. Pull your elbows back towards the dugout, normally situated behind you, while moving forward in your swing.
Your back knee will go forward at this point and put you in the sweet spot of your range of motion. This creates a rotational load around your back leg, giving you great energy to swing the baseball bat.
If you’re a great hitter or a fan of one, you’ll notice a batter’s shirt gets tighter when the load form is right.
How to Increase Bat Speed with Exercise?
Exercise can improve core strength and core strength is invaluable when you’re trying to increase bat speed. You can try these exercises to improve your strength:
- To build lower body strength, do a trap bar deadlift;
- For upper body strength, do push-ups;
- For T-spine mobility, do ball/cable rotations and half-kneeling cable anti-extensions and rotations;
- For hip mobility, do one-leg med ball snap downs and 90/90 hip shifts with left reach;
- For core strength and stability, try bear crawls and dynamic cable lifts; and
- For forearm strength and better grip, try fat grips. Strong forearms can offer better control and speed.
Additionally, engage in resistance training.
To get better at bat speed, athletes should participate in structured training and practice consistently. Among the many areas they should cover, resistance and strength training hold the most importance.
Resistance training is important for athletes of all age groups. Young athletes, however, should not indulge in resistance training unless supervised by a qualified adult.
Generally, young players should focus more on reps than powerlifting. Use a resistance band, medicine ball, and free weights to maintain proper form.
Practice swinging the bat faster and improving your bat speed through strength training.
Strength training can help players cope with a varied range of weights without putting their bodies under pressure. Depending on how your neuromuscular system handles the varied loads, you will be able to level up your bat speed efficiently.
By familiarizing yourself with the variations of muscle joint movements that change with each swing, you can adapt yourself to the changes. Become a better player by recruiting more fast twitch muscle fibers to improve velocity.
Agility training through sprints and reversal drills or Change of Direction (COD) drills can prove to be useful. It can help familiarize your body with intense lateral stresses that usually accompany high bat speeds.
Just make sure to follow the proper mechanics and the drills. That way, you won’t unknowingly alter your swing.
Knowing how to increase bat speed is a skill because bat speed can take you places. It moves the base runners farther from their original positions by impacting their ability to analyze exactly where the ball is, and it gives them less time to react to it.
The harder you hit the ball, the better velocity you can achieve with it. This can help you find the edge in your game which, ultimately, will increase your value to your team.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How long does it take to increase bat speed?
Players, on average, take at least six weeks to increase their bat speed within 5-7mph. This may change according to the skill level and the number of practice sessions a player undergoes during the process.
Is there a specific bat speed by age?
Yes, there is. Generally, it is considered that players improve their bat speed with age but if they focus on improving their bat speed when they’re young, they will have a better shot at mastering the skill. If you start improving your baseball early, you will definitely have the advantage.