What a great question! And yes there are numerous occasions during a season when some batting practice is as senseless as a golfer showing up to their tee time to play “show and go” golf!
Let’s now review one of these typical occasions when batting practice is senseless where you can instead put in place a system that will permit a much better utilization of time.
The scenario is your team has 30 minutes to hit and you need to get all the hitters through BP. Assume your team consists of 13-15 players and at least 12 need to hit prior to the game. So what happens...it is simple, each hitter gets a chance to swing the bat 6-8 times, maybe mix in a couple of bunts (to gauge the speed of the pitch and lay down a few sac bunts) and then BP is done. Now they go out and shag. 30 minutes later, BP has been completed and each hitter swung the bat 6-8 times! Wow, what have these hitters really accomplished in this timeframe? If you said not much, you are correct!
So, what could have been done different to get more out of this time? First, let’s review the importance of time. We know in life, time is everyone’s equal enemy and when time is not used prudently, people, the opposition or your competitor might be making better use of their time.
How about this? I call it “ME” time with you and your bat. Instead of trying to hustle up and get your 6-8 swings in BP, simply go down one of the foul lines with your bat, batting gloves and helmet and begin to get into a frame of mind necessary for the game. Start off with doing some functional warm up with the bat, like some simple walk thru’s, followed by quick thru’s, some switch hitters, over head chops, etc... Then proceed into some easy game like swings where the focus is put on just the feeling of rhythm, tempo and timing of the swing. From there, progress to creating momentum and visualizing pitch locations and making pitch adjustments. This can be followed with some sort of game at bat visualization, whereby the hitter is now preparing for the first at bat, how he might get pitched and how he will react to various pitches and pitch sequences. Finally, in this “ME” time you now have completely entrenched your mind into winning the mind game, you are talking with your bat (albeit not like Pedro Cerrano in Major League, the movie), as the positive imagery is becoming electric out of your mind and body. At this point, you can’t wait for “show time” and the game to begin. You have now spent 30 minutes of “ME” with your bat, batting gloves and helmet sending the mind into a state of winning versus trying to succeed with a mere 6-8 pitch BP.
This is one way, amongst numerous others, that a hitter can better prepare themselves for the ultimate battle of in game hitting. Bottom line - don't be senseless. Make use of your time. You don't have the luxury of the same BP as a pro player does, but you have every opportunity to make the most of the time you have.
Now ask yourself again, "Is your batting practice senseless?" It doesn't have to be.
Rick Johnston, Head Coach & Instructor - The Baseball Zone
Images courtesy of abcnews.go.com