Best Training Bats to Increase Bat Speed

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Baseball & Softball hitters are always looking to increase bat speed.

Yes, bat speed is important because you’ll hit the ball harder.  But that’s not the only reason.

Better bat speed ALSO gives you more time to make your swing decision… which means you’ll have a better idea where the pitch is going to be located.  And that means you should be able to get a better swing off.

How to Increase Bat Speed

Speaking in general terms, there’s basically only two ways to increase bat speed or power for baseball and softball hitters.

You’ll need to either….

1 – Change your body – With proper strength training to get stronger and faster.

—- OR —-

2 – Improve your hitting mechanics – There are probably a dozen different ways your mechanics impact bat speed and power… either for the better or for the worse.  ( Here’s a free video series that covers 5 key swing mechanics to help you see an immediate boost in your power (without lifting weights).

And, of course, the best results will happen when you do BOTH of those things.

Do training bats help increase bat speed?

There are so many training bats for baseball and softball out there… and many of them are complete gimmicks.  It can be really difficult to cut through the hype and the marketing to see which ones have actual science behind them.

All of the bats on this page have these 6 things in common

  1. Actually used by respected coaches, players and instructors… rather than the so called “gurus” that seem to be popping up all over the internet
  2. Can be used for overload training (increase dynamic strength, more on that below)
  3. Improve mechanics rather than harm them (a common complaint of some heavy bats is that they promote bad/push swing mechanics)
  4. Weight is near hands, teaches hitters to whip the bat and avoid creating a “push swing”
  5. You can actually hit a real baseball or softball with them
  6. Feel to Learn – There are some things that are just really hard for hitters to understand until they can feel it for themselves.  All of these bats below promote good mechanics just by swinging them

Overload / Underload Training to Increase Bat Speed

Overload / Underload Training is an excellent way to accomplish that first goal of increasing bat speed and power by getting stronger / faster.

We know it works for 3 reasons:

  1. Often used by the best professional and Olympic trainers in the world
  2. It’s been measured and proven in multiple scientific studies now (I’ve listed some below in the Sources section).
  3. Stories abound all over the internet from Regular Joes who tried it with great success (when done properly)

Below I’ll explain more about those things, and we’ll also cover how to do overload training properly, what kind of results you can expect, common mistakes that stop it from working and what sort of heavy bats and bat weights can be used… and some unexpected benefits that come from using those bats.

What is Overload / Underload Training?

The general idea is to use a carefully-selected combination of either lighter or heavier weighted equipment.

  1. Overload Training is using heavier weight to increase muscle strength, but doing it in a way that builds dynamic strength… which is much different than traditional weight-lifting.  In traditional weight lifting, people often get stronger but slower.  Athletes need functional, dynamic strength.
  2. Underload Training is doing an athletic motion using lighter-than-normal weight to increase fast twitch muscle fiber (aka more speed, get faster)

For example… if you were an Olympic javelin thrower, you’d alternate throwing a heavier javelin to increase strength, and then lighter one to increase speed.

For baseball and softball hitters, we use a combination of heavy bat and lighter bat to do the same thing.

And it’s incredibly effective.  Why?  Because, as I said above, you are increasing dynamic strength, which is the very specific type required for an explosive baseball swing.

What does the science actually say?  Watch this video

Watch this video for a quick overview of the what the science says about how to increase your bat speed.  It specifically covers overload / underload training, including the recent studies that have been done.

In the 1970’s and 80’s, the Soviets did studies with their Olympic athletes, mostly with athletes that were throwing things… hammer, discus, javelin, etc.

They would have them throw heavier than usual item in order to build strength.

Then have them throw a lighter one, for building fast-twitch muscle fiber… AKA improving speed and velocity.

Here’s the summary of key training principles they discovered

  1. “The employment of varied resistance training enhances speed strength (power) development
  2. ” Optimum weight range:  “implement resistance variations in training should range from 5% to 20% lighter and heavier than the standard implements”
  3. “When training with weighted and standard weight implements, use a 2:1 frequency ratio of heavy or light implements to the standard weight implement”

“Beneficial for Rotational Athletes”

The concept of overload and underload training has been studied a number of different ways.  Here’s some more interesting tidbits.

