Isometric exercises are an old school exercise to increase strength. isometric contractions are contractions were the muscle can’t shorten because there is a resistance that can’t be overcome.
The drill is pretty simple. find a tree and stand about even with the tree with the front foot. now you approach the tree slowly with the Bat like a slow motion swing and then you push as hard as you can against the tree for 3-4 seconds and you repeat that about 10 times.
Ideally you use a slightly incline tree so that you can push slightly upward like in a swing.
However the word push is a little misleading. You do not want to use the arms but use the turn of the body.
-pull the front shoulder back and up
-hands stay on on the plate side of the body (right for righty)
-hips are extended
-body slightly leaning back to no back arch, keep arch tight)
That drill is for good posture at contact which can lead to better launch angles. losing that posture often leads to lower launch angles.
It also isometrically trains the rotational muscles of the body and also trains forearm strength. Overall it is a good drill that trains all the muscles that fire in a swing and it also reinforces a good contact position.
Physically you are not pushing through contact in a baseball swing but it still is a good drill for better posture and strength.
I believe that the first impulse for the rotation is the back leg drive but soon after that the hips turn on an autopilot and the rear foot usually gets pulled forward as the weight is shifted with the swing. You don’t squish the bug but the back foot releases and slides forward. This is mostly a passive process, the leg is pulled forward by the rear hip.
However I think that one mistake can lead to losing posture and swung plane. You want to maintain that slight tilt over the plate so that you can swing perpendicular to the upper spine ( some tilt the whole spine and some add some side bend so the the lower spine is more upright but the upper spine needs to be tilted).
Now here is the mistake. Many kids bring the back foot around toward the plate with the hip rotation. This causes a balance loss and as a result the player stands up and loses his balance and swing plane.
Here is a demonstration
Now the better way is to have the foot pulled forward in a more straight line or actually behind you ( back foot toward shortstop for a right handed batter). This gives you a feel of the rear hip coming forward more in a straight line rather than around ( even though in reality the path still is rotational) and gives some counter balance to the tilt so that you can maintain that posture through the turn.
It is important to get a drive from the back leg and not lose the back leg load too early (stay back) before you start to rotate. A cue I like to use to maintain pressure on the back foot instep (credit to Justin Stone) until the hips are about a third to halfway open but then you release all that energy into and against the front side and finish rotation. Don’t squish the bug but drive off the back leg into heel plant and get all your weight to the inside of the front leg.
Here is the drill ( inspired by Chad Pipitt). You do a swing and try to slide the back foot 5-10 inches forward ( but still stay behind the front side and don’t “stand up”). Then you re plant the back foot and make the next swing. This means you advance a couple inches on each swing, do like 10 swings or cover a certain distance.
This is an easy program for starters. Do it 3 times a week. Note that it only should be done by players with stable mechanics, I would not start before 12-13 years old. Before that work on mechanics and other stuff.
Here is the program. Do it 3 times a week on non conscutive days:
This is extremely important because otherwise you can get injured. Especially make sure to warm up obliques and back, I once strained my oblique doing overload/underload not warming up properly and missed half a season. So REALLY warm up.
2. The tire drill
Do 3 sets of 10 swings at full force. Two sets of the strong side and one of the weak side to balance it out.
3. Back step turn drill
3 sets of 6 swings as hard as you can.
4. Overload/underload training
2 rounds of 5 swings each with the light, regular and heavy bat ( 30 swings overall)
Another drill for separation ( hips leading the hands) and sequence. Stand with the back facing the target and then take a step back with your right leg ( right handed batter) while simultaneously loading the upper body. Upon landing that leg immediately drives inwards while the bat continue to go back, then you just do a normal swing. Creates great stretch and an effortless swing.
Found this excellent excercise on YouTube done by young star Francisco lindor. It involves a cable machine with a stick at the end that you grip at either end and then you tilt your spine forward and rotate from low to high until the top hand and shoulder is down and shoulders are all the way open.
I did this excercise with a rubber band attached to a fence and the other end to a broomstick. Works just as well if you don’t have a machine.
Excellent excercise for separation, maintaining spine tilt and finishing rotation.
The formula says that off a Tee the exit velocity is around 1.1 times or a little more the batspeed. That means an 80 mph batspeed with a wood bat would lead to around a 90 mph exit speed off a Tee ( if you hit the ball in the sweet spot of course it can be much less if you don’t hit it on the screws).
Pitch velocity also plays a role but only to a much smaller degree.
Batted ball velocity has a very high correlation with performance. Better hitters tend to have higher batted ball speeds. Home runs in MLB usually are hit at a velocity upward of 100 mph. The hardest hit balls in MLB are around 120 mph, anything above 110 is really smoked.
Batspeed is not everything of course, you also need to make flush contact in the sweet spot and hit the ball in the right trajectory ( home runs usually have a launch angle of around 20-40 degrees). Do increase the chance to make such contact swing quickness and “shortness” ( elite swings take less than 150 milliseconds) is needed as well as a good swing plane, timing and barrell accuracy.
But if you want to become a really good batter increasing swing speed really helps.
This is one of the few drills here that I have created myself. It involves using a car tire slamming it repeatedly into a wall. Hook the tire with your fingertips ( just the 4 fingers not the thumb). It is important that you only hook it and not grip it to avoid injury.
The good thing is that you already drive the hips open while let the heavy tire is still going back. That way you create a lot of separation, create a good sequence with the hips leading plus using the stretch shortening cycle.
It it is also a great rotational power training because you are overloading in the rotational plane.
I would recommend doing no more than 8 to 10 reps per set so that you can do every rep at max effort.
Overload/Underload Training is an old concept to break Speed barriers. The Overloading increases resistance and thus promotes using the big core muscles and the underload Training allows the Body to move faster than it can normally. It mostly works on neuronal aspects allowing the muscles to fire faster.
Soviet Trainers experiemented with that Kind of Training Long ago by having shot putters using heavier and lighter shots. Their studies found out that you should not go more than 20% over or under the Regulation implement because otherwise mechanics would be impaired. There is a lot of excellent Research by Coop deRenne regarding Baseball on that subject.
Note that this is an advanced Training method for breaking plateaus. I would only recommend doing this for older athletes with stable mechanics and good fitness. It is hard to make a rule but I would usually not do it before 14U or so. For younger kids working on mechanics makes much more sense.
but if you have good mechanics and some strength but batspeed is not progressing overload under load training can help.
so how is it done?
First you need a lighter bat that is about six ounces lighter than your game bat (you can use an old softball or a longer youth bat) and a bat that is about six inches heavier.
For making a heavier at use a wood bat, drill holes into it and glue fishing sinkers into it with epoxy glue. However make sure that you don’t change the balance point too much by grouping the weights around the balance point.
if you have those bats make sure that you are really warmed up. After that do some swings with the normal bat and then you are ready for the program. First do 5-6 swings with the heavy bat, then the light bat and then the regulation bat. Make sure every swing is max effort and take a little rest between the bats. Do 2-3 sets of this 3 times a week.
It is not unusual to gain 10 mph of batspeed in a few weeks the first time you do it. I went from high 60s in batspeed to 80 in about 2 months. However later the gains will be much lower because you both improve your mechanical efficiency and neuronal efficiency and those things improve rather quickly. For further improvement you might need to increase absolute strength or sometimes also mechanics. But for a quick boost this kind of training is very good especially for guys who have not trained for max effort. Again make sure you don’t do it before you have good mechanics.
Also make sure that you get enough rest. I made the mistake of doing it daily and while gains were fast first after some time neuronal fatigue set in and I even regressed a little. 3 times a week is enough.