Hitting Preparation & Approach

On Deck Your 'At Bat' really starts while on deck, it's here that you prepare to face a good pitcher.   There s an old sports axiom:  if you haven't brought it with you, you won't find it when you get there.   Thus, if you enter the batters' box unprepared, against a good pitcher (who has been preparing for years), your chances of success are minimal.  While on deck you need do more than swing a bat yes, swing a bat to get loose, preferably a bat heavier than the one you plan to use, but also:  

  • Focus, concentrate, zone in, block out everything other than your coming at bat .   This is not the place to be talking to your friends, day dreaming etc you must work toward 100% concentration.
  • Your swing - think about what you ve been working on in practice (opening your hips, extending your arms, grip, whatever).  You need think about this else you undo the progress you ve made.  Avoid exiting the batters box after a poor at bat, only to then remember too late the things - you wanted to do!
  • Watch the pitcher - the more you know before you face the pitcher the better your chance of success.  Get a good viewing angle while on deck and watch the pitcher (in fact never take your eyes off her).

     How much time does she take between pitches?Study her motion, release point etc.
     Is she wild or does she have control?Does she throw mostly fast balls or off-speed pitches?
     Is she generally high or low, inside or out, does the ball have movement?
     Is she a first strike pitcher? 

  • Notice the umpire does he/she have a big strike zone (a pitchers umpire) or a tight strike zone (hitters umpire), are high or low strikes more likely to be called etc 

Your stance

You must be comfortable in the batters box.  Once the pitcher is on the rubber, swing the bat or move some body part until the pitcher goes into her motion you can then lock into your stance!   Don t lock into your stance while the pitcher delays (some pitcher intentionally delay to put you at a disadvantage).  Your muscles tighten and it s hard to get untracked stay loose!    If the pitcher is working too fast, ask the umpire for time and step out of the box.  In fact, by stepping out after a pitch, you may break the pitchers rhythm giving you a slight advantage.  

The Strike Zone

The technical strike zone is anything across the plate and typically between the top of your knees and below your arm pits (some leagues may alter this slightly) but your strike zone should vary by pitch count:     -  NO strikes - look for your pitch (something in your comfort zone, your wheelhouse etc).   If you like a waist high pitch on the outside part of the plate then look for it there, taking anything else.  This gives you an opportunity to hammer the pitch you can really handle while avoiding a pitchers pitch (for example, that perfect knee high inside corner strike that is better taken as it only costs one strike).     - ONE strike - with one strike, your strike zone is basically the technical strike zone (above) as you don t want to fall behind two strikes yet you may still take a border line pitch hoping the umpire calls it a ball.

TWO strikes with two strikes, you need expand the strike zone!  You cannot afford to take a border line pitch that may catch a corner of the plate, be marginally high/low etc, i.e. don t take a third strike with the bat on your shoulder.   As noted above ( on deck ), knowing the umpire s strike zone will help in deciding whether to swing at a border line pitch!   

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