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Swing Bat Path To Hit More Line Drives, Square Up The Ball, & Gain Faster Bat Speed!

Discover swing bat path to hit more line drives, square the ball up more, increase hitting power, and gain faster bat speed using principle drills for baseball or softball hitters.

How To Consistently Crush The Ball Using Geometry & Springy Forces

 

 

The objective of this presentation was to give a technical speech to a non-technical audience.  Sorry, the video and audio aren’t the best, but I think you’ll get the overall message.  Also, I’ve provided the power-point slides I used for this presentation (CLICK HERE to download from Google Drive).

You may find it quite helpful to follow along with the slides during the presentation.  PLEASE NOTE: in each section, I do skip to the images in that section to help illustrate a point.  We discussed the following:

  • Move better, perform better,
  • Use movement tests,
  • Match the Pitch-Plane with Geometry, and
  • Knock snot out of the ball with Springy Fascia.

Below is the basic outline of the speech…

ENJOY!

 

Move Better, Perform Better

  • ‘Governor’ truck engine story
  • Repetitive movements/position shape your body
  • “You can’t fire a cannon from a canoe” Mobilize & Stabilize

 

Use Movement Tests

  • Following “rules” to human movement – GRF, FoMo, Ang Mom, Centrip/Centrif, springy forces
  • Gorilla Grip
  • One-Joint Rule
  • Un-Weighting

 

Match Pitch-Plane with Geometry

  • Define Pitch-Plane
  • Importance of Back Leg Angle
  • Attack Angle + Ball Exit Speed

 

Knock Snot Out of Ball with Springy Fascia

  • Define springy fascia – tension/compression forces
  • Seen the biggest jumps in average Bat Speed with spinal engine experiments
  • Showing numbers – 6-mph
  • Downhill shoulder angle – 4-mph
  • Finger Pressure – 3-mph
  • Hunched Posture – +4 Attack Angle
Truth About Hitting Power & Bat Speed: Does Hip Rotation & Lower Half Increase Your Bat Speed?

Learn whether using hip rotation and the lower half increases hitting power or bat speed.  Discover at home swing drills that DO improve power (NOT what you think)…

Clayton Kershaw + Roger Federer = Repeatable Hitting Power

 

Yes, hitters can build consistent explosive rotational power into their swings by learning from tennis players and baseball pitching athletes.  CLICK HERE to check out this “Pitching Instruction Secrets for Hitters” video post I did featuring 2014 World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner.

I received an email from a teacher in Portugal named Alexandra Franco.  She plays competitive tennis and is also a tennis instructor.  She recently purchased my Truth About Explosive Rotational Power online video course to help her teach and play tennis better.  She asked a lot of really good questions around how the spinal engine mechanics I’m teaching my hitters related to serving a tennis ball…

In this video, we’re going to explore Dr. Serge Gracovetsky’s Spinal Engine Mechanics, as they relate to:

  • Moving the spine for performance,
  • Comparing Alexandra’s serve to Roger Federer’s, and
  • Apply key baseball pitching & tennis principles to hitting for repeatable power…

Moving the Spine for Performance

Dr. Serge Gracovetsky, in his book The Spinal Engine says,

“The spine cannot be rotated axially without flexing.  The spinal engine theory requires the lumbar spine to be flexed laterally if an axial torque is to be induced.”

According to Dr. Gracovetsky, there are three possible spinal movements:

  1. Extension (lordosis)/Flexion – standing tall, or arching the lower back.  And think of Flexion as rounding the back,
  2. Lateral Flexion or Side bending – standing tall, then flexing the upper body sideways at the waist, and
  3. Axial Rotation – this is the shoulders rotating opposite the pelvis.  Think of this as torque or how a gear box works.

He then adds that if two of the above are present, then almost always the end result is the third.  All explosive rotational athletes, have to abide by these rules to human movement.  Let’s see how Alexandra and Roger Federer use a combination of the above three spinal movements for performance…

 

Comparing Tennis Serve of Alexandra to Roger Federer

Here are some key differences Alexandra can use to up her tennis serve…Roger Federer tends to:

  • Bend both knees as he throws the ball in the air, which helps with
  • Maintaining strict alignment with his head and spine as he globally extends (head & spine as one piece) over his heels,
  • As he’s doing this, he angles his shoulders up towards the apex of the ball causing an extreme side bend of the spine (in the video, look how low his back shoulder gets compared to his front), and
  • Going into axial rotation to hit the ball, watch how both elbows move counter-clockwise, at the same time, and on the same plane with the shot.

 

Apply Key Baseball Pitching & Tennis Principles to Hitting for Repeatable Power

A page out of Dr. Serge Gracovetsky's book The Spinal Engine for baseball pitching...

A page out of Dr. Serge Gracovetsky’s book The Spinal Engine…

The tennis serve and baseball pitching mechanics are very similar.  Dr. Serge Gracovetsky says,

“The large torque required to propel the baseball demands such a large amount of lateral bending that the pelvis must be rocked as well.  It is this requirement that precipitates the characteristic lift of the left leg before the throw.”

One of the key differences to hitting is the shoulder angle (lateral bend).  Hitters need to move the front shoulder slightly down to hit the ball up.  I get this with my hitters by cuing them to raise the back elbow at or above the top hand (see Trout photo above).

Whereas baseball pitching athletes, like 2014 NL Cy Young and MVP Award winner Clayton Kershaw, and Roger Federer need to angle the front shoulder up before throwing or hitting the ball down.

One last thought from Dr. Serge Gracovetsky about proper spinal engine mechanics for explosive rotational athletes:

“The axial rotation of the spine cannot happen unless the spine is flexed by the right amount on the correct side.  Coaching an athlete to throw without a proper spinal position is an invitation to severe torsional injuries.”

