Hitting nerds unite! You remember the MLB slogan about “somebody digs the long ball” and even though those days were fueled by steroids and other performance enhancing, drugs the bottom line remains the same. Home runs are fun!
What creates home runs?
No, this is not a rhetorical question.
Science, physics actually, answers this question for us. Now without getting too over the top, what are the key components to crushing the ball?
To get the ball to travel further you must get it to come off the bat faster. Duh! The key to this is making the bat and ball collision as energy efficient as possible.
1. Choose a bat that has as much trampoline effect as possible. Trampoline effect is the ability of the bat to actually rebound energy into the ball at impact. The bat flexes and the ball compresses on every collision. The payoff comes when the bat delivers as much energy back into the ball as possible.
2. Choose a bat with as much mass as possible in the hitting zone. A balanced bat is going to feel lighter and allow for more control but that doesn’t equate to bombs. What does equate to bombs is a more end-loaded bat. This places as much weight as possible in the hitting zone and creates greater inertia to be delivered into the ball.
3. Play as many warm weather and high humidity games as you can. I know you can’t control Mother Nature but Mother Nature does have an impact on your likelihood of dropping bombs at the ballpark. High altitude and wind at your back are also factors that greatly increase your chances. I know, common sense right? Well, if you want to see these factors at work go out to Colorado this summer and see how many average hitters hit home runs out there!
4. Play as many games as possible with a hitter friendly game ball. The higher the seams the less the ball will fly. Seams equal wind resistance which limits the flight of the ball. It also increases the pitchers ability to spin the ball which makes it harder to hit solidly. The seams on the ball can be a proverbial double whammy in your quest to hit it out of the park.
5. Increase your bat speed. Again, pretty obvious right? Well if its so obvious why don’t more hitters work at it? Whatever the answer to these questions there can be no questioning this simple fact. The faster the bat is moving when it hits the ball the faster the ball goes and the farther it travels. Period!
6. Hit it on the sweet spot! The sweet spot on your bat is not really a spot but more of a zone. There is an area on the barrel of the bat that delivers the maximum energy into the ball. How big each sweet spot is varies from bat to bat. When you feel vibration in your hands you are feeling lost energy. Lost energy means less distance.
7. Launch angle does matter. If you want to hit home runs you must hit the ball south of the equator of the ball. The scientists tell us the best angle to get the maximum carry on a batted ball is between 25 and 30 degrees. If you want the ball to fly you have to hit it on the right part of the ball.
8. Hard work! You have to put in the work if you want to bring all the above factors into play. If it was easy, everyone would do it.
About the Author: Tory Acheson brings a wealth of knowledge to the Fastpitch Prep staff. He has coached at all levels of the game, including the last 25 years at the college level at the University of Wisconsin – Parkside, Tennessee Tech and Kennesaw State. He began his coaching career at the high school level spending 9 years Whitnall High School in Greenfield, Wis. and is now working as a professional softball instructor.