Tim’s Tips: Bat Speed or Bat Control…Which is King?
Last week, I introduced to you Tim Rappé, Executive Director of our new Brewers Baseball Academy presented by Kwik Trip, eight separate week-long baseball/softball camps open to youth (ages 6-14) that will be held in various cities across Wisconsin this summer.
Along with signing up for the camps and getting excellent baseball instruction there, every so often, Tim will provide some baseball tips here on John and Cait…Plus 9 as well. See below for his insight on Bat Speed/Bat Control.
BAT SPEED OR BAT CONTROL…WHICH IS KING?
It’s Monday morning in Maryvale and I’m doing one of my favorite spring training activities. That is, watching batting practice. The team is taking BP on the game field this morning and I’m reminded of an animated conversation last night about hitting…specifically, about bat speed versus bat control. I leave the religion and political conversations to others. But bring up hitting and it’s “go time.”
Anyway, I was asked to confirm a dad’s belief that bat speed is the single most important component of hitting success. I understand dad’s beliefs because I get asked about bat speed all the time. And it is obviously vital for success at the plate. But the obsession with increasing swing speed as the most important thing a hitter does is generally wrong. Here’s why.
If a hitter swings the bat at a heretofore unattainable 150mph (no one can) but fails to get the four inch sweet spot to the right place at the right time, the best result he can expect is a mis-hit. But the most likely result is a whiff. Conclusion: Great bat speed without great bat control and timing is pretty close to meaningless.
Remember that one of the absolute goals of every swing is to generate maximum power at the point of contact. Clearly, bat speed is critical but not at the expense of accuracy and timing. A “Happy Gilmore” walking hack might generate great bat head speed but unless you’re playing slowpitch softball, the result will not be good. The good news is that that correct mechanics will not only lead to control of the bat but is the single most important thing a hitter can do to increase bat speed.
Why does watching the Brewers take BP remind me of the importance of bat control? Because every swing they take has a situational purpose. The 3-1 count swing is different than an 0-2 swing. Runner on 3b with less than two outs demands a different approach than 0-0 with the bases empty and so on and so on. As I’m writing, Carlos Gomez is told to hit behind the runner on first base and he does. Next pitch he’s told to drive the ball and he does just that.
Getting the bat head to the right spot at the right time requires unbelievable timing and accuracy and I maintain the most important and the most difficult aspect of hitting. That’s why, at the Brewers Baseball Academy, we use a progressive hitting approach that builds the hitter from the ground up. Over the past winter I did video analyses for over 700 young hitters and we will use that data along with a couple ideas I picked up at spring training to build a hitting strategy for every camper. You can count on it.
Despite all my huffing and puffing about timing and control, until next time, “If you’re gonna swing, might as well swing hard.”