Rotational Core Strength to Increase Bat Speed
Strength and Conditioning Series
Baseball and Fastpitch Softball
This Rotational Core Strength to Increase Bat Speed article is excerpted from our new book The Ultimate Hitting Training Guide (click for book details).
The strength and conditioning articles found in this Building Rome Series are specifically designed to increase bat and ball exit speed (power) for the baseball and fastpitch softball hitter.
Introduction to Rotational Core Strength
Sport-specific training means sequentially working through the kinetic segments, muscle actions, intensities, and energy systems required for each athlete’s movement patterns.
In baseball and fast-pitch softball, hitters need to create maximal angular (rotational) velocity to generate ball exit speed and distance. To develop bat velocity, baseball and fastpitch softball players need rotational power. The swing is a low load, high-velocity rotational power movement. Batting requires a stable base (legs) and transfer of force through the core and shoulders into the arms.
The entire body’s relative strength is necessary for the swing, as it is truly a total body movement depending on many different links in the movement chain. If we create a hierarchy of what will make the most significant impact, the legs and core are likely to rise to the top. A powerful core transfers the forces with minimal rotational energy loss. Therefore, strength training for batting power should primarily emphasize multi-joint leg exercises and explosive hip and shoulder rotational strength.
Train Rotational Core Strength with Leg Workouts
Force comes from the ground up, so the legs have to be strong to provide a stable base. A hitter’s workout should utilize squats, ankle and leg presses, and lunges.
Medicine Ball Lunges – A Must Do Exercise for all Hitters!
Hold the medicine ball straight out front with arms straight. Take a giant step with the left foot, hold the lunge, and slowly rotate the arms and ball ninety-degrees to the left. Then turn arms back to straight out front.
Step back, so feet are together again, still holding the medicine ball out front with straight arms.
Now take a giant step with the right foot, hold the lunge, and slowly rotate the ball ninety-degrees to the right and then back to straight out front.
Do three sets of ten each.
This exercise strengthens all the parts of the body necessary for swinging a bat with force.
Train Rotational Power with Core Workouts
Core strength has a significant effect on an athlete’s ability to create and transfer forces to the extremities.
Medicine Ball Training for Powerful Hip and Shoulder Separation
One way to enhance swing velocity is to develop sport-specific, sequential, ballistic core, and shoulder rotational strength by using medicine balls.
The body’s core muscles have a crisscross design. They wrap around the trunk of the body. Core muscles are perfectly designed for rotating the hips in the opposite direction (counter-rotationally) of shoulders. This diagonal pattern allows the hips to lead and the shoulders to follow. Many ground-based activities, such as throwing and batting, use this speed generating, separation, and stretching of muscles.
Medicine ball training is sport-specific because the velocity and range of motion can train rotational power specifically for hitting a ball with authority.
Cable Rotational Pushout
Hook a rope up to a pulley machine with weights. Plant the rear foot, grab the rope as you would swing a bat, use legs and core to pull the rope, and then use arms and wrists to push the rope, cable, and weights to full extension of the arms.
So muscles stay balanced, remember to do this exercise with rotation in both directions.
Core Exercises Utilizing Body Weight
- Sit Ups
- Push Ups
- Side Planks
- Reverse Planks with single-leg raises; only elbows and heels on the ground, back straight, lift each leg.
- Front Plank with single-leg raises; only elbows and toes on the ground, back straight, lift each leg.
- Front Plank with knees to elbows; only elbows and toes on the ground, move each knee up close to the elbow.
Train Rotational Power with Arm and Wrist Workouts
In general, the arms and wrists’ strength plays a less significant role in creating hitting power than leg and core strength. However, what is certain is that strength in the arms and wrists significantly improves barrel control and aim accuracy, especially with heavier bats.
Use a 3 to 5-pound dumbbell:
- 20 wrist curls (palm up)
- 20 reverse curls (palm down)
- 20 handshake curls (palms facing each other)
- 20 reverse handshake curls (hands behind the head)
- 20 swings with a 1-pound donut.
Put a two and one-half to five-pound weight on a four-foot-long rope. Tie the rope to a dowel. Use the wrists to roll the weight up slowly. Then use the wrists to unroll the weight back down slowly. This simple exercise is one of the most effective forearm strengthening exercises for hitters, pitchers, and fielders. One idea is to designate a station during team practices for this exercise.
To perform push-ups for maximum benefit, place your hands shoulder-width apart with palms on the ground. Plant your legs with the balls of your feet touching the ground. Now keeping your body straight, slowly raise yourself on your arms’ strength, and once fully raised, slowly bring it down. Three sets of push-ups every day is one of the best exercises to build arm and shoulder strength.
Hold a five-pound dumbbell in each hand so that your arms extend on both sides and palms are facing inward. Now bring your arms outward to shoulder height without losing the elbows’ fixed position – strengthening muscles from the shoulders to the hands. Make sure that when doing this exercise, you raise and lower your arms slowly and deliberately.
Bench-Press for Triceps
Triceps are among the most critical arm muscles involved in throwing and other intensive baseball and fast-pitch softball activities. Along with pushups, a great exercise to strengthen the triceps is to use a bench-press. Lie down on the bench and grip the bar above you. Add a smaller weight initially and train by slowly bringing the bar down to your chest and lifting it again. Over time, add more weight.
Other Strength and Conditioning Articles You May Find Helpful
Click on the links below for further free articles to increase speed and strength. Each exercise is specifically designed for the baseball and fastpitch softball hitter.
Fast Twitch Sports Performance for Baseball and Softball
Increase Bat Speed with Overload and Underload Training
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!
We appreciate your thoughts! Submit a comment (no email required) or send us any question using our contact page and we will get right back to you. All the best – Gary.
Hitting softballs about 275 feet, strength training about 3 months now, still hitting softballs about 275 feet. Why is that
Without seeing your swing it is hard to say. But, hitting with power is not only strength but using your body to generate speed. Here is a quote from my fundamentals book that is pertinent:
Core rotation, stable spine angle, axis of rotation, and hip and shoulder separation are crucial for bat speed, particularly speed early in the swing. Rotational fundamentals may not be intuitive or natural when training hitters.
For the more experienced hitter, swinging the bat with rotational fundamentals may feel strange to the player who has previously utilized linear mechanics. The bat seemingly flies into the ball, with minimal effort, when the hitter stretches and activates the large muscles of the core. Utilizing kinetic links to generate swing speed produces a significant difference in feeling.
High-Level hitters demonstrate exceptional power because their fundamentals and techniques work together to produce a tremendous amount of rotational energy, creating higher bat speed early in the swing and the capability to swing a more massive MOI bat.