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March 20, 2019 | by Brian Duryea | @BatDigest
There are a ton of hitting aid options on the market to help your player become a better hitter, so much so it’s a little overwhelming. We are going to highlight some of the more popular options for you and break them down by price point and offer our feedback on these hitting aids.
Baseball & Softball Hitting Aids
|SwingRail Hitting Aid||$$|
|Hands Inside Trainer||$$|
|Weighted Hitting Sticks||$$|
|Power Up Wedge||$$$|
|Pro Glider Trainer||$$$|
|Line Drive Pro||$$$|
|Hurricane Swing Trainer||$$$$|
There are a lot of factors that go into becoming a better hitter. The most important is of course proper coaching and instruction. However, another important aspect is using tools to help with our advancement. Also, despite even the best coaching and tools, a player won’t become a better hitter without proper practice and repetition – lots of repetition.
What I’m getting at is none of these tools will instantly make your player the next Mike Trout or Bryce Harper if they only use them a handful of times and then go back to old bad habits. We like to tell our players that practice is great and important but it means a lot more if you practice with a purpose.
With that in mind, we want to emphasize that just because a hitting training aid is less expensive definitely does not mean it can’t be really effective when used properly. Here we will highlight some training aids that are less than $50 that can help improve your players hitting.
If you have a Facebook account and look at anything baseball related you’ve almost certainly seen ads for SwingRail. SwingRail is a tool that helps train hitters to use proper swing mechanics and take the bat in a direct path to the ball. They also claim to be able to increase swing speed up to 5.4 mph.
We have used the SwingRail and have had success with it. We did have a seam tear on ours indicating there could be an issue with durability. The company quickly shipped out replacement parts free of charge, though it didn’t quite go back together the same way and makes it slightly more cumbersome to use now. What we liked is that it offers immediate feedback on quality versus poor swings. We also like it because it was quite effective on dry swings making it pretty easy to use most any place and at anytime, and at $30 it is not too steep a price tag.
Another inexpensive hitting aid is Hands Inside Trainer, or H.I.T. for short. The H.I.T. is an attachment for a tee that uses a J shape to teach hitters to keep their hands inside on their swing as opposed to casting them out too wide. When using this tool, when swinging properly a hitter hits the ball off the tee normally. When the hitter casts his hands out, he makes contact with the H.I.T. and knows immediately his swing path was incorrect.
The H.I.T. is inexpensive, coming in at $20 on Amazon. It does work better with some tees and not as well with others, though adjustments can be made to help it fit properly with all tees.
Weighted baseballs are also another great hitting aid for hitters. Weighted baseballs teach hitters to swing through the baseball and encourages good hip rotation. Weighted baseballs also help develop stronger wrists and forearms.
There are a number of companies that offer weighted baseballs including Total Control Ball or TCB, Bownet, PRIMED, Powernet, among others. If you decide to try weighted baseballs make sure to get the proper weight, generally between 14 and 16 ounces. A 3 pack of TCB weighted balls goes for about $40 while you can get PRIMED for around $30 per 3 pack, Bownet for $60 for a 6 pack, and Powernet $35-$40 for a 6 pack.
Focusing on a hitters hand-eye coordination is another good way to help a player become a better hitter. One way to work on this is with the SKLZ or PRIMED weighted training stick. Weighted training sticks are skinny bats with some heft to them that players swing to hit mini plastic wiffle balls. It teaches the hitter to track the ball and also increases their skill as they get better at barreling up small wiffle balls with a small diameter bat. Both companies offer a version in the $25 to $30 range. The SKLZ Power Stick is the heavier of the 2 options.
Swivel Vision Athletic Training Goggles are another intriguing option in the less expensive price range. The goggles limit the hitters vision as they hit thrown or teed balls. They train the hitter to use their optimal field of vision without pulling their head. As a bonus they would work great for fielding work forcing the fielder to keep their head down when fielding ground balls. Swivel Vision goggles can be found for around $25 – $30.
SKLZ is a brand name that offers many hitting aids including their Hit-a-Way, Microball trainer, and their Zip-n-Hit. We have previously reviewed many SKLZ products and you can find that here
The Power Up Wedge is a versatile and useful baseball training aid. It helps train the hitter to hit with a strong back leg while firing the hips, or to land strong with the front side in hitting. It can also be used for throwing and even fielding. The Power Up Wedge runs about $50. To read our full review click here
The Line Drive Pro Swing Trainer is a hitting aid that uses repeated muscle memory to teach the hitter to keep the hands and the barrel of the bat through the zone longer. It teaches the hitter proper swing mechanics with immediate feedback on both good and poor swings. It’s a useful tool that can be used alone by the hitter but does tend to need a little more space to optimize use of this tool.
The price feels a bit high for its plastic build and only 3 tennis balls for the $50 price tag, but it does fit any bat and can be used with just about any tennis ball.