  • For improving THROWING velocity, there have been studies that involved (a) JUST overload; throwing a heavy ball (b) JUST underload, throwing a lighter ball, and (c) the combination of overload and underload training.   The interesting part?  All 3 methods showed improvement in throwing velocity.
  • For improving HITTING velocity, programs that were less than 6 weeks in length showed no improvement. A good, consistent program that is aimed at achieving muscle adaptation should be a minimum of 6 to 8 weeks.

Does training with a “heavy bat” cause bad habits?

Short answer?

Yes it CAN, if done with the wrong type of heavy bat.

Longer answer… Some people will say that training with a heavy bat is bad, that it will hurt your mechanics or cause bad habits – or even make you slower.

The truth is that there is some debate about the best TYPE of heavy bat to use for overload training.

The biggest question is about how the weight should be distributed.  Some people are perfectly happy to use anything weighted, such as a sledge hammer.  Or a weight on the barrel of their regular game bat.   However, that causes problems when it comes to hitting mechanics, and can actually result in bad habits that slow the swing.

Push vs Whip Type Baseball Swing (or Softball)

Nothing robs your baseball swing of power faster than losing the “whip” in your swing.

Do you know why a whip makes a cracking sound?  (Think of that iconic cracking sound you heard whenever Indiana Jones used his whip to knock away the bad guy’s weapon)

via GIPHY

It makes that sound tip is actually moving faster than the speed of sound and creating a small sonic boom. We humans can’t move our arm that fast, but we can move the tail end of a whip that fast.

Why is that?

It’s because the “whip effect” magnifies the initial effort.

In the case of of the whip, the tip is moving 30x faster than the original speed generated by the arm motion.

Thirty times faster!

As baseball players, we want to use the same “whip effect “to increase bat speed.  

The opposite of a whippy swing is a “push” swing, where you are using your large muscles to swing the bat, but not taking advantage of the extra speed that comes from a ground up kinetic chain that ends with a whipping motion.

What does this have to do with “heavy bat training” ?

Bats that have the weight loaded on the end – near the barrel – are going to cause you to lose the desired “whip” and instead develop those slower push style mechanics.

Bats that have the weight closer to the hands do they opposite.

When the weight is near the hands, it promotes better mechanics and can actually increase bat speed just from the mechanical improvements… before you’ve made your muscles any stronger.

That’s why some of these heavy bats can say “Add 3 mph to your bat speed in 10 days”  Because even though it takes 6 to 8 weeks to muscle adaptation (aka get stronger) a good heavy bat can do more than just build strength.  There are several heavy bats on the market that actually improve mechanics rather than hurt them, and that’s when you tend to see those quick gains in bat speed.

Worst

There are 2 things to stay away from when looking for the right overload training bat or bat weight

Ended loaded weight.  As we just discussed above, bats that have the weight mostly in the barrel are going to encourage the “push” style swing that is slower and will do the complete opposite of what we want.

Can’t hit a real baseball.  Another problem is that you can’t actually hit a baseball with them.  One study clearly demonstrated that hitting a baseball with the heavy bat yielded much better outcomes than just taking dry swings.  It’s impossible to know for sure why this is the case, but it feels pretty obvious.  It comes down to effort and intent.  Just swinging isn’t the same as swinging with real intention and purpose.

Tools to avoid when asking how to increase bat speed

Traditional donuts are not good option for Overload training

Best Training Bats to Improve Bat Speed

When choosing the right training bat ***especially a heavy bat*** you need to ask yourself a couple important questions:

  1. What will it do to my mechanics?  Don’t just trust the marketing people.   Just because a heavy bat says it’ll turn you into a power hitter, doesn’t mean it really will!  Some will even damage your mechanics, causing poor habits and making you slower in the long run.
  2. Where is the weight located?  In general, near the hands is better than end-loading the barrel
  3. Is the correct weight for me?  Many of these come in different sizes, so you’ll want to make sure you’re getting the correct one.
  4. Can I use it to hit real baseballs?  One study showed a massive difference for how much speed was gained in exit velocity just based on whether the participants were taking dry swings vs actually hitting a ball.  The ones who actually hit a ball had DOUBLE the improvement!

So with that in mind, the bats listed below were chosen because they pass those 4 tests, (and because reputable, trustworthy instructors are actually using them).

