Develop your hitting approach, build confidence and practice hitting pitches in all locations.
DEVELOP YOUR TWO-STRIKE HITTING APPROACH
If you want to reduce your game day strikeouts, it is vital to have a plan that is put into action once you get to two strikes. If you don’t have a plan, you will panic and become nervous in the box, resulting in an increased chance of a strikeout. A “2-strike plan” can include:
- Focus on breathing, and relaxation techniques to remain calm under fire. Lacking confidence at the plate is a major contributing factor for striking out in baseball. If you are in a negative thought pattern, you will be more likely to fail. Examples of negative thoughts can include; “I hope I don’t strike out.” or “I think I’m going to strike out.” Achieving an active, confident and aggressive frame of mind is vital. Therefore you need a confidence strategy. Talk yourself into feeling good. Replace your negative with positive; “I’m going to wallop this pitch.” or “I can handle anything this pitcher throws my way.”
- See the ball out of the pitcher’s hand, tracking ball movement/rotation. Close your mind and open your eyes, and do not guess hit or anticipate the pitch. Concentrate on hitting the baseball to the opposite field, allowing the ball to get deeper in the hitting zone, improving your pitch recognition, and strike-zone swing discipline. Improve your plate discipline with tracking and release point drills.
- Slightly expand your strike-zone, reducing the risk of the umpire calling the 3rd strike.
- Shorten your swing; especially if you’re facing dominant fastball pitchers. Spread out in your batting stance, reduce movement with your load and stride, shorten up on the handle of the bat; do whatever it takes to get to the ball on time! Minimize overall swing movement, “stay calm, and quiet” in the batter’s box; jumping, and lunging at the ball affects your vision.
- Train to hit pitches in all locations. Opposition teams will try to exploit any weakness in your swing. If you have trouble hitting the outside pitch, the opposing team will target this area, especially if you are batting with a two-strike count. The same applies if you can’t hit the inside pitch, high pitch or low pitch. Teams will continue to target your weakness until you make an adjustment.
- Over-swinging is another catalyst for pulling off the ball, lunging and a casting swing, remain calm; nervousness triggers over-swinging. Don’t try to pull the ball for a home run, aim to hit the ball up the middle or to the opposite field; otherwise you’ve got no chance to hit late-breaking pitches, on the outer edge of home plate.
- Ensure to prepare your swing for the harsh realities of the game. If you practice a long swing, you will have a long swing. Poor swing habits derive from hitting a slow-moving belt high pitch.