When taking a first principles approach to hitters we ask the question "what do all elite hitters have in common?" We see and hear lots of conversations about particular swing styles but they all have bat speed in common. Bat speed is a make-or-break factor that separates average hitters from elite ones. It's critical for a hitter to develop a faster bat speed for multiple reasons.
Make Better "Not" Swing Decisions
What is a "Not Swing Decision"? Simply, because hitters should alwaysbe in swing mode, this is the decision that the hitter will make to NOT swing at this particular pitch
Research shows that a 90 mph fastball takes about 400 milliseconds to reach the plate. During this time, a hitter must perceive the pitch's speed, location, and type while making the decision to not swing - all within half that time. A faster bat speed can grant the hitter more time to make this decision because they can wait longer to start their swing. In contrast, a slower bat speed can force a hitter to commit earlier, leading to chasing bad pitches.
Higher Exit Velocities
This one is pretty self explanatory. If you swing the bat fast, you will hit the ball hard
As you can see in the chart below, how hard you can hit the ball plays a major role in your success as a player.
Let me also point out that the common belief that "pitchers supply the power" has been proven inaccurate in recent years through studies conducted by Dr Alan Nathan, Physics Professor, University of Illinois
"Bat speed is roughly six times more important to batted ball exit velocity than the incoming velocity..." https://t.co/S7pmXDuSs5— Diamond Kinetics (@DiamondKinetics) September 1, 2015
Better Bat To Ball Skills
Just like with "not swing decisions", hitters can improve their swing accuracy and bat to ball skills with improved bat speed because they can wait longer to start their swing. The more of the flight of the pitch you can perceive as a hitter, the more likely you are to swing accurately to hit the ball squarely on the sweet spot of the bat.
With slow bat speed, you will have to start your swing much earlier in the flight of the pitch opening yourself up to the late movement of the pitch and ultimately more difficult to hit
A good place to start when developing a solid bat speed development program is assessing where you are versus the top performers of your current level of play, as well as the level of play you wish to compete.
By using a tool such as a Diamond Kinetic Swing Tracker, you can gather objective information to direct the focus and attention of your training
Below you will find a chart of Bat Speeds by age division with percentile rankings. As you will see from the chart, the demands of bat speed get high at each level you will progress to and through as a player.