Swing power is a quality that separates hitters, both baseball and softball alike, from the rest of the pack. College and professional scouts have been using swing power as a way to evaluate players for years. Now we have quantifiable ways of measuring swing power with bat head speed velocities and exit velocities. Bat head speed and exit velocities can be measured by devices like HitTrax, Diamond Kinetics, BlastMotion, Rhapsodos, and radar guns. Finding a way to get a base-line measurement, like via showcases, college camps, or instructors who have access to those devices is crucial to understanding where you stand with the rest of the pack.
Here are a few ways that you can improve your swing power this off-season:
1. Improve swing mechanics. As with all skills, we need to develop as much technical proficiency as possible in order to perform at the highest level. Finding a professional that has a proven track record of developing hitters is necessary to improving swing mechanics. If you are strong and powerful, but are not making a difference at the dish, then you need to make a change. Conversely, you may not be strong or powerful…YET, but creating that foundation of good movement patterns will only make development smoother once the strength and power gains begin to roll in.
2. Increase force output. Force output can really only be increased by one thing - progressive strength training. Getting strong on both 2-legs and 1-leg is crucial for being able to produce more ground reactive forces. Movements like squatting and hinging or deadlifting are ways to get strong on 2-legs; while lunging/split squats, doing step ups, 1-leg hinging, or pushing/pulling sleds are ways to get strong on 1-leg. When we swing, we are interacting with the ground and need to be able to put force into the ground with both legs, while being able to transfer those forces from the rear leg load into the front leg brace. The last thing we want is having pristine swing mechanics, but we swing a wet newspaper at the plate because we are not strong enough create high amounts of force.
3. Improve rotational power. Rotational power can be directly trained without having to swing a baseball bat and can be improved more when we are stronger like point #2. This can be done by doing power drills using equipment like med-balls or resistance bands. The med-ball scoop toss is probably the best bang for your buck rotational power exercise because it is a similar pattern to actually swinging a bat. The only differences are swing path and tossing/releasing the med-ball; in some cases chops can be used to train the decelerators by holding onto the med-ball.
Don’t fall behind this off-season! Make sure you are checking all three of those boxes for your off-season regiment to ensure you’ll be at your peak next season.