Should I Use Weighted Bats In-Season?
As more research indicates that using doughnuts while standing on the on-deck circle can decrease swing velocity and inhibit performance at the plate; an athlete, coach, or parent might be more hesitant to utilize overload/underload concepts in season due to fears of altering motor patterns or disrupting timing during the season. While this is certainly an understandable concern, we believe that incorporating weighted bats in training is very important for improving performance and developing talent throughout the season.
In having athletes utilize variations of weighted bats during in-season training, we force them to constantly train proprioception and manipulate their motor systems into solving endless problems. By doing this, an athlete’s motor system is continuously “awake” throughout the season, which is when they’ll need it the most. Essentially, by constantly using weighted training implements, we’re encouraging players to be natural athletes and swing where the ball is irrespective of the weight of the training tool. We need to promote these qualities regardless of whether we’re in-season or not.
Using overload/underload components during the season can also help athletes maintain a good swing pattern and promote bat speed despite the onset of in-season fatigue. During the longevity of a season, patterns can very easily break down and movement quality can become slower. Since overload components cannot be swung using inefficient movement patterns, athletes are given immediate feedback during training as to whether something has changed with their swing due to in-season fatigue. Likewise, if an athlete’s bat speed begins to tail off towards the end of the season, underloads can be used to allow the body to move faster and promote quicker movements while batting. This will help maintain the rotational velocity capabilities of your swing and subvert CNS fatigue.
Lastly, every coach, parent, and athlete should ask themselves what the overall goal of in-season training is really for. For some higher-level athletes who play every day, in-season work is probably best described as maintenance to optimize for performance. However, for most HS athletes who only play 2-3 times per week, the goal of training should be for continuous improvement and growth. As a result, weighted bats serve as a great training tool for this athlete in aiding both their overall development and in-season performance as well.
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