Before I begin, it’s important to understand that there are certain athletes which are just gifted at a young age to hit the ball out of the yard. Some kids are just bigger, have better fast-twitch muscle development, maybe they developed earlier. I can’t teach you or your kid to be a freak, it’s just something you’re born with. What I can teach you is what I know from personal experience, and what has been proven to help young ballplayers hit the ball with more power. *Warning – there is a good amount of mechanical advice in this article. Remember that thinking about mechanics can ruin players so they should really be focused on it only in the off-season and preferably with a coach that is not a parent and can mix in a lot of encouragement. I would also prefer to see you tackle one mechanical adjustment at a time.*
About the author: Nick Rotola is a Professional Baseball Players in the “High-A” Frontier League. Nick hit only 6 HRs at D1 Oral Roberts, 2 HRs in first 2 seasons of Professional Baseball, before a surge of 9 HRs in a shortened (60 games) 2021 season. The tips listed in the article are what helped him go from a guy with no pop to a guy with a lot of power to all fields. Nick also runs American Baseball Camps with winter baseball camps for ages 8-18 across the country, and summer baseball camps for ages 6-13 across the country.
*Note – If you want us to individually work with your son on any of these virtually, please click here to learn more about our virtual hitting evaluations.*
Rule #1: Strengthen Your Legs
When I was growing up I was always the smallest kid in the whole league. I played really good baseball but just had no power. Looking back, I wish my dad and coaches had known more about strengthening legs and using them properly. Forget push-ups for power in baseball, here is what I would focus on for strength that could correlate to hitting for power:
Body Weight & Med Ball (Younger & Older Kids):
Each of these movements should be done fast! If you want to train your fast-twitch muscles you’ll need to do all of these movements quickly.
- #1 Lunges – The reason why lunges is number 1 is that it reinforces driving the knee down which Is what every good power hitter does. It’s also a single leg movement which prevents the dominant leg from taking over. Youtube Example.
- #2 Box Jumps – When we train to hit for power we want to train for overall explosiveness through the development of fast-twitch muscle fibers. In other words, if you want to move fast you have to move fast. Box jumps are great because they are a vertical movement you really wouldn’t train elsewhere. Just make sure when an athlete lands on the box that he lands softly and stagnated. We don’t want a big drop when we land up on the box and we don’t want our feet to be loud really ever. Youtube Example.
- #3 Broad Jumps – Same sort of thing as box jumps but a lot easier to do on a baseball field. Mix in 3 or 4 sets up 5 or so broad jumps at absolute max effort. Remember to land soft and in control. Youtube Example.
- #4 Med Ball Slams – I suppose this is more total body than legs, but you have to really explode through your posterior chain which helps develop those fast-twitch muscles. When I train young players I download an app that measures sound and I have them slam the med ball as hard as they can against the wall or ground and measure their speed by how loud the app is registering – kind of fun! Youtube Example.
- #5 Split Squat Jumps – This is very similar to lunges but adds another level of explosiveness. Youtube Example.
Free Weights (Older Kids Only)
When we get a little older, we are able to lift weights. There are two main ways to train fast-twitch muscle fibers. The first is to move fast, the second is to lift heavy. If you want to hit for power and you are old enough to do so, do both often.
- #1 Body Weight Movements – Do all 5 items listed above just add weight.
- #2 Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat – I mean I hated these in college but I think they’re great for hitting for power. Just like with the lunges, the RFE Split Squat reinforces driving the back knee down which is what we want when hitting for power. Youtube Example.
- #3 Trap Bar Deadlift – The boys at TCU really made this popular as half the strength coaches in Division 1 just mimic their program. Trap Bar Deadlift seems to be the perfect combination of easy on the arm, and great for the legs. It’s just really important that you have proper form when doing this so please consult with a Coach. Youtube Example.
Rule #2: Don’t Just Squish The Bug
When we talk about gaining ground we talk about not just squishing the bug. Squishing the bug was started to help kids turn their back foot and get their hips involved in the swing, but that’s not the whole story if you want to hit for power. The positive thing that comes from squishing the bug is that we want our back laces to be facing the pitcher at the end of our swing.
By just squishing the bug with your back foot you aren’t creating enough energy, though. What we want is that back foot to gain ground toward the pitcher.
