Many studies have been done that say training must correlate directly to the movements that take place in sport. This is a wordy definition for the phrase: sport-specific training.
If we want greater bat speed we must replicate our swing dynamics using resistance to build strength, and speed training to build power. Strength and Power are directly related. Power in definition is really just fast strength.
With these two points being made, we now need to understand the mechanics of a swing.
When we swing a bat, the swing starts from the ground, up. Think of this ground up theory as a rubber band that is fully stretched and twisted as well. When a rubber band is fully stretched, it is filled with what we refer to as potential energy, meaning if we let go, that band will move. So if our rubber band is now fully stretched and twisted as well, if we let go, the band will move in a rotational manner. In essence this is what happens to your body, your body is this rubber band. As a hitter, prior to the pitch we load up and put our rubber band on stretch. Then just prior to our swing, we put force into the ground, the ground then pushes force up through our legs, hips, and abdominals. At that moment our rubber band (body) begins to un-stretch in a rotational manner pushing the force and energy we created towards to ball. The amount of force and energy that is put into the ball will determine the distance and speed in which this ball will travel.
Now that we have a basic understanding of the swing, we are able to tailor exercises to enhance our force and energy output. I recommend in terms of equipment all baseball players purchase a medicine ball of 4-10 pounds depending on your age and body size. I usually recommend starting with a 6lb ball for athletes over 100 lbs. I would also strongly encourage purchasing some resistance tubing with handles. With these two recommended pieces of equipment you can complete a comprehensive baseball development workout.
These exercises should be done 2-3 days per week. I recommend 2-3 sets of 8-10 repetitions.
Core Bridges- This is one of the best core stability exercises. This exercise will help with the transfer of force and energy from your lower body to your upper
How? While laying on the ground face down, bend your arms and place them directly under your shoulders. From this position, you should be able to lift your body up as if you were doing a pushup while resting your weight on your forearms. Hold this posture for 15 seconds to start and as you get better, increase the time of your hold.
Seated Bent Knee Med Ball Rotations- This exercise will begin to develop rotational speed and strength
How? While sitting on the floor, bend both knees so just your heels are on the floor. From this position grab your medicine ball. With the ball close to your body, begin to rotate by turning your shoulders side to side and tap the ball on each side of your body each repetition. When using the medicine ball you will have more of a strength focus. To enhance the speed of muscle contraction, let go of the ball and rotate side to side as rapidly as possible.
High to Low Standing Band Chops- This exercise will also be used to build strength and speed depending on the resistance of your band.
How? Prior to beginning this exercise, it is important that your band is fixed to an object that is a few feet taller than you are. This object could be a pullup bar, doorway, or a partner standing on a table or bench. While standing in your batter stance, weight should be equally distributed on both feet. Grab the handle of the band with your front hand, or the hand that would be closest to the pitcher, then place your other hand on top of the other. From this position you are going to chop down on the same plane you would if you were going to hit the ball off a tee. The movement should be slow and controlled if strength is your goal, if speed is your goal, use a lighter resistance band and speed up the movement to a rapid pace while still maintaining good mechanics.
Low to High Standing Band Chops- This exercise will also be used to build strength and speed depending on the resistance of your band. In addition this will enhance upper body trunk flexibility
How? Prior to beginning this exercise, it is important that your band is fixed to an object that is even with your back foot. This object could be a chair, leg of a table, or even the trunk of a tree. While standing in your batter stance, weight should be equally distributed on both feet. Grab the handle of the band with your front hand, or the hand that would be closest to the pitcher, then place your other hand on top of the other. At this point you will pivot your front foot and rotate your torso towards the object that is holding the band in place. From here, you will immediately begin to chop in an upward direction with your arms extended outward. While this is going on, your front foot will pivot to open up, while your back foot will pivot as if you were hitting and squashing the bug. Upon finish, your arms will finish high and you will look very similar to a golfer when they finish their swing.
Rotational Pushup- This upper body exercise will help develop upper body strength, stability, and flexibility all at the same time.
How? From the top of a pushup position, you will start a slow descent bringing your chest to the floor. Directly following you will push up from the floor while at the same lifting one of your hands and arms up towards the sky.
Utilize these 5 exercises three times each week and you will slowly but surely see improvements.