Increasing bat speed, why is this so important?! Of course, more bat speed equals more power, but there is an even more important concept to understand. The more off-plane a player’s swing is, the more bat speed the player needs to make contact consistently. However, if a on-plane swing is mixed with higher bat speeds, an elite level player is born!
First and foremost, faster bat speeds are much easier to develop than an on-plane swing. Bat speed can be improved just like building muscle or developing strength in the gym, with very similar techniques! It is very important to view the process in a similar fashion, do not overdo certain exercises, even after improvement is seen relatively quickly. If a player has never worked on increasing bat speed, then any work at all can show increases almost instantly. I recommend, with any bat speed exercises, to only do 3-5 reps at most with each set, much like a powerlifter would work to build speed and power. Anything more would create endurance buidling exercises, rather than speed. Also, It is very important to perform these exercises on a weekly basis because the amount of time it takes speed development to decrease is much shorter than it would take to lose strength or endurance. It takes about 1 week of not training speed to start to lose progress. The best way to measure your bat speed progress is with the Swing Speed Radar, perfect for golf as well!
The most basic bat speed technique, which proves very effective, is known as overload-underload training. In this technique, a player creates a heavier version of their bat with a heavy bat, bat weight, or any heavier bat-like object. Next, the player needs a bat or an object like a bat that is significantly lighter. I find a lacrosse stick shaft to be veru useful, but a broomstick or even an old little league bat will do. Finally, the player has their normal bat. This technique is performed by swinging the heavy bat 3-5 times, directly followed by the light bat 3-5 times, this would be 1 set. I would recommend performing this back to back set 3-5 times in all, every other day during the week. It is very important that the player always ends with the light bat, before swinging their normal bat again. The heavier bat overloads the body, but the body will naturally swing this bat slower. Therefore, we move straight to the lighter bat so the body gets used to swinging faster than normal. The heavy bat makes the lighter swings feel even quicker!
The next technique I highlight can be used directly with technique 1 above. One of my favorite bat speed techniques is the use of a “penny bat.” Once made, this bat can be used as the heavy bat in technique 1. A penny bat can be created with any wood bat. I personally use old broken wooden bats that have not been completely shattered. However, any cheap wooden bat will do. All you need to make a penny bat are 50 or more pennies and athletic tape. Lay out about 1 foot of tape at a time, and place as many pennies, heads towards the sticky side, as you can all the way down the piece of tape. The pennies will stay stuck to the tape as you wrap it around the bat. Repeat this process as many times as you like, until the bat is as heavy as you want it! Once all the strips of penny tape are placed, simply wrap the strands around the bat over and over with extra tape. This technique is great because it creates a heavy bat for technique 1, but you can also hit balls with this heavy bat! This is why it is important to place the pennies heads towards the tape. It makes it easier for the pennies to bend around the barrel. Here is a sample picture of the penny bad I use:
Finally, my absolute favorite bat speed training technique is probably the most similar to using the weight room and the gym. Perhaps the best tool for creating speed and power, besides the kettlebell of course, is the very accessible…..medball! The medball is a very versatile trianing tool that anyone can use. No matter what age, the medball can be used for explosive training that, if done properly, can lead to crazy increases in bat speed! Again, the sets and reps for each exercise should around 3-5 repetitions and 3-5 sets. The player should not finish these sets breathing heavy! this is training power and speed, not muscular endurance! My 3 favorite and, in my opinion, most effective medball exercises include, medball slams, lateral throws, and swing launches. Most of theses exercises can be found all over the internet. However, one of the harder ones to find is the swing launch. This exercise is done by holding the medball out in front in an athletic position, feet just outside of shoulder width apart. The athlete then squats down, while putting the medball between their legs and reaching back behind them. Then, with all the force possible, the athlete launches the ball as high and as far behind them as possible. This exercise is not only good for increasing power and bat speed, but also amazing for increasing vertical jump!
With these techniques, I guarantee increases in bat speed and overall power development! They can be done with players of all ages, just less weight! I recommend a 6 pound medball for players new to developing power and trying to increase bat speed. I have seen increases of up to 15 mph with players who have never been introduced to these tehcniques or soemthing similar. Give these a try and let me know how it goes!
Want to take things a step further? I offer hitting analysis showing exactly how you match up against the best pros today. Remember, an on-plane swing is much more important than bat speed development. Find out how close you are to getting on plane and making hitting that much easier. Also, stay tuned for our new golf blog, getting you to single digits on the course!
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