Here is a link to a video of a guy explaining how to get off your backside and gain ground in a swing. You don’t have to have that half physioball to do this drill either, just something to angle your back foot on so it makes you want to drive forward and GAIN GROUND!
Above is a picture of one of my best friends Chase Simpson who hits bombs. Do you see how his back foot and knee looks after the swing? This is how I want yours to look. We want your back laces to be facing the pitcher and want a straight line between your head and your back knee. This is called a backside L. Get that back knee and foot moving forward and you’ll generate a lot more power.
Rule #3: Stride A Full Bat Length
In learning to gain ground the first thing I learned is to stride about a full bat length. Meaning, if you put another bat down in front of your feet, then your stride should be covering the entire length of the bat. In other words, after your front foot lands a bat should be able to just fit in between your feet.
Rule #4: Drive Down Not Just Forward
Sometimes when we talk about gaining ground and using legs and getting the back laces facing the pitcher, a lot of hitters start drifting.
I know this subject very well because it is the main thing I improved this year to hit so many more home runs.
Drifting is when your head and body move too much toward the pitcher in your swing. This causes an 80mph fastball to look like 90mph because we are moving toward it.
It’s important to have a quiet head when we swing. This doesn’t mean we stop being violent with our lower half, but our head has to be quiet.
One of my friends is a former MLB star Logan Watkins who also likes to drift. He taught me a drill called the step back drill which I’d like you to start doing.
The next step is to keep your head quiet, here’s a good video on that:
Rule #5: Maintain A Firm Front Leg
For us to generate power we need to create power from our backside against something strong (front side). Think about it this way. If you do a push-up on a hard surface vs. a soft surface. A hard surface allows you to push your body back up and a soft surface prevents it. There is a lot of energy generated when we push against something firm.
We want to generate from our backside as mentioned above, but we need the front leg to be firm or this doesn’t do much.
This video should help: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9MhTZYIPS4
Strong front side drills:
Rule #6: Lean Back
I could see guys having an issue with this one, but hey it worked for me, and it’s worked for a lot of other guys I’ve told about it. Please keep an eye on this so it doesn’t get out of control! The concept is this. When you swing, just lean back a little bit and the ball will elevate. The real concept here is staying behind the ball, but I think it’s much easier to just lean back a bit when you swing.
Rule #7: Increase Exit Velocity
This probably goes without saying but if you want to hit home runs you have to have the right amount of velocity, the right spin, and the right launch angle. When we look at velocity we know that the equation is:
velocity = mass x acceleration
Really think about that equation for a second.
Mass is important in hitting for power. If you get bigger your velocity will increase, as long as your acceleration doesn’t decrease the same amount. Eat, drink, gain goodish weight.
Acceleration is just as important. Running sprints and doing things fast makes you faster. Don’t ever run long distances if you want to hit for power, it trains the wrong kinds of muscles. It’s better for baseball players to run short distance sprints like 20-40 yards, or to do 5-10-5 drills as seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJF5ZEiwU4Y
Rule #8: Visualize Home Runs
I’d hate to re-write about the subject when we have such a good blog on this which is read by about 1,500 people a month, here is the link: https://americanbaseballcamps.com/youth-baseball-advice/how-to-get-better-at-baseball-by-visualizing-yourself-being-successful/
Rule #9: Walk To The Plate With Confidence
Same thing. We have an incredible article on this which helps hundreds of people across the country each day. Here is the link: https://americanbaseballcamps.com/baseball-camps/youth-baseball-advice-how-to-walk-to-the-plate-with-confidence/
Rule #10: Play More Baseball
Last but certainly not least if you want to improve in any part of baseball you just need to get more reps. Playing this game makes you so much better at it. I’d encourage you to get on a fall ball team, get in baseball camps, and play whiffle ball in the backyard. Do all the extra little things to set yourself apart from the other players.
If you feel like your son could use one or more of these adjustments and just aren’t sure, we can take a look at his swing and help you with that. Please click here to learn more about our virtual hitting evaluations.
In conclusion, baseball is a really difficult game, and hitting is the hardest part of it. Please stay positive and realize that. the friends, the family, the relationships, those are the things we look back on and cherish – not 6 home runs instead of 0. Thank you so much for reading the article, we hope to see you at one of our summer or winter baseball camps across the country. If you want to take a peek at those, here’s a link to our camps page.