One thing I want my hitters to know is the pitch locations they hit well and those they do not hit well. That knowledge of pitch selection for baseball hitting sets the stage for every at-bat. What hitters do before they get to two strikes is what separates the good from bad hitters and knowing what to swing at early in the count is essential for successful hitting. Laying off pitch locations that players struggle with early in the count, even though the pitches may be strikes, is a sign of a good hitter. Even batters with poor hitting fundamentals have hot and cold areas, just more cold ones than hot ones.
Any pitch in the middle of the plate is usually a good one to swing at, but differences still exist for high and low pitches in the middle of the plate, and especially because the strike zone differs for upper levels of baseball and lower levels. Youth hitters have to swing at pitches at the letters when the professional strike zone only goes waist high for the most part.
Careful observation of hitting results in batting practice and games reveal hot and cold zones, but only when batting practice pitching is game-like. Game results give good clues to players' hot and cold areas but documenting that in games is difficult. Following is another way to find out what pitches players hit best and worst.
With less experienced batters, a simple scoring system is adequate. Coaches set the batting tee at players' knees and have them take five swings they get a point for every hard hit ball, and two points for outfield type line drives, no matter the direction of balls. Coaches score the same as players take five swings on letter high pitches, outside corner pitches and inside corner pitches. After those twenty swings, players take twelve more swings, two at each of those pitch locations, but by varying the pitch location after each swing. After these thirty-two swings, coaches tally the results of each pitch location and players should have an idea of their best pitch locations and worse.
For advanced hitters, I like a more sophisticated scoring system for pitch selection with baseball hitting.
With advanced players, players get one point for hard hit ground balls, three points for low line drives and five points for outfield shots. The blue area here is the three pointers and the white the five pointers and hard hit ground balls are one point. Balls not hit in the direction of the pitch are given zero points for this calculation.
To get even more accurate analysis, batters can hit pitches in all 9-pitch locations. Once calculations are complete, coaches can draw up a little chart with players hot and cold areas.
Players may stride different on inside and outside pitches on the batting tee so coaches may want to do those calculations with this two-ball setup. Coaches call out which pitch to hit after the stride foot lands or players hit the ball that the pitch travels over, as seen here. No hitters are great on corner pitches but knowing if they hit the outer half or inner half pitches better helps on one strike counts when they have to expand their hitting zones beyond just the middle of the plate. Also, practicing hitting pitches on the edges of the strike zone helps two strike hitting, when players have to protect the whole plate to avoid striking out.
Of course, the greater the sample size for all calculations the more accurate the results will be. After players learn their hot and cold areas, they must learn to apply that in games. This hitting system also gives players an idea of which pitches to practice more on the batting tee. Coaches can devise their own scoring system and any calculations that help players learn their hot and cold areas is helpful. If nothing else, a tee scoring system keeps young players more engaged to practice.
After playing major league baseball, Jack Perconte has taught baseball and softball since 1988 and offered valuable coaching training too. He has helped numerous youth players reach their potential, as well as having helped parents and coaches navigate their way through the challenging world of youth sports. Jack is one of the leading authorities in the areas of youth baseball training and coaching training advice.All Jack Perconte articles are used with copyright permission.
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