If you’ve watched any MLB network over the years you’ve no doubt seen the commercials for the Momentus Speed Hitter. We have used the Speed Hitter for a few years and have generally seen pretty good results with it. We like that the hitter gets immediate feedback though it can be difficult at times for a younger hitter to tell the difference between a good and bad swing. We also like that the player can use it on their own in any place with enough space to complete a swing without dinging up the walls.
The Speed Hitter uses a sliding ball on a narrow bat to teach the hitter to keep their hands in during the swing as opposed to casting them out. If the hands are cast out then the ball slides early down the bat. It can be tough for a younger hitter to recognize when the ball does hit the end if they are swinging fast. We also like that the speed hitter can be used to train the player to swing faster with more resistance.
The ball can be placed at the end of the bat and held there with an included attachment to create a weighted resistance that builds up the hitters speed and swing strength. Speed Hitter also offers a MAX version now with a heavier ball on the end to create stronger swings. The regular Speed Hitter costs about $60 and the MAX version runs about $70.
The Insider Bat is a unique looking training aid. It teaches proper muscle memory of a good bat path swing while also insuring the hitter’s hands are in the right place and have the correct grip. The Insider Bat’s unique design only allows for the hitter to make contact the proper way and no other. The hitter will make contact using the proper bat path or will miss the ball or barely hit it. Younger players especially will be able to get feedback but also know if it was a good swing or not. The Insider Bat costs about $50.
Higher end or more expensive hitting aids are generally a fancier way of getting good old tee work in, though with some improvements and specialization. Some of the options below are not much different than getting a decent tee from say Tanner and a bucket of balls and a net and just hitting, which is obviously a great route to go but really won’t be any cheaper than the options once you’re all in on costs.
Some of the options below will still need a bucket of balls and even a net to hit into but some of the options do away with the need for them which would come out less expensive in total.
The Back Spin Tee is a revolutionary tee system that is training hitters to hit the middle and bottom of the baseball to create both the proper launch angle but also create back spin which helps the ball carry farther. It trains the hitter to stay on path with the baseball resulting in more consistent squarely hit baseballs.
The downside of the Back Spin Tee is the cost, it starts at $200 for the regular model and goes all the way up to $400. It would also require a bucket of baseballs and a net to hit into.
The SwingAway MVP Trainer is another batting tee type trainer for hitters. It uses a bounce back style net with a ball attached to bungees. The batter hits the ball and in theory the ball strikes the net and you get to see where the ball hit and where it would have traveled on a field.
The nice thing about the SwingAway is the ball stays attached so no need for a bucket of balls and no need to re-tee after every swing. In our research we’ve found that many players, even older high school players, struggle to make the ball contact the net which reduces the amount of feedback you get from the tool. The SwingAway seems to be not much different than a traditional tee, without having to replace the ball after every swing. With a $200 price tag and some difficulty with transporting it seems like there are better options out there.
The Louisville Slugger Ultra-Instructoswing tee is another clever and unique take on the traditional batting tee. It uses “good habit” bars to prevent the hitter from chopping, casting, uppercutting, or down-swinging on the ball. These bars stop the bat when making an improper swing and provides immediate feedback.
The tee is also very adjustable allowing for various ball locations and angles of the tee. It does a similar job to the much cheaper H.I.T. tee attachment mentioned earlier though that is an add-on to an existing tee, while the Ultra-Instructoswing is the whole tee system in one. You would still need a bucket of balls and a net though. The price tag of the Ultra-Instructoswing is around $180.
Another all-in-one system is the SKLZ Hurricane Category 4 Swing Trainer. The Hurricane 4 is a batting tee system that doesn’t need a bucket of balls or a net. It uses resistance bands to build up the hitters strength and speed. The batter strikes the ball causing it to twist on its axis and the bands return the ball back to starting position.
The Hurricane 4 would be great for smaller spaces though and even comes with a carrying bag to transport it with to practices or games. It is also highly adjustable for work on both high and low balls and also accommodates players of all sizes. Though not complicated, setup also isn’t as simple as other tools as it needs stakes to hold it in place. Coming in at around $175-$200 its a complete system that will get the job done.
Rapsodo is an expensive hitting aid. It is the top of the line consumer product to measure and track ball flight. We use it at Bat Digest to derive exit speeds. Other’s are using it to complete some bat fitting ideas. Although very expensive, and probably too much so, for individuals, it is another quiver of options for the player looking for every advantage possible in their hitting aids. See our full Rapsodo Hitting Tank review.
There are a large number of products on the market and several of them are great options, all depending on what your player needs work on and what you are trying to improve upon. For help with swing path and to prevent casting and chopping there are options as cheap as $25 like the H.I.T. tee attachment or SwingRail to mid range options like the $50 Speed Hitter or Insider Bat all the way up to the more expensive Louisville Slugger Ultra-Instructoswing.
If your player is looking to increase bat speed and strength, options like weighted baseballs, SKLZ Power Stick, or the high end Back Spin Tee and SKLZ Hurricane Category 4 Swing Trainer are all options to consider.
Many of the hitting training aids work on multiple swing needs and with all of them, if used properly and practicing with a purpose you’ll see positive results.