STOP Early Hip Rotation & Using Lower Half Correctly Increase Power In Baseball Or Softball Swing?

Discover if STOPPING early hip rotation and using the lower half correctly increases power in the baseball or softball swing.  Learn hitting drills to do at home.

Softball Hitting Tips Fastpitch: Is Power ALL In The Hips?

 

 

This is Part-3 of a 3-part softball hitting tips fastpitch video series coming straight out of the Catapult Loading System online video mini-course…

The Catapult Loading System

Sick of struggling with getting your hitters to hit the ball hard with more consistency?  This is a simple 7-module online video mini-course that will help hitters weighing less than 100-pounds, hit the ball consistently over 300-feet in 60 days.  You’ll be able to dramatically increase power without sacrificing swing quality.

CLICK the Link below to…

Get Access to The Catapult Loading System Mini-Course

 

In this softball hitting tips fastpitch video post, we’re going to answer one of my reader’s questions…

“Ways to use your hips to create bat speed?”

Before I get to the #1 Biggest Lie In Hitting, we’ll cover:

  • Inward hip turn towards catcher to load?
  • Springy ‘X’ Pattern, and
  • Landing open with the front foot.

 

Inward Hip Turn Towards Catcher To Load?

Softball Hitting Tips Fastpitch: Lauren Chamberlain Hitting

Are Lauren Chamberlain’s hips firing on their own, or was her spine pre-loaded earlier by her shoulders? Photo courtesy: YT user – Paul Arebalo

I picked up on this in High School after reading Ted Williams’s book The Science Of Hitting.

But is this really necessary?

After reading Thomas Myers’s book Anatomy Trains, I don’t believe that it is.

To me, ‘Loading the hips’ by turning the pelvis inward towards the catcher creates more challenges, than benefits.

The biggest challenge is that if the timing isn’t right, the hitter will get stuck landing with a closed front leg at landing (front toe less than a 45-degree angle).

CLICK HERE for a Zepp swing experiment I did on landing closed versus open, and the affect on average bat speed.

Olympic Javelin Throwers, Boxers, and Sprinters do just fine without using an inward turn of the pelvis, away from their target, before throwing, punching, or running.

 

Springy ‘X’ Pattern

I don’t want to beat a dead horse, so here are two great video blog posts I did, that apply to softball hitting tips fastpitch, talking about the Springy ‘X’ Pattern:

 

Landing Open with the Front Foot

The guys at ZenoLink are awesome!  They find the truth behind human movement science.  This video discusses how the lower body position or stride setup will dictate how well you create and utilized ground reaction force to initiate the swing process and develop power and bat speed.

They found the optimal degree that the stride foot must be open at landing to be around 65-degrees (watch around the 2:00 mark)…

 

 

So WHY are we teaching our young hitters to stride closed?!!

To summarize…

‘Loading and exploding the hips’ by inwardly turning the pelvis towards the catcher can cause the hitter to land closed.  If the hitter lands closed, then bat speed WILL go down, according to the results of my Zepp swing experiment, and to the guys at ZenoLink.  As a result of bat speed going down, so will Ball Exit Speed.

‘Firing the hips’ is an over-coached cue, if anything, let’s ‘load and explode the shoulders’, not the hips.  Us hitting coaches MUST shift our focus above the pelvis, into the shoulders by way of the Springy ‘X’ Pattern.

So, what is the #1 Biggest Lie In Hitting, as it relates to softball hitting tips fastpitch?

That we MUST ‘load and explode the hips’.

You see,

We have to get away from learning inside baseball and softball hitting circles.  We must first learn human movement science, then break away, and begin thinking creatively about how to apply these human movement “rules”, that are validated by science, to hitting a ball.

Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

Discover how to teach a kid to hit for power by hitting a baseball, fast pitch, and slow pitch softball better, farther, and harder with the Catapult Loading System.

Why I Teach Hitters To ‘Show Numbers’ (And Maybe You Should Too)

 

 

Question: How does ‘Showing Numbers’ to the Pitcher Effect Bat Speed at Impact versus ‘NOT Showing’ them?

Aaron Judge Showing Numbers to the Pitcher

Aaron Judge (Showing Numbers), unloads a solo home run to center field on 10/17/17 to put the Yankees on the board in the 7th inning.

Using the Zepp (Labs) Baseball app, I wanted to use the Scientific Method to analyze if a hitter showing their numbers to the pitcher at landing adds to or takes away from key swing performance metrics like Bat Speed at Impact, Time To Impact, and Attack Angle.  This swing experiment is revisiting two other experiments done analyzing the same thing.

 

Background Research

Since we’re REVISITING two previous swing experiments on ‘Showing Numbers’ versus NOT, here are the original posts and data to get you up to speed:

In 2016 ‘Show Numbers’ swing experiment, this was what the averaged out Zepp data looked like:

  • 5-mph INCREASE in Bat Speed at Impact with ‘Showing Numbers’,
  • 0.5-mph INCREASE in Hand Speed Max with ‘Showing Numbers’,
  • .003 second DECREASE in Time to Impact with ‘Showing Numbers’,
  • 3* INCREASE in Bat Vertical Angle at Impact with ‘Showing Numbers’, and
  • 1.5* INCREASE in Attack Angle with ‘Showing Numbers.

Now, let’s see how the Ball Exit Speed averages compare:

  • 76.02-mph BES when ‘NOT Showing Numbers’,
  • 77.32-mph BES  when ‘Showing Numbers’,
  • That’s a 1.3-mph average INCREASE when ‘Showing Numbers’, and
  • Translates between 5.2-feet to 7.8-feet of EXTRA batted ball distance – depending on if you calculate using 1-mph BES = 4-feet of distance OR 1-mph BES = 6-feet of distance.

