Practice doesn’t make perfect. To be perfect is to take a good swing 100% of the time or throw a strike 100% of time. In terms of playing a long baseball season, it is impossible to be perfect.
Practice makes PERMANENT! As a baseball player, you want to create permanent or consistent habits. If I am consistent with my swing 7 out of 10 times, I should be able to get 4-5 base hits. That is a pretty good batting average.
How do we develop these permanent habits? You have to first educate yourself about the fundamentals involved in the specific baseball aspect that you are working on. Let’s use hitting for the sake of this blog. Probably the best way to develop a consistent swing is by practicing with a tee.
If I’m trying to develop a short swing as a right hand hitter, I would get a tee, baseballs, and two cones. I would set the cones as targets at the 2nd base position. As I am hitting off the tee, it is my goal to repeat my swing by trying to hit the baseballs between the cones. It takes skills to do this though.
Anybody can knock a ball off the tee but to hit a stationary ball between stationary cones 7 out of 10 times is a skill. Because the tee and cones aren’t moving, you know that you are repeating your swing if you are getting positive results with the balls going between the cones and/or hitting the cones. If you aren’t hitting the balls between the cones, you should miss the right of the cone. Why is that? If you are missing to the right of the cone, at least you’re keeping the barrel inside the ball of the swing which is allowing you to develop a short swing that allows you to:
- Be quick to the ball. Remember, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.
- Develop the ability to adjust to multiple pitch types and locations.
- Extend the barrel outward and through the ball which creates power.
Slow down when practicing so that you can feel what you are doing. Feeling what you are doing will allow you to develop muscle memory. Muscle memory allows you to develop permanent habits.
Permanent habits allow you to compete at higher levels. Manage your effort level and remove your ego. You can develop a good swing in practice using 30 percent effort. Soft toss isn’t the time to work on bat speed. The ball is coming from the tosser at 10 MPH. You aren’t working on power because you are in a batting cage (for crying out loud!). Focus on controlling the barrel, controlling your body and repeating your swing.
With a good swing, good timing, your natural bat speed, and controlled 100 percent effort, you should be successful in your games.
C.J. Stewart has built a reputation as one of the leading professional hitting instructors in the country. He is a former professional baseball player in the Chicago Cubs organization and has also served as an area scout for the Cincinnati Reds. As founder and CEO of Diamond Directors Player Development, CJ has more than 12 years of player development experience and has built an impressive list of clients including some of the top young prospects in baseball today. If your desire is to change your game for the better, C.J Stewart has a proven system of development and track record of success that can work for you.