As a coach who spends an extensive amount of time in the cage talking with players and parents about swing mechanics, I feel like I’ve heard it all. Believe me, I know there’s still a lot out there, but as I go through the day-to-day operations, a lot of the same questions surface:
I want to have better timing. How do I do that?
I don’t feel like I’m doing anything wrong. Why aren’t I hitting the ball where I want?
How do I create more power in my swing?
All of these questions branch off onto completely different topics. I could go on and on about the changes and adjustments players have to make to consistently get the results they want, but it comes down to 2 simple concepts:
Do you take the time to FEEL what you’re doing?
What kind of reps are you taking? How many reps are you taking?
There are some people out there who can be good hitters and not take a lot of reps. I wasn’t one of those guys. I took pride in my swings. I was focused on every rep, every move. I tried to feel everything I was doing and adjust something if it went wrong. I took hundreds of swings every single day to work on my craft. I needed that. Repetition is key. It allowed me to understand my own swing more than anyone else. At the end of the day, I’m the one standing in the batter’s box. I need to know how to adjust pitch by pitch, swing by swing. I need to know what to work on the next time I hit based on how the last practice/game went.
I just had a conversation with a group of 12-year-old kids tonight about the number of days per week they are hitting. This week was 2, but they had 4 baseball practices. I asked them if they think they’re going to be ready to play this season if they’re only hitting 2 days a week. Their answer was no. I AGREE!! I think that Buffalo/Niagara Falls area understands the hockey world very well. In fact, a lot of the kids I train play hockey and they’re very dedicated to the time they spend on the ice. I love that about them. It shows their work ethic and dedication to be good at something. I hear it all the time how they have 4 practices per week, plus games all weekend. It’s a lot, I know. The crazy thing is that baseball players should do the same thing! No matter what profession you’re in, it takes a lot of time and effort to be good at it! For us to help create a good culture in the baseball and softball community, we need to understand that 2 or 3 days a week of hitting just isn’t going to cut it. It is the hardest game in the world because it is so difficult to be consistent. We have to take quality reps every single day in order to get better.
Some days, our reps will only be dry swings (swinging with a purpose, but without hitting a ball). Some days will be tee work. Some days will be batting practice. Some days will be live hitting off of a pitcher. It doesn’t matter what that day is going to bring, I believe that they need to have a bat in their hands almost every single day, working on their craft, in order to be successful in this sport. Focus becomes a major part of this process. Focusing on their task and being able to zone in on what they’re doing is just as important as the rep. I would rather someone take 10 perfect reps than 100 bad reps. It’s all about making sure that you are taking quality repetitions over quantity of repetitions.
“Feel” is a funny topic. It’s funny in a sense that I train players every single day just to get them to feel what they’re doing. It’s my job. I want to help you understand what your body is doing when you’re trying to create and explosive swing. How your swing feels tells it all. FEEL vs REAL is an amazing and very in-depth conversation. I have spent countless hours watching film on Major League Baseball Players talking about their swings and I can’t seem to understand how their thought and feelings create the right actions. For Example,
Mike Trout — He thinks about swinging straight down on the ball (feel), but when you watch his swing, he has one of the most consistent and smooth bat paths in the game (real).
Alex Bregman — He thinks about only moving his hands across his face and keeping his hips closed as long as he can without moving them (feel), but when he swings, he has some of the fastest hips and quickest hands in the game.
It’s amazing to watch some of these players talk about what makes sense to them and it brings me back to the point about the way you feel will help you make adjustments that create more consistency when you swing. At the end of the day, those players feel what they feel and that allows them to get to the right places when they hit. It doesn’t matter how you get there, as long as you get there. I love that these 2 players put themselves out there to teach that what they feel when they hit is what makes them successful.
When you have quality repetition daily to work on feel in your swing, you will be able to make adjustments that will allow your swing to be more consistent.
The best advice I can give any player that I work with is to know your own swing better than anyone else. I always try to give my players the best advice through my eyes, data, and metrics, but if I know your swing better than you do, that’s not going to help you. If you can tell me how you FEEL when you hit, now we’re getting somewhere.
Have a plan when you practice. What are you going to work on today that is different from yesterday? What is your process off the tee going to be like based on your swings at your last team practice? What are you going to do in the next swing to improve from the swing before?