A powerful hitter is one who has mastered bat speed, strength, and smooth mechanics. Your best friend in improving your power is practice on good form and targeted strength training.
Tips for a Powerful Swing
Relax. If you tense up your muscles before a swing, your power is contracted. The muscles will be stiff and inflexible, which stops the transfer of your energy, especially on contact with the ball. This tenseness will result in slower bat speed and, thus, a less powerful swing.
The worst place to get stiff is in the hands and wrists. While you want a good hold on the bat, you never want a death grip. Shake your hands out and keep them loose.
Keeping your body relaxed also helps your reaction time, which boosts your accuracy and hit rate. With a faster reaction and a faster swing, you can hit later into the pitch.
Keep your wrists locked at contact. While you want your muscles loose, you also want to avoid rolling your wrists as the bat meets the ball. This is a common but often overlooked flaw in swing form. You can tell if you are a wrist roller by checking the position of your hands after a typical swing. If your bottom hand’s wrist is pointing up and the top hand’s wrist is pointing down, you’re a roller.
When you roll your wrists, part of the energy of the swing is used to keep your wrists moving instead of the energy being transferred to the ball. Rolling wrists can also cause a bad spin on the ball, leading to a lot of ground balls.
Keep front foot at 45 degree angle to the plate. If you open your foot too early, you lose power.
Don’t let your top hand go too soon. The exaggerated form of professional baseball players leads a lot of athletes to remove their upper hand from the bat before the swing is complete. Yet once your top hand is gone, so is the power coming from your entire upper arm, wrist and hand.
Some suggest keeping both hands on the bat for the entire swing, but experiment until you find the right technique for you.
Avoid ending the swing off-balance. When you’re off-balance, your power is limited. The most common form of imbalance is found in having to immediately move the back foot forward at the end of the swing. If the back foot is coming up, try focusing on rotating the hips instead of simply transferring the weight from back to front. This imbalance may also be caused by stepping out from the pitch instead of ahead.
Use the SHDAB Method. Some batters are good at isolating specific aspects of form. When working on one thing at a time, that specific area improves. However, a powerful swing requires you to fluidly combine all of the mechanics into a seamless motion without forgetting any of the minor points.
There are many hitters’ acronyms that seek to make the important elements of a swing easy to remember. One of these mnemonics is SHDAB.
Step: Remember to step ahead, not backwards or out from the pitch.
Head: “Keep your eye on the ball” is not an arbitrary piece of advice. Your eyes should stay locked on the ball until contact. Also fight the urge to pull your head away from the ball.
Diagonal: Your hands should initiate the diagonal swing toward the ball. Some batters swing at too sharp of a diagonal, which forces them to drop their hands and begin to swing upwards. If you make contact on that kind of swing, the ball will be a popup. Instead, focus on a gradual diagonal that meets the ball with the bat moving straight forward.
Above: Follow-through by aiming to end the swing with your hands above your forward shoulder. This follow-through is essential for a powerful swing.
Balance: Keep your body and bat balanced, especially at the end of the swing. If you find yourself having to immediately step your back foot forward to keep balance, practice shifting your weight and rotating your hips. You also want your bat to be balanced from the beginning to the end of the swing. That means you can’t skimp on the follow-through.
Exercises and Drills to Help Improve Power
The strength you’ll need for your swing comes from your entire body. A lot of hitters focus too much on the arms and not enough on the hips, core, and most importantly, the hands and wrists.
There are two ways to work on getting more power: exercises that strengthen the key muscles while improving flexibility, and drills that improve your form. For brevity’s sake, we’ll focus on the exercises most unique to baseball. For the rest of your strength training, you can use a more general combination of squats, lunges, weightlifting, etc., like the baseball workout programs featured at Bodybuilding.com or Stack.com.
One way to exercise your wrist flexors is to hold a baseball and squeeze for 15 seconds. During this time, gradually increase how hard you’re squeezing for the first 10 seconds, and hold your hardest squeeze for the last 5 seconds. Make sure to work both wrists by using two baseballs or by switching sides.
You can also work on your wrists with dumbbells. Hold the weight in your hand while your elbow and forearm are supported by a solid surface, leaving just your wrist and hand hanging off the edge. Lower and raise the weight with your palm facing down. Then do a few sets with your palm facing sideways. Lower and raise the dumbbell by rotating your wrist from palm up to palm down. Complete the same set on the other wrist.
Finally, you can work on wrist flexibility and strength by holding your bat with one hand. Hold it as far toward the end of the handle as you can, and raise your arm and the bat up to be parallel to the ground. Lower to point the bat down and raise it back to a parallel position using only your wrist. (You may need to support your arm by using your free hand to hold your elbow.) Complete 10 reps and then use your wrist to draw circles in the air, first clockwise and then counterclockwise. Make sure to work both wrists.
Work on your lower body strength with deadlifts, squats, glute bridges and single leg exercises. These moves work on the power that comes from driving off the ground and maintaining perfect balance.
For more details and videos on how to do these lower body exercises, check out Meglio Fitness.
Maximizing Hip Rotation
To maximize your power, you need to be able to rotate your body into the swing. This requires both flexibility and strength in the hip flexors.
Luckily, you can work on your hips with a few simple moves involving a resistance band. For a complete schedule of hip exercises, we like the Athletic Quickness lateral rotator training.
To work on your core, choose 5 to 7 exercises that you can repeat for 3 sets of 10 reps.
You can use this list of 30 core exercises from The Ultimate Pitcher.
Power Hitting Drills
There are hundreds of drills that claim to help put power into your swing. Your best bet is to determine what your weaknesses are and then choose drills that focus on strengthening that area.
To get a good start, you can read this collection of 41 drills put together by League Lineup.
If you have a problem with rolling your wrist, you can try one-handed swings and other similar drills listed at SwingAway.
If you struggle to shorten your swing, you can try this drill from You Go Pro Baseball.
Latest posts by Zayn (see all)
- Does Running Build Muscle? - May 16, 2017
- Dave Palumbo Diet: High Protein And Excessively Low Carbs - May 11, 2017
- Does Whey Protein Expire? - May 2, 2017