We have recently added a new set of weighted balls to our product line and they are generating a lot of buzz with our clients. These new balls, the TAP Extreme Duty weighted balls, are different than any weighted balls we have sold before. Unlike our other weighted ball set, the TAP Standard Duty, the Extreme Duty balls can be used for hitting as well as in a throwing program to develop velocity. The name of this new product is indicative of how durable and virtually indestructible we believe the ball to be. Because of the durable nature of these balls, coaches all over the nation are beginning to utilize them during hitting drills to help increase power and the ability to drive the ball.
For those of you unfamiliar with using weighted balls for hitting, it is very similar to the concept of using weighted balls for throwing. It stems from the overload principle. The overload principle essentially states that a greater than normal amount of stress or load on the body is required for training adaptation to occur. Using this principle by hitting weighted balls, an athlete experiences a greater than normal amount of load at the contact point.
This overload training at contact point is beneficial for several reasons. First, because the athlete knows he must hit a ball that is many times heavier than a regular baseball, the hitter must prepare his body for the impact of making contact with such a heavy ball. This will force the hitter to reach as strong a position as he can when connecting with the ball so that he can drive it. Many of us have seen hitters, especially a younger or muscularly undeveloped hitter, who is unable to keep driving the bat forward at contact and it looks as though the bat rebounds backward when contact is made. Any type of weakness throughout the athlete’s hands and forearms will be evident. Not only will this weakness be exposed but it will help to strengthen this area too because the athlete is constantly forced to make contact with the weighted balls.
Additionally, the weighted balls provide a unique feeling to the hitter. When contact is made with a regular baseball there is a spring board effect where the ball impacts the bat and quickly redirects, flying off the bat. The weighted balls however, have some give to them since they are softer. This keeps the ball on the bat longer as the ball absorbs more of the energy before eventually redirecting and flying off the bat. Because the ball stays on the barrel for a longer amount of time, it requires the athlete to really extend and drive through the ball. This is helpful because it continues to re-enforce the strength of the hands and forearms as well as improving an athlete’s ability to “stay on the ball” and drive through it.
The Extreme Duty weighted balls come in 4 different sizes just like our traditional weighted balls. The Extreme Duty balls are available in 32, 21, 14, and 7 ounce sizes. This allows for a hitter to vary the weight of the ball he is hitting similar to the way the balls are used during the throwing program. A batter can begin hitting the 32, then move down in weight to the 21, 14, and then the 7 ounce before returning to the regular baseball. By the time the athlete resumes hitting with a regular 5 ounce ball it will feel extremely light at contact. Because the athlete was forced to adjust to handle the heavier weighted balls, his body will continue to be in a strong position and ready to handle a heavier ball than the baseball, which will improve the way the ball comes off the bat.
I like to compare this feeling to a person who has picked up several heavy boxes off the ground and then goes to pick up an identical box that is light. The person uses just as much strength and energy to pick up the box believing it is heavy and nearly falls backward because he is able to spring up with it.
Since there are numerous coaches using this technique to increase a hitter’s ability to drive the ball, my next article will be focused on some of the specific training methods these coaches are using with the TAP Extreme Duty balls and the results they are seeing with their athletes.
Until next time,