Preparing for at bats can be a weighty issue

April 11, 2013


Sports Reporter


This is the second entry of a four-part series  about the science behind sports.


When  baseball players step on deck, their heart pounds, their mind races and they practice their swing as much as they can.


“[When on deck,] I’m mainly just watching the pitcher, making sure I’m loose and seeing what the pitcher is throwing,” said Ryan Gebhardt, junior infielder for Louisiana Tech baseball. “You have to watch him and make sure you know what he’s doing.”


Dr. David Szymanski, associate professor of kinesiology, said players on deck have multiple tools at their disposal to help them prepare for their turn at bat. Many players have started to use power wraps instead of weighted donuts.


A weighted donut is a ring made to slide over the end of the bat to make it heavier for warm up swings. The power wrap is the same concept, but in a longer thin wrap form instead of the bulky donut.


“For the longest period of time in baseball, players believed if they used a donut in warm-up swings it would make your game swing faster,” Szymanski said.


However, this is not the case and multiple studies done by the University of Hawaii, Louisiana Tech and several other universities proves there is no improvement at all, Symanski said.


“The research has indicated [players] who swing with a donut actually swing their bats slower during the game,” he said. “The power wrap didn’t make bat speeds any faster than their regular swing.”


Last year, Szymanski, several professors and students in the kinesiology department conducted a study of 21 player’s with seven different tools designed to make a players bat swing faster. They divided the players into seven groups of three and they rotated devices every day.


“Study after study demonstrates your bat swing will be fastest if you use your regular bat,” Szymanski said.


Players also took a survey after they finished the study where Szymanski said the majority of players indicated they felt their swing was faster after using the donut, even though the study said it was not any faster.


Szymanski said the baseball team has not changed much and is still using the power wraps when players are on deck.


Gebhardt said he uses a donut because he likes the idea of the bat feeling lighter when he steps up to plate due to the deduction in weight from when the donut was on the bat.


“They still feel it’s going to be faster,” Szymanski said. “If they think it’s going to benefit them, then they should keep using it.”


For more on baseball and other Tech athletics, follow The Tech Talk Sports Desk’s twitter page at twitter.com/techtalksports.com.


Email comments to ktc013@latech.edu.


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