A player may swing the bat well off a tee or in batting practice; but that swing is not full speed. It’s a soft swing, one that the player feels comfortable executing and makes consistent contact. Tell that player to be more aggressive with the swing and there’s a high probability that the swing will result in a miss, or poor contact. The player then grows frustrated and resorts back to their previous swing. But why did they have an un-desired result when they tried swinging aggressively? Because they never practice that way. Of course the result will be poor if you are attempting something you rarely ever attempt.
Where you see this most often is during the Winter months when kids are “getting in their reps” in preparation for the upcoming Spring. Here in the Mid-Atlantic, that means kids are taking their swings at indoor training facilities. Walk through the cages and you’ll see kids taking many swings. The number of reps isn’t the issue for some; but it’s the quality of the rep. Swing a bat 100 times at 70% of your capability and that is what your body will remember. Never swing at 100% and your body will not be able to do it effectively in a game.
Some may consider Exit Velocity (EV) an over-used metric, or one that we shouldn’t focus on as a key metric for hitters. I disagree. I think EV is a tremendous tool for our youth. When kids use cages that have HitTrax (or any other tool for tracking EV) their swings become more aggressive. They begin to compete against the other kids. They all want the highest EV. So what do they do? They begin to swing more aggressively. Sure, front shoulders will fly open. Balance will be off. Strides may get long. But, you then work on those things on the side. You see what issues they have when swinging at 100% effort and you begin to get to work.
You truly can’t expect to hit the ball hard unless you’re doing it consistently outside a game. Be humble and understand the swing may suffer when you turn up the effort. But, that is why they call it practice. You’re supposed to work on the things that are going well.
It’s not just the number of reps, its the quality of the reps.