Measurement and Speed by Age
Baseball and Fastpitch Softball
This Bat Speed: Measurement and Speed by Age article is excerpted from The Ultimate Hitting Training Guide (click the link for details about our new drills book!).
For recommendations on how and when to use various training methods (dry, heavy bag, pylos, tee, toss, live, machine, etc.) and to shop for practical and durable training equipment click on the link Hitting Training Methods and Aids.
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Devices to Measure Bat Speed
Ball Speed Radar
Stalker Pro II – $2600+ (also measure spin rate)
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(Ball Coach Radar, 2018) – $300
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While the most costly option to measure bat speed, the multi-functionality of ball speed radar guns (distinguished from bat speed radars) makes them essential for coaches, parents, and players. Although the most common use for ball speed radar guns comes in the pitching cage, they can also measure batted ball exit velocity (EV) and bat speed.
Note: Swing speed is dependent on where you measure speed on the bat. As the bat moves in a rotational arc, the further towards the cap, the higher the speed. Ball speed radars measure the speed at the cap. Bat speed radars and bat sensors measure the rate at the sweet spot of the bat (a more realistic measure of power).
Bat Speed Radar
Swing Speed Radar – $110
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The Swing Speed Radar™ is a small, inexpensive microwave Doppler radar velocity sensor that measures golfers’ swing speed and baseball/softball hitters. It helps players optimize their swing by providing a convenient measure of their swing velocity as they strive to improve their performance. The Swing Speed Radar™ measures the barrel’s speed in the hitting zone, not the bat’s tip.
Blast Bat Sensor (Baseball and Softball – $145
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Bat sensors quantify swing quality. Attach these amazing devices to the knob of the bat. The sensor sends swing metrics to a phone or tablet for coaches and players to track and analyze. Sensors are relatively cheap and positively impact the training of hitters at all baseball and fastpitch softball levels.
Here is Building Rome Series ranking of the four most valuable metrics measured by bat sensors:
- Bat Speed.
Bat Speed is the observed swing speed of the sweet spot of the bat at impact. The bat’s sweet spot is measured six inches from the tip of the bat.
- Attack Angle.
Attack angle is the angle of the bat’s path, at impact, relative to horizontal. A positive value indicates an upward swing path, and a negative value indicates swinging down, where zero is level.
- Vertical Bat Angle.
Vertical bat angle is measured in degrees and provides the barrel’s location relative to the knob at impact. This analytic is useful when optimizing swing patterns for high and low, and downward moving pitches.
- Time to Contact.
Time to contact is the elapsed time between the start of the downswing and impact. An advanced algorithm determines the beginning of the downswing to detect functional forward bat speed initiation.
Why Measure Bat Speed?
Modern technology enables the speed of the hitter’s swing to be measured. No competitive team should be without a radar or sensor; these are useful and affordable training tools. Here is a checklist of potential purposes for measuring bat speed::
- Historically track swing speed (early and overall) for each player to see how power is improving – make a simple graph!
- Compare practice to game swing speed (requires a bat sensor).
- Help the developing hitter learn the feeling, gain the habit, and increase focus for swinging hard.
- Measure how experimental swing techniques affect a hitter’s swing speed as compared to their baseline.
- Measure how strength training and overweight/underweight drills affect swing speed.
- Determine how various lengths, weights, and MOI bats affect swing speed.
To Measure Speed Accurately with Radars the Bat or Ball Must Be Moving Directly Into or Away
The most common mistake made using radar guns is trying to clock targets from angles. All radars work on the Doppler principle and need to clock objects moving directly at or away. Clocking at an angle results in cosine error, and the radar displays a lower speed than actual.
How to Measure Speed Early in the Swing
Early bat speed measures the hitter’s swing speed when they have allowed the ball to travel to the inner zone contact point (see our free article for a discussion of Out Front or Let the Ball Travel). The goal is to improve speed early in the swing to maximize decision time and the rate of hard-hit balls. Outstanding early bat speed separates the great hitters.
Use a static heavy bag (click on the link for our recommended hitting bag) and a radar or sensor to measure early bat speed. Locate the heavy bag at the optimum (inner zone) contact point for the hitting zone desired. Placing the bag out in front of the hitter, where contact occurs at full extension, measures overall speed. When measuring early speed, the hitter contacts the bag with the rear elbow slotted against their side.
The hitter takes a maximum force swing striking the heavy bag. The heavy bag, which stops the bat, allows only early bat speed (before hands release) to be measured. If using radar, it is aimed at the swing’s exact level to avoid angle errors.
Have the hitter swing five times. Calculate the average and peak early bat speed (highest achieved). For future comparison, record the date, the hitting zone tested (inside, outside, low, high, middle), and the average and peak speeds.
For an accomplished hitter, early bat speed is only a few mph slower than overall speed.
How to Measure Bat Speed for the Overall Swing
To measure the overall speed with a radar, use the same procedure as when measuring early bat speed, except do not use a hitting bag to stop the bat. Have the hitter take five full dry swings. Calculate the average and peak overall speed (highest achieved). For future comparison, record the date, the hitting zone tested (inside, outside, low, high, middle), and the average and peak speeds.
Average Overall Bat Speed by Age
After evaluating youth hitters in over 7000+ private lessons, here is the Building Rome Series of ranges of exceptional average (not peak) overall bat speeds by age:
- Little League baseball (40-60 mph).
- Middle School baseball(45-65 mph).
- High School baseball(55-75 mph).
- College baseball(60-80 mph).
- Pro baseball (65-85 mph).
- Little League softball (35-55 mph).
- Middle School softball (40-60 mph).
- High School softball (50-70 mph).College softball (55-75 mph).
Bat Speed Articles
Click on the links below for articles devoted to improving bat speed:
Early Bat Speed for Power and Average
Rotational Core Strength to Build Bat Speed
Swing Analytics Articles
Click on the links below for more free swing analytic articles:
Building Rome Series Books: Building the High-Level Swing Series
Click Building the High-Level Swing Series to learn more about our new two-book hitting series containing a detailed and comprehensive description of 100 hitting fundamentals and 140 step-by-step drills that efficiently construct the batting swing from the ground up.
In the Building Rome Series of books, the construction of skills are in functional order, providing a “roadmap” to becoming a great hitter.
All baseball and fastpitch softball players can “climb the Roman Coliseum steps” to become powerful and productive hitters.
Enjoy the quest!