Updated: May 12, 2023

4 Data Driven Ways To Increase Bat Speed

We’ve had a lot of traction on our scientific way to hit home runs article over the years and are a bit surprised we’ve never put together a similar scientific approach to improving your swing speed. They are similar. After all, we try increasing our swing speed to hit more home runs.

But, some studies are designed specifically for measuring swing speed and others for measuring power (exit velocity). We are focusing here on specifically increasing swing speed.

Increase Swing Speed – To Do List

  1. Make a Work Out Plan to increase your bench Press Max
  2. Incorporate Under/Overload Training Immediatley
  3. Consider being innovative and getting ankle weights for your biceps
  4. Get video analysis of your Swing and improve your mechanics.
  5. Sign Up for Our Newsletter

We read far and wide, looking at the science to find five ways to increase your swing speed. There is some overlap with our home runs article, sure. But we did find five specific scientific journals discussing proven ways to improve bat speed. They are:

What We Cover
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In no particular order, here we go.

1. Improve Your One Rep Max in Bench

Hot Take: There are many ways to improve your max bench. Look at places like here and here (and here) to get some great workout regimens to improve overall your one rep max for the bench press, a proven way to increase your bat speed.

Well, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. You tend to swing the bat faster if you are stronger, especially in upper body strength. Surprise!!!

That doesn’t sound like rocket science, but it is something this Journal of Strength and Conditioning paper makes clear. Specifically, they found that increases in your one rep max bench press correlated with improvements in your swing speed. And, maybe most interesting in the whole study, those who started with moderate to slow swing speeds benefited the most from getting a better bench press.

Key Takeaways

  • There was a significant positive relationship between upper-body strength and bat velocity.
  • The relationship between upper-body strength and bat velocity was stronger for players with lower levels of bat velocity.
  • Upper-body strength training can be an effective way to improve bat velocity in collegiate baseball players.
  • Coaches should focus on developing upper-body strength in players with lower bat velocity levels.

In other words, you’ve heard it said don’t skip legs.  Well, don’t skip upper body strength training, either.

2. Underload and Overload Training

Hot Take: If you’ve yet to hear of Overload/Underload training your swing, I’m glad you’re here. It works, but don’t get bogged down in the details or upgrade programs from companies acting like they’ve invented this. It’s a known commodity you can do with your game bat, your little brother’s, and your dad’s bat.

This is ubiquitous in the swing training world, and more than a few programs are designed with this scientific study in mind. But it doesn’t require special equipment to swing heavier and lighter bats when you take your reps. And it’s shown that, over time, in high-level players, it improves your swing speed.

The idea is that we should ALTERNATE between light, normal and heavy bats during our swing training. Something like this:

Underload Overload Swing Plan

Rep Swing Weight Bat Type
1-20 50% Light Bat
21-40 100% Normal Bat
41-60 200% Heavy Bat

The Optimal Pattern in Overload/Underload Training

There’s not one.

There might be one, but no one knows what it is. The industry product lines have tended to settle on 20% to 30% heavier and lighter. But, the science doesn’t seem to make a big deal about any particular range other than it is measurable ‘heavier.’ The study used a 32oz bat as the ‘gamer’ and a 64oz bat as the heavy. In terms of its actual swing weight, we aren’t sure. But you can’t double the importance of a bat without considerably increasing its swing difficulty.

3. In Warm-Ups, Weight Your Arms, Not Your Bat

Hot Take: At the risk of being laughed off the stage, put ankle weights in the on-deck circle and wrap them around your biceps while in the on-deck process. Warm up with your normal bat with NO weights on it. In other words, weigh your arms, not the bat, in warm-ups.

Ok, look, this is going to be a hard sell.

We’re discussing something you’ve never seen before, and you’ll get laughed at for doing it. But, science doesn’t care about your feelings. And, after finding and reading this study, we’re surprised no one like VARO baseball or Lizard Skin has tried to do something like this.

It’s this (which you can read about in this study from 2008 in South Korea): You attach weights to your upper arms during your warm-up phase. Imagine, at least we are, ankle weights around your biceps.

In some respect, this feels like it might make sense. Studies have long shown that we shouldn’t use a heavier bat in the on-deck circle (even though everyone does). And people use ankle weights in things like basketball to get warm. So, maybe the secret bullet to maximizing your swing speed is putting extra weight on your arms, not the bat.

Key Takeaways

  • Overweighted arm warm-up may be more effective for improving bat speed than overweighted bat warm-up.
  • A short break after the warm-up is recommended to maximize performance and minimize fatigue.

4. Learning From Cricket: Get Perfect Form

Hot Take: Bat speed is determined by pelvis and thorax segments, lead elbo extensions, wrist undocking, and the impact location on the bat’s face. That’s what they found with Cricket players, and it also rings true with baseball and fastpitch.

