At Millfield this winter most players have increased their bat speed by about 15mph in a month.
Why is this important? Bat speed is one of the most significant factors on ball distance. So, we have invested significantly as a group of coaches in the development of power hitting knowledge.
I have bought some basic kit and a couple of apps that we use to monitor and record each batters swing. The numbers and images that the app provides us with are brilliant.
Effectively, we arm each player with a little bit of knowledge and let them hit and explore using the numbers and imagery to guide them. It’s basically a poor hitting version of PitchVision.
The results have been amazing.
Power hitting “King” drill
There are lots of power hitting drills that I will write about in the coming weeks but here is one that 13 year old Hugo King developed, completely on his own.
As with most drills the more simple and effective they are the better. The “King” is a brilliant starting point to technical development.
The drill starts with the player holding their bat (or in this case a metal baseball bat) in one hand and the tennis ball in their other.
The tennis ball is dropped in front of the batter and then hit on the 1st bounce.
Hit into a net, pick the ball up and repeat.
Technical hitting basics
Notice how Hugo takes a step back (known as a negative movement) which is similar to how many batters move ahead of unwinding their bodies into the ball. Shane Watson is is particularly good at this against spinners.
This loads Hugo’s back leg before he steps forward and secures his front foot into the ground. Hugo’s hands swing back, creating a fantastic range for the bat to move once the body has finished doing its business.
The front foot moves to jam into the ground and create the base. Hugo’s front leg straightens, the back leg bends (notice the similarity to fast bowling and throwing with the shape of the legs) and the speed in the body moves from the large leg muscles into the hips.
Hugo’s hips rotate, slow and stabilise and the momentum that the body has created moves up into the torso. Notice how the shape of the legs stays consistent in the last 4 slides of Hugo’s wonderful swing through the ball.
Once the back hip has finished its rotation, it’s time for Hugo’s delayed arms to start their own journey. The bat goes from top of backswing to point of contact in roughly 0.200 to 0.250 of a second.
This is irrespective of how far the hands have gone back in the backswing. Hugo has created a huge “lag” or delay as a result of his high backswing (a huge range of motion).
We know that Hugo is capable of getting from top of backswing to ball contact in exactly 0.206 of a second. He is capable to achieving this due to his wonderful transfer of momentum that comes from such great mechanics.
Quality technique (Leg shape/hip rotation/torso rotation in sequence) + Range of Motion (backswing/delayed downswing) = incredible bat speed.
In Hugo’s case (13 year old with a light baseball bat) we are talking 88mph on the featured shot.
You too can achieve such speeds with practice. The most independent and simple drill involves a baseball bat, a tennis ball and some hard work.
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