Baseball Magazine

Practice Vs "Deliberate" Practice

By Meachrm @BaseballBTYard
Batter #1: 100 swings off a tee (1 hour total)
60 swings on a ball set up down the middle, waist high
20 swings with the ball set up thigh-high inside
20 swings with the ball set up thigh-high outside.

Josh Hamilton and a batting tee.

Batter #2: 60 swings off a tee (40 minutes total)
5 free swings on pitches set up down the middle to get loose
5 swings with the tee set to it's highest position to work on getting the hands above the high strike.
5 swings with the ball positioned low and away to work on hitting a ground ball through the hole at first base with a runner at first.
5 swings (ball down the middle) with proper two-strike adjustments (Part 1 & Part 2).
5 two-strike swings on balls set up below the knees
5 two-strike swings on balls set up just off the outside corner
5 swings with the ball set up as a high and inside strike
5 swings with the ball set up as a low and inside strike
5 swings to drive the ball to the opposite field gap (ball set up outer half, above the thighs)
5 swings to drive the ball to the left field gap (ball set up inner half, above the thighs)
10 free swings to finish
Which hitter do you think will improve the most and the fastest?

Probably Batter #2 because he is practicing multiple things at the same time in real, game-like situations.  Although Batter #1 is taking more total swings, his tee work involves very little mental work and does not account for all the various situations he will encounter in a real at-bat.  As players get older, the chances of them getting every pitch thigh-high or above are slim to none.  Batter #2 not only focuses on the basic mechanics of hitting but does so by using every area of the strike zone like he'll have to do in an actual at-bat.  He is also making additional adjustments based on different counts which means he is not only making physical adjustments but practicing his mental adjustments as well based on the count and the situation.
Batter #1 is practicing like most players.  Batter #2 is applying the concept of "deliberate practice."  He is taking less swings but getting more out of each swing.  If, during a real game, a batter is faced with a two strike, two out situation with the winning run on third base, which of the two batters do you want hitting?  I want Batter #2 because he has practiced that situation (physically and mentally) many times and probably is pretty confident because of it.  Batter #1 hasn't worked on that situation a bit.
Using "deliberate practice" will also allow Batter #2 to use the remaining 20 minutes of the hour to "deliberately practice" base running, fielding, pitching, and/or anything else he needs to work on.  
Most players just "practice."  Don't be like most players.

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