Big strong arms have little impact on power output. To add velocity to your swing, strong hands are more important than Popeye-like pipes.
Grip strength enables an athlete to power through the ball and increase batted-ball velocity—the speed of the ball after it has been hit by the bat. All you need to attain Herculean grip strength is a five-gallon bucket and a few cartons of rice.
“The ability to hit a home run or throw the ball hard happens through grip strength and being strong at the shoulders,” says Javair Gillett, strength coach for the Detroit Tigers.
The Rice Bucket Grip exercise is simple: fill your bucket with uncooked rice, drive your hands and arms into the bucket, and get to work gripping and mashing the rice.
For more adventure, bury a small item in the bucket, like a dice or a marble, and locate it by driving your hands into the bucket and digging through the rice.
After working both hands, drive those mitts back into the bucket and work your fingers. Rather than gripping with your palms, pinch the rice with your thumbs and work it toward your fingertips. Pitchers, especially, will benefit from this technical variation of the Rice Bucket Grip. “As a pitcher, the pressure points on the ball dictate how well you can throw certain pitches,” says John Sisk, director of strength and conditioning at Furman University. “Working your hands and fingers will help improve your grip.”
The Rice Bucket was a staple of Sisk’s baseball strength training program at Vanderbilt University, where he coached the likes of Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price and Atlanta Braves top-pitching prospect Mike Minor.
Check out Cal State Fullerton’s Rice Bucket variation above.