For hitters, repetition is the key to success. The ability to repeat the same swing while identifying the pitch and seeing the ball is the essence of being a great hitter, especially when learning the ins and outs of hitting. Taking swings every day can be a good thing, but we’ll also want to be aware of not over-doing it and causing injuries. So, how many swings should a hitter take a day?
Most hitters should take around 50 quality swings per day. Players who are beginners can start with around 20 swings per day and progress up to 50 swings per day while players who are professionals will take around 500 swings per day.
The number of swings a hitter should take each day varies for individuals and it depends on factors such as mindset, age, quality of each swing, and the level of competition of the player’s baseball league.
Limited Swings Vs Unlimited Swings
Basically, there are two sides to the issue. On one side of the argument, there are those that claim there’s no such thing as taking too many swings. Muscle memory is the key element of hitting so the more swings you take the more you’ll improve the mechanics of your swing.
But there’s another argument to be made. Taking too many swings can lead to overuse and create problems at all levels of the sport. This argument has made many experts leery of endless swing repetition, and they claim that there’s definitely a point where diminishing returns sets in.
So what’s the answer? Is there really a right number? Does it vary with age and experience? To answer those questions, you need to look at some of the specifics to hone in on the best recommendations.
The Magic Number Approach
One of the more intriguing concepts that have emerged with swing repetition is the idea of a so-called “magic number.” According to those who advocate this approach, the key to hitting improvement is to nail down a specific number of daily swings, then practice that number diligently and religiously.
The number that’s most often quoted is 50 swings a day, but there are also those who recommend far more. Experts point to great hitters like Barry Bonds, who took as many as 500-1000 swings a day, and other great hitters who spend hours in the batting cage in an endless quest for mechanical perfection.
On the other side of the argument, there’s the “less is more” crowd. These folks often talk about 50 swings a day as the ideal number, with the emphasis on perfecting the mechanics of those 50 swings. For this side of the argument, you want to focus on quality over quantity.
Then there are those who take a developmental approach. For youngsters just starting out in baseball, the recommended number of swings goes down to 10-20 a day, with an emphasis on learning the basics.
The 50 number becomes applicable as they grow older and stronger, with that number possibly growing as they get to late high school and college level, then bumping up yet again for those fortunate enough to have a chance to turn pro.
But the progression usually isn’t that simple. Many hitters experience setbacks as they try to increase the number of daily swings, while there are those who find that simple repetition and an increased number of daily swings is the key to improvement.
Going Beyond the Numbers
Given a wide range of possible numbers, what’s the best choice for how many swings a hitter should take each day? To answer that question, it’s important to look at the other factors that are involved in hitting that play a significant role in finding the best number of repetitions.
One idea is to start with the idea of having fun. For Little Leaguers and those in youth baseball, the one of the main concepts is to make the process of hitting as enjoyable as possible, which is why the tried-and-true “see ball, hit ball” is often emphasized over any kind of repetition numbers.
The other idea these coaches often emphasize over repetition involves pitch identification. For the one, we’ll turn to none other than the legendary Ted Williams to identify the essence of this idea: “The key to hitting is getting a good pitch to hit.”
At the lower levels, this usually means identifying pitches that are simply in the strike zone. There’s no sense working on swing mechanics with repetition if you’re trying to hit a pitch outside the zone, especially if it’s far enough out of the zone to be unhittable.
As hitters grow older and improve, other hitting elements enter the equation. One of these elements is the importance of targeted coaching as better hitters begin to separate themselves from the pack.
When this happens, good coaches will base repetition on a variety of other factors. Specifically, they’ll get hitters to hone in on identifying not just the location of the pitch, but the velocity and movement. They’ll also start to look at hitting and pitching strategy. For example, what approach is the pitcher taking and what’s the best way to counteract that approach?
The goal here is to combine good swing mechanics with pitch identification. In this case, the number of swing repetitions will likely be based on which kinds of pitches start to cause a breakdown in swing mechanics, and which pitches and locations play to a hitter’s strengths.
Sounds complicated, but it’s not too hard to simplify. Let’s go with an example – a good high school hitter who’s taking that theoretically ideal 50 swings a day but is struggling specifically with certain pitches. In this situation, a good hitting coach will gear the number of repetitions toward certain pitches in a specific area of the strike zone.
For instance, if high fastballs on the outside corner are being used to get the hitter out, the hitting coach will likely focus those 50 repetitions specifically on pitches in that area with the targeted goal of improving swing mechanics for that particular pitch.
At the highest levels, though, the ideal number of daily swings is very much an individual concept. For professional hitters, that ideal number of 50 swings a day is usually low-they’ll take more swings per day, but with a holistic approach that takes in every aspect of hitting, including pitch location, situational hitting, how to use strength and flexibility to improve the swing, and so on.
So what’s the right approach for you? A good place to start is to start with your age and level of play. If you’re young and looking mostly to have fun, start with a fewer number of swings until you have some idea of how your swing works.
As you progress as a hitter and get better you can start to look at bumping up that smaller number. The focus should always be on having fun, but having fun can include shooting for great results by taking more 50+ swings a day with a targeted approach that’s also backed up by sound coaching.