One of the most significant skills we focus on for any youth player is moving the bat fast and hitting the ball hard—because hitting the ball hard is always good.
One of the core intentions of our Driveline Academy program is to build skills that scale—skills that will benefit players as they get older, helping them stay competitive on the diamond for longer. This is specifically relevant with our younger players, who need to navigate a substantial transition in field dimensions as they move from youth to 90’ baseball fields between the ages of 12 to 14.
In the first year of our Academy program, it’s reasonable to assume that some percentage of our players have come to us from other teams or programs, and as some of these players are (for lack of a more sophisticated term) somewhat good already, it begs the question:
How do we make good players better?
Joining Driveline Academy
B joined our Academy organization’s 13U team and started our off-season training program in October. He was already one of the tallest players on his team at 5-foot-7 and was the largest and strongest at 172 pounds. In the first month of training, his hitting performance looked like:
Batted Balls – October
- Average Exit Velocity: 61.54 MPH
- Peak Exit Velocity: 73.4 MPH
- Peak Distance: 231 ft
It’s important to understand these metrics as they pertain to the competition level at 12U, where players are typically playing on 200-225 foot fields. As good as he was doing, there was definitely more in the tank, and to a degree, I believe that B also suspected he was capable of more. From his mother:
“Before B came to Driveline, his confidence in his hitting was getting better but he wasn’t seeing as big of an improvement as he wanted. When I asked B how his confidence in his hitting abilities was before Driveline he said, ‘Meh.’“B’s mother
Specific to our off-season hitting development, B’s focus was simply on moving the bat fast and hitting the ball hard. B trained in our HitTrax environment where players get unbiased data about their performance so that they are constantly trying to improve. B started improving his bat speed by consistently training using our Axe Bat Speed Trainers. He then used that higher bat speed to generate higher exit velocities by improving contact quality (hitting the ball flush) through training with Hitting Plyos and Mini Hitting Plyos.
EV and Confidence Rising
In early February, B’s metrics indicated he was already making positive gains that were translating to batted ball performance.
Batted Balls – February
- Average Exit Velocity: 62.48 MPH (+0.94 MPH)
- Peak Exit Velocity: 82.3 MPH (+8.9 MPH)
- Peak Distance: 260 ft (+29 ft)
While our 13U team did start playing games in February, because players this age are not yet committed to a high school baseball schedule and we do not schedule them with an overwhelming volume of games we are able to continue to train consistently throughout the year. B saw even more significant gains through the months of March and April as our 13U players played games about every 3 weeks and trained in between.
Batted Balls – March
- Average Exit Velocity: 70.7 MPH (+9.16 from October)
- Peak Exit Velocity: 83.6 MPH (+10.2 from October)
- Peak Distance: 293 ft (62 ft from October)
When B came into our Academy he was already a pretty good hitter. With that as a base, by focusing on Skills That Scale in our Academy team program and using the same training environments and tools as our college and pro hitters, he’s taken a giant leap forward in his development in 6 months. Again, from B and his parent:
“B is much more confident in his hitting abilities after the last 6 months of training at Driveline. He loves seeing the growth he’s made in both distance and Exit Velo. He challenges himself every practice to get a new PR. Watching him bat this season, I can already see how much more confident and relaxed he is. B said, ‘I’m much more confident because I can see my progress and when I get new PRs … and I like hitting nukes!’”
Even after these significant gains B still has lots of room to grow, push his own performance and develop even further over time (he increased his Peak Exit Velocity PR to 85.9 MPH in April). By focusing on skills that scale and taking a long term view on the next significant milestone in his baseball life – making an impact on the high school field – B has put in the work and developed himself to make that a likely reality.
Furthermore, he’s still got another entire year of training—and another year of gains—before he gets there. It’s going to be fun to watch!
Located in the greater King County area and interested in our Driveline Academy 10U-18U teams? Fill out the form on the bottom of the page here for information about our free Player Assessment sessions for the 2021-2022 season!