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1 – ProVelocity Training Bat for Baseball & Softball

The ProVelocity™ Bat – Zoned Store

The ProVelocity training bat comes with a hefty price tag, but for good reason.

This bat is really, really unique. It uses resistance bands to change the difficulty level.  That it makes it adjustable, which is something no other training bat that I’m aware of can say.

Pros for ProVelocity Bat

  • Increases bat speed & exit velocity through BOTH improving hitting mechanics and strength training
  • Results have been independently tested and verified
  • Adjustable resistance/weight grows with you – Most other heavy bats are a fixed size and weight.  One of the best things about the ProVelocity bat is that you can adjust it based on your current level of strength.
  • Easier to use with multiple kids – Where as most other training bats are fixed weight that needs to be purchased to fit the player, the adjustable settings of ProVelocity bat means you can use it with players of different ages and strength levels.
  • You CAN hit real baseballs with it
  • Train in your basement in the middle of winter?  No problem!  – When you can’t hit real baseballs, you can still simulate real hitting better than any other training bat because of the audible feedback the bat gives.  It forces you to commit to swinging and not slack off because they’re just dry swings.
  • Feedback on your swing comes from the bat in a variety ways.  If your mechanics are correct, the barrel slides into position and you can hit.  So that has to happen. Also, you get audible feedback that you can hear when the swing is executed correctly.
  • Mobile App – The App tracks (1) bat speed, (2) on-plane efficiency and (3) time in the zone.   This app is great for those who typically don’t like technology, because there’s no bluetooth pairing required.  All the app does is listen for the audible clicks the bat makes when you use it.  Sounds simple… and it is… but it’s amazing what it learns from those clicks!    This is really a game-changer, because you can see your improvements over time.

Cons for ProVelocity Bat

  • Price – This bat is not cheap
  • Complicated?  The ProVelocity Bat not as simple as a one-piece bat.  However, it seems that even younger hitters can manage it on their own, as this 11 year old young man was kind enough to demonstrate (video below)

How to buy the ProVelocity Bat

  • Not Available on Amazon
  • Get it from Tanner Tees (free shipping)- Wherever possible, I like to support smaller, American based companies.  I’m a big fan of this one, because it’s still family run and has good people

2 – CamWood Training Bat

The Camwood Training Bat is a solid hardwood bat.  It’s design is a HUGE improvement over heavy bats from the past.  This video explains it better than I could

Pros for the Camwood Bat

  • Endorsed by the legendary Tony Gwynn (8x batting title)
  • Helps players develop a “whip” type swing, which improves bat speed dramatically
  • Weight distribution is fantastic for improving swing mechanics
  • Solid wood
  • Simple to use
  • Can hit real baseballs
  • Easy to select proper size – Just choose the Camwood that’s the same length as your regular game bat
  • Price is very reasonable

Cons for the Camwood Bat

  • Like any wood bat, it can break if you it wrong
  • Size / weight is not adjustable

In case you’re tempted to distrust marketing video (like I am), here’s Tony Gwynn talking about what he loves about the Camwood Bat.

Side note – What I thought was really funny about this video with Tony is that he doesn’t even mention using the bat for heavy bat / overload training.  It does do that, and builds strength for more powerful hitting, but Tony was pumped on it for a different reason.

Where to buy the Camwood Training Bat

I recommend getting it from Tanner Tees for 2 reasons.  One is the same as I mentioned earlier… family-run company and free shipping.

The other is because Amazon makes it a lot tougher to find your size, since each size is different listing.   Tanner Tees has a drop menu with all the options, which is way easier.  ***Just choose the one that is the same size as your regular game bat. ****

How to choose the right size camwood bat

The correct size Camwood Training bat is going to be the same size as your regular game bat

Or click here to get it from Amazon

 


3 – Hitting Knob

The Hitting Knob uses the same logic as the Camwood when it comes to putting extra weight near the hands (it naturally trains hitters to use a better hand path and whip the bat properly).   The difference is that the Hitting Knob goes on your own bat instead of a separate training bat.

