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Thread: Have a plan going into the box

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    Certified softball maniac lhowser's Avatar
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    Default Have a plan going into the box

    On another thread called EPIC FAILURE we read:

    Batter v. Elite Pitcher:

    Bad mechanics + no plan = 0.010
    Bad mechanics + plan = 0.050
    Good mechanics + no plan = 0.200
    Good mechanics + plan = 0.333+

    YMMV
    Good post. Here is a question for this thread - What is a good plan:

    For many I have worked with we start with this simple plan -

    1. No strikes-prepare and zone in on only one pitch. middle/middle out (knees to belt). Stick with it until you have a strike.

    2. One strike-expand the zone letters to knees, out and in and take a strong cut. Trying to hit hard with one strike (just guard against swinging at anything letters and up)

    3. two strikes - in play to advance runners or maximize the game situation.

    *adjust if patterns from the pitcher become obvious.

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    Certified softball maniac nanotech14's Avatar
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    0 to 2 strikes, dd is looking for something in her favorite window and then put on the laser show.
    once she has to 2 strikes open up the window and battle, put still put on the laser show. She not up there to change her swing, just to make contact, all laser or no sense even swinging the bat. IMO (the kid didn't spend the last few years working on her swing every other day all year long) to go up there and just put the ball in play. Several people will disagree with me, but those are the moments that all that practice are for.

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    Is “don’t strikeout” a plan?

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    I tell DD to know what pitch she wants to hit when she gets into the box. DD has gotten good at watching pitchers pitch to other batters and picking up patterns (i.e. pitchers likes low in the zone, throws a lot of curves, etc). She usually will decide what she's looking for based off of that. After 1 strike she expands, at 2 strikes she battles with the plan of getting the ball in play or hopes to foul off the ball until she gets her pitch. DD had the fewest SO's in the fall on the team, so we will see if that pattern continues in the spring.
    Play for the name on the front, and they will remember the name on the back.

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    I eat, sleep and breathe softball GOINGDEEP's Avatar
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    A couple of good posts Ihowser.

    This is where I have an issue with hitting instructors and even coaches. A HI spends so much time in a facility teaching mechanics that very very few ever got out and view their students in games. Running these kids thru an assembly line working tees, machines, tosses and yet they never watch how these students apply those instructions.

    I will go by our indoor institution every now and then and I always shake my head when I hear the HI ask the same question. "How did you hit this weekend/game"? The answers vary from "good, bad, ok, 2-5, 4-5, struck out, flew out". But here is the thing, let's say 2 kids answer and one went 0-5 and the other 4-5. After their reply I've sat and watch them get the same dang physical instruction. The HI has no clue why one did well and the other poor. He/she thinks it can be fixed physically, where the problem may be mental and poor choices.

    Besides some swinging issues on the other thread, those girls had another problem........their coach. Let's say this is the best pitcher we have seen, after she carves my batters for and inning or two, now we are going to split the advantage. She knows she has been mixing north and south and we have been swinging wildly and ugly. The "split" is the belt......belt to knee.......belt to letters. You pick one zone to cover which is much easier than covering 100% of the zone.

    ^^^^This is the mental game. Sure you don't know "where" she will pitch the ball ( N or S ), but the pitcher doesn't know your only swinging for one zone ( N or S ). And yes the batter will need to switch sitting zones from time to time so a pattern is not detected.
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    Softball Junkie RichK's Avatar
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    Good posts on this and the other thread.

    Per the other thread, yes, using tee work across all 9 (or however you break it up) hitting zones is great to help hitter understand proper bat path. They really need that understanding (it also helps clean up casting, drag and some other issues).

    Next step is to get them to understand they *control* their swing. They decide when and where and how to apply it. This fall, our 16U team had more trouble with slow pitchers/junkballers than speed demons because girls didn't understand and hadn't worked this concept (I think we'd probably worked on simple zone bat path drills, per above). So this has been a major point of focus this winter, primarily with controlled front toss.

    Next next step, and this is important as pitchers get dominant not just with speed but location and movement, is (per Going Deep) to have an actual plan at the plate. That's what the girls in the video on other thread lacked. They were swinging at anything close and at any speed and any location. So they looked silly. I appreciate all and any ideas on plate plans--trying to learn more in this area. THANKS to all.

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    Softball Junkie David Carter's Avatar
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    My two cents....I'm not a big fan a changing your approach after one strike, you should still be looking for a pitch that is your pitch in your zone and smashing it. At two strike you have to expand your zone but this is dependent on what the umpires zone is which brings me to my #1 pet peeve....GIRLS DON'T WATCH THE GAME.

    Every player on the bench after a three or four batters should be developing an idea about what the pitcher is doing and what the umpire is calling but NOOOOOOOOO they are all just chatting or cheering...OK off my soapbox.
    Last edited by David Carter; 01-24-2013 at 01:42 PM.

