Be Able to Hit With a Two-by-Four

An idiom for sure but the goal of getting better as a hitter can be found using something other than your favorite bat.

Changing the size, length, and/or weight of what is being swung, used as a rotational aide, or help training a feel does impact the bodies learning curve. It causes your brain and central nervous system to adjust and adapt to the tool or device being used. This is not theory. There is historical anecdotal evidence (informal) as well as scientific research. Want proof? Cool РBoth the anecdotal/historical and scientific evidence can be found with a simple Google search using some of the words used in this post (and just watch the videos below). An example of scientific research can be found HERE. If reading scientific research is not your thing, here is a quote from its abstract:

“All three groups showed significant increase in bat swing velocity during the study (p < 0.05). Furthermore, the differences between pre- and posttest scores (delta scores) were significant between BP and control, between DS and control, and between BP and DS (p < 0.05). It is suggested that training with variable weighted implements will significantly increase bat swing velocity, and that the use of loads specific to the target activity but with sufficient variation about the standard load will induce further training adaptations.”

The point is it works. Like anything else, it takes a bit of judgment on how to use it – especially as it relates to each individual. Let’s press on.

PVC – yea, that plastic plumbing pipe at your local home improvement center. We had hardware stores back in the day kids, sorry old dude moment ūüôā It’s cheap, easy to cut to length, can add tape/weight, comes in variety of sizes and thickness. Some examples of use:

 

There are plenty of products/programs you can purchase from baseball training websites that can used to help improve a player. I am not saying you shouldn’t use, check into, or buy a more formal product/program. I encourage you to look into them. The end game here is to benefit the player. The point of this post is to make you aware that using something other than your game bat can be a real difference maker in any player – youth or otherwise.

Next, we will touch on weighted bat training. In simplest terms, these are bats that vary the targeted game bat weight by roughly 20% – heavier and lighter. Can be purchased as a set of bats or an individually adjustable bat – either way, they can help improve your hitting. With a little leg work and independent thought you can make your own:

For those with an analytical mind and want to know more about the “why” or “how” weighted bats work, here is an excerpt from Chad Longworth Online¬†LINK TO FULL PAGE

“All human movement is governed by the central nervous system (CNS) of the human body. It acts as the command center for our movements and is responsible for all voluntary movement. It is very adaptable and responds quickly to changes in our environment to accomplish required tasks.

During movement, our body is heavily reliant on sensory information to create a roadmap of our surroundings. This helps us orient ourselves, and create a motor plan to solve the movement task in front of us. ¬†Take riding a bike as an example. ¬†In the beginning, the task is challenging. ¬†Learning to keep the bike balanced as you pedal seems like an impossible task (which is why the most complex movements are determined from a young age, stubborn persistence). ¬†But the more acclimated your body becomes to the task, “creating a roadmap,” ¬†the more the CNS will develop an autopilot for the task to accomplish the outcome.

Now to hit a baseball. ¬†It’s the most difficult skill in sports, and achieving it requires more than just simple “mechanics.” ¬†At the beginning aiming a round bat at a round ball and making square contact in fractions of a second seems like an impossible feat. ¬†But the more time you spend, the better and easier the task of hitting the baseball becomes. ¬†This is the CNS adapting quickly how to do the task. As this process becomes easier, the hitter‚Äôs CNS can stop making changes because the body has developed a roadmap for the execution of the movement. ¬†This roadmap then¬†becomes a permanent fixture in the player’s brain and thus, efficient or not; it is there unless a new challenge is presented to the system.

The new challenge becomes a different weighted bat. ¬†This wakes up the brain and forces the CNS to stop using ‚Äúautopilot‚ÄĚ so that new, better roadmaps are created within the brain to accommodate the change. Think of your practice process as a hitter; you go to the cage, hit some balls off the tee, do some front toss, maybe take some BP, and call it a day. ¬†Not only is this boring to you, but it is also boring to your CNS not evening registering as a slight breeze to a flag on its flagpole (yawn). Now do that same process using weighted bat implements. ¬†You now have new sensory information because you are using a heavy (end or knob) and/or a light bat. The CNS must go into overdrive to account for the new variables, and a new, better movement roadmap is created. ¬†Effectively you are taking what used to be a two lane somewhat curvy road that your movement plan traveled upon and are turning it into an eight lane super highway. Because the challenge of the weighted bats is new, and the body realizes it’s new, additional movement compensations must be made to accomplish the task.”

As a player progresses up the levels of baseball, hitting becomes much harder. The best on the planet fail about 2 out of 3 times. The training window starts to close faster than most think. In closing, great hitters at any level have at least one thing in common – they can pick up pretty much any bat in the dugout and still be a dangerous hitter. Listen to exhibit A:

 

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