I can’t think of a more beneficial tool to develop mechanics than using the mirror. Unfortunately most athletes are far too impatient to utilize the mirror properly and to gain the most benefit out of its use. We tend to be too quick to want to go hit balls, be it off the tee or otherwise. However if a hitter chooses, the mirror could be the most effective tool in their arsenal.
As I’ve stated countless times hitting is a skill and our ability as hitters is directly linked to our ability to execute proper mechanics on pitches inside the hitting zone. Hitting ability is NOT genetic or natural but rather the result of the execution of certain steps. Like any skill hitting is something that can be learned and developed. Sadly most athletes either don’t know the steps to take to improve or would rather do more exciting forms of work instead of the mundane tasks that produce results. I mean, standing in front of a mirror and working on your swing is only exciting for about 30 seconds. It’s much more exciting to take live bp or front toss than it is to make sure that every aspect of your swing is working properly.
Ironically, more time in front of a mirror even extended time of exclusive mirror work could produce far superior results than traditional hitting drills. Why? Well, the mirror provides the athlete with instant feedback and allows them to see not only what they are doing but if they are doing it correctly. It allows a hitter to “see” what proper movements “feel” like which only accelerates development. In addition the ability to “see” themselves executing proper mechanics reinforces proper movement patterns into the subconscious mind which drastically improves what is commonly referred to as “muscle memory”.
The thing I like most about the use of the mirror is the ability to work on ANY aspect of the swing and ANY time. Mostly, players and coaches alike think of the baseball swing as a single skill. They might breakdown the swing into a couple of parts but for the most part the swing is viewed as a single entity. This mentality leads to limited development and an inability for a hitter to truly maximize their potential.
Personally, I like to view the swing as a collection of dozens of different skills put together to form what we see as a hitters swing. I believe in using what I call “Chunking” to teach each aspect of the swing in order to guarantee that the hitter is able to learn and ultimately execute a mechanically sound swing. Every part of the swing can be chunked into individual skills. And those skills can as well be chunked into smaller and smaller skills. I choose to attack each skill and then move forward once the hitter has a grasp of that skill, building the swing one brick at a time just like one would build a house. If a hitter has difficulty learning a particular aspect of the swing I then break that aspect down into smaller skills and then build from there.
The mirror allows the hitter to work on the different chunks of the swing, getting instant feedback on the adjustments that need to be made. Once the hitter gains mastery over what ever aspect of the swing they are working on they can then move to the next chunk that needs to be mastered. Once the hitter feels as though they’ve gained mastery over the entire swing the mirror is still a valuable tool to use to make sure everything is as it should be.
I recommend to ALL hitters to add mirror work into their daily practice sessions. Take the time at the start of any session to spend at least 5 minutes in front of the mirror. If you’re trying to make new adjustments to your swing I would recommend spending 10-15 minutes or more daily in front of the mirror for a minimum of 30 days before ever trying to hit an actual baseball. If you don’t have a lot of time 5 minutes of mirror work daily is far more effective than hitting baseballs for 30 minutes or more 3 times/week. I know for me the mirror drastically changed my career and my abilities as a hitter. If you are committed to performing at your highest capacity then mirror work is a must.