How to Improve Plate (Strike Zone) Discipline
The Beginning Hitting Series
Baseball and Fastpitch Softball
Quality at-bats are increased by improving plate discipline. This post details 2 concepts, demonstrates 4 drills, and shows 1 game to dramatically increase the rate of hard-hit balls for your beginning hitter.
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Concept 1 for Improving Plate Discipline
Young Hitters CAN Become Patient and Selective
To develop plate discipline, deliberately and purposefully focus on pitch selection during every practice and warmup. It is remarkable how quickly young hitters become selective when being disciplined to not swing at balls is the intent of the drill.
Plate Discipline Drill 1 – Talk to Hitter About Strike Zone Rules
For Little League Baseball and Softball, The STRIKE ZONE is that space over home plate between the batter’s armpits and the top of the knees when the batter assumes a natural stance.
Plate Discipline Drill 2 – Talk to Hitter About Umpire’s Strike Zone
In reality, the actual strike zone is whatever the umpire thinks it is. Most umpires will enlarge the strike zone, considerably, from the rule book, for the younger age groups.
Plate Discipline Drill 3 – “Show the Ball”
Show the ball at various positions around the plate, some strikes, and some balls. Ask the player to tell you if they think the location is a ball or strike.
Plate Discipline Drill 4 – “Toss the Ball”
Perform a soft front toss. Ask the hitter not to swing, but watch the ball and call out ball or strike. Then ask the hitter to call out, for balls only, whether the pitch was high, low, inside, or outside.
The next step is to add the swing decision. The upcoming game (see below) works well as a “plate approach” primer for youth hitters.
Plate Discipline Game 1 – “Swing at a Good Pitch”
While the rules are simple, execution is challenging at first. The hitter gets one point for swinging at a strike and one point for letting a ball go by. If they swing at a bad pitch or let a strike go by, take away one point. In each game, the batter gets 20 pitches. Each practice, continue to try to beat their personal record.
“Swing at a Good Pitch” guides the hitter in a fun way toward improving an essential ability, being selective at the plate.
Concept 2 for Improving Plate Discipline
Value of Measuring and Tracking
Regardless of age, whatever the hitter measures and tracks, they will improve upon. Make any drill into a “highest number of successful targets or executions in a group of 10, 20, or 50.” Trying to beat their record in competition with oneself adds fun and increases focus and the rate of skill-building.
Confidence grows when the hitter sees measurably how they are improving.
Building Rome Series Blog: The Beginning Hitting Series
Here are the 12 videos and articles contained in The Beginning Hitting Series:
Click the link for our Beginning Hitting Series on YouTube
Building Rome Series Books: Building the High-Level Swing Series
Click Building the High-Level Swing Series to learn more about our new two-book hitting series containing a detailed and comprehensive description of 100 hitting fundamentals and 140 step-by-step drills that efficiently construct the batting swing from the ground up.
In the Building Rome Series of books, the construction of skills are in functional order, providing a “roadmap” to becoming a great hitter.
All baseball and fastpitch softball players can “climb the Roman Coliseum steps” to become a powerful and productive hitter.
Enjoy the quest!