Swing training-specific tools from Xbats
03-10-2017 / By:
Have you had a hard time in translating the power you feel in your swing to the long floating fly balls that either scrape the wall or carry out of the park entirely scoring runs for your team? Don’t worry – everyone who has ever stepped into the box or a cage has been baffled by both how to add power to his swing and how to make the ball carry. Luckily, X Bats has designed hitting tools alongside legendary major leaguer Reggie Smith that support exactly the kinds of training necessary to teach you how to improve the power in your swing, the specificity of your grip and the sought-after backspin that wafts fly balls over the heads of back-peddling outfielders.
While baseball may indeed be America’s pastime, hitting is serious stuff. It is easy to think of hitting as a defensive act. After all, a small and solid projectile is hurtling at you. And it will pass by you in a place that allows you to make contact with it, or it will pass you by well out of reach of your bat, or it will not pass you by at all while potentially causing you severe damage. It is easy to fear the batter’s box and believe that the pitcher has all the advantages, and that your job as a hitter is to protect yourself and hope to take advantage of any mistake the pitcher may make. And yet…every great hitter has stepped in the box knowing that he has the advantages and the pitcher will be doing everything he can to deceive him. He knows that the pitcher will struggle to conquer him…he knows that the pitcher is necessary only to give him a ball to hit…and that without the pitcher, he cannot do his job of winning the game for his team.
Where does this kind of ability and confidence come from? There are, of course, many answers to that question…but one of the most crucial is: training. And necessary to training are many things: dedication, repetition, instruction – and the proper tools. Without training with the right equipment, all the work in the world can only yield so many results. Let’s face it, a $5 guitar, even when played by Eddie Van Halen, can still only sound like a $5 guitar.
The most successful hitters not only have the tools to succeed, they know they have those tools. This is where X Bats variety of training bats come in. There are many skills and techniques to be practiced and refined over a hitter’s career, and the proper tools are vital to developing and polishing them.
Consider topspin, when the ball is rotating forwards and is essentially pushed down. A tennis player uses topspin when hitting a lob so the ball will begin traveling up to clear the head of the opponent at net and then will swiftly drop behind him. In baseball, think of the pitcher and his sinking fastball…when the bottom drops out of a pitch just as the bat makes contact with the ball. In this case, the hitter effectively hits the top of the baseball creating topspin and, the pitcher’s best friend, the ground ball.
How do we combat topspin? In a word, backspin. This is an under-understood skill and it is one that many hitters often overlook. Backspin is the spin that the ball has after being struck by the bat that allows the seams of the baseball to create an airflow under the ball to gift it lift. And how do we practice backspin? X Bats (along with Major League hitter Reggie Smith) has designed a tool to practice this exact skill: the backspin bat. This bat is designed to be flat on two sides of the barrel instead of cylindrical. We all know that the proper hand position is palm-up/palm-down, but that is a difficult thing to achieve with a round bat: what is up and down? The purpose of this revolutionary shape is to give the hitter (both young and mature) the requirement of making contact with the ball with a far smaller surface area of the bat face – effective forcing his hands into the proper position and requiring that his swing create the sought-after backspin. These backspin bats also come in shorter-than traditional dimensions, so the hitter can focus on soft-toss hitting or even hitting of the tee. Training with backspin bats prepares a hitter to have the proper hand position (palm up/palm down) and hand speed as he grows and refines his skills.
Developing hitting skills by taking certain elements out of a hitter’s responsibilities so that he can focus on fewer aspects of his swing is a proven effective training method, and X Bats offers several length shorty bats for just this purpose. The maple shorty is available in three lengths 26”, 27” and 28” and is designed to help the hitter focus on the power mechanics of his swing. The hitter (both young and seasoned) can use the short bat to focus on how his two hands and hips move the bat through the zone. This can be done as simply as hitting off a tee in a cage – using a short bat, the hitter can work with both one-handed and two-handed drills. He can focus on putting his entire body behind his bat (and thus his swing) and feel the power that his hands and hips generate without the help of the mass, momentum and torque of a longer, heavier, bat. Working with a shorty bat allows the hitter to effectively complete one-handed hitting drills to fully feel the push and pull created by the separate hands.
Whether your focus is learning hand position and accuracy of swing to generate backspin or focusing on small elements of your swing to better understand the mechanics of power, X Bats has the tools to help you. You can rest easy knowing that all you have to supply now is the dedication, repetition and instruction…the tools have been taken care of by X Bats. Now get in the cage, get with your coach and, most importantly, get to work!