As promised, after measuring the bat speeds of dozens of grade school, high school, and college hitters over the past year, I can now update and clarify some of the information from my previous post.
Here is an updated summary of bat speeds for baseball and softball hitters:
Grade School Baseball Hitters: (40-60 mph)
High School Baseball Hitters: (60-85 mph) Most good hitters fall in a range from the upper 60s to mid 70s. The elite high school hitters have bat speeds in the upper 70s to low 80s.
College Baseball Hitters: (70-90 mph) Most hitters fall in a range between 70 and 80 mph. Elite college hitters have bat speeds in the mid to upper 80s.
Grade School Softball Hitters: (40-60 mph)
High School Softball Hitters: (55-80 mph) Most hitters fall in a range between 50 and 60 mph. The best high school hitters have bat speeds over 70 mph and a few elite hitters can top 80 mph.
College Softball Hitters: (55-85 mph) Similar to high school hitters, average bat speeds for college hitters range from 55 mph to 65 mph. The best hitters have bat speed in the mid 70s and elite hitters can top 80 mph.
Again, it is important to understand the difference between the terms “bat speed” and “exit bat speed”. Bat speed is determined my simply measuring the speed of the swing, using a portable radar similar to the one pictured above. I simply mount this device on a tripod and ask hitters to stand in front of it and swing. After a few swings, it is easy to determine average bat speed. Exit bat speed is the speed of the ball (not the bat) after in leaves the bat. Exit bat speed will always be much higher than swinging bat speed. I recently asked a high school junior what his bat speed was. He said it was measured to be around 90 mph, which I knew to be too high, based on my observations of his swings in the batting cage. When I measured his bat speed with my portable radar, he averaged 74 mph. This made more sense, given his age, size, and swing.
I just finished working with a Division III college softball team during their 30-day Fall practice period. On the first day of practice, bat speeds ranged from 45 mph to 67 mph, with a team average bat speed of 55.13 mph. Three hitters had bat speeds in the upper 40s, nine hitters had bat speeds in the 50s, and four players had bat speeds in the 60s.
On the last day of Fall practice (30 days later), bat speeds ranged from 57 mph to 74 mph, with a new team average of 66.19 mph. One hitter had bat speed in the upper 50s and eleven hitters had bat speeds in the mid-60s. I was also pleased to hand out my “70+ Club” pins to the FIVE hitters who had bat speeds in the 70s.
I am confident that with hard work in the offseason, the team average will continue to improve and more hitters will join the “70+ Club”. One or two of these hitters could even crack 80 mph, which would mean an “80+ Club” pin that I give to my baseball hitters. The players on this Division III team now enjoy bat speeds that are in the same ballpark as any of the top college programs in the country.
How did these hitters improve their bat speed so much in 30 days?
High bat speed is achieved through rotational hitting mechanics that harness the power that begins in the ground, works its way kinetically through the body, and ultimately ends at impact with and through the ball. These hitters learned, incorporated, and practiced the simple “Hitting Keys” I have posted on this site.
The benefits of improved bat speed are many, including the ability to watch the ball longer before pulling the trigger, increased power, and improved consistency. More importantly, increased bat speed means increased confidence. Hitters with elite bat speeds KNOW that no pitcher can throw the ball by them consistently. This confidence translates into award-winning statistics.
I understand that bat speed is not the sole determinant of hitting success. Plate discipline, pitch recognition, pitch selection, count strategies, and an effective mental approach are also very important. However, If I had to rank the most important trait of an elite softball or baseball hitter, high bat speed would be #1 every time.