Should Baseball Players Warm Up With a Weighted Bat?

The Truth About Weighted Bats

About a week ago I was speaking to Don Johnson about whether or not baseball players should use weighted bats prior to their at bat. While most baseball players would agree that weighted bats help speed up your bat because it makes your bat feel lighter, the truth is that using a weighted bat before hitting can slow down your bat speed and throw off your timing.  A weighted bat can also be detrimental because it can enforce faulty movement patterns and change the mechanics of your swing.   This will happen when you use a bat that is too heavy and this is also why you should not try to mimic the throwing motion and hitting motion in the gym. The gym should be used to become a better athlete, not to improve your baseball skills. If you want to improve your baseball skills then get on the baseball diamond and start working on your hitting and throwing mechanics. Check out this video done by Sports Science to see why the use of weighted bats before hitting can hinder your hitting ability.

 

Why do Major League Baseball Players use weighted bats?

Using a weighted bat prior to hitting is a tradition that goes way back before science could actually prove the negative effects it could have on the swing. Professional baseball players do not concern themselves with the science behind the sport. This is the same answer I would give to why MLB pitcher’s still do long distance running. Even though science has proven it to be detrimental to performance, they do it because it is tradition. It is “what your suppose to do”.

Another reason why MLB players use weighted bats is because it mentally prepares them for their at bat. Anyone that has played baseball can tell you that it is a mental game. Unlike basketball or football when you tons of opportunities to redeem yourself, in baseball you only get 3-4 at bats a game. You get an at bat, then you will have to wait another 45 minutes to an hour before you get another 1. In basketball you can get 10-20 opportunities a game. In football quarterbacks get 20+ opportunities and running backs usually get 15+ opportunities. The down time in sports like football and basketball are minimal because you are constantly moving. There is no waiting around or down time. This is why baseball is such a mental game. You need to mentally prepare yourself for each at bat.

Since baseball is such a mental game, anything that can give you a mental edge in baseball is worth consideration. So if you think that a weighted bat is going to help you have faster hands and help give you a mental edge than by all means keep using it. If you want to optimize your bat speed then keep reading.

Derek Jeter Derek Jeter #2 of the New York Yankees waits on deck against the Boston Red Sox on August 26, 2008 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.

 

What Should you do right before hitting?

The best way to prepare yourself for your at bat is by swinging a lighter bat or your actual game bat. I compare this to doing box jumps or plyo push ups before my max effort exercise. By using a ligher weight, you can apply more force to the swing and ignite your nervous system. By doing this you will also get the right muscle fibers to fire and prep your body for swinging your normal bat.

Another weight room example is performing each warm up set for the squat as explosive as possible. If you are aiming to squat 300lbs for the day and start with 135lbs you should be moving 135 like it is your max set. If not, you are just going through the motions and not really preparing your body for what it is about to do. I would apply this same approach to hitting if you get what I mean.

Need more evidence?

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Leave A Reply (10 comments so far)

  • Great Post, Joe. You know it’s funny, after we talked about it initially I thought about some more. I don’t think there is any argument to the fact that baseball players are the most superstitious bunch of all athletes. Don’t cross bats, don’t talk to a pitcher that is throwing a no-no, swing a weighted bat. It is such a mental game, and I think that is precisely why players hold onto the traditions so tightly. It’s going to take some free thinkers to accept the science once and for all.

  • Don,

    Those are really great points you just mentioned. More so than any other sport, baseball players are superstitious. Thanks for your comment, keep them coming!

    All the best,

    Joe Meglio

  • Evan Gallagher

    This post reminds me of an episode of sports science where they tested bat speed of a college baseball player. They took his averages in round 1 (without warming up with weighted bat) and round 2 (after warming up with a weighted bat). The players swing was actually, on average, 1 mph slower after warming up with the weighted bat. I personally use a weighted bat, just as you said, to help me get mentally focused for my at bat. I don’t consider the weighted bat a true asset in my pre at bat routine because I don’t take true practice swings (like I would at the plate) yet I find myself grabbing it and taking a few swings almost every time. Subconsciously I think it helps loosen me up because we (as baseball players) have so much down time throughout our games.

  • Hey Evan,

    Did you check out the video? It is the video from sports science that your talking about.

    Thats for your comment and insight!

    All the best,

    Joe Meglio

  • Evan Gallagher

    Ya, I just took a look at it. I couldn’t get it to upload before. I’ve also seen and heard of guys throwing a doughnut on their bats at practice to hit off the tee, soft toss, and even take BP with the doughnut on their bats, all to increase bat speed. After taking in the science aspect this seems to only have a negative impact on the players bat speed and swing mechanics.

  • Evan,

    Personally I think that is a horrible idea. By swinging a bat that heavy you will not be able to maintain proper hitting mechanics and will only reinforce poor motor patterns.

    There is a place in baseball for a weighted bat and I will address this in my follow up post. Stay tuned!

    All the best,

    Joe Meglio

  • Evan Gallagher

    Agree. Being around baseball as long as I have, I’m sure you can say the same, I’ve seen and heard of some ridiculous techniques and gimics to make you a better hitter. Yet, “as long as A-Rod or Pujols does it… it must work.” What works for one person may not work for another. Looking forward to the follow up.

  • Thanks Evan. You are right on when you say what works for one person may not work for another.

  • I’ve actually heard about this before. Joe, did you ever hear that Ted Williams swung a broom stick in the on deck circle?

  • Kayfaber

    why does every mlb player use a weighted bat before every at bat?

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