Baseball is an anaerobic, power sport. Position players need to perform the skill of hitting explosively to generate bat speed. Greater bat speed has been described as one of the most important traits of successful hitters. However, if a coach or scout was only given the results from fitness and performance tests, could they predict who might have greater bat speed? PURPOSE: To determine the relationship of various sports performance variables to bat swing velocity (BV) of college baseball players. METHODS: Twenty-two Division I college baseball players (age = 20.0 ± 1.5 yr) participated in this study. Tests included percent (%) body fat (Tanita bioelectrical impedance device), height, body mass, lean body mass, dominant and non-dominant grip strength (Jamar hydraulic dynamometer), rotational power (6 lb medicine ball side toss), upper body strength (1RM bench press and 1-arm dumbbell row), lower body strength (1RM parallel squat), leg power (vertical jump), peak power, and BV (SETPRO SPRT5A chronograph). Correlation coefficients were calculated for all variables by utilizing a correlation matrix from raw scores. RESULTS: Statistical analysis indicated a significant and moderately high positive relationship (p < 0.05) between BV and dominant grip strength (r = 0.61). Significant and moderately positive relationships were indicated between BV and non-dominant grip strength (r = 0.59), body mass (r = 0.53), peak power (r = 0.51), 1-arm dumbbell row (r = 0.51), lean body mass (r = 0.50), and parallel squat (r = 0.41). Significant and low positive relationships were indicated between BV and height (r = 0.37), % body fat (r = 0.25), medicine ball side toss (r = 0.25), and bench press (r = 0.21). CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that significant relationships do exist between sports performance variables and BV, but one cannot interpret this to mean a cause and effect relationship. Other variables, such as hitting mechanics and bat properties (mass and moment of inertia), are also important in producing greater BV. PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS: Strength and conditioning coaches wanting to improve player's BV should design sport-specific programs to develop strength, peak power, lean body mass, and rotational power.
Kinesiology, Louisiana Tech University, Ruston, LA