Increasing Bat Speed & The Power Equation
When it comes to having great power there are two crucial aspects within the swing process that every coach needs to know about and understand; many rarely do. In the coaching realm of baseball and softball, many coaches apply bat speed drills that are designed to increase the velocity the bat it traveling, and with good reason. Bat speed is hugely important, no question about it. And, when it comes to training bat speed there are many quality drills that can be implemented into a players training session that will indeed increase bat speed. However, in order to truly maximize a player’s bat speed you have to look at their mechanics, first and foremost. Yes, their mechanics.
A players hitting mechanics are the foundation of great bat speed and when done correctly, a thing of beauty. If you are trying to improve your players bat speed and truly maximize their ability to swing the bat, then it is imperative that you dedicate your coaching and training to building great mechanics first. Once you have a players’ mechanics dialed in and working efficiently, adding bat speed drills into the mix is going to the next natural progression to player development. And, if you are using my scaffolding approach to hitting, this process is seamless and more importantly, logical.
The most common mistake that I see being made is simply a poor understanding of core swing mechanics and a lack of execution in the training process. Now, I know you are all very good coaches and that teaching hitting is not an easy endeavor, so please don’t take it the wrong way. But, I would rather see coaches dedicated to teaching great mechanics before anything else, and if you simply jump onboard to bat speed training drills without a strong foundation underneath, it will jeopardize a players overall development.
The truth of the matter is that when done correctly, teaching strong hitting mechanics, bat speed will significantly increase; it is a by-product of great swing mechanics. Typically, when I am working with teams and players I have to slow them down in order to clean up their mechanics. Yes, slow them down. I know, I know, it sounds radical and you may think I am losing my marbles, but it is the truth. Most players are trying to swing so fast and so hard that their mechanics are a complete mess and it is a miracle if they make contact at all. Get them to slow down, develop a calm, smooth rhythm at the plate and have them work on tempo and timing and great things will start to happen.
When I look at a player in the box taking their cuts, I am looking for calm and completely controlled swings that appear effortless. If they look like they are in a blender, body flailing all over the place, it is a clear sign that they are borderline out of control, and that is not going to be consistently productive.
Let’s look at the Power Equation. The Power Equation is a term I developed to help coaches understand the source of a players’ ultimate power source, and it comes from two giants in their respective fields. First, Ted Williams stated that in order maximize your power you need to make contact at Ideal Impact. Ideal Impact, for those that are not familiar with my system, is when the bat and ball meet at a 90-degree angle, give or take 12-degrees. Get outside that Ideal Impact Zone and power falls off drastically. Test it yourself and you can instantly feel the difference. Place a bat in your hands and turn to Ideal Impact as seen the picture below. Make sure you are in a strong hitting position with your wrists square and locked out, your back elbow is slightly out in front of your ribcage about a fists width or so, and your front elbow is up and around your body with a slight bend in it. Have a partner hold out their hand and apply moderate resistance into the barrel with their hand and push against it without losing your Hitters Box and extended arms. You will feel a spring-loaded sensation and feel very strong; this is Ideal Impact. Next, adjust your contact point and repeat the process. As you change locations of contact you will begin to experience the importance of Ideal Impact. Play around with it a little bit and adjust your back elbow position as well; I see many coaches teaching a back elbow position that is next to their side rather than out in front of their body or too far away from their ribcage (chest), and it is simply not as strong. Teaching your players to let the ball get in deeper and understanding Ideal Impact is monumental and quite frankly the best piece of instructional advice you could possible convey to your players.
Second, comes from the father of physics, Sir Isaac Newton and the Laws of Physics. In order to maximize force he provides a very simple formula which reads, force equals mass times acceleration.
Force, one force applied to another (which is our power) is a product of mass (the size of a bat a player uses) times acceleration (the speed the bat is traveling). So, if we believe what Newton is saying about applied force, then the bigger the bat and the faster it is traveling the greater the force will be.
However, in order to maximize acceleration (bat speed) a player must have excellent mechanics, thus making mechanics instrumental in the development of young hitters; mechanics have to come first in order to truly maximize bat speed.
It is at this point where I turn to bat speed guru, Nemo Tessicini, who has developed a terrific program that teaches you how to train your players and improve their bat speed. Once a player has a strong foundational swing established, Nemo has specific drills to help drastically improve a player’s bat speed. And, as long as you do not sacrifice mechanics over bat speed, you will be well on your way to training your players to hit with ultimate power.
Do you know about factor 10? For every 2 mph bat speed is increased, 20 feet of distance can be added.
The Power Equation is a combination between the theory of Ideal Impact (Ted Williams) and the theory of applied force (Sir Isaac Newton) that creates ultimate power when it comes to hitting a baseball/ softball; have one and not the other, and maximum power will not be obtained.