Establish essential plate discipline

Wednesday, Jan. 16th 2013

Much is made of the ‘five tool player’ in baseball. The player that can hit for power, hit for average, has arm strength, can field, and has the speed to run the bases. However, a tool that is just as important in baseball, and is often overlooked, is the ability to have plate discipline. By the time most hitters reach college or professional baseball, their idea of the strike zone and their approach at the plate has been ingrained into them and cannot be changed. However, QCBaseball.com has provided an excellent training drill that will help establish a correct approach for young hitters.

The drill requires a tee, a throw down home plate, a bat, and can be completed in three easy parts. Here is what the author recommends for Part 1:

Player moves and adjusts the tee to the pitch they like the best and can handle. This is the pitch they would like to hit on a 3-0 count. Have them take a few swings. Now at the same height have them move the tee towards them not going beyond a spot that they still like and is not too far inside the plate. Have them take a few swings and confirm that this is still a pitch they like and can handle. If not move the tee until they have a pitch they like. Then move the tee back to the original spot. Take a couple of swings, now move the tee outside a few inches to find the outside part of the zone for the pitches they really like. Once you have determined the width, then do the same for the height. After this station, the player should have a rectangle of a zero strike-hitting zone.

Once the player has established the zone in which he will swing at pitches with no strikes, the player must find his zone with one strike (Part 2), and two strikes (Part 3). A one-strike approach consists of being ready to swing at any pitch within the strike zone and without reaching for pitches outside of the zone. Part 2 consists of moving the tee around, but still inside, the strike zone so that your young hitter may understand what these pitches look like. A  two-strike approach (Part 3) requires hitters to open up their zone and swing at those pitches that may not be strikes but could be called strikes. Consequently, move the tee around and just out of the strike zone so your young hitter has an idea of what to swing at with two strikes.

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