Develop your hitting mechanics to get the bat through the zone faster.

Overload and Underload to Increase Bat Speed

by John Shea

A softball player needs to develop a powerful swing to dominate underarm pitching. Strength training to increase bat speed should start at a young age to help players reach peak ability. All types of players utilize different training tactics, like weight lifting, to boost power numbers at the plate. An applicable strength development program combined with other training tools can be used to achieve success on the diamond throughout all levels of competition. Developing strong hitting mechanics can increase bat speed, contact percentage and enable you to hit softballs with more authority.

1. Overload and Underload

An overload and underload developmental structure has the potential to dramatically improve bat speed, according to leading scientific researcher Dr. Coop DeRenne. In addition, it can be performed at a young age. This simple concept is contrived from swinging different weighted bats to increase bat speed. Overload and underload training consists of adding and subtracting resistance to your swing. The system utilizes three complex variables to enhance swing action: intensity, training volume and rest intervals. Optimal performance can be achieved by structuring a training regimen that maximizes repetition and intensity level of a softball swing.

2. Explosive Movement

A hitter can increase the distance she’s able to hit a softball with faster bat speed. The power of a hitter’s swing is a developmental function of the fast twitch muscles, which generate quick bursts of speed to enable fast movement. This type of muscle fiber can be exercised by utilizing explosive movement, which is what the overload and underload training method aims to accomplish. Using a heavier bat than you’re accustomed to will aid strength development. In contrast, using a lighter bat will enable added quickness.

3. Strength Development

Overload and underload training strengthens forearms and shoulders, which are key in developing a powerful hitting stroke. Training with a heavier bat is referred to as “overload.” This serves as a function for building a stronger swing. The frequency by which a heavier bat is swung has a correlating effect on fast twitch muscle memory, reinforcing strength development. Training with a lighter bat is known as “underload.” The purpose of swinging a lighter bat is to enhance hitting mechanics and increase the speed generated from fast-twitch muscles. This allows hitters to swing the bat faster while avoiding fatigue.

4. Frequent Repetition

Utilizing a heavier bat in combination with a lighter bat during practice will increase the power and quickness of a hitter’s swing. To start, take 10 swings with the heavier bat and then 10 additional swings with the lighter bat. In addition, practice taking cuts with the lighter bat on soft tosses from each portion of the plate: inside, outside and down the middle. This should help you better recognize pitch location while simultaneously developing solid swing-action timing. Frequent repetition of these exercises is pivotal to sustaining lasting results from overload and underload training.

About the Author

John Shea is a fitness enthusiast and team sports fanatic. He's currently a featured columnist for Bleacher Report and Pro Football Spot journalist. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications.

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