Trent Agee, Nicole Bordelon, Katherine Everhart, Anthony Fava, Billy Lozowski, Yuki Yanagita, Adam Nebel, Gretchen Oliver, FACSM. Auburn University, Auburn, AL.

BACKGROUND: Baseball hitting requires force generated at the lower extremities to be transferred through the trunk, upper extremities, and finally the bat to maximize performance. Therefore, lower body power may be related to hitting performance. The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between lower body power and baseball hitting performance. METHODS: Fifty-one youth (9-17 yrs) baseball athletes [right-handed (n = 48); 11.5 ± 1.7 yrs, 152.4 ± 13.2 cm, 50.5 ± 15.5 kg] who were active on a team roster and injury free for the past six months participated. Athletes performed two trials each of a maximal effort standing broad jump (SBJ), triple broad jump (TBJ), and single leg lateral rotational jump (LRJ) (bilaterally). Athletes were then instructed to perform three maximal effort swings off a stationary tee positioned in the center of the strike zone. Hitting performance (exit velocity) was measured using a Rapsodo® Hitting 2.0 unit positioned 4.3 meters from home plate. Peak values for the SBJ, TBJ, single leg LRJ, and exit velocity were used for analysis. Pearson-product moment correlations were used to determine bivariate associations between jump distances (cm) and exit velocity (mph). A forward multiple linear regression, including height (cm) and jump distances, was performed to determine the best predictor of exit velocity. Height was entered initially to estimate the proportion of variance accounted for by the anthropometric measure. The additional predictive value of each jump distance, above and beyond the predictive effects of height were also estimated (ΔR2). Statistical significance was set a priori to p < .05. RESULTS: The mean peak exit velocity was 56.1 ± 8.03 mph. Bivariate correlations determined SBJ, TBJ, and single leg LRJ distances were all significantly and positively related to exit velocity (all p-values < .001). The regression analysis indicated that body height accounted for 65.9% of the variance in exit velocity alone. The predictive model was improved by adding peak SBJ [ΔR2 = .090; R2 = 0.749, F(2, 48) = 71.7, p < .001]. On average, the model predicted that a 1.1 mph increase in exit velocity for every 10 cm increase in peak SBJ (β = .376, p = < .001). CONCLUSIONS: Lower body power is positively related to hitting performance in youth baseball hitters. Specifically, the SBJ had the highest correlation to exit velocity with height held constant.

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