We didn’t need to go to Cricket to prove this; we already know it’s true. But it’s fun to see it confirmed scientifically. Better form means better swing speed, and we can read this study that proves it.

Perfect form is crucial in a baseball swing as it directly impacts a player’s ability to make solid contact with the ball and generate power. When a batter executes the correct form, it allows for an efficient transfer of energy from the body to the bat, resulting in increased bat speed and the potential for hitting the ball with greater force. Proper form also helps maintain balance and stability throughout the swing, enabling the batter to make precise adjustments and react quickly to different pitch variations.

That’s much easier said than done, but we already know it’s obvious and we’d run amis in this article about improving swing speed if we didn’t point out what is obvious: mechanics matter. A lot.

There are so many ways to improve your mechanics in a swing that we won’t pretend to be the end-all be all of bat coaches. We save that for so many other people. But here are three things to consider, no matter who you work with.

1. Mechanics: Understanding and practicing the fundamental mechanics of a baseball swing is essential. This includes proper grip, stance, weight distribution, and stride. It is crucial to work on the sequential movement of the body, starting from the lower body generating power through the legs and hips, transferring it to the torso, and eventually reaching the arms and bat. Regular practice and repetition of correct mechanics will help develop muscle memory and reinforce the proper form.

2. Body Control and Flexibility: Developing body control and flexibility plays a significant role in achieving optimal form. Strengthening the core muscles and improving flexibility in the hips, shoulders, and wrists allows for a more fluid and coordinated swing. Exercises such as rotational drills, core stability exercises, and stretching routines specific to baseball can help enhance body control and range of motion. Stretch. Stretch. And Stretch.

3. Video Analysis and Feedback: Video analysis can be highly beneficial in identifying areas for improvement in one’s swing. Recording and reviewing swings from different angles provide valuable visual feedback on body positioning, bat path, and timing. Seeking guidance from coaches or experienced players who can analyze the footage and provide constructive feedback can greatly assist in making necessary adjustments and refining form.

Consistent practice, attention to detail, and focus on refining the mechanics and body control will contribute to developing better form in a baseball swing that naturally leads to a faster swing speed. It is essential to understand that achieving perfect form is a continuous process that requires dedication, patience, and a willingness to make adjustments based on feedback and self-evaluation. With time and effort, honing one’s form will improve consistency, power, and overall performance at the plate.

Abstract

This article discusses four scientific ways to increase swing speed in baseball. The first method focuses on improving upper-body strength, particularly the one-rep max bench press, as it correlates with improved swing speed. The second method uses overload/underload training, alternating between heavier and lighter bats during exercise to enhance swing speed. The third wildly suggests weighing the arms instead of the bat during warm-ups, using ankle weights on the upper arms to increase swing speed potentially.

The fourth method emphasizes practicing proper swing mechanics. The article draws insights from cricket and highlights the significance of perfect form in generating bat speed. Elements such as the pelvis and thorax segments, lead elbow extensions, wrist uncocking, and impact location on the bat’s face increase swing speed.

Overall, the article emphasizes the importance of strength training, utilizing overload/underload training, weighting the arms during warm-ups, and focusing on form to enhance swing speed in baseball. Consistent practice, flexibility exercises, and video analysis are valuable tools for improvement.

5-day Swing Speed Work Out Plan

Here’s a 5-day workout plan to implement the steps above.

Day Workout/Practice Plan
Day 1: Upper-Body Strength Training
  • Warm up with dynamic stretches and light cardio.
  • Perform upper-body strength exercises – 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.
  • Finish with core exercises.
  • Batting practice focusing on proper swing mechanics.
Day 2: Overload/Underload Training
  • Warm up with light cardio and dynamic stretches.
  • Perform underload/normal/overload swings using different bats – 3 sets of 20 swings for each weight category.
  • Focus on maintaining proper form and technique.
  • Core exercises and mobility work.
  • Optional: Additional batting practice.
Day 3: Arm Weight Warm-Up and Flexibility
  • Warm up with light cardio and dynamic stretches.
  • Attach ankle weights to upper arms or use weighted bands for warm-up.
  • Engage in a flexibility routine targeting hips, shoulders, and wrists.
  • Practice swing mechanics with a regular bat.
Day 4: Practice Perfect Swing Mechanics
  • Warm up with dynamic stretches and light cardio.
  • Focused work on swing mechanics.
  • Utilize video analysis for swing review and adjustments.
  • Core exercises and cool-down stretches.
Day 5: Batting Practice and Review
  • Warm up with light cardio and dynamic stretches.
  • Dedicate session to batting practice, incorporating improvements.
  • Focus on consistency, timing, and proper swing mechanics.
  • Review recorded swings and receive feedback.
  • Cool-down stretches and mobility exercises.