In this experiment, if you look at the ‘NOT Showing Numbers’ swings, they were actually ‘Showing Numbers’.  In other words, the subject in the swing experiment, Preston Scott, already shows his numbers well causing a challenge to not show them.  Therefore on the ‘Showing Numbers’ swings, he showed them more.  I think that’s why we didn’t see as much of a difference in Ball Exit Speeds.

In 2014 ‘Show Numbers’ swing experiment, this was what the averaged out Zepp data looked like:

  • Bat speed for NOT showing numbers at landing: 73-mph,
  • Bat speed for showing numbers at landing: 79-mph (+6-mph),
  • Highest bat speed for NOT showing numbers at landing: 82-mph,
  • Highest bat speed for showing numbers at landing: 88-mph (+6-mph),
  • Hand speed max for NOT showing numbers was: 27-mph, and
  • Hand speed max for showing numbers was: 29-mph (+2-mph).

Between both swing experiments, we saw an average Bat Speed at Impact increase between 5 to 6-mph.  In 2016 we saw a .003 second drop in Time To Impact ‘Showing Numbers’, while in 2014 we saw a .003 increase.

The research on increasing bat or ball exit speed can be seen in the following two books on springy fascia and spinal engine mechanics:

You can also get application of previously mentioned books through the following HPL video blog posts.

  1. Miguel Cabrera and the timing of torque.
  2. Josh Donaldson v. Jose Bautista: how spine engine mechanics are amplified by Gravitational Forces, and
  3. Adrian Gonzalez: how-to naturally spring load the body.

For those versed in Anatomy, for explosive movement on the Transverse Plane (twisting), there must be a protraction of the front scapula (‘showing numbers’), and a retraction of the back Scapula (what’s often referred to as ‘Scap Row’).  Scap Rowing by itself doesn’t engage full range of springy fascia.

 

Hypothesis

Based on the above research, I’m expecting to see a dramatic bump in Bat Speed at Impact, Hand Speed Max, and possibly a reduction in Time To Impact.  I think Attack Angle and Bat Vertical Angle at Impact will remain unchanged.

Showing Numbers Swing Experiment Part-3

Equipment Used:

SwingAway Bryce Harper model

This is the SwingAway Bryce Harper model hitting station used for the ‘Showing Numbers’ experiment.

  • Zepp Baseball app (to measure Bat Speed, Hand Speed, Time to Impact, & Attack Angle),
  • SwingAway Bryce Harper model hitting station,
  • GS6 android phone to record swings, and
  • 33 inch bamboo bat.

Setup:

  • SwingAway Bryce Harper bungy suspended ball was set equal to the landing foot, and ball height was about knee height.
  • I broke each swing down into three steps: 1) Get to landing, 2) Pause for 2-secs, and 3) Swing.  The reason for this was to better control whether I was showing numbers or not.
  • The two tests in the swing experiment were counter-balanced.  Which consisted of eight blocks of 25-swings done in the following order ABBA BAAB.  ‘Showing Numbers’ was letter ‘A’, and ‘NOT Showing Numbers’ was letter ‘B’.  200 total swings were completed in the experiment, 100 per test.  Counter-balancing helps remove the “getting tired” and “warm up” factors.
  • The ‘Showing Numbers’ swing shoulders were set to about 2’o’clock, if pitcher is 12’o’clock.  The ‘NOT Showing Numbers’ swing shoulders were set to about 12’o’clock.

 

Data Collected from Zepp Baseball App:

'Showing' v. 'NOT Showing' Numbers to Pitcher Zepp Numbers

Data Analysis & Conclusion

Zepp data analysis comparing the averages:

  • Bat Speed at Impact INCREASE of 3-mph ‘Showing Numbers’,
  • Hand Speed Max DECREASE of 1-mph ‘Showing Numbers’,
  • Time To Impact INCREASE of 0.014 ‘Showing Numbers’,
  • Bat Vertical Angle At Impact DECREASE of 4-degree ‘Showing Numbers’, and
  • Attack Angle INCREASE of 6-degrees ‘Showing Numbers’.

The drop from previous ‘Showing Numbers’ swing experiments was surprising, in addition to a small 1-mph drop in Hand Speed Max.  There was also a slight increase in Time To Impact.  The interesting numbers were the ones that indicate Launch Angles, both Bat Vertical Angle at Impact and Attack Angle.  We hadn’t experienced such a dramatic uptick in those in past experiments.

A couple notes…

  • The past two experiments were done in a cage, off a tee, so I could see ball flight, and maybe that had an effect on the swing metrics.
  • Some hitting coaches speak highly of Time To Impact and want to reduce at all cost, but I disagree. There’s a healthy range for that, you don’t want it too short or too long.  I’m not going to get into why here, maybe in another post.
  • To explain the dramatic increase of the barrel’s upward trajectory in ‘Showing Numbers’, I may have been getting more of a downward shoulder angle at landing.
Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

Discover flat swing bat path trainer drills to square up a baseball or softball and learn how to hit more line drives instead of swinging under fly balls and hitting top half chopping grounders.

Hitting Tips To Boost Barrel Time On Pitch Plane

Ryan Braun early on pitch-plane

Ryan Braun early on pitch-plane. Photo courtesy: JTA.org

I often get caught up in my own ways of doing things that I sometimes lose sight of better hitting tips others are using for the same outcomes.  I’m not perfect.  And I’ll readily admit that I don’t know all the answers.  This my wife will surely echo 😉

But I do take pride in submitting and standing on the shoulders of giants.  This quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson changed my life:

“As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.”

Think of methods as “the drills.”  This post is for you hitting instructors or coaches who’re applying human movement principles, and successfully selecting your own methods.  I want to pick your brain, and hear your thoughts below.

