If you're a baseball player, you're probably familiar with the concept of bat speed. But for those who aren't, bat speed is simply the measurement of how fast the sweet spot of a bat moves when contact is made with the ball. And why is this important? Because the faster you swing the bat, the harder you'll be able to hit the ball, resulting in higher exit velocities and, ultimately, more successful hits.
The two main factors that directly contribute to a batted ball's exit velocity are bat speed and hitting the ball on the sweet spot. But there are other factors that come into play, such as the mass of the bat and the pitch speed. As a hitter, you can work on improving your bat speed and hitting the ball flush on the sweet spot through targeted drills and training.
One popular method for improving bat speed is overload/underload training. This involves using bats of varying weights, with heavier bats helping to develop functional strength and train the body to move more efficiently, and lighter bats allowing athletes to move at speeds faster than their normal limits. By swinging both heavy and light bats, hitters can improve their specific strength and transfer the benefits to their actual swings. When working with heavier bats, the brain signals the body to recruit larger, stronger muscle groups to swing the bat more efficiently, which can improve sequencing and the transfer of energy. On the other hand, lighter bats allow for overspeed training, where the central nervous system is trained to recruit more fast-twitch muscle fibers to improve the pure velocity portion of the movement.
Overall, bat speed is a crucial component of hitting success in baseball. By focusing on targeted training methods and drills, hitters can improve their bat speed and ultimately increase their chances of hitting the ball with power and precision.