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Too often, hitters sacrifice quality for quantity. I will see hitters go through 2-3 buckets in a half hour’s time. This puts a hitter in a rushed mindset and it leads to weak, tired, and mentally fatigued swings. When in a game, the best hitters “slow the game down.”

The truth is: Practice swings—good or bad—transfer into the game. Here are just a couple thoughts for improving a hitter’s ability to transfer good practice swings into the game:

1- Focus on quality and forget quantity. Hitting two buckets is great, but it should take longer than a half hour. Two hours is more like it. Hitters don’t swing hard when it's monotonous and they are mentally and/or physically tired. I rarely have a hitter hit more than 5 to 7 swings without taking a break for a minute. I also have my guys take an extra 3 to 5 seconds between swings to get back in the box and dig in with the same rhythm and loading moves they make in a game.

2- Every swing to a hitter should be treated like a game swing in the hitter's head. Embrace the idea of never again swinging without reason. Visualize an actual pitch coming in during tee drills or practice loads or whatever you are working on. Do this every time on every drill—other than when you are isolating a body part and working on feeling a small part of the swing. I once had a cage session with Fred McGriff where it took him 30 minutes to hit 15 balls off a tee. He literally saw in his mind the pitch coming in and had the competitive mindset of a game situation.

A good example of this is tee work. Don’t look down at the tee the whole time. Visualize the ball being released and then transfer down. Think of a pitcher you don’t like and imagine him in the cage—winding up and throwing the pitch. Step out and step in and go through your routine between every swing. It's amazing how many times the swings instantly become sharper, quicker, and more powerful. This breeds confidence and assimilates to the game easier.

Too many kids swing just to swing. And a lot of it is our fault. The hitter should always have time to make his loading moves and do so without being rushed. This gets lost quickly when a coach or father rapid fires balls over a screen at hitter in order to "get as many swings as possible.” If the hitter gets time in practice to load well and focus on 15 to 25 balls (separated into rounds of 5 to 7) at a time, he will be more focused on crushing those pitches, his swing will be sharper, and this will lead to confidence and execution in the game.
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