How to Increase Bat Speed in Softball
Bat speed is an incredibly important characteristic for every softball player’s swing. Pitchers can throw upwards of 60 miles per hour, so a slow bat speed can easily result in struggles at the plate. However, like most skills in softball, you can improve your bat speed if it’s lacking. Check out the tips listed below to start improving your bat speed today!
Swing with a Weighted Bat
One of the easiest ways to increase your swing speed is by increasing the weight of your bat when warming up or training. The logic is simple: A small increase in swing speed with a heavier bat will result in a significant increase in swing speed with a normal bat.
One type of weighted bat is called a “torpedo” bat. These bats are named as such because of their shape — the entire bat is skinny except for the sweet spot, resembling the shape of a torpedo. Not only are these bats weighted, but they force you to get solid contact on the sweet spot with each hit. Doing simple tee work or soft toss with “torpedo” bats are great ways to instantly enhance your bat speed.
Similarly, you can use bat weights, often referred to as “donuts,” to add up to 16 ounces of weight to your bat. These are great tools to use when warming up your swing (without actually hitting anything) while on deck.
Some players like to pick up a second bat when in the on-deck circle. While this does increase the weight in your hands, it slightly alters your form because you are holding two handles, which can throw you off later. If you have the option, grab a “torpedo” bat or bat weight before picking up a second bat to add resistance to your swing.
Another great way to gain bat speed is with quick toss, a simple training activity that gets you used to swinging quickly, and often:
- Grab a partner, and have them set up on the opposite side of the batter’s box to feed you soft toss from the side.
- Your partner will start off feeding you two tosses in rapid succession--the second toss comes immediately after the first.
Your goal is to get full extension on the first toss and then to quickly get back into your starting position to prepare for the second toss. You won’t have time to fully follow through your swing every time, so be sure to use your hips to power through the ball. On your final toss, you can follow-through.
Hot Tip: Do Not Just Use Your Arms
Many players create bad habits during quick toss. They have the misconception that because the tosses are so quick, they can only use their arms to swing the bat. This is completely wrong. During soft toss, the batter needs to focus on using her hips and getting full extension on every swing. Whatdoesn’t matter during quick toss is how big the follow-through is. As long as the batter can get full extension, she is doing it correctly.
Go through at least two rounds, using a weighted bat for the first. After you’ve warmed up with the weighted bat, grab your regular bat for the second. Your partner will now toss you three balls in a row. Again, focus on getting full extension and using your hips to power through the ball. On your final toss, you can follow through.
Lightweight Front Toss
Another way of gaining bat speed is to practice front toss with lightweight softballs. These softballs, often made of foam, are lighter than regular softballs and can be tossed faster. In order to get solid contact, the batter needs quick hands through the zone (fast bat speed) and full extension. Focus on driving through each ball and hitting solid line drives. A bucket or two per day will improve your bat speed in no time.
nother obvious way to gain bat speed is to strengthen the muscles that supply it — the muscles in your shoulders, arms, and hips. Even if you only use a resistance band during your workouts, you’ll see immediate improvement in your bat speed.
Below are the muscles you should focus on when strength training to gain bat speed:
- Hamstrings & Glutes
Again, both dumbbell workouts and resistance band strength training will help you improve your bat speed.
As a batter, having quick hands will give you the advantage against even the fastest pitchers because you’ll be able to make contact with anything. If you don’t have a lot of bat speed, or want to increase what you’re working with, use the tips in this guide and see an improvement in the batter’s box in no time!