Q: What’s the easiest and fastest way to increase my bat speed?
A: Bat speed is not something you can improve overnight. Like any skill, it takes years of practice to rip laser-like line drives or blast the ball over the fence.
However, if you want to increase your bat speed as quickly as possible, you should focus on getting stronger and improving your technique.
Here’s what you need to do:
Strength is the foundation of bat speed. Your entire body needs to be strong so you can drive into the ground, rotate your core and accelerate the bat with your upper body.
To identify the best three bat-speed strength exercises, we spoke with Tony Gentilcore, who works with several elite baseball players at Cressey Performance (Hudson, Mass.). Here’s what he recommends:
Med Ball Rotational Shot Put
Benefits: Builds powerful and explosive hips, which improve your leg drive when swinging.
How To: Stand with your left side facing a wall, about 10 feet away. Hold a med ball with both hands in front of your right shoulder. Rotate your trunk to your right and shift your weight onto your right leg. Drive through your right hip and explosively throw the med ball at the wall with your right arm. Catch the med ball off the bounce and set up for your next rep.
Sets/Reps: 4×3 each side
Anti-Rotation Cable Chops
Benefits: Increases stability in your midsection to prevent “energy leaks,” so the power generated by your lower body can efficiently transfer to your bat.
How To: Assume an extra-wide stance with a cable machine to your right. Hold the rope attachment in front of your chest with your arms extended. Rotate your upper body to the right as far as your range of motion allows. Keep your arms directly in front of your chest—do not move your lower body. Reverse the movement and rotate your upper body toward the left as far as you can, pulling the rope attachment with you as you move. Keep your arms directly in front of your chest and do not move your lower body. Continue rotating your torso in each direction.
Sets/Reps: 3-4×8-10 each direction
Benefits: Power and athleticism are all about glute and hamstring strength. This is the best exercise to work those muscles.
How To: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and position the bar close to your shins. Squat down and grasp the bar with a grip slightly wider than your shoulders. Fully extend your elbows and stick your chest out. Extend your hips and knees to stand up, keeping your back straight and the bar close to your body. Repeat the sequence in reverse to lower the bar to the ground.
Improve Your Technique
The second way to increase your bat speed is to improve your overall technique to make your swing quicker, more compact and more efficient. Alan Luckie, assistant baseball coach for South Alabama, demonstrates three simple and effective drills to add to your practice routine. (You can also check out these bat speed drills.)
Benefits: Increases top hand strength and muscle memory so you can strike the ball with the center of the barrel.
Hit or Die Drill
Benefits: Keeps the barrel inside the baseball and your hands close to your body, which are critical aspects of bat speed.
Top Drop Drill
Benefits: Decreases your time from the loaded position to the swing so you can get the bat quickly through the strike zone.