Hitting: 5 Exercises to Increase Your Bat Speed
Metrics are becoming more and more popular in the world of baseball and softball. Software like Rapsodo and HitTrax are making it more and more easy to access all of the numbers around our game like exit velocity, bat speed, spin rates, and launch angles. While I am a bit old school in terms of just how much I look at these numbers, they do have their place, and I do believe it is a great way to track strength and power within the game over time.
A lot of athletes are starting to realize the importance of bat speed in our game. I am a strength coach and I will NEVER say no to something that could increase my barrel's velocity through the zone. Bat speed is one of those analytics that I think is easy to understand and easy to NOT overthink. If we are swinging the bat hard, I believe we will hit the ball hard if we put ourselves in the proper position with timing, good mechanics, and a strong mental approach.
Bat speed is a great way to look at a hitter's power within their swing. Everyone I have ever instructed on hitting wants more power. One of my favorite scientific equations OF ALL TIME to explain to young athletes is that power = Force x Velocity. Essentially, it is how strong you are (how much force you create) and fast you are (the velocity you operate at). In order to create a strong, powerful, swing we need to have a great foundation of strength and we need to be FAST (hello, bat SPEED). We can't only focus on one aspect of power without focusing on the other. If you want to increase your bat speed by building up your POWER, check out these five exercises.
1. Trap Bar Deadlift: A general strength builder. Think of this exercise as the foundation of your house. Incorporating deadlifts into your regimen can get you really strong really fast. It also is a basic starter that can allow us to toss in more softball specific accessory work. 4-5 sets of 5-10 reps. Don't be afraid of heavy weight, but make sure you are maintaining proper form!
2. Landmine Press: An upper body strength builder with a specific rotational control component. Core must stabilize to allow for the weight to be pressed. Should be incorporated into every baseball/softball athletes arsenal. This will also help your shoulder health for high volume throwing during spring/summer/fall seasons. Anywhere between 3-4 sets of 5-8 reps on each side will do the trick!
3. MB Rainbow Slams: If you want to be powerful, throwing a med ball is a great way to start. The rainbow slam is one of my earliest exercises I use with athletes as it forces the athlete to use all aspects of the core while actively pulling down with their "front side." Anytime we can load a movement in a rotational fashion we will see it translate to rotational aspects of our sport. I like to do 3 sets of 5 reps on each side with a light med ball!
4. MB Shotput to Wall: This exercise is a very specific way to load the mechanics of a swing. I encourage athletes to do both sides to increase athleticism and prevent muscular imbalances. Your non hitting side won't be easy at first, but the more you add these into your regimen, the more explosive they can get! 2-4 sets of 3-5 reps per side is what I usually program. The lighter the medball to start out the better with this one!
5. Band/Cable Rotational Row: A combination of stabilization and dynamic rotational power, this variation is a later progression I like to use once we have a general foundation of strength built by trap bar deadlifts, lunge variations, and row variations, so if you are a bit further along in the training process give this a try. Make sure to squeeze your shoulder blade down and back, keep the core nice and tight, and stay in those legs!
Plug these into your lifts and softball training and let me know what you think! Like, share, or comment on this post with your feedback.