I recently watched a video on Twitter sponsored by a relatively new bat company. The spokesperson was touting three different weighted practice bats that are guaranteed to increase bat speed. Of course, being a bat speed nut, that immediately caught my attention.
I strongly believe weighted bats absolutely do not increase bat speed, but I still tried to watch the video with a fairly open mind. The sales pitch in the video was not new. Proponents of weighted bats always claim swinging heavier bats as a training aid or in the on-deck circle will somehow dramatically improve bat speed. As I detailed in my book, Hitting with Torque: For Baseball and Softball Hitters, I will concede that swinging a weighted bat will contribute to better conditioning and flexibility, but no differently than lifting light weights. The only way to improve bat speed dramatically in a short period of time is to learn and practice power hitting mechanics!
In the video promoting the virtues of weighted bats, they casually mentioned studies linking swinging weighted bats and increased bat speed. I scoured the Internet, but couldn’t find any credible information to support their lofty assertions. However, I did find several articles debunking their theory.
In an article called “Warming up with a weighted bat does not increase bat speed”, by Richard A. Schmidt, PhD and Craig Wrisberg, PhD, they make the case that swinging a weighted bat immediately before an at-bat will not increase bat speed or power.
“For years it has been the practice of baseball batters to swing a weighted bat before taking their turn to hit. The thinking was that this type of warm-up activity would lighten the feel of the regular (i.e., unweighted) bat and improve the speed of the swing. Research examining the validity of this notion suggests that, although swinging a weighted bat may alter batters’ perceptions of bat heaviness and swing speed, it does not influence actual swing speed (Otsuji, Abe, & Kinoshita, 2002).”
“In this study, eight baseball and softball players attempted three sets of 15 bat swings during which they hit a ball suspended on a cord. Batters performed the first five swings and the last five swings in each set with a regular (nonweighted) bat and the middle five swings with a weighted bat. They were asked to estimate swing speed and bat weight (compared with the speed and weight they perceived during the first five unweighted swings) following the fifth weighted swing and after the first, third, and fifth unweighted swings. Actual swing speeds did not increase following swings with the weighted bat, but batters perceived their swings to be faster and their bats to feel lighter. For five of the eight participants, this illusion lasted for at least four unweighted swings. In another study (Southard & Groomer, 2003), the normal swing pattern of experienced batters was found to be altered and their swing speed slowed down for up to five swings following a warm-up with a weighted bat. The results of these studies suggest that batters would be better off taking warm-up swings with their normal (unweighted) bat than with one that is considerably heavier.”
The bat company in the video also claimed that swinging a weighted bat will improve the mechanics of hitters, in addition to improving bat speed. As I wrote in my book and what the results of this study confirm, swinging a weighed bat actually alters hitting mechanics and negatively affects bat speed.
Instead of spending money on the new generation of expensive and unnecessary weighted bats, I suggest investing in lessons with a reputable hitting instructor who can teach hitting mechanics that will truly increase bat speed…….or buy a good book on hitting instruction.