But first, here’s the gist of the hitting tips assignment…

Hitting Tips from the Collective Few…

Ryan Braun Hitting Tips: staying long on the plane of the pitch

Ryan Braun staying long on the plane of the pitch. Photo courtesy: SportsWorldNews.com

I want to focus on efficiently increasing barrel time on the plane of the pitch using the Conservation of Angular Momentum.  By the way, it doesn’t matter if you come from baseball or softball.  So drawing from your teaching experience, what are your thoughts on the following (PLEASE leave your pearls of wisdom in the hitting tips comment section below):

  • Your go-to hitting drill for boosting barrel time on the pitch plane (pics or vids are welcome),
  • The best sticky coaching cue (or cues) that you use with young hitters, and/or
  • Any kind of underground (i.e. DIY) hitting aids that help with boosting barrel time on the pitch plane.

Keep in mind, inefficiencies such as arm barring, bat drag (racing back elbow), rolling over, and staying “attached” through the finish are issues you can address.   After a week, I’m going to have my readers vote on the best approach, and we’ll announce a winner.  Please share your thoughts in the “Leave a Reply” section below…

Increase Max Bat Whip Or Barrel Speed Creating Hip Shoulder Separation Hitting Torque For Faster Baseball & Softball Swing

Discover how to increase max bat whip or barrel speed creating hip shoulder separation hitting torque for a faster baseball and softball swing.  Learn when to load the shoulders in little league with this swing experiment…

Baseball Swing Load: If You Can Bend Sideways You Can Gain 4-MPH Bat Speed

 

 

Question: Does a Slight “Downhill” Shoulder Angle Before Landing Boost Baseball Swing Load & Bat Speed?

In this baseball swing load “shoulder” angle experiment using the Zepp (Labs) Baseball app, I wanted to use the Scientific Method to analyze what would happen to Bat & Hand Speed when we took 100 swings with a slight “Downhill” shoulder angle (about 8-10-degrees) versus another 100 swings with level shoulders.

The Feedback Lab parent testimonial about his 14 year old daughter Mia:

“Hey Coach,

It has been way too long but I wanted to share some information that happened yesterday. We are heading up to Chattanooga, Tennessee, the largest showcase in the southeast today. Yesterday was our last day to hit before the showcase and Mia was struggling with her power. We hit about 60-70 balls and Mia was hitting about 10% over the fence (she is usually 40%+). I was looking to make sure she was showing her number, which she was, hiding her hands, which she was, landing with a bent knee, which she was and etc., etc. It was getting late and we had to go and I told Mia she had only 6 balls left. I told her to show me her stance and I noticed that her front shoulder was equal to her back shoulder. I then told her to lower her front shoulder and raise her back one. That was the only change we made to her swing, Mia then hit the next 6 balls over the fence and 2 of them were bombs. I cannot believe the difference this one small change made.

Thanks,
Primo”

Background Research

Baseball Swing Load: Miguel Cabrera WSJ Info-Graphic

Wall Street Journal Info-Graphic at: http://gohpl.com/1NFi8qi

The best resource for getting educated on spinal engine mechanics is to pick up Dr. Serge Gracovetsky’s book The Spinal Engine.  For a teased out version of this,

CLICK HERE for a post I did that compared the pitching delivery, hitting, and an overhead tennis serve using this “bending sideways” technique.

Another good book from multiple authors on the subject of spinal engine mechanics, locomotion biomechanics, and springy fascia, check out the book Dynamic Body by leading author Dr. Erik Dalton.

Also, here’s a great Wall Street Journal post about Miggy Cabrera titled, Miguel Cabrera: The Art of Hitting.  Check out what the illustration says in the middle of the red circle above…

 

Hypothesis

Based on the above baseball swing load experiment research and one of the other countless online hitting testimonials I get about “bending sideways” benefits, I think using a slight “Downhill” Shoulder Angle will boost Bat Speed at Impact by at least 3-mph, and Hand Speed Max by 2-mph.

 

Baseball Swing Load: “Downhill” Shoulder Angle Experiment

Baseball Swing Mechanics Experiment: Zepp Baseball App

CLICK Image to Purchase Zepp Baseball App

Equipment Used:

  • Zepp Baseball app,
  • Tanner Tee,
  • Camera Phone
  • 33-inch wood bat.

Setup:

  • Tyler Doerner, my intern for the summer and a hitter in HPL’s The Feedback Lab, is a redshirt college Freshman.  He did the baseball swing load shoulder angle experiment.
  • Tyler broke the swing into two steps: 1) get to landing position, pause for 1-2 seconds, 2) then swing, to better control the shoulder angle during the tests.
  • So, there was an absence of forward momentum in this experiment.
  • The two tests in the experiment were counter-balanced.  Which consisted of eight blocks of 25-swings done in the following order ABBA BAAB.  “Level Shoulders” were letter ‘A’, and
    “Downhill Shoulders” were letter ‘B’.  200 total swings were completed in the experiment, 100 per test.  Counter-balancing helps remove the “getting tired” and “not being warmed” up factors.

 

Data Collected (Zepp Baseball App):

Baseball Swing Load: Zepp Screenshot of Shoulder Angle Experiment

Look at the significant jumps in average Bat Speed at Impact & the Attack Angle…

Data Analysis & Conclusion

  • There’s a significant 4-mph JUMP in average Bat Speed at Impact with the “Downhill” Shoulder Angle.
  • Average Hand Speed Max only increased by 1-mph with the “Downhill” Shoulder Angle.
  • There was a small change in Time To Impact, in favor of the “Downhill” Shoulder Angle.
  • Not a big change in the Bat Vertical Angle at Impact.
  • And there was a significant 3-degree angle change in Attack Angle with “Downhill” Shoulder Angle.

