Hitting a baseball is arguably the most difficult task in all of sports. That's why hitters are willing to do whatever it takes to improve their bat speed, so they can get around on a blazing fastball, like Albert Pujols.
Despite what your friends might tell you, putting a weighted donut on the end of your bat and taking a bunch of hard practice cuts like you're the Great Bambino himself won't help you at the plate. In fact, research shows it might even work against your goal of a faster bat.
Subjects were given several different bats—a standard bat, an aluminum bat, a fungo bat and a bat with a donut ring. Each was instructed to warm up with various stretches for one minute, like most batters do in the on-deck circle, then to swing three consecutive times before stepping into the batter's box. During the experiment, the subjects took three swings hitting a ball off a tee, attempting to reach maximum velocity, and rested for 20 seconds between swings to simulate a game situation.
Researchers found that no warm-up technique proved significantly better than any other. Instead, they pointed to previous studies, which showed that adding a donut ring, or any other weight-altering device, actually slows bat speed and can negatively alter swing mechanics. Since baseball is a highly mental game filled with personal rituals, the study ultimately recommended using whatever makes you feel comfortable.
To be clear, we're only talking about the practice of placing weight on your bat during warm-up in the on-deck circle—not during pre-season practice. Think of a professional weightlifter Bench Pressing heavy weight for three reps prior to doing Push-Ups. The obvious concern is that the weightlifter will fatigue the muscles necessary to do his best in the Push-Ups. It's an extreme example, but the same logic applies to a hitter taking a bunch of cuts with added weight before stepping up to the plate.
Again, we're not advocating burying your donut in the backyard. We're just debunking a myth about the benefits of adding weight to warm-up swings.
For donut fans, check out this hitting drill from Cardinals 2B Skip Schumaker, who uses a donut while hitting off a tee to improve his grip strength and bat speed.
Tee Drill With Donut
• Focus on hitting line drives up the middle
• Keep head still and eyes on ball
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