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Re: How to stop a player from reaching for a pitch

Posted by: Jim C. (jhconklinjr@comcast.net) on Mon Sep 27 19:40:02 2004

Hi Rich,

My 13 yr. old and I have been working all season on just that.

Part of it is built-in to the Little League game. We ask kids with short arms and short bats to cover the same width strike zone as major leaguers. Add to that a kid's fear of getting beaned with an erratic inside pitch and they stand too far off the plate to cover middle-out without reaching 'over' the plate to get the ball. They can't help it. They crowd the plate in fear or reach to cover the outside.

We have done nothing mechanically other than to drill heavily on staying inside the ball to prevent the 'reaching' from becoming habituated. We got the longest bat my son could comfortably swing. We worked a lot on timing the outside pitch to let it get 'deep' in the hitting zone - contact point about even with the belt buckle. Since most pitchers were not throwing inside, we moved a few inches into the plate. We came up with an 'at bat' plan that has a 'red zone' in the center third of the plate for the first two strikes. Anything there, swing. Rather than hit a weak cue shot on the outside pitch for an out, we took the strike. At two strikes we would open the zone to include the inside, looking to turn on those. On outside pitches with two strikes, we learned to foul off by REACHING over the plate and dragging the head of the bat through the pitch rather than fanning for an out. Obviously, we don't choke-up with two strikes (what, SHRINK the bat even more?).

Basically, we 'gave in' to the situation and decided not to let the full-width strike zone lure us off into swing habits that will be hard to cure later. We shrunk the zone to the inner two-thirds and learned to spoil those on the outer third (with 2 strikes) to keep our at-bat alive and to wait for the pitcher to make a mistake where we could hit it.

Sorry, I don't have any drills or products. Keep your son's basic mechanics crisp. After too many years, his 'casting' problem will be ingrained and will be difficult to correct.


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