How to Increase Exit Velocity When Hitting
Similar to the way throwing velocity has been used as a benchmark for evaluating pitchers for decades, coaches and scouts are now using exit velocity as a metric for assessing hitters’ ability and chance for success at the next level. In fact, most division-1 college coaches will not even consider looking at a position player unless his exit velocity is 90 MPH or higher.
Whether or not you think this is the best way to evaluate a player, you have to admit one thing, exit velocity is now an important metric for hitters to consider. Since it is important, it makes sense to measure it and try to improve it.
5 Tips for Increasing Exit Velocity Readings
1. Adjust tee placement/contact point
How deep or out front that you make contact with the ball can significantly impact how hard the ball comes off the bat.
If you’re setting the tee too far back in your stance, you will be forced to pull your hands in very tight to your body or fly open with your front side to get to the ball. Neither of these actions will allow you to achieve maximum bat speed. If you place the tee too far out in front, you will likely do one of three things: 1- miss the sweet spot of the bat and hit it off the end. 2 – forcefully extend your arms to get the bat to the ball, or, 3 – Lunge or jump out to your front side to get to the ball. All three of these will limit your bat speed, and in turn limit your exit velocity.
A good starting point is to place the tee so it is about even with your front foot after you land your stride step. Take a few test swings with that placement and adjust as necessary.
2. Keep ball flight low
The fastest recorded exit velocities in Major League Baseball are usually low line drives or ground balls rather than towering home runs. Back in 2016, a Giancarlo Stanton batted ball was recorded as having the fastest exit velocity ever, at 123.9 MPH. The result? A ground ball double play to the second baseman.
While top spin ground balls are not likely to get you many hits in a game, they will help you record a higher exit velocity in a showcase or try out setting.
So WHY would hitting a low line drive or ground ball add velocity? Any physicists out there? My guess is it most likely has to do with the top spin created when a player hits the top half of the ball. For the short distance that the low liner or ground ball stays in the air the top spin may help increase the speed of the ball. My other guess is that the low liner and ground ball have less of a fight against gravity than a higher hit ball. Maybe it’s a combo of both?
I’m no physicist, but I do record a lot of hitters’ exit velocities, and it never fails that the higher the ball goes, the slower the exit velocity reads.
3. Increase hip/shoulder separation
Obviously the mechanics of your swing are a major factor in your ability to hit the ball at a high velocity. Rather than try to cover every aspect of mechanics (because you probably didn’t click on this page to read a novel), let’s focus on one of the major power suppliers to both hitting and throwing; hip/shoulder separation.
Check out the short video from Hitting Performance Lab creator Joey Myers. below that talks about how to increase hip/shoulder separation with a more efficient upper body load.
If you’d like to hear more from Joey Myers, check out this exclusive offer on his popular hitting training program.
Your ability to create the hip to shoulder separation, among other necessary movements in a high level swing, is also largely dependent on the mobility of your joints and flexibility of your muscles. If you have immobile hips or ankles, or tight leg or back muscles, it will put a ceiling on your development as a baseball player. Yoga is a great way to improve mobility and flexibility!
4. Experiment and Practice
Like anything else, if you want to get better you need to practice. Through pure trial and error you can discover which movements work better for you. Many players go into tryouts or showcases blind, having never recorded their exit velocity. The only way that you can experiment and practice is to get a radar gun for yourself. I highly recommend the Pocket Radar Ball Coach. It’s reliable, accurate, and much more affordable than most of the radar guns in the same performance class.
Once you have your own radar, you can make recording exit velocity a regular part of your training. Make it a weekly challenge to top your previous highs, and it’ll add some excitement to your hitting routine.
5. Get BIGGER & STRONGER!
If you’re still growing then you will naturally see gains in your exit velocity as your body matures. You can add to those gains with a safe, baseball appropriate strength and conditioning program.
Your rotational power depends a lot on the strength and stability in your core. When someone says core most people think of the abdominal muscles. The core is not only your abs, but also your lower and mid back muscles, glutes, and the muscles that surround your pelvis and hips. Check out the PowerCore 360. It’s a product designed specifically to increase rotational core power for baseball players. It has been said that it may increase your exit velocity after a single training session!
An appropriate program for baseball players should incorporate exercises that create stability and strength, without creating an imbalance (one muscle group dominates over others). Some of my favorite sport specific trainers online are Eric Cressey, Mike Reinold, and Austin Wasserman. Follow those guys on social media and visit their websites and you’ll get some great tips! You can also check out our article 5 Types of Training Exercises Every Baseball Workout Plan Should Include.
Additional training options:
There is scientific proof that overload/underload training works. In a nutshell, it means alternating between bats that are heavier and lighter than your regular bat. For more info check out this product from Axe Bats and Driveline.
Throwing Velocity Programs
If you’re also looking to increase your throwing velocity, you’re in luck. Hitting and throwing are both explosive, rotational movements. So the same type of training that increases your throwing velocity will also increase your hitting exit velocity.
My favorite throwing velocity program is the 3X Velocity Program. With a heavy emphasis on Olympic style lifts, this program is no joke! You’ll need to be prepared to work your butt off. But if you put the work in you’re sure to get in the best shape of your life, and begin to throw and hit the ball harder than you ever have! Click here for more info.
Need help with your hitting? Check out these 5 Essential Hitting Drills that work for hitters of all ages!