Using Batting Weight On-Deck May Dangerous To Bat & Ball Exit Speed?

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Scientific Truth Every Coach Ought to Know About Using Batting Weights To Warm-up In The On-Deck Circle

This post may blow the minds of those that didn’t get the memo…

Chris Dozer, who’s father to one of my 10yo online lesson students, sent the following Wall Street Journal article titled: “Watching Your Weight Before Hitting Plate”.

Weighted Bat Swing Comparison

WITH weighted bat warm-up, hitter barreled the ball LESS often. Photo courtesy: SportsScience YouTube video

You can read the article in full by clicking the previous link, but I wanted to include important bullet points from the article and Sports Science video above:

  • “Studies conducted over several decades have concluded that the ritual popular among professionals and emulated by amateurs doesn’t increase bat speed.  It may actually slow it down…’the best is your own bat'”
  •  According to the Zepp app, average professional bat speeds range from 75 to 90-mph, average High School and College bat speeds range from 65 to 80-mph, and average youth bat speeds range from 40 to 70-mph.
  • PLEASE NOTE: there are other batting weight studies with small sample sizes (ranging from 7 to 60 players) comparing High School, College, and recreational hitters in laboratory settings (not LIVE batting practice).  Adrenaline or others batter’s routines could have influenced performance in these. Basically the variable wasn’t properly isolated…that being said, a study with 20 college baseball players found “their performance was statistically unchanged.”
  • Dr. DeRenne, found using a 28-ounce batting weight changed the balance point of the bat and slowed down bat speed.
  • In Sports Science video above, a college hitter in 2008 hit 10 machine pitched balls WITHOUT using a batting weight before, and had an average bat speed of 69-mph, and routinely connected with the sweet spot.  After using the batting weight, then taking another 10 swings off the same pitching machine, his average bat speed dropped to 68.3-mph, and on each swing he missed the bat’s sweet spot by several inches.
  • The above video talked about how because the hitter swings the bat at a slower pace using a batting weight, more red slow twitch endurance muscle fibers get recruited, thereby decreasing the amount of white fast twitch muscle fibers which fire two to three times faster.  Warming up with batting weight in on-deck circle is actually priming the wrong muscles before stepping in the box. 
  • The experience of a single batter can’t be generalized to others, but the results resembled other studies.
  • “People are always looking for an edge,” Dr. Szymanski said, “but just because a professional athlete does something doesn’t mean it’s good or helpful or right.”

 

The Bottom Line?

Now, a 0.7-mph drop in average bat speed doesn’t seem like a lot, but as you saw, it makes a BIG difference in barreling the ball.  As retired Physicist Dr. Alan Nathan says:

  • If ball hits bat 1-inch off sweet spot = then 1 to 2-mph DECREASE in Ball Exit Speed (that’s 4 to 8-feet less distance!)
  • If ball hits bat 2-inch off sweet spot = then 2 to 3-mph DECREASE in Ball Exit Speed (that’s 8 to 12-feet less distance!)
  • If ball hits bat 3-inch off sweet spot = then 3 to 4-mph DECREASE in Ball Exit Speed (that’s 12 to 16-feet less distance!)

So, not only are hitters losing bat speed using a batting weight on the on-deck circle, but by barreling up the ball LESS OFTEN, they’re losing batted ball distance as well.  Aside from swinging the hitter’s own bat, I’d say swinging a lighter bat – faster – would help the body recruit more of those white fast twitch muscle fibers before stepping in the box.

Your thoughts?

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Joey Myers

I’m a member of the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA), the International Youth and Conditioning Association (IYCA), and the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).I’m also a HUGE supporter of the Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA).

I’ve spent 11+ years in the corrective fitness industry, and have too many alphabet-soup certifications to bore you with.I also played four years of Division One baseball at Fresno State from 2000-2003.

It’s NOT how you study, but what you study that counts.I apply human movement principles (or rules), validated by science, to hitting a baseball and softball.
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20 Comments

  1. Ryan

    Hey Joey. I remember reading a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research way back in the mid-90’s that concluded much the same. Just shows yet again how old outdated methods hang on tight in the game of baseball.

  2. Kyle

    The way the guy swung the weighted bat was pretty weird. He actually didn’t “swing” it using his body, he guided it slowly using a pattern that does not resemble a swing.

    • Joey Myers

      I agree Kyle, very swinging “down-ish”. Perry Husband, who was featured in the video, is digging up more data from that day. He said they through out a lot of his stuff ?