Notes

  • We found a slightly bigger increase in average Bat Speed at Impact with the “Downhill” Shoulder Angle compared to my Hypothesis (4-mph versus 3-mph).
  • I thought there was going to be a bigger difference in Hand Speed Max, than how it turned out.
  • What was surprising was the 3-degree angle change of the attack angle.  A 10-degree Attack Angle is a typical line drive.  Once you start to get into the 15-20 degree range, you’re looking at more of a home-run launch angle.
  • The “Downhill” Shoulder Angle is actually something we’re working in Tyler’s swing.  He tends to let go of his angle a little too soon.
  • I find that before and after Ball Exit Speed readings with my local hitters who’re familiar with the “Downhill” Shoulder Angle, can increase from 1-3-mph when this it the only mechanic we’re working on.

The Bottom Line?

In this baseball swing load shoulder angle experiment, we can clearly see with the “Downhill” Shoulder Angle that there’s a significant 4-mph jump in Bat Speed at Impact, AND a surprising 3-degree boost in the Attack Angle.  The “Downhill” Shoulder Angle is a piece of what I call the Catapult Loading System.  The BIG-3 are:

  1. Downhill shoulder angle,
  2. Hiding hands from the pitcher, and
  3. For #3…
Youth Baseball Softball Batting Weight Donut (NOT Doughnut!) Benefit To Little League Swing

Discover whether the baseball or softball batting weight donut (not to be confused with a doughnut!) is or IS NOT a benefit to the Little League swing?  Weighted donut Amazon reviews: Easton, Power Wrap, and Varo.

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

 

 

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”.

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?

How To Increase Baseball Softball Bat Speed & Exit Velocity

Learn how to increase hitting power using a bat speed and exit velocity exercises drill formula for baseball, softball, and slow pitch.  Discover what is a good ball exit speed off the batting tee by age, and average High School programming.  When it comes to ball exit speeds by age, here’s what I like to see by the end of each year, off the tee… (add about 5-mph exit velocity to the following, in game at-bats)

  • Seniors: 90 to 95-mph
  • Juniors: 85 to 90-mph
  • Sophomores: 80 to 85-mph
  • Frosh: 75 to 80-mph
  • 8th graders: 70 to 75-mph
  • 7th graders: 65 to 70-mph
  • 12 years old: 60 to 65-mph

How To Hit 120.5-mph Ball Exit Speeds Like Josh Donaldson

 

 

Amy Gill and Andrew Marden from KSEE24, a local sports news station here in Fresno, CA, put this video together of an HPL Batted Ball Distance Challenge held about a month ago.

We worked primarily on testing showing the numbers, and the results were interesting…

Twelve total hitters, ranging in ages from 8-17 years old.  Nine of them had been exposed to the HPL system.  Two of them had not, and one had minimal exposure.

The familiar ones (control group) gained or lost between -1 to +1-mph of Ball Exit Speed, while the three “newbies” gained between 3 and 10-mph of Ball Exit Speed in one 30-minute session.  That’s between 15 to 50-feet of added batted ball distance!!

The Definitive Guide To Measuring, Tracking, & Boosting Ball Exit Speed

Josh Donaldson: 120.5-mph Ball Exit Speed

Josh Donaldson 120.5-mph Ball Exit Speed homer on April 23, 2015. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

On April 23rd, 2015…

The Toronto Blue Jays’ 3rd baseman, Josh Donaldson, hit a two-run homer to left off Chris Tillman that was clocked at 120.5-mph!

And as of August 18th, according to ESPN’s HitTrackerOnline.com (no longer available), was the highest Ball Exit Speed home-run in 2015.  By the way, this topped Giancarlo Stanton’s highest Ball Exit Speed homer, in the same year, by 3.2-mph (117.3-mph).

How does Josh Donaldson do it?

I mean, come on!

Giancarlo Stanton, also referred to as “Bigfoot”, stands at a gargantuan 6-foot, 6-inches tall, 240-pounds.  And from what I hear, has about 3-4% bodyfat.

On the other hand, Josh Donaldson stands in at mere 6-foot, 220-pounds.

Talk about David & Goliath!

But what little realize about David was that he was an expert marksman from long range.  So he never had to go toe-to-toe with Goliath.

David had a better strategy.  And so do small sluggers like Josh Donaldson.

In this post, we’ll be talking about Ball Exit Speed (BES), also known as Speed Off the Bat (SOB), or simply Exit Speed.  We’ll learn:

  • What affects Ball Exit Speeds?
  • What is the Desirable Minimum Effective Dosage (MED) for Ball Exit Speed? And
  • How-to increase Ball Exit Speed…

 

What Affects Ball Exit Speeds?

“What gets measured gets managed.” – Peter Drucker

Recently, I use a Pocket Radar Ball Coach to measure the Ball Exit Speeds of my hitters, off the tee, before and after each session.

It’s not radar gun accuracy we’re looking for here, but an apples to apples comparison.  Here’s what we’re comparing, using the radar gun, before and after each hitting session:

  1. Did the hitter beat a personal record (PR), and/or
  2. How consistent and stable their Ball Exit Speed readings are, or whether they’re jumping all over the place.

