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Ball Exit Speed Debate


Ball Exit Speed Debate

by fastballusa

Is ball exit speed important?

Scout day arrives and one of the stations set up is a tee station that will measure ball exit speed. If on scout day there is a measurement that measures ball exit speed off a batting tee then why isn’t this measurement worked on more often? Many players arrive at scout day or at college showcase events having not worked on exit speed all year but arrive hoping they achieve a great number. 

The real question the becomes is ball exit speed a significant measurement or simply a waste of time for coaches and players? Before we address the importance or lack of importance of ball exit speed let’s first look at exit speed at the MLB level. 

According to hittracker.com the top ball exit speed of a MLB player in 2014 was 119.9 MPH of course off a wooden bat. When you research further it appears that every home run hit in 2014 was hit 90mph or more off the bat with the exception of two that were 88-90mph.  

According to hit tracker a ball hit at 90mph is going to travel roughly 300 feet. Mike Trout hit 36 home runs with an average speed off the bat at 104.6mph and a average distance of 412.5. 

My question is if ball exit speed with good ball flight obviously impacts the distance of the baseball then why are most coaches not taking this measurement seriously?

Right now in my opinion ball exit speed is simply something to do or a time killer for the few coaches that are doing it right now. A small few take it very seriously. 

I found it very interesting that the pro hitters we have come into Fastball USA near Chicago have all picked up a wood bat and hit the ball around 100mph off the batting tee. 

Once again, my question is why are coaches not focusing on measuring and improving this number. The proof shows most home runs are hit around 100mph. Why not then work on it?

Even baseball showcases and scout days have added ball exit speed as a measurement done at these events. My question is do these showcases and scouts in general feel this is a good measurement or simply something to do to keep players busy?

A few players that I have spoken to reported that ball exit speed is a measurement done on scout day but the rest of the year they NEVER train or get feedback on ball exit speed. I don’t know about you but to me if your going to be tested on ball exit speed on a scout day or a showcase, then I would want ball exit speed training a regular part of my training routine.

The real question is why are coaches not implementing more ball exit speed feedback in practices? What is the real reason? I have a few theories and I’m sure many of you have more.

Theory # 1   
By working on ball exit speed too much it will only interrupt or ruin the swing of a young player. This means if a player is in search of more ball exit speed than he will ruin his technique because the technique will get sloppy. 

This group feels that the technique drives results. I can assure you from my experience that it’s quite the opposite. The intent to hit hard, and the intent to hit far, is exactly what creates better technique.   I know you might think I’m crazy, but intent is a huge reason why Fastball USA has now had 11 players reach speeds of 100mph or more in hitting or throwing.

Theory # 2    Most just don’t care about hitting power. The reality is coaches need players to put the ball in play. Getting on base, and making contact is most important and we don’t need to focus on hitting power. This group in my opinion also believes that either you have hitting power or you don’t. This group may have also given up because of the BBCORE factor, and the idea that small is most important.

In my experience hitting power can be developed and improved but hitting power is driven through goal or intent. The intent or goal to hit hard is crucial.

Here are some key factors that have led to 11 players (almost all in high school) who have attained 100mph of ball exit speed. We have also had another 64 players hit a baseball 90mph or more and an 11 year old hit a baseball 84mph.

Ironically last years 7th round Draft Pick by the Indians (Simeon Lucas) who attended our camps is 101mph and many others at the 100mph mark are playing high level college baseball.

Here are 4 principles Of The Explosive Hitting System at Fastball USA:

  • Master The Mission. The intent to hit hard and hit far. After every single swing our hitters ask 2 questions. First, did I hit the ball hard? Second, did the ball have good flight? We let the goal drive our mechanics not the other way around.  
  • Master the Mindset. The mindset is be aggressive and when it doubt be more aggressive. Embrace failure during training. Failure and looking bad is an option. Fear of looking bad should not exist when developing hitters. Our hitters have a blast. 
  • Measure The Mission. Find ways such as ball exit speed and ball flight to objectively measure everything in your training. Our top measurements include bat speed, ball exit speed, ball flight, and % of hard hit balls in bp. On the field we measure distance off a tee, distance in soft toss, and distance in bp. Measure the mission and then make sure everyone is recording the results. By recording the result the hitter is more likely to make changes as needed.
  • Become a Master at Adjustments. Pay attention to the results and then adapt and adjust. Great hitters pay attention to the results of ball flight and if they hit the ball hard and then adjust. Much of our program is guiding players on paying attention to the result and then adapting and adjusting.  At the end of the day your players need to become their own best hitting coach. 

