Exit Velo Program, the Hitting Side of Things – Part 2

By Mike Rozema (Rozema Baseball, Director of Hitting at RPP)

Sweet spot

Today, we’ll continue with Part 2 (click here for Part 1) of the hitting side of things in our Exit Velo Program.   Everyone knows what you need to be able to deliver high exit velo…. strength, power / explosiveness, mobility and the ability to square up and barrel the ball.  So let’s talk about how we deliver on this by turning strength gains in the weight room and apply it specifically to the movement of a swing.

Working with Over and Underload Bats

Axe Weighted BatsThe hitting sessions are held 2x per week and with a lot of varied drills by gradually exposing you to increasing levels of intensity.  We incorporate overload and underload weighted bats with extensive tee work and soft toss with various drills to help with proprioception (meaning – one’s own sense of the relative position of one’s body parts and strength of effort being employed in movement) and awareness in the player’s swing. Regardless of the sport, research has proven over and over that underweight and overweight implements can help transfer the body’s natural strength into higher velocities.  Whether it’s throwing a baseball, swinging a bat or throwing a javelin research has proven again and again that weighted implements work.

Overload – Working with an overload bat has many benefits, but basically swinging with increased resistance (speed-strength) is a great way to begin to transfer the body’s natural strength into higher exit speeds.  Using overload bats can be helpful in many ways, including:

a) developing a more efficient movement pattern by requiring the body to hold the bat closer to the body during the swing, and

b) improving a player’s ability to stay connected and strong through out the swing and being more aware of the location of the barrel.

Underload – Training with underload implements in any athletic movement helps increase speed by recruiting more fast twitch fibers.  The process provides the player with the training effect of improving velo putting us on the speed side of the training continuum.

We work with 4 types of bats during the hitting program: Handle Load (HL-over), Barrel Load (BL-over), Underload (UL-under) and Regular (R).  Each of these bats is used for a different purpose.

(Weighted Bats)

Squaring up and Barreling the Ball

A significant part of improving exit velo is improving swing mechanics.  Learning and understanding your personal swing is an important element of every successful hitter’s performance.  This concept often gets lost in the mix.  Hitting the ball square and barreling it up (on the sweet-spot) as hard as possible is a significant component of improving exit speed.  By using guided swings with weighted bats, and extensive drill and tee work the program promotes the generation of force/precision to make optimal contact and drive the ball.

(Benefits of Weighted Bats – Overload)

The 12-week schedule progressively intensifies the further we get into the program.  We meet 2x per week and utilize all 3 weighted bats (Barrel Load, Handle Load, and Underload) to the extent appropriate as determined by each player’s age and progress during the program.  But we always use the Regular bat to bring it all back together during each session.   The drill work also varies from week to week forcing the athlete to make subtle real-time adjustments replicating quick,  game time decisions at the plate.

Hitting is about hitting the ball hard. The goal of a hitter is to strike the ball with force.  Being able to hit the ball the other way or driving the ball in the gap is an extremely important part of any player’s arsenal.  However, step one for any hitter is being able to hit the ball with the most amount of force possible, regardless of where it goes.

Click Here for More Info on “Exit VELO Program”