Unlike bat speed, there are many things that can affect the speed of the ball coming off the bat:

  • Bat Composition (BESR rating) – Wood v. non-wood.  End loaded v. more balanced weight. Bat size and weight.
  • Ball Composition (COR rating) – Plastic balls v. rawhide.  Corked core v. rubber.  Higher v. lower seams.
  • Hitter’s Arm/Leg Length vs Body Mass – In my opinion I think limb length is more of a factor than body mass.  And Physicist Dr. Alan Nathan has confirmed this.
  • Ball Spin Rate – Backspin and topspin, in addition to the coveted knuckle-ball will all affect BES differently.
  • Effective Mechanics – the better a hitter is at effectively using human movement rules that are validated by science, the better energy transfer from body to barrel to ball.
  • Pitching Velocity – From what I’ve heard and seen, pitch speed can add between 10-20-mph to Ball Exit Speeds, say from off the tee.
  • Fatigue – sleep, over-training, nutrition, and supplementation.  CLICK HERE for Zach Calhoon’s recovery shake mix.
  • Warm Up Factor – I noticed in my latest Zepp swing experiment, that I didn’t consistently hit 90+mph Ball Exit Speed, off the tee, until I reached about the 75 swing mark.
  • Learning New Hitting Mechanics – I’ve noticed with my hitters that when we introduce a brand new hitting movement into their swing, their Ball Exit Speeds drop between one to four-mph.  But if it’s something we’ve covered before, then they may actually increase by one to four-mph.
  • Timing – If a hitter is too late, and doesn’t allow his or her bat speed to mature, then Ball Exit Speeds will be lower.  If a hitter is too early, and their bat speed has begun to decelerate, then Ball Exit Speeds will also go down.
  • Environment – Humidity dampens Ball Exit Speeds (pun intended).  So does a head wind, duh.  On the other hand, hitting in dry hotter climates OR in Denver, Colorado, Ball Exit Speeds will increase because the air is less dense.
  • Hitting the Sweet Spot – Hitting the ball on the end of the bat, or closer to the hands will decrease Ball Exit Speed, while consistently hitting the sweet spot will boost it.
  • Bat Speed at Impact – Most of the time Ball Exit Speeds will be higher than Bat Speed at Impact.  With my Zepp swing experiments off the tee, it looks to be about a 6-mph difference.
  • Strength and conditioning – this can help but shouldn’t be the highest priority.  This should be the cherry on top.
  • Mobility and stability – if you move better, then you perform better.  Simple as that.  This MUST be a high priority not just to increase BES, but to minimize an athlete’s risk for injury.

What is the Desirable Minimum Effective Dosage (MED) for Ball Exit Speed?

“The smallest dose that will produce the desired outcome.” – Tim Ferriss on MED, 3-time NY Times Bestselling Author

According to this Wall Street Journal article titled, Yankees Dive Into the Numbers to Find Winning Patterns,

“Computers can track a ball’s exit velocity, launch angle, hang time and spin rate, 100 mph, the
speed necessary for most home runs; 75 mph, commonly the break-even pace for a ground ball to skip through the infield for a hit; and four seconds, the inflection point for fly ball hang-time, with any remaining in the air that long before getting caught.”

You may be wondering, what is the launch angle for a typical home-run?  According to the following Sports Science video, about 20-degrees:

According to a Beyond the Boxscore article titled, Do Hard Hit Ground-balls Produce More Errors?, that there is no significant increase in errorsat the Major League level, until Ball Exit Speeds reach and go beyond 95-mph.

This NY Times article titled, New Way To Judge Hitters? It’s Rocket Science – Sort Of, reports about Ball Exit Speed that:

  • The threshold for hitting a homerun is 95-mph,
  • Ball Exit Speed is being used to evaluate upcoming professionals, and can decide who starts,
  • Managers can use Ball Exit Speeds to see if there’s a drop off in a hitter’s Ball Exit Speed, which may reveal the player is hurt or needs to adjust their mechanics, and
  • Teams can shift their infielders back with hitters clocking higher Ball Exit Speeds.

And lastly, an article from eFastball.com titled, Bat Speed, Batted Ball Speed (Exit Speed) in MPH by Age Group, had this to say:

“MLB average exit speed is 103 mph, bat speed ranges roughly from 70-85 mph. 1 mph of additional exit speed makes the ball go 5 more feet. This would be roughly 4 feet for 1-mph bat speed – which is less than the 7-8 feet we have heard from other studies.”

Based on the information above, ideally the MED Ball Exit Speed, for the average Little Leaguer, would be 40-mph BES (40-mph BES X 5-feet = 200-feet of distance).  I want my Little Leaguers to get to 50-mph BES, for the fields that have 220-foot fences.  And of course launch angle is a huge factor in this.

And on the big field, it looks like 95-mph Ball Exit Speed is the MED because that means the hitter has the ability to hit the ball 475-feet (95-mph BES X 5-feet of distance).  Furthermore, the fact that Beyond the Boxscore’s observations about errors not increasing until Ball Exit Speeds reach 95-mph.

 

How-to Increase Ball Exit Speed

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” – Mark Twain

So, what advantage does a small slugger like Josh Donaldson have over Giancarlo “Bigfoot” Stanton?

Here’s the secret to boosting Ball Exit Speeds…

Tinker and Test.

Remember, Peter Drucker’s quote above?

“What gets measured gets managed.”

Here’s what to do to ensure a healthy increase in Ball Exit Speeds:

  • Get yourself a Bushnell Radar Gun and/or a Zepp baseball app,
  • CLICK HERE to read the definitive guide to running swing experiments,
  • Choose an HPL “Topic” in the navigation bar above, or search for one in the upper right hand corner of the website, and start testing.
  • Stop analyzing big hitters.  Instead look at the small sluggers, and see what they’re doing to compete, such as: Cano, McCutchen, Donaldson, Bautista, Vogt, Beltre, Braun, Pedroia (averages 44 doubles and 15 homers a season), Victor Martinez, Edwin Encarnacion, David Wright, Hank Aaron, Sadaharu Oh, and Mickey Mantle.

