Science Says: The Bigger Your Bench the Better Your Bat Speed
Compare today’s athlete to one of the past, and odds are today's athlete is much stronger and faster. Baseball athletes are no exception to this occurrence and have definitely evolved over time. Overall, the players today are much more muscular and faster than the players of the past. This can be attributed to a myriad of factors that has evolved the game to where it is today.
No matter the era, bat speed has always been important in baseball. An increased bat speed results in possible longer decision time, decreased swing time, and increased ball velocity. Up to now, there have been many reports that muscular strength and leg power were the important components for increasing bat swing speed. A recent study was performed to determine the relationship between upper-body strength and bat speed in high school players, as well as the relationship between bat swing speed, bench power, and isokinetic chest press.1
This newest study consisted of 30 male high school baseball players, all of which had at least five years of competitive experience. The participants practiced 3 hours a day, 6 days a week. Players who were considered “homerun hitters” were placed in one group, while the others were placed in a “mediocre” group. The same bat was used for all participants, a 907 gram Mizuno metal bat, which was 83 centimeters long. Bat speed was measured 3 times for each player, with the top speed being recorded.2
Since bat speed is often associated with upper-body strength, baseball players frequently use the bench press in their training programs in an effort to increase performance. So, for this study each player had to determine his one rep max on bench press. Next, the isokinetic chest press (uses the same movements as a traditional bench press, but with different types of muscle contractions) was performed at three speed patterns. A bench power test was used to evaluate upper-body muscle power for each subject, and peak velocity and peak power were calculated.3
The results of the study showed significant and middle correlations with bat speed and one-rep max on the bench press and isokinetic chest press. The group with the “homerun hitters” had significantly higher values in bench power and isokinetic chest press than the other group.4
It can be concluded that bench power may be a beneficial to add to a training program to help improve hitting power in baseball. Researchers also concluded that the best way to build power might not be through performing a one-rep max, but rather through working with lighter resistance loads.5
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