While more and more pitchers are throwing 100 MPH, throwing with insane spin rates, and utilizing pitch tunneling to their advantage, hitters are simply playing catch up. Developing hitters is behind the 8-ball compared to developing pitchers.
There are 2 reasons why developing hitters is extremely difficult to do:
1.) Trying to predict the unknown. You never get the same pitch twice in a row. Hitters need to be ready for 99 MPH on the inside corner, then a nasty curveball on the outside corner the very next pitch.
2.) There are a lot of misconceptions and confusion about the perfect swing and what it takes to be a good hitter. There are no great studies on hitting with definitive proof of how to develop hitters.
Below are 2 metrics that can significantly help develop hitters. At the end of the article, I will provide 6 practical ways each player can improve these metrics.
With this being said, Driveline Baseball came out with a metric that I have seen to have a major impact on young hitters looking to improve their swing. That metric is called swing efficiency. Swing efficiency is measured as bat speed divided by average peak hand speed during a swing. According to Blast Motion, Bat speed is the velocity of the barrel during point of contact. Peak Hand Speed is the peak velocity of the handle of the bat during the swing.
When using the Blast Motion, the average swing efficiency for professional hitters is 3.25, according to Driveline Baseball. Anything below a 3.20 would be considered a red flag and something that the hitter needs to work on. Another way to put it, a 1:3 Hand Speed to Bat Speed Ratio is considered to be an efficient swing.
A highly efficient swing is when your bat speed is high relative to your peak hand speed during the swing. For example, if a hitter has slow hand speed, but high bat speed, then this is a good sign for the hitter. If the hitter has high hand speed, but low bat speed, then the hitter needs improve his swing efficiency. When this happens, the hitter has the greatest opportunity to improve.
Another metric that can be used, but is similar to swing efficiency, is impact momentum that you can measure using the Diamond Kinetics Swing Tracker. Momentum is simply Mass x Velocity. In this case, momentum is barrel speed combined by the weight of the bat. Here’s an analogy: If 2 players swing the bat at the same exact velocity but have different weighted bats, which player will have created more Swing Momentum? The player with the heavier bat.
Anybody can swing a wiffleball bat hard. But there’s a reason why you cannot hit a baseball hard with a wiffleball bat. It’s because the wiffleball bat does not have a lot of Mass.
According to Diamond Kinetics, for every +1 of Impact Momentum results in an extra 10 feet of carry of the ball. An Impact Momentum of 26+ is considered to be a great indicator of a highly efficient hitter.
There are many different ways to improve both Swing Efficiency and Impact Momentum. Below will discuss the best 6 ways to work on building a better and more efficient swing.
How to Improve
1.) Swing Long Bat and Work on Barrel Creating a “Nike Swoosh”
A straight line is not the fastest or most efficient way to swing a bat. This is very important for swing efficiency and Impact Momentum.
Understanding the elite barrel path behind some of the greatest hitters is essential to more consistency. Without a good swing plane and attack angle, it is very difficult to have good Swing Efficiency and Impact Momentum. Two drills that I have found most beneficial are:
· Swinging a Long Bat (like a fungo bat). This helps with sequencing and forces a hitter to create a good attack angle.
· Consistent mirror work with PVC Pipe or Long Bat. Visualize the bat work behind you into a good bat path.
2.) Hit Plyo Balls or other soft weighted balls
These balls are very difficult to create consistent contact. This drill in front toss or even off the tee forces a hitter to release the barrel THROUGH contact and it forces a hitter to understand where the barrel is at contact.
Chipper Jones once said, “A hitter understanding the 3 inches on the barrel is the most important thing for any hitter to understand.” Those 3 inches on the barrel is literally going to make or break a hitter’s career. Hitting plyo balls or other soft weighted balls forces a hitter to “feel” those 3 inches on the barrel.
3.) Get Stronger
This is self-explanatory, but absolutely crucial to optimize peak swing velocity. The biggest dudes almost always have the biggest swing velocity numbers. Get in the gym and MOVE HEAVY WEIGHT AS FAST AS YOU CAN.
4.) Overload/Underload Training
Hitters should have been doing this way earlier than pitchers. Just like weighted ball training for pitching, heavier balls help with strength, motor patterning, and getting in certain positions throughout the throwing mechanics. Lighter balls help with arm velocity.
Same thing applies for hitting. The heavier bats helps a hitter learn how to swing the bat fast with a heavier bat, it helps a hitter get into certain positions, and it trains the hitter’s “feel.” Lighter bats help with quickness and speed. Every hitter should be implementing a overload/underload training program. I recommend purchasing the AXE Bat Series.
5.) More Live At-Bats
Please have hitters stop hitting off the tee and doing front toss for 2 hours a day. It’s not getting them much better. Hitters need to be challenged. Hitters need to see more game-like pitches. And hitters need to build confidence by facing as many pitchers as possible. 3 ways to get hitters into more live at-bats:
· Have pitchers throw live-bp
· Have coaches throw BP but mix up pitches and velocities.
· Use a pitching machine from a pitcher’s release point. Challenge hitters to be on time consistently.
6.) Get REALLY good at learning how to hit high fastballs
A lot of young hitters who have poor swing efficiency, poor momentum, and/or poor swing plane have a difficult time hitting high pitches. The primarily like to hit balls low and have a difficult time adjusting to high pitches, especially high pitches with fast velocities. 3 things every hitter can do to hit high fastballs better (besides the drills mentioned above) :
1.) High inside/outside tee with and without offset rotation (chest facing pitcher and back facing pitcher at 45-degree angle) working on staying through the ball
2.) Take front toss or BP on 1-knee. Have the back knee down on the ground and front foot straight out in front. Work on getting through the ball without using your legs
3.) Keep the barrel in motion. “An object in motion stays in motion.” Consistently work on creating and maintaining barrel movement during your load.
Thank you for reading this article. For any questions or comments you can reach me at: