A majority of baseball players will use some type of extra weight while warming up in the on-deck circle. Most players will use a batting weight like a weighted donut or a weighted sleeve while other players prefer to swing 2 or 3 bats at the same time. I’ve even played with a guy who brought a 30-inch piece of thick rebar with him to baseball games so he could take practice swings with it.
So, do batting weights help? Batting weights help when performing drills to improve strength or to loosen muscles, but batting weights do not help with bat speed. When used properly, batting weights are a great tool to use when practicing or stretching.
For the rest of this article, let’s slide head-first into what six specific benefits are to using batting weights.
6 Ways Bat Weights Help Your Swing
Batting Weights Build Your Batting Swing Muscles
Before you go out and get the heaviest batting weight to build strength, remember that a batting weight will help train the muscles in your upper body, but the power from your swing is generated from your lower body. So if you’re looking to add more power, make sure to do some training with the lower half of your body too!
The muscles that will feel it the most from using a batting weight will be your wrists and forearms.
You’ll need strong wrists and strong forearms in order to move that bat through the strike zone and to keep the bat moving throughout your follow-through motion. Without strong wrists and forearms, it would be difficult to hold the bat after the ball makes contact with the barrel.
As an added bonus, the stronger your wrists and forearms are the bigger the bat you can hold and swing with accuracy. As you can imagine, swinging a bigger bat has its advantages.
There may be some debate on whether or not a bigger bat helps players hit the ball further (longer bat could lead to a loss of bat speed), but what is true about a bigger bat is that it has a bigger sweet-spot and it can allow you to cover more of the plate when you swing. There’s a reason that MLB players swing longer bats!
Batting Weights Loosen Up Your Muscles
One of my favorite reasons for using a batting weight is to get loose. Stretching is great, running is great, but getting warm with a batting weight is even better.
One of the things you always hear is that it is important to stretch because you don’t want to pull something during a game. With a batting weight, you can make sure your body is ready to swing with just a few practice swings.
During my pregame warm-ups, using a bat and a batting weight to get warm will be the last thing I do before the game starts.
As part of my pregame warm-up routine, I start off with some jogging/running, followed by stretching, and then tossing the ball around to get the arm ready. After those three things have been accomplished, I put the batting weight on the bat and do some additional stretches and take some practice swings.
Stretches to Do With a Batting Weight
My favorite stretches to do with the batting weight are any stretches that warm up my back and my legs.
Touch Your Toes While Holding Your Bat
For this stretch, put your feet close together and bend down to touch your toes while holding the bat in your hands. Make sure to keep your knees straight!
Back Twist With Baseball Bat
To start, keep your feet at about shoulder-width apart and hold each end of the bat with your hands. Now, twist from left to right as far as you can comfortably go. You’ll definitely notice the extra weight on this one!
Overhead Back Stretch With Baseball Bat
After the batting weight is added to the bat, place the bat behind your back with one arm grabbing the bat behind your head and the other hand grabbing the bat at waist-level from behind your back.
Now, pull down with the arm that’s at waist-level. You should feel the stretch in the arm that’s behind your head. For an added bonus stretch, move your upper body to the side to perform a weighted side-stretch.
Warming Up in the On-Deck Circle With Weighted Bat
With 9 or more batters in your lineup, there could easily be 30-45 minutes in between each one of your bats. This is where warming up with a batting weight in the on-deck circle comes in handy.
While in the on-deck circle, take a few practice swings while there is a batting weight on your bat. The number of practice swings you take will vary from player to player, but I prefer to take about 3-4 practice swings with a batting weight on while I’m waiting in the on-deck circle.
Batting Weights Are Great for Batting Drills
Looking for a way to up the level during batting drills? Add some weight to your bat and begin to feel a difference!
One of my favorite drills to perform with a batting weight is standard hitting practice while the pitcher throws the ball underhand from a few feet away (and from behind an L-screen). In this drill I’ll take about 20 swings with the batting weight on before I go back to the normal weight of my bat.
Performing this drill with a batting weight allows me to get warm, but it also forces me to utilize the lower half of my body. Because the bat is heavier with the weight added, the only way to generate more bat speed is by using the lower half of the body.
As an added bonus, once the batting weight comes off and I go back to using my regular bat weight, the bat feels as light as a feather.
Batting Weights Make the Bat Feel Lighter
One of the most immediate things you’ll notice from using a batting weight is that your normal bat feels lighter. While using a batting weight doesn’t immediately increase your bat speed, it does give you that mental boost that makes you feel like you can crush the next pitch. And sometimes, that’s all you need when you step into the batter’s box.
Although a batting weight doesn’t immediately increase your bat speed, it can increase your bat speed in the long run if you continue to use it during your drills. The more a batting donut is used during drills, the stronger you get. And the stronger you get, the lighter the bat will get.
If you haven’t had the chance to perform some batting drills while using a donut on your bat, I highly recommend it. To use it, perform any normal batting drill and take the first 5-10 swings with some type of weight on your bat.
Once you take off the weight, your bat will feel substantially lighter and you’ll feel like you’re able to crush everything for a home run. That feeling (if even for a minute) can turn a mundane drill into something you look forward to in each practice. And who doesn’t want to have more fun during practice?
Batting Weights Are Beneficial for Those With Good Hitting Mechanics
Mechanics are an essential component to hitting. You need good hitting mechanics in order to be a great hitter, but it’s extremely difficult to go from poor hitting mechanics to great hitting mechanics while also using a weighted bat.
You hear the same thing for weight lifting too – if you practice bad movements with heavier weight then you’re setting yourself up to get hurt. So prevent injury and improve your swing by starting off small and slowly build up the weight over time.
However, if your swing mechanics are good then go ahead and start swinging with a batting weight. Just like when you get the basics down for a weight lifting move, the best time to increase weight is when the correct form is already ingrained into your mind. Making sure you already have the correct form down before upping the weight will prevent injuries and it will also increase your bat speed in the long run.
Using Batting Weights Is a Great Workout
As you may have guessed from the other five reasons, swinging with additional weight on your bat is tough. Take 15-20 swings with a bat that’s a few ounces heavier than your normal bat and you’ll start to get pretty tired, especially if you’re making contact with a ball.
Having that additional weighted donut on your bat is a great combination of cardio and weight lifting, all in one move. The additional weight will help build up your batting swing muscles and will tire you out pretty quickly.
If you have good swing mechanics then performing any batting drills with additional weight will be a great way to get in shape for baseball. The more you use it, the better you get.
How Much Does a Bat Donut Weigh?
If you’re contemplating on purchasing a batting weight like a batting donut or a batting sleeve, then you’re probably wondering how much they weigh.
A bat donut weighs between 4 ounces and 28 ounces and will fit batting barrels between 2 1/4″ and 2 5/8″. Batting donuts come in seven different weights: 4 oz, 8 oz, 12 oz, 16 oz, 20 oz, 24 oz, and 28 oz.
A weighted barrel sleeve for batting weighs between 12 ounces and 24 ounces and will fit batting barrels between 2 1/4″ and 2 5/8″. Barrel sleeves come in 12 oz, 16 oz, and 24 oz.
You may also find some batting donut weights or weighted barrel sleeves outside of these dimensions, but these are the most common dimensions for batting weights.
If you’re interested in purchasing a batting donut, check out the prices on Amazon for Authentic Baseball Shop and CHAMPRO Store. Both of these stores are selling batting donuts with weights in each of these seven weight categories.
Baseball Batting Weights by Age
When researching what batting weights to buy, a lot of people will want to take their age into account. Obviously, a little leaguer will not be able to use the same size batting weight as someone in college so we’ll want some type of guideline on the batting weight to use by age.
Weights of Batting Sleeves and Batting Donuts by Age
Below is a table I created based on the info I’ve researched. It will let you know what size of weight can be used by different age ranges.
Hopefully, it helps to give you a rough idea of what weight to purchase when viewing potential batting weights, but remember that the most important thing is that the person using the batting weight is comfortable using that weight.
|Youth (Ages 4-6)||Youth (Ages 9-15)||Youth/Adult (Ages 12-18)||Adult (Ages 18+)|
Should You Practice With a Heavier Bat?
If you’re a serious ball player then you may have wondered whether a heavier bat will benefit you during practices.
Practicing with a heavier bat will benefit players who are looking to improve their grip strength and bat speed, but adding too much weight to the bat will lead to a poor swing and injuries. Coaches who use heavy-bat training techniques will use a bat that is a max of 20% heavier than the player’s normal bat weight.
Practicing with a heavy bat can lead to positive results, but you’ll also want to make sure you’re using a heavier bat in an effective way.
Overload/Underload Training for Hitting
A method of training that has gained some traction is the practice of swinging with a heavy bat and then a light bat (overload & underload). The player first starts practicing with a bat that is 20% heavier than their normal bat, then they switch over to a bat that is 20% lighter than their normal bat. The player then finishes the round with their normal bat.
The result the player is going for is an increase in bat speed. The heavier bat helps build muscle while the lighter bat helps train the muscles to quickly drive the hands through the strike zone. With practice and time, a player should be able to increase their bat speed by utilizing the overload/underload technique.
For an example overload/underload training program, check out JasonKnine’s video.