According to hittracker.com it is reported that every 1mph of ball exit speed increased will add as much as 5 feet of distance. Add 10mph and your hitter has increased an average of 50 feet of distance. That is huge! Can you imagine how many balls are hit less than 50 feet away from a fence in any given season and how that would change the game.

Since BBCORE became an issue I have seen coaches simply accept power is not the future of the game. I disagree. Power is something that can be developed through the right intent, the right mindset, along with the right environment.

For players if your going to showcases in which ball exit speed will be tracked then you better make ball exit speed training a regular part of your practice.    For teams who are putting players in front of scouts on scout day, it only makes sense to train ball exit speed to better prepare your players for this event.

For the player who simply wants to improve power I would start measuring your exit speed today. Take boring tee work and make it a game. Compete with yourself. Compete with your team members.   

If you need to hit a baseball 90mph minimum to hit a ball 300 feet, then get after it and start working on it.   

For those who also believe that the pitcher supplies the power, and that hitters don’t need to focus on hitting hard you should re-visit this thought process. The ball that Giancarlo Stanton hit at 119.9mph was a on a slow curve ball. He supplied the majority of the power. If hitters can train themselves to supply the power then you won’t have to rely on the pitcher doing it for you.  

The general rule of thumb is most people believe power is something you have and really can’t be developed.   Someone with a 90mph arm was born to throw 90. Someone with extreme hitting power was born to hit with power.  At Fastball USA we dismiss this freak theory concept and believe power can be generated.  

The one thing scouts believe is that power is innate.  If I’m a player I want to out power everyone.  Javier Baez of the Chicago Cubs obviously needs to make more contact. The reality is he is playing major league baseball because of his unusual power. He will stay there if he hit’s the ball hard more often. 

The question is where do you stand on ball exit speed. 

  1. Is it a significant part of your hitting practice
  2. Do you measure it but more as something fun to do
  3. Do you believe it’s all about the technique and ball exit speed measuring is a waste of time?
  4. Have you been curious but not sure if it will help your hitters? 

Ball exit speed Benefits

# 1      Establishes the hitters overall power ability

# 2      Improves the hitters overall power ability

# 3      Create a culture of achievement in your practice

# 4     Create a culture of competition in your practice

# 5      Create a culture of having fun while hitting

# 6     Inside the limits of a batting cage you don’t get distance feedback. Ball Exit Speed gives inside the cage hitting a chance for hitters to get a better feel of how far the ball might have gone.

My Suggestion -
Have players figure out their average scores and high ball exit speed scores at the start off the off-season.   Then have them set short term and long term goals.   A great short term goal is to add 1mph every 30 days.   The goal is to see 10-12mph in 10-12 months.   Once again creating the environment and culture of achievement.

The secret Sauce (Additional Tip)

Don’t just measure ball exit speed.  Have your players recording each and every number.  Have them Write every reading down!  Get them interested not only in what their high scores are but also get them interested in what the average score is to reinforce consistency.

In addition to ball exit speed recording have them diagram where every ball is hit throughout the batting cage.   They can label each hit with the speed associated with the hit to help create awareness of where the ball is going and how hard the ball is hit in that direction.

Create Categories -

Category A -    Wooden Bat Exit Speed

Category B -    Game Bat or aluminum Ball Exit Speed

Category C -    Oppo Ball Exit Speed

Category D -   Pull Side Ball Exit Speed 

Other Categories -

Over Load Bat Ball Exit Speed Numbers
Under Load Bat Ball Exit Speed Numbers
Weighted Ball Exit Speed Number

The different categories helps create an environment in which your training never get’s old or stale. The different categories also gives players multiple opportunities to set high scores or improve average scores. This creates motivation in the training environment. 

For those who simply have just decided that they don’t have the caliber of players that can drive the ball you will also need to re-think your stance. In my opinion this makes improving ball exit speed and overall power even more important.  

The two things our hitters are obsessed about is what I believe matters the most. They are focused on hitting each ball as hard has possible, and paying attention to ball flight.

Now go out and hit harder this year! 

The Author - Mike Ryan is owner and CEO of the Fastball USA Training Center in Schaumburg,IL and in 2015 he will be releasing his book “Creating The 100mph Hitter” on Amazon.com. 



Director of Baseball Training at Fastball USA
Coach Ryan has spent 14 years as an Associate Scout with the Seattle Mariners organization, and has been running Fastball USA since 2001. Coach Ryan has spent nearly 20 years as a professional baseball instructor specializing in hitting and pitching.
email: fastballusa@hotmail.com.

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