Do you have anything to add to the discussion?  Please REPLY below…

Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab
Hitting A Baseball: Discover The Secret Of Impact

Robinson Cano hitting a baseball post-contact. Photo courtesy: TheNYPost.com

Learn how to swing a bat and hit a baseball or softball faster, farther, and harder EVERY TIME.  Discover beginner practice at home hitting to increase bat speed, power, exit velocity, and how to hit the ball in a certain direction.

Hitting A Baseball: Discover The Secret Of Impact

Debating the intricacies of hitting a baseball (or softball) can be as bad as discussing religion or politics.  This is why we look to proven human movement science first.  Hitting a baseball NOT easy, but we can make it easier.  It has a lot of failure built into the fabric.  The objective of every coach, instructor, or parent should be to build as many “fail-safes” into the system as possible.

We’re going to explore the following, as they relate to impact:

  • Perry Husband & Effective Velocity,
  • 90-Degree Angle to the Spine Rule NOT True?
  • University of Miami Study: The Biomechanics of the Baseball Swing
  • Conclusion…

First I want to start by setting the table…

 

Perry Husband & Effective Velocity

Hitting a Baseball: Perry Husband Effective Velocity Pitching System

“Pluses” take-away from hitter’s reaction time, “minuses” add to hitter’s reaction time (images are pitcher’s POV). Photos courtesy: HittingIsAGuess.com

The one thing I like about Perry Husband’s contribution to hitting a baseball is he goes by “data, not feelings”.

He’s made a science out of a hitter’s reaction time.  Perry Husband has accumulated, “Over 10 years of study and testing of amateur hitters and two years of intense study of major league at bats in a 4 million plus pitch database”.  At his site Effective Velocity, Perry Husband explains his Effective Velocity system for pitchers:

The Downright Filthy Pitching Series is a very in depth study of speed as it relates to the hitter’s reaction time.  Initial velocity is the speed of the ball as the radar gun sees it, perceived velocity is the speed of the ball as the mind’s eye sees it and Effective Velocity is the speed it actually is.   Effective Velocity (EV) is the initial velocity plus the location effects of the pitch due to different locations having different reaction times…A 90 MPH pitch can and does equal many different speeds, depending on where the pitch is located. “

His data (photo above) suggests that a hitter has to be quicker to pitches up in the zone, and in.  And pitches down in the zone and away, give a hitter more time to adjust.  Perry Husband reports from his findings:

“Did you know that the highest exit velocities off Major League hitters’ bats come off the pitches in the lowest part of the strike zone? How about that the most homeruns hit are off pitches at the very bottom of the strike zone as well?”

Over the past year, I’ve softened to some of Perry’s hitting a baseball mechanics.  His information is vital to understanding if…

90-Degree Barrel Angle to the Spine Rule NOT True?

Hitting a Baseball: Giancarlco Stanton 90-degree Barrel to Spine Rule

Giancarlo Stanton: 90-degree barrel to spine rule. Note: outside pitch slightly up in zone. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

CLICK HERE for the post that explains this Rule.  The preceding post link refers to the barrel, not the front arm to spine angle. There are FOUR ways a hitter gets to pitches at the top/bottom of the strike-zone, and/or inside/outside of the plate…

  1. Tilting at the waist with the upper body (the lower the pitch, the more the tilt),
  2. Back knee bend,
  3. Front knee bend, AND
  4. Barrel path.

Another reader got upset saying that I’m teaching two different swings.  And enlightened me about his extensive study into the brain, and that taking a bent arm from the initiation of the swing and changing the shape to straight is impossible for the brain to do.  Click Here for a conversation Perry and I had on the arm bar.

Remember, Perry Husband said that the highest ball exit speeds and home-runs were off of lower pitches?  Do you think it could be because the front arm was able to extend at impact?  Creating a longer lever and allowing for a smooth transfer of bat speed (angular velocity) into ball exit speed (inertial force).  These are fundamental rules in the Conservation of Angular Momentum.

Look, if our goal as coaches is to get hitters 100% on-time, 100% swing effective, then we must take a serious look at the front arm bar.  High exit velocity is key to batted ball distance, and without it Launch Angles alone won’t score more runs.  Besides, how many commercial and/or passenger airplanes get off the ground without high horizontal velocity?  CLICK HERE for an interview we did with Perry Husband about his system.

One last thing to look into hitting a baseball…

 

University of Miami Study: The Biomechanics of the Baseball Swing

Hitting a Baseball: Josh Donaldson just past impact

Josh Donaldson game winning dinger high inside pitch. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

Major shout out to one of my readers and local lesson parents, Nieszka, for bringing this to my attention.  This study was done by Dr. David Fortenbaugh at the University of Miami (CLICK HERE if you want to download the 200+ page pdf).  Here’s the gist of how the study was put together:

  • Study Objective: to compare swings against pitches thrown to different locations and at different speeds.
  • AA-level Minor League Baseball players (n=43) took extended rounds of batting practice in an indoor laboratory against a pitcher throwing a mixture of fastballs and changeups.
  • An eight camera motion analysis system and two force plates recording at 300 Hz captured the biomechanical
    data.
  • The swing was divided into six phases (stance, stride, coiling, swing initiation, swing acceleration, and follow-through) by five key events (lead foot off, lead foot down, weight shift commitment, maximum front foot vertical ground reaction force, and bat ball contact).
  • Twenty-eight kinematic measurements and six ground reaction force measurements were computed based on the marker and force plate data, and all were assessed throughout the phases.

The findings?

According to the Study:

“A large number of biomechanical differences were seen among the swings against various pitch locations. More fully rotated positions, particularly of the pelvis and bat were critical to the batters’ successes on inside pitches while less rotated positions keyed successes against outside pitches. The trail and lead arms worked together as part of a closed chain to drive the hand path. Successful swings had the trail elbow extended more for HIGH IN and flexed more for LOW OUT, though batters often struggled to execute this movement properly. A distinct pattern among successful swings against fastballs, successful swings against changeups, and unsuccessful swings against changeups was witnessed; namely a progressive delay in which the batter prematurely initiated the events of the kinetic chain, especially when unsuccessful in hitting a changeup.”

