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Offseason Hitting Drills

Offseason hitting drills

The offseason is where the work gets done to prepare us for game play. Once the grass starts to green up in Minnesota, we know that baseball season is just around the corner. In order to get ready for opening day, us northerners use a variety of offseason hitting drills to prepare. These drills can be done on our own, or with a teammate or two.  You can also seek specialized coaching from one of MN’s great training facilities. Let’s focus today on some drills that you can do on your own, with limited space, and that require limited resources.

Tee Work

As we all know, baseball is a game of repetition. The best hitters in the game didn’t get that way over night or by watching a “how-to video”. At its purest form, baseball is one of the most mechanical and fundamental sports. The more repetition, the more success you may find. A Batting Tee is a small tool that applies to all abilities of players. There is benefit for your “tee ball” players up to your Major Leaguer.  A batting tee allows you to breakdown your swing to the most miniscule of details. It focuses on areas of weakness, and allows you to get many swings in a short amount of time. A tee is portable! You can do it in your basement when it is 20 below zero. Also works fine in your garage with a small net! The ideal spot would be a batting cage, as it allows for instant feedback letting you know exactly where you hit the ball and if you hit it properly.  Check out the Tanner Tee, best in the business.  Tee work is one of the best offseason hitting drills you can do!

Basics- Ball placement on the Batting Tee

 Try and place the ball on the batting tee with purpose. The saying “keep your eye on the ball” is an important focus of tee work. Hitting different spots on the baseball will create different outcomes.

Figure 1. Hitting downward on the top seam will create backspin that will make the ball go further.

Figure 2. Hitting the inside seam (right hand hitter) will create a better path to the baseball while also creating backspin to drive the ball further.

Hitting downward on the top seam will create backspin that will make the ball go further.Hitting the inside seam (right hand hitter) will create a better path to the baseball while also creating backspin to drive the ball further.

Basic Batting Tee Work

Basic Batting Tee work consists of moving the tee around the plate to focus on hitting pitches in different locations. Keep your typical batting stance and set-up when attacking these locations. By hitting the outside pitch, it allows for the ball to travel deeper through the hitting zone with the same swing. Up the middle contact should be somewhere between your stomach and your front foot after stride. Attacking the inside pitch, you will want to make contact earlier and out front so your wood bat barrel can make contact without compromising your hands or your stride.

Tee placement for ideal contact

Top Hand/Bottom Hand Drills

 The purpose of one hand drills is to isolate weaknesses in your swing, discovering limitations by being dominate with your top or bottom hand, and creating balance. By isolating one hand, it will help to create power as well as finding your ideal swing path.

Top Hand only- by letting the elbow lead through the zone, it will help by getting the wood bat barrel on plane with the pitch more quickly while developing bat control and balance.

Bottom Hand only- the bottom hand, even though most will be top hand dominant, will truly help you understand your swing path as a whole. Your lead hand will start the motion of pulling towards the baseball. Once you can control hitting line drives with one hand, the easier it will be with two. A couple training aids most popularly used are our one-handed trainer and the Hammer!

High Batting Tee Drill

We all have been in that funk where we start popping balls up and dropping our back shoulder. Here is a solution that will help you by driving down on the ball and generating that backspin with more line drives. By elevating the batting tee to somewhere between your eyes and your chest, it will create a bat path forcing you to stay on top of the ball through the zone while not allowing you to drop your backside shoulder. By setting your batting tee on a chair or bucket, it will allow you to achieve that ideal height for the tee. The ideal location to hit the ball is right back up the middle at head height. The focus is to square up the ball, where our Hand/Eye Trainer is ideal for hitting that sweet spot with immediate feedback.

Step Through Drill

Bat speed and Launch Angle are commonplace terminology within baseball and its developing at younger ages. This drill focuses on that as well as using our legs to generate power. The Step Through will also aid in keeping your hands back while we stride and get our front foot down first. While doing this you need to keep the bat back in the zone longer to swing at better pitches. The set-up will include starting at the back of the batter’s box facing straight towards the pitcher. The first step is taken with your right foot if you are a right-handed hitter towards the tee set-up in the front-middle portion of the plate. The left leg follows through as your stride leg into your hitting position.  After the swing the step through is the back leg finishing off on the ground or on your back toe. This is all controlled movement as to prevent “squashing the bug” as we are looking to generate back spin and more power!

Why Train with a wood bat?

Offseason hitting drills pared with a wood bat will really help you improve your game.  Swinging a wood bat has many benefits for the young player.  Wood bats give instant feedback. You will feel it if you don’t square one up on the barrel. If you hit one off the end or off the handle, the hands will feel the vibration off the bat. Simply swinging a wood bat can really help hitters develop faster. First off, wooden bats tend to be weighted differently than aluminum / metal bats.  This doesn’t always mean that a wood bat is heavier.  It means that because the barrel of wood bat is solid (instead of hollow like an aluminum bat), the weight distribution is going to be/feel different. This difference alone helps hitters develop the muscles they use to swing.  It really builds bat speed faster than just working with aluminum. Plate discipline and learning to swing at better quality pitches will essentially make you focus on hitting the sweet spot of the wood barrel and make your wood bat last longer. Wood is the bat for players looking to play at the next level!

Categories: Baseball Bats, Baseball Training, Bat Swing Speed, Wood Baseball Bats, Wood Bat, Wood bat company, Wood Bats

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MaxBat ProXR vs. other Non Traditional Knobs

MaxBat ProXR vs. axe Style Handles.

