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Let me start this off by saying that I have played baseball my whole life, and actually played in college (not for a club team.. the actual team) and I can't think of why this method of training is preferred.

A lot of younger, developing players (middle school, high school, & college) prefer to hit with woodbats during their winter training, rather than the bats that they are going to be using during the regular season.

Now, the only reason why I have heard as to why this is, is because a woodbat has a smaller 'sweet spot' if you will, or in other words, it doesn't have as much forgiveness as a metal / aluminum bat. So in translation, if you can make solid contact with a woodbat, then you definitely can make solid contact with a metal / aluminum bat, especially with the amount of forgiveness that those bats give.

My question to that is.. why would you train with a bat that you only use a few months out of the year and you don't use in games? Shouldn't you train with what you are going to use in games, so that you can build large amounts of confidence with that piece of equipment?

4

A reason to use a bat with a smaller sweet spot during practice is to train your accuracy. A lot of training revolves around optimizing your technique. Hitting with a wooden bat requires better technique (I don't play baseball, this is an assumption) or forces you to read the trajectory of the pitch better. During practice, it doesn't matter if you miss, so you should focus on that so when a real game happens, you're confident in your skill to strike the ball.

Similarly in soccer, when you dribble around cones. Rare are the times where you're going to slalom with the ball, but it increases your ball control and gives you confidence since you can consistently do something harder than you need in a match.

3

To answer your question,"Why would you train with a bat that you only use a few months out of the year and you don't use in games?" It comes down to learning the fundamentals. Functionally, a wood bat and aluminum bat serve the same purpose, however, as both you and akadian alluded to, there is a smaller sweet-spot on a wood bat, and you get a lot more "real" feedback, if you will. This trains the batter to work with a smaller margin of error, so when they are swinging their aluminum bat in a game, they are more likely to make good contact, even if they are a little early/late getting to the pitch, because they have trained to be more precise.

On an extreme level, many players also use some type of training bat that is much thinner than a normal bat (usually a shortened broom handle) and hit either ping pong balls or whiffle golf balls. It reduces the amount of physical exertion required to get hundreds of swings in per day, and trains an insane amount of hand-eye coordination. Speaking from experience, this exercise helps a LOT.

On a completely different note, however, there are also some practical reasons as well. One of these is keeping balls in the ballpark. All the way through high school (and to a lesser extent, college), there were 3-4 of us on my team that would consistently hit balls over the fence numerous times during batting practice. This caused lots of wasted time due to fence hopping and ball finding, and also diminished our supply of baseballs rather quickly. Using a wood bat helps keep a lot of balls in the park that would otherwise go out.

The most important thing, however, is MECHANICS MECHANICS MECHANICS!!!!! If you do not maintain good mechanics throughout EVERY single swing you take, you will not get the results you are looking for. So, whether it is hitting with a wood bat, aluminum bat, or a broom handle, the underlying mechanics should never change. Ultimately, I never found switching up what I am hitting, or what I am hitting it with to be an issue when it came to game time. Anyway, that's my $0.02, hope that helps!

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