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04
13
2020
swing efficiency

Measuring and improving baseball swing efficiency

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Bat speed is extremely important if you want to be a successful hitter at a high level (more details on bat speed here). With that in mind, a hitter can get a ton of value out of a swing metric that tells them how well, or efficiently, they are creating bat speed. 

What is Swing Efficiency?

Swing Efficiency is defined as average bat speed divided by average peak hand speed during a swing. In other words, it tells a hitter how well they are turning their hand speed into bat speed, with a higher score being more “efficient.”

For reference, the average swing efficiency for in-gym professional hitters at Driveline is 3.25. Anything under 3.20 we would flag as a metric that needs improvement. 

Examples: 

slow bat speed

  • Low swing efficiency
    • Pretty good hand speed
    • Very slow bat speed
    • Minor swing adjustments could lead to significant bat speed gains 

good bat speed

  • Very high swing efficiency
    • Slow hand speed 
    • High bat speed relative to hand speed

You can track efficiency on your own with any type of bat sensor. Blast Motion, Motus Batting, Diamond Kinetics, etc. all have their unique version of bat speed and hand speed metrics. The example metrics above were measured with Blast sensors, so here’s how Blast Motion measures bat speed and hand speed: 

Bat speed: Velocity of the sweet spot of the bat at contact

Peak hand speed: Max speed of the handle of the bat at any point during the swing (measured six inches from the knob) 

Below are some examples of what good swing efficiency might look like on video. Each hitter’s style is a little bit different, but notice how each hitter starts unhinging their wrists, or “releasing the barrel,” just before and through impact with the baseball. 

efficient swing 1efficient swing 2efficient swing 4

Bat speed: Velocity of the sweet spot of the bat at contact

Peak hand speed: Max speed of the handle of the bat at any point during the swing (measured six inches from the knob) 

Below are some examples of what good efficiency might look like on video. Each hitter’s style is a little bit different, but notice how each hitter starts unhinging their wrists, or “releasing the barrel,” just before and through impact with the baseball. 

How to Build Bat Speed

If you are looking to gain some extra bat speed (and you should be), then you should take a look at your efficiency. There might be some “low hanging fruit,” or minor adjustments you could make in your swing that could pump up your bat speed numbers.

The faster your bat is moving at contact, the harder you are going to hit the baseball, assuming flush contact is made. The harder you can consistently hit the baseball, the more success you are going to have at the plate. If your bat speed and efficiency are low, your bat is most likely peaking at the wrong time. 

Some potential causes of low efficiency include:

  • Poor swing direction
  • Bad bat path
  • Not loading/hinging the wrists
  • Early barrel release/unhinging the wrists too early
  • Not releasing or unhinging the wrists after contact

How to work on this:

As you get comfortable, try combining some of the constraints listed above—for example, offset rotation with the handle load bat and hitting plyos. If you want to make it even more difficult, mix in the mini hitting plyos and alternate swings with the handle load and the long bat. Get weird with it. 

Improving swing efficiency can be a difference-maker for a hitter. Not only will it improve bat speed and potential for exit velocity, but higher efficiency is typically the result of a better bat path. As bat path improves, so does adjustability and contact quality, ultimately helping hitters be more successful in the box. 

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