Measurement and Speed by Age
Baseball and Fastpitch Softball
This Exit Velocity: Measurement and Speed by Age article is excerpted from The Ultimate Hitting Training Guide (click for a description of our new hitting drills book).
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Definition of Exit Velocity (EV)
Exit Velocity measures the speed of the baseball or softball as it comes off the bat, immediately after a batter makes contact. Attaining a high Exit Velocity is one of a hitter’s primary goals.
Measure Exit Velocity Using Ball Speed Radars
The multi-functionality of ball speed radar guns (as distinguished from bat speed radars) makes them an essential tool for any coach, parent, or player. Although the most common use for ball speed radar guns comes in the pitching cage, they can also measure and track batted ball exit velocity (EV).
Click the links to shop for our recommended ball speed radars in order from the most affordable for coaches, parents, and players to the more expensive for professional instructors and college/pro: Ball Coach Radar, Jugs Sports Radar, Stalker Pro II Sports Radar (also measures spin rate!).
Measure Exit Velocity Off a Tee
“The Ball Coach™ radar has a lot of technology specifically designed to pick up the speed of the ball as it leaves the bat. This gives you the only direct measure of the power of a hit. This is often referred to as Exit Velocity or sometimes referred to as Ball Exit Speed. The Ball Coach radar can measure the Exit Velocity in batting practice, from off a tee, from soft-toss, or with live pitching. If you are using it with live pitching from behind the batter you will get the speed of the incoming pitch and the Exit Velocity off the bat as long as it is a well-hit ball with the Exit Speed faster than the incoming pitch.” (Ball Coach Radar, 2019)
Here is how to measure exit velocity off a tee:
- The person holding the radar gun sits behind the tee to gun the ball’s velocity going out. The radar gun is level with the ball on the tee.
- Set the tee in the inner or outer contact zone, and inside, middle, outside, high or low hitting zone (for a description of contact and hitting zones, click Early Bat Speed for Power and Average). Just be consistent with each swing and measurement session so that the evaluation of improvement is accurate.
- Only record line drives; remember the radar must be level with ball flight to avoid angle errors.
- Start the gun when the stride foot lands. The hitter uses a good ball and the bat they would use in a game, so the variables are always the same.
- Record the exit velocity on five line drives. Calculate the average and peak exit velocity (highest achieved). For future comparison, record the date, the contact and hitting zone tested, and the average and peak speeds.
Measure Exit Velocity with a Pitched Ball
A pitched ball introduces numerous variables that affect ball exit speed. For the data to be as reliable, follow these tips:
- If the radar is positioned behind the hitter (with a net separating hitter from the coach), the radar reports the pitched ball’s speed or the ball’s speed off the bat, whichever is greater. The radar may even pick up the speed of the bat. Ask the hitter for five-line drives where the radar displays a speed faster than the pitch’s speed and the hitter’s average bat speed. Because of cosine errors, ground balls and fly balls do not read accurately on the radar gun and may display the pitch’s speed since it is higher.
- To lessen confusion, another method is to position the radar six feet in the air behind a net located 15 feet from the hitter (image above). The hitter must be experienced enough to hit consistent line drives to the target net, within a five-foot circle of the radar’s position, to make testing efficient. Record speed only for solid contact within the five-foot circle.
- For comparability, whether the ball is thrown underhand or overhand, or a pitching machine is used, be sure throws are the same speed and use the same type of ball during each measurement.
- Calculate the average and peak (highest achieved) exit velocity for the five solid hits into the five-foot circle. Record the date, the hitting zone tested (inside, middle, outside, high, low, or mixed), and the average and peak speeds for future comparison.
Exit Velocity by Age
Using measurements from my 7000+ hitting lessons, here are the ranges of exceptional ball exit velocity by age (using the method of averaging of exit velocity as described above – not peak speed):
- Little League Baseball (45-65 mph).
- Middle School baseball(50-70 mph).
- High School baseball(60-80 mph).
- College baseball(70-90 mph).
- Pro baseball (80-100 using wood).
- Little League Softball (40-60 mph).
- Middle School softball (45-65 mph).
- High School softball (55-75 mph).
- College softball (60 – 80 mph).
Bat Speed Articles
Click on the links below for articles devoted to improving bat speed and exit velocity:
Recommended Metrics to Measure and Track Hitters Progress
For players serious about playing in college, Building Rome Series recommends measuring and tracking not only ball exit velocity, but also the following analytics/metrics:
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!