Baseball Magazine

Off-season Hitting: Using Heavy Bats

By Meachrm @BaseballBTYard
Off-season hitting:  Using heavy batsOne day when I was at spring training in the Twins organization, Chili Davis, the Twins DH at the time, came down to the minor league complex to get some additional at-bats.  I batted after him one inning and noticed his bat.  It was gigantic.  When he wasn’t looking, I picked it up and took a half swing just to see how it felt.  (Note: Some guys don’t care for people touching their bats, gloves, etc. and Chili could have snapped me in two.  I wasn’t taking any chances.)  It was the longest, heaviest bat I had ever held.  I later found out that the dimensions were 36 inches and 36 ounces!  I thought I had picked up Fred Flintstone’s club.  The scary thing was that Chili Davis swung it like it was a toothpick.  I mentioned all this to my manager at the time and he explained what was going on.
Some players purposely use a heavier bat in the off-season and during spring training games than they would in real games.  They do this for two reasons.  First, it strengthens the hands and wrists and gets their arms in shape.  Second, it forces them to use their whole body when they swing.  The first reason isn’t much of a surprise since players have used weighted bats for a while now to increase hand, wrist, and arm strength.  The second reason, in my opinion, is the more productive one. Many hitters do not integrate both halves of their bodies well when they swing.  Some are “hands” or “arm” hitters that don’t get the most out of their lower half.  Others use their lower half well but are sluggish with their hands and wrists.  Good hitters have a fluidness to their swings that incorporate proper rhythm and timing between both halves of their body.  The heavy bat forces the hitter to use his lower half when swinging.  Because the bat is so heavy, it makes it virtually impossible to create the necessary bat speed to hit a hard thrower by just using the hands and wrists.  If a hitter tried with the heavy bat, the ball would blow past them.  Chili Davis and other very strong players sometimes rely too much on their upper body strength and forget that much of their bat speed and power gets generated from the ground up, meaning their lower half.  A heavy bat reminds them of this.Obviously, these kinds of bats are hard to come by.  A bat company could make a custom one but you’d probably pay an arm and a leg for it.  Another option is to just take some swings with a donut or other weight on the bat.  I’ve seen guys wrap a light ankle weight around the bat as well.  When that is done, usually the barrel of the bat is unaffected so a ball can still be hit on the good part of the bat even though the weight is added.  Tee work, soft toss, short toss, and even light batting practice can be done with this technique.Give it a shot.  You might just tap into your lower half a bit more and eventually create more power and bat speed.
Tomorrow's post  -  Off-season hitting: Using lighter bats

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