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    BEFORE a hitter steps in the box, they need to decide what they will/won't swing at. At first it's easiest to base this decision just on pitch location; as they advance and can read speed and spin better, it can be based on pitch type/speed and/or location. This decision varies pitch-by-pitch during the at bat based on the count, game situation, pitcher, umpire, and batter preference. Until 2 strikes, the decision should always favor what the batter hits best. AFTER that decision is made, IMO its simplest to have the batter transfer those thoughts/words/concepts into a mental/visual image of the zone in which they'll swing at a pitch that you can call the "Swing", "Go" or "Green" zone. Now facing the pitcher, they should be planning to swing on every pitch (i.e., Go, Go, Go....) and then simply read and react. If the pitch is in the Go Zone its Go, Go, Go...Swing and if it's not in the Go Zone its Go, Go, Go...Stop. So when the pitch is on its way the batter is only REACTING and the only real decision they need to make is to stop the swing if the pitch isn't in the Go zone. Decision making and thoughts about swing mechanics etc. and all other THINKING should happen outside of the batter's box.

    A sign that a batter isn't understanding the zoning concept is that they swing at pitches far out of the zone or have late or indecisive swings with less than 2 strikes (because they have no plan or are thinking about the plan, rather than simply implementing the plan) and seem more aggressive with 2 strikes (because they know they have to swing at anything close). As a coach, remember that a batter may take what in your opinion is a good pitch because they were looking for something else (i.e., had a different plan that they were following).
    Last edited by Greenmonsters; 01-24-2013 at 01:17 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GOINGDEEP View Post
    A couple of good posts Ihowser.

    This is where I have an issue with hitting instructors and even coaches. A HI spends so much time in a facility teaching mechanics that very very few ever got out and view their students in games. Running these kids thru an assembly line working tees, machines, tosses and yet they never watch how these students apply those instructions.

    I will go by our indoor institution every now and then and I always shake my head when I hear the HI ask the same question. "How did you hit this weekend/game"? The answers vary from "good, bad, ok, 2-5, 4-5, struck out, flew out". But here is the thing, let's say 2 kids answer and one went 0-5 and the other 4-5. After their reply I've sat and watch them get the same dang physical instruction. The HI has no clue why one did well and the other poor. He/she thinks it can be fixed physically, where the problem may be mental and poor choices.

    Besides some swinging issues on the other thread, those girls had another problem........their coach. Let's say this is the best pitcher we have seen, after she carves my batters for and inning or two, now we are going to split the advantage. She knows she has been mixing north and south and we have been swinging wildly and ugly. The "split" is the belt......belt to knee.......belt to letters. You pick one zone to cover which is much easier than covering 100% of the zone.

    ^^^^This is the mental game. Sure you don't know "where" she will pitch the ball ( N or S ), but the pitcher doesn't know your only swinging for one zone ( N or S ). And yes the batter will need to switch sitting zones from time to time so a pattern is not detected.
    Good points. I am a HI and coach a couple teams. Players that play for me, I obviously see. Players who do not, I try to get to a game but time doesn't always permit me getting there. I ask for video from my students.

    I do ask how they did, were balls squared or flared. I then ask, what pitches was the pitcher getting hitters out with? What pitches did he throw to the hitter in front of you and what did the hitter in front of you do? I ask about the pitch sequence he got. I want to make sure my hitters are working the game. Not just going out there and playing.

    We base our plan off of situation, pitches that the pitcher has control over, what the pitcher has done with previous hitters and past experience. Lets say the pitcher in the past has had a very good off speed but today he doesn't have command of this pitch. We can now rule it out until he gains control of it, if he ever does. Then ultimately be aggressive. Players generally hit good in BP and not all pitches are grooved. The difference between BP and live hitting is, there is no fear of getting out in BP. I see to many players take hitable, driveable pitches only to get to a defensive count. I want my players being offensive in offensive counts.

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    Certified softball maniac MsDinosaur's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GOINGDEEP View Post
    Let's say this is the best pitcher we have seen, after she carves my batters for and inning or two, now we are going to split the advantage. She knows she has been mixing north and south and we have been swinging wildly and ugly. The "split" is the belt......belt to knee.......belt to letters. You pick one zone to cover which is much easier than covering 100% of the zone.

    ^^^^This is the mental game. Sure you don't know "where" she will pitch the ball ( N or S ), but the pitcher doesn't know your only swinging for one zone ( N or S ). And yes the batter will need to switch sitting zones from time to time so a pattern is not detected.
    This makes a lot of sense to me, GD, at least for certain pitchers. DD at 12U uses a plan like lhowser's and it usually works fine for her.

    But I keep mulling over one crucial at-bat that DD had last fall. The team was facing a very good pitcher (DD's former teammate whom she had caught many times). Her team finally had some runners on, less than 2 outs, and a decent chance to catch up. DD came up to the plate using the standard plan and took one at the shoulders and outside (strike), then at the knee and inside (strike). With an 0-2 count, she had to really expand her zone, so when the next pitch was way low and outside, she went for it and did manage to advance the runners with a grounder to right, but she was thrown out at first.

    IMO that first pitch was the only one that DD could have really driven like the team needed her to do. I've seen her hit that pitch location to deep right for RBIs in the past, but it's not something she's looking for on the first pitch in her usual plan. Knowing that the pitcher knew her too well and wasn't going to give her anything over the plate, if she had switched to a belt and above plan, or an in or out plan, etc., it might have made a difference.

    I'm betting as the girls get older, they'll face crafty pitching much more frequently and they may need to adjust their plans or get eaten up at the plate, like DD did that time, unfortunately.

    Thank you all for this topic. It's really fascinating!

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