Here’s a quick demo of how the Hitting Knob works:

Hitting Knob | Baseball Swing Trainer - Bat Speed & Power

Pros for the Hitting Knob

  • Easy to put on your bat… just one click
  • Improves Exit Velocity, bat speed and power
  • Use it with your regular bat… which means you don’t have to carry an extra bat around with you.  Having just the Hitting Knob is a lot smaller – easier to throw in your bag or store somewhere.
  • Helps hitters develop “whip” mechanics (Very important for bat speed and power)
  • Affordable
  • Use it for overload training / build strength

Cons for the Hitting Knob

  • The reviews on the internet are allllll positive EXCEPT for the few that have encountered the same problem… the spring that holds the Hitting Knob on the bat broke.   I have a query in to their product support to see how they handle that if it were to happen to you.  I’ll let you know what I hear.

Click here to buy the Hitting Knob


4 – Sequence Bat

I gotta be honest, when I first saw this bat, the word “gimmick” flew into my mind.

However, the more I learned about it, the more I could see the logic to it.

It’s a “feel to learn” type of training bat, which I love.  (By the way, so are the rest of the training bats on this page.)

In the video below is a little girl using the youth sized Sequence bat.  As you can see… just by using the bat correctly ( the wooden mallet is flat/parallel to the ground), she  is automatically put in a good hitting position.

The reason I love “feel to learn” training aids that there are just some things that are REALLY difficult to explain to a hitter with words.  It’s so much better when they can feel it for themselves.  And with the 2 handles, the hitter feels hand position and sequence in an exaggerated way that really drives the point home in a memorable way.

Weight: 31oz. to 36oz.

Pros for the Sequence Bat

  • Improves Exit Velocity, bat speed and power
  • Promotes great hand and barrel path
  • For some, it can double as a heavy bat, for building strength.  (Adult size weighs 31 – 36 oz; Youth size weighs 23 – 24 oz)
  • Solid wood (maple)
  • Simple, easy to use
  • “Feel to learn”

Cons for the Sequence Bat

  • Expensive (but not as expensive as the ProVelocity Training Bat)
  • Only comes in 2 sizes – Adult and Youth
  • Not as versatile as other training bats
  • Wood bats can break.  Recommended for hitting off a tee and front toss only.
  • Only works as an “overload” trainer IF it’s heavier than your regular bat ( The good thing is that it’s weight of 31 -35 oz means it will work just fine for most youth)

Click here to get the Sequence Bat

Final Recommendation

So which of these training bats would I recommend?

That depends.  If you have the budget, it would be nice to have all 3.

But if I were only to pick one…

🏆  First Choice – ProVelocity 

I love how the ProVelocity training bat can be adjusted based on the strength of the hitter or what specific thing you’re working on.  Also, it’s metal, so I don’t have to worry about breaking it.  And finally, the mobile app tracking my improvements is what puts me over the edge, despite the much higher price tag.

Click here to buy the ProVelocity Training Bat

🏆 Second Choice (MUCH MORE AFFORDABLE) – Camwood and Hitting Knob

For me, the Camwood and Hitting Knob are “neck and neck”

I love how they’re both “feel to learn” tools.  Just having the weight near the hands helps hitters create “whip” in their swing, which is basically the Holy Grail of hitting.

I also love that the price is less than a quarter of the ProVelocity.  So if your budget is tight, definitely go with one of these.

Click here to buy the Camwood bat

Click here to buy the Hitting Knob

Sources

Below are some of the studies conducted on the question “How to increase bat speed” and if overload / underload training really works for helping baseball and softball hitters accomplish that goal.

Effects of Weighted Bat Implement Training on Bat Swing Velocity

More studies on the efficacy of overload training and overload/underload training

Swing Weights of Baseball and Softball Bats – Dan Russell, Kettering University, Flint, MI

Performance versus moment of inertia of sporting implements Rod Cross1 and Alan M. Nathan2, 1Physics Department, University of Sydney, Australia 2 Department of Physics, University of Illinois, USA

About Author

Avatar für Doug Bernier

Doug Bernier, founder of Pro Baseball Insider.com, debuted in the Major Leagues in 2008 with the Colorado Rockies, and has played professional baseball for 5 organizations (CO Rockies, NY Yankees, PIT Pirates, MN Twins, & TX Rangers) over the past 16 years. He has Major League time at every infield position, and has played every position on the field professionally except for catcher. (You should click to watch this great defensive play by Bernier) Where is he now? After 16 years of playing professionally, Doug retired and took a position as a Major League scout with the Colorado Rockies for 2 years. Currently Doug is the Data and Game Planning Coordinator with the Colorado Rockies

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