  3. Djura

    Great article Joey once again….If I may…..

    You swing a weighted or heavy bat prior to the season starting…. Everybody wants an advantage but with mechanics it’s deep study and with the body it’s taking good cuts before the season…etc…

    Not a few swings prior to hitting… If your going to bench some weight… would you go all for it with some one rep max reps prior to doing a good set of lessor weight… The fact is, if your swing is not sound, it’s possible that using heavy weight can get the right muscles engaged but also weakening you… Said another way, you can fine tune your swing for a moment… but with a variety of effects…

    If you don’t use your body, than swinging a weighted bat will destroy you…

    No matter if you use your body or not… you don’t cram in all that studying right before the test… Your suppose to be ready for the test… BTW, the test is the swing… and all you should do on deck is try to pick up on anything on the pitcher for timing…And have a good idea of how your approaching your particular at bat…

    At the end it becomes a tradition which when taken away plays with the batters mind… facts provides evidence…

    Tradition becomes culture… Culture doesn’t have to be fact driven…and as such is in fact more difficult to change…

    Although…Swinging a bat that weights a little more would be an interesting study…And a little less too… Although my assumption would be that the particular swing dictate the results more that the weight itself…

    By the way Alaska is bad ass this time of year… I know my family enjoyed going there… Hope all is well…

    ~DM

  4. James

    I like to over/under load train, but for pre at bats in games, being on time with your bat is the best method in my opinion…

    I use the junior Hitting jacket (5 oz) or the end loaded ammo bat for overload and I use a slow pitch softball bat for underload (about 25 oz)

    Doing this, My hitters have had continuous climbs in bat Speed and Ball Exit Speed along with better barrel awareness

  5. Mark

    This might be the idea behind runners training downhill to increase speed. Your body gets used to running faster and muscles adapt.

  6. Larry

    There is nothing new in this study as the concept of using a weight on the bat on deck to increase bat speed has been disproved by at least a decade .

    • Joey Myers

      Larry, did you read how I started the article off…? “This will blow the minds of those who didn’t get the memo…” I’m beginning to think your attention to detail needs some work my friend ? lol

  7. Djura

    Larry… I don’t know what you mean… Did you not hear… Joey invented this cool thing called the wheel…It goes in circles…

    Larry… Your funny…

    Joey…I appreciate your work…Thanks…

    ~DM

  8. Larry

    djura,
    I have been trying to tell Joey he is trying to reinvent the wheel for a couple of years.Ask him if i didn’t say exactly that?

    • Joey Myers

      Larry, I’ll ask you again, what do you add to the conversation by bringing this up any time you comment? If you know it all, then go someplace else? Why hang around here like a fly saying how old and outdated the information is, and when we bat you away, you come right back landing on the same spot? Add to the conversation, don’t take away. Be a part of the solution, not the problem. I literally have tens of thousands of people interested in this information, so it must not be that outdated 😉 lol

  9. Larry

    Joey,
    I didn’t exactly understand what you were saying when you started the post regarding the memo line…I try to follow your posts but may miss some here and there, so the reference you made could have been pertaining something else you mentioned on the subject. Have you posted on that topic previously?
    You know that I pay attention to the details and will continue to do so .Further,you also know that I think that some of your stuff passes scientific muster for which you are to be commended.

  10. Djura

    Larry… you want to hear something new…. Your posture is weird…” your ” meaning everyone’s posture. And before we grab a bat… we need to have ideal posture or get into ideal posture… This is a must…. So we MUST get into a posture which I already labeled WEIRD….

    So let’s take one angle… if you have poor posture… and try to sit or stand correctly… well that feels weird… tension… but if you have great posture than that tension goes away…or does it…

    So do we want tension… or does it depend on how bad is our posture….

    Seriously… the way your body holds us up is weird… Said another way… if you don’t Understand posture and it’s the first thing that a batter must know in some sense when grabbing a bat… Well….If you don’t understand how our posture is weird…THAN…..

    ~DM

  11. BA

    I think most guys use the weighted bat for a few swings and it’s to get lose and stretch some, not to speed up their swing? I would love to see a real sports science do a test with the batter using it for 3 swings as opposed to a lot of swings and no offense to the guy but what he was doing was not swinging the weighted bat, I would not even count those reps. I can’t believe that had any affect at all on the next swings.