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.

Click the link to view our video version of How to Improve Plate (Strike Zone) Discipline (please like our video and subscribe to our YouTube channel – thank you!).


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:

Introduction to the Beginning Hitting Video Series

Seven Steps to Successful Youth Coaching

Best Bats Ages 9 and Under

Top 5 Priorities for the Beginning Hitter

Choose a Bat in 5 Steps

Improving Vision of the Beginning Hitter

Improving Hand-Eye Coordination

Position in the Batters Box

How to Overcome Fear of Being Hit

How to Improve Plate Discipline

Check Swing to Increase Productivity

Develop an Aggressive Batting Swing

Click the link for our Beginning Hitting Series on YouTube


Building Rome Series Books: Building the High-Level Swing Series

step by step hitting fundamentalsClick 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!