Why is the ProXR angled knob the best in baseball, let us explain. The swing of an actual axe (chopping wood), which the competitors’ product is based on, has a linear swing path. Meaning it drives the hands to the point of contact.  This is probably the most important point…the swing of an axe always ends at contact. This is critical. The oval shape and general configuration of an axe handle evolved over thousands of years specifically to drive the axe head to the point of contact. This also applies to swords, hammers and other linear-path swing implements. The oval shape locks the hands into alignment with the swing path. This PREVENTS the hands from deviating from that swing path.

Round Knob is Key

In sharp contrast, the MaxBat ProXR knob is round and you know a baseball swing is rotational.  Meaning the bat must rotate around the batters’ body and the hands MUST roll over the central axis of the bat to compete the swing. This gives hitters the ability to both, make adjustments during the swing and complete the rotational swing path. Putting an oval axe handle on a baseball bat is in direct conflict with the requirements of a rotational baseball swing. Imagine trying to adjust your swing on a breaking ball or change-up when the shape of the handle is resisting those adjustments.

ProXR was designed from the ground-up specifically for a rotational baseball bat swing. It reduces compression in the hands and gives batters improved performance. Additionally, we tested our designs before we went to market and continue to do ongoing research and testing. As a side note, ProXR is the only angled knob technology that uses a round knob shape to help create a smoother swing.

In terms of game performance,  ProXR performs very well.  Every professional player who swung ProXR in 2018-19 had career hardest hits as measured by StatCast. We have not yet assessed the 2020 data.

You can add the ProXR knob to any custom MaxBat wood bat.  Check it out under the “knob” section of the custom bat builder… https://www.maxbats.com/shop/bats/custom/141/5 

The ProXR round knob versus axe style handles oval knob.

The round ProXR knob allows the bat to follow the natural swing path of a baseball bat. The oval knob shape fights the natural swing path.

Categories: Baseball Bats, Bat Swing Speed, Custom baseball bat, Maple Bats, ProXR, Wood Baseball Bats, Wood Bat, Wood Bats

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Wood bats…..Wood Softball bats that is – Part 2

The wood bat movement for softball is something that really caught my eye. I have played slow pitch softball for a few summers now and have always thought that the metal bats used today are way too “hot”. I agree that having to have a home run limit is something that should immediately be a red flag. Not to mention, everyone now apologizes if they hit a ball up the middle.

In baseball, we are taught to drive the ball up the middle. As a baseball player myself (currently in a wood bat league), and a huge numbers and analytics nerd, I decided to do some research on the numbers.

A study was done out of Mamaroneck High School comparing metal bats and wood bats and swing and exit speed. The average swing speed was 8 miles per hour faster with the metal bats. The exit speed difference for someone of my age (22) was 14 mph faster off of the metal bat as compared to the wood bat.

If you take these numbers and put them into game like reaction times, you would find that with a wood bat, you have 0.04 more seconds to react on a ball hit back at the pitcher. Now this may not seem like a lot of time, but that can be the difference between getting your glove up to catch the ball and being hit by a hard line drive. As a pitcher who has been hit by a line drive back at me, I will take all the time I can get. In terms of softball, the base paths are 20-30 feet shorter than baseball, depending on the league. This reaction time is now reduced even more, which has caused pitchers and even some infielders to wear masks. At the end of the day, I am completely on board with the change to wood bats for softball. Not to mention the customization that MaxBat offers is something that softball players everywhere would enjoy.

Written by MaxBat contributor, Tyler Flakne

Categories: Bat Swing Speed, Metal bats, Wood Bat, Wood Bats

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Can Swinging a Lighter Wood Bat Increase Bat Speed?

The common perception is that if you swing a lighter wood bat, that you will automatically increase your bat speed, thus increasing your chances to hit the ball harder.

However, the weight of a wood bat has very little to do with one’s ability to generate bat speed, and here’s why…..

A short compact swing with a downward angle (aka good swing mechanics / hands inside the ball), is the foundation to generate increased swing speed (bat speed).

A long looping swing (casting out / swinging around the ball) will translate to a slower swing.

Bad mechanics will equal a bad swing, and a slow bat.

A swing with proper mechanics will impact “bat speed” more so than a bat’s weight.

Therefore someone with proper swing mechanics should be able to generate the same swing speed with a 33″/32oz. wood bat, as a 33″/31oz. wood bat. And think of the weight we are talking about…..1 measly ounce. A stack of 10 pennies equals 1 ounce. Now think about how that ounce is distributed in the bat. Picture a stack of 10 pennies affixed to the barrel end of your wood bat. I can guarantee you that you would notice the slight increase in weight. However, you need to realize that that is not how that extra ounce will be distributed within the mass of the bat. Instead of visualizing a stack of 10 pennies on the very end of the bat, picture those 10 pennies lined up throughout the length of the wood bat. The extra ounce is evenly distributed throughout, thus making that extra ounce virtually undetectable.

16StackOfPennies

Batters do not swing up, therefore they’re not fighting gravity. Hence, wood bats of the same length, with one an ounce heavier than the other, should not effect swing speed if batter executes proper swing mechanics.

Players, coaches, and parents are often misinformed about this. Just as many players think that by listening to the cup when banging their hand on a wood bat barrel will indicate if it’s a good piece of wood or not. The reality is that smaller knobbed wood bats will produce a sound with a higher pitch than wood bats with larger knobs. So yet another myth debunked.

Categories: Baseball Bats, Baseball Training, Bat Swing Speed, Wood Baseball Bats, Wood Bats

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