Bat Speed

Max Barrel Speed

PITTSBURGH – For today’s post, we will take a look at bat speed, wrapping up our look into the speed component of SwingTracker.

Bat Speed is the speed of the bat’s barrel at impact. In very basic terms, the faster the bat speed, the faster the the exit speed – or batted ball speed – of the ball. As Dr. Daniel A. Russell, Phd. and Professor of Acoustics at Penn State University explains: 

“The speed with which a batted ball leaves the bat (the Batted-Ball Speed, or BBS) depends on three things: the pitched-ball speed vball the bat-swing speed vbat and the efficiency of the collision between bat and ball, eA according to: BBS = vball eA + (1 + eA) vbat

This equation states that if a player can increase his/her bat-swing speed (while using the same bat) the resulting batted-ball speed will increase proportionally.”

As he notes, “swinging a given bat faster will result in a faster batted-ball speed. However, swinging a lower moment of impact (MOI) bat with a faster swing speed will not increase the batted-ball speed.”

Within this framework, bat speed is certainly relative to the type of bat the player is using. According to most swing coaches, it’s regarded that if a player boosts his bat speed by two miles per hour, he can hit the ball another 20 to 25 feet,

According to, researchers at the University of Arizona found that Little Leaguers ranging in age from 10 to 12 years old, have a bat speed of about 60 mph with a 10-ounce bat, 40 mph with a 20-ounce bat and 30 mph with a 30-ounce bat.

These numbers correlate with the data on Little League swing speeds put forth by the Department of Physics at the University of Washington. While a 41-ounce bat is optimal for a professional baseball player, a 16-ounce bat is best for a youth baseball player, according to Dr. Russell. Because standard 30-inch wood or aluminum bats used by youth baseball players can weigh anywhere from 20 to 26 ounces, Little Leaguers tend to use bats that are too heavy. This can dramatically lower a young player’s bat speed and cause the bat to drag through the strike zone.

As Dr. Russell explains:

“A lower MOI bat would provide a player with greater bat control. The increase in bat-swing speed means a player could wait a split second longer before committing to a swing. Waiting a couple of milliseconds would allow a player to watch a fast-pitched baseball travel an additional 5-6 feet before having to commit to a swing – and that additional time (distance) could enable the player to distinguish between a curve or sinker, or between a strike or ball. 

Bat control would improve for a lower moment of impact bat, and that might allow a player to make solid contact with the ball more frequently. But, a lower MOI bat will not help a player hit balls faster. So, if you want to increase your batting average, switch to a lower MOI bat. But, if you want to hit more home runs (which requires a faster BBS) you’ll need to increase your arm and upper body strength and generate a faster bat-swing speed.”

Applying this information to SwingTracker would be simple.

SwingTracker allows you to calculate both bat speed and impact bat speed (in addition to many other metrics and components). Because of this, you can optimally measure which bat allows you to maximize your bat speed (and impact speed) without allowing the bat to “drag through the zone.”

The same principle applies to how coaches train football players.

In football, the head coach usually orders the strength and conditioning coach to get the players (especially on defense) as big and strong as possible, without sacrificing any of a player’s speed. It makes no sense for a linebacker to put on 20 lbs. of muscle, but at the same time, sacrifice the speed that would allow him to run down the quarterback or tailback. The optimal solution would be to add enough size in order to maximize the player’s strength, while also keeping his speed and quickness to the quarterback, running back or ball.

One does not want to use a bat that is too heavy, therefore slowing down swing speed. One also does not want to use a bat that is too light – where swing speed increases, but ball exit speed decreases due to the size and ‘lightness’ of the bat.

Ultimately, SwingTracker allows you to monitor and increase bat speed as it applies to the specifics of your needs as a player.