 

Hitting a Baseball Conclusion

Hitting a Baseball: Miguel Cabrera

Miguel Cabrera “power-V” post impact. Arms extended, high moment of inertia. Note catcher’s glove position. Photo courtesy: ToledoBlade.com

So, let’s tie up everything we talked about in hitting a baseball…

On pitches low and/or away, the hitter has more reaction time (Perry Husband research), so tilting at the waist (on lower pitches) and extending the front elbow to impact is key (90-degree barrel spine rule).  And because the outside and lower pitches will be hit slightly deeper than inside and higher pitches, the trailing elbow will have more bend in it at impact (Miami Study).

There can be a harmonious relationship between an arm bar, and consistency getting to pitches up and in the zone.  CLICK HERE for this post that gets into the different “catcher’s gloves” on how to do this.  HINT: it has to do with the “belly button” catcher’s glove.

Readers, I want to hear your thoughts on hitting a baseball in the Comments below…

Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

Longest Home Run Ever “Principles” May SURPRISE You…

 

 

Is the 700 foot home run the longest ever?  And how hit it?  Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds, or Aaron Judge?  The answer will shock you.  What about the longest MLB home run in 2021?  Or in the World Series?  What is the optimal home run launch angle and exit velocity formula?  And how do you get it?  Interesting swing experiment…

Longest Home Run Ever? 696-Feet!

Photo Courtesy of: SmarterEveryDay YouTube channel

Popular player longest home runs:

But before analyzing the longest home run ever ‘principles’, I want to share a few important resources…

Some of you may remember first reading Physics Professor Robert Adair’s book The Physics Of Baseball.  Think of the above video as the “engineering” of baseball – ahem, hitting specifically.  Many of you know our motto here at Hitting Performance Lab and HOW our hitting approach is different than most out there …

We apply human movement principles that are validated by Science, to hitting a ball … (unlike the willfully ignorant ‘bro-science’ approach to hitting).  

Another good longest home run ever engineering principles book resource is The Golfing Machine authored by Homer Kelley, who was an aeronautical engineer that worked for Boeing during the Great Depression.  He fell in love with golf and applied engineering principles to the golf swing, which were meticulously described in the book.

A fantastic post on the topic of longest home run ever comes from Dr. Alan Nathan over at PopularMechanics.com titled, “What’s The Longest Possible Home Run”. Alan Nathan is a professor emeritus of physics at the University of Illinois who has spent a career tracking physics, especially as it relates to baseball. He says two primary factors guide how far a ball is going to fly: exit velocity and launch angle.  Click the PopularMechanics.com link to read more.

The SmarterEveryDay YouTube channel is a MUST subscribe.  They’re a bunch of engineering geeks that put together fascinating experiments and tests that challenge things like the longest home run ever (above) to the backwards brain bicycle.  Their videos are very entertaining, funny, and extremely informative.

What I have for you below are time marked bullet points I found interesting in the above longest home run ever SmarterEveryDay video.  Big THANK YOU to the golfing sensei, and my good friend, Lee Comeaux for the share…

  • At 1-min, 25-sec mark, he acknowledge the “Launch Angle” craze, their focus is to “…point at the fence and swing a bat as fast as we can.”
  • Safety first kids!!  These guys took many many safety precautions when running this experiment defending against batted balls (200+ mph!), broken flying wood and metal bats, or even broken shards of machine.
  • At 2-min mark, they discuss how they setup the scenario for higher probability of moving ball hitting moving bat
  • At 2-min, 45-sec mark, talked about who these guys are and 3-phase power, “…dads who love to build things.”
  • At 4-min, 40-sec mark, discussed how wood bat broke during first phase of experiment, “tension” break
  • At 5-min, 45-sec mark, 2nd phase of experiment, metal bat broke off at plastic knob (slo mo at 6:40), and flew 581-feet!!
  • At 7-min, 45-sec mark, interesting to note the imbalance of the “Mad Batter Machine” when one of two metal bats break off…think about a hitter that isn’t counter-balancing their body when swinging (e.g. breaking one-joint rule – rear ear closing in on rear shoulder during turn, OR shifting weight during stride, then continuing to go forward during turn – lunging).
  • At 10-min, 15-sec mark, fantastic frame-by-frame of bat ball collisions – ground-ball, high fly-ball, hit too early … as power was turned up, they started breaking bats … crazy how much fun these guys were having doing this.  I’m so envious!
  • At 11-min- 35-sec mark, talked about fastest ball exit speed being Giancarlo Stanton (123.9-mph), one hop double play grounder to second baseman, their pitching machine was throwing balls at 50-mph, while their high speed bat was hitting batted balls at 240-mph!  This goes to show pitching velocity isn’t the best predictor of batted ball distance (1-mph of added pitching velocity only adds 1-mph to ball exit speeds) … bat speed is (1-mph of added bat speed adds 4-mph to ball exit speeds).
  • Thought experiment … imagine if these guys angled the Mad Batter Machine in an extreme downward or upwards plane – what would happen?  I think this experiment would take them months, not days.  Think about it, a couple engineering guys, didn’t care about the ‘Launch Angle’ craze, and just angled it to where it’d hit the majority of balls … hmmmm, let that sink in 😉
  • At 12-min, 10-sec mark, history of longest home run ever tape measure shots: Mickey Mantle – 565-feet, Babe Ruth – 575-feet, and Joey Meyer – 582-feet (no immediate relation :-P)
  • At 12-min, 45-sec mark, they show the longest home run ever… (full power!!!)