Measure Bat Speed
Baseball and Fastpitch Softball
This Measure Bat Speed 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.
Note that the products discussed on our site have been used in our training of hitters with great success. At no extra cost to you, things you buy through our links may earn us a commission.
About Bat Speed Radars
Modern technology enables the speed of the hitter’s swing to be measured. No competitive team should be without a bat speed radar or a bat sensor; these are useful and affordable training tools. Here is a checklist of potential purposes for measuring bat speed with radars or sensors:
- Track bat speed (early and overall) over time to see how power is improving – make a graph!
- Compare practice to game bat 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 bat speed as compared to their baseline.
- Measure how strength training and overweight/underweight drills affect bat speed.
- Determine how various length, weight, and MOI bats affect bat speed.
Tips on Using Bat Speed Radars Effectively
Click the link for an affordable and easy to use bat speed radar.
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.
Also, 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. Bat speed radars and bat sensors measure the rate at the sweet spot of the bat.
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.
How to Measure Bat Speed Early in the Swing
Early bat speed (see The Ultimate Hitting Fundamentals, Techniques, and Strategy Guide, Pillar XXVIII: Early Bat Speed) measures the hitter’s swing speed when they have allowed the ball to travel to the inner zone contact point. The goal is to improve bat 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 swing speed radar or bat sensor to measure early bat speed. Locate the heavy bag at the optimum (inner zone) contact point for the hitting zone desired (see The Ultimate Hitting Fundamentals, Techniques, and Strategy Guide, Stone XXXV: Optimal Contact Points). Placing the bag out in front of the hitter, where contact occurs at full extension, measures overall bat speed. When measuring early bat 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
An easy way to measure overall bat speed is with a bat sensor. With a sensor, measure overall bat speed while swinging off the tee or any throwing method.
To measure the overall bat speed with a bat speed 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 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.
Average Overall Bat Speed by Age
Here are the 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).
Other Swing Analytics Articles You May Find Useful
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 a powerful and productive hitter.
Enjoy the quest!