Do the math. There are roughly 482,629 HS ballplayers. Only 6.9% of them will make it to college ball. Of that 6.9 %, only 8% will play pro ball. Understanding these 4 reasons why superior pitch recognition is important in College & Pro ball is crucial if you want a shot at out-competing the 95% of ballplayers
At the college or pro level, you're going to face:
- Pitchers Who Can Locate & Establish The Inside Fastball
- Pitchers Who Can Consistently Keep you Off Balance
- The Pitcher Who Can Pitch Backwards
- Coaches With Short Leashes
Pitchers Who Can Locate & Establish The Inside Fastball
One of the biggest adjustments that hitters have to make when making the leap to college-level pitching is the inside fastball.
Pitchers throw inside more often now. They're not afraid of hitting the batter and they're not afraid of "you" turning on it.
If they get even the slighted sense that you have trouble with the fastball in, you'll receive a steady dose of that pitch until you can prove that you can handle it.
Being a good fastball hitter means showing up on time.
Meaning, you're able to start your load and fire the hips and get your bat-head through the zone and at point of contact to hit the ball where it's pitched.
The role of pitch recognition is recognizing spin, speed, and location on a 90+ mph on a consistent basis.
If you can't pick up the fastball early and often, you'll struggle at college-level pitching let alone pro-level pitching.
Pitchers Who Can Pitch Backwards
Another important adjustment that hitters will have to face after highschool baseball is facing a pitcher who can pitch backward.
Meaning who will start an at-bat off with a secondary pitch. (Curveball, Changeup) or throw a secondary pitch in a hitter's count (1-0, 2-0, 3-1).
In order to be successful against pitchers who can throw backward, the hitter has to be able to make the proper adjustment.
- Sit Off-speed - If the pitcher is locating the off-speed or breaking ball, then sit on that pitch instead of the fastball. This means you're taking the fastball with less than two strikes.
- 2. Looking for something up in the zone - If you're getting a lot of off-speed, look for any pitch up in the zone.
Be on time on the fastball up, and stay back on the off-speed up. If the breaking ball starts down, it'll end up in the dirt. You can be on time on both the fastball and off-speed if it's up in the zone.
See the ball up, drive it.
See the ball down, take it.
- 3. Drive the fastball hard opp - Lastly, you can have an approach that consists of loading a little bit later but still on time with the fastball.
Since you're committed to letting the fastball get deeper in the zone, you'll give ourselves a chance to drive the fastball away while avoiding being out-front on the off-speed.
If you're not reading the ball out of the pitcher's hands efficiently, the fastball will beat you and the off-speed will fool you.
The Pitcher Who Can Consistently Keep You Off Balance
Hitting is about being on time. Pitching is about disrupting that timing.
If you ever face a pitcher who knows the art of knocking hitters off their timing, then at-bats start looking like chess.
As hitters, we have to be on time with the fastball. Especially in fastball counts.
The rule is basically this - 1-0, 2-0, 3-1, can't be late on the fastball.
As a coach or recruiter, I'd rather see you pull a weak ground ball on a fastball you just missed than see you get jammed in a hitter's count.
Just the same, I'd rather see you hit a lazy pop-fly on a breaking ball that you just missed than see you roll-over.
Some mistakes look right if you have the right approach.
As hitters when need to know how to stay back on off-speed but be on time on the fastball...
...and we do that by having the right approach.
The right approach fixes your mechanics if you have mechanical issues.
Know how to be on time with the fastball.
Know how to stay back with the off-speed or breaking ball.
You can start by having the proper soft to hard focus habits with your pitch recognition.
Coaches With Short Leashes
Lastly, and it gives me no pleasure in saying this but not all coaches are created equal.
If you play this game long enough, chances are you're gonna play with at least one coach who's coaching for the wrong reasons, and maybe they started off with the right reasons and just forgot.
The coach I'm talking about is the "Fair-weathered, what have you done for me lately, Johnny False Hustle" type coach.
He loves you when you're getting your hits...
...but he might act like you stole his lunch if you're scuffling at the plate.
You know what? It happens.
Coaches feel the pressure to win in order to keep their job the same way hitters feel the pressure to get hits in order to stay in the line-up.
Your job isn't to change the way the coach, coaches.
Your job is to prove you belong in the line-up.
The best way to do that is by letting your bat do the talking.
Collect as many Quality At-Bats and hard-hit balls as you can when you can.
Cheer for your teammates.
Sometimes, you're gonna be stuck with a runt coach, and the only thing you can do is try to be the best competitor on the field with the playing time you're given.
If your playing time is limited, and your plate appearances minimal, without question, you need to be doing everything you can to see the ball as well as you can.
If you're putting the time in the batting cage and spilling blood and sweat in the weight room...
...none of it matters if you're not seeing the ball well.
4 Reasons Why Superior Pitch Recognition Is Important In College & Pro Ball - Checklist
Seeing the ball as well as you can give you your abilities a chance to surface as well as time for your bat to catch up.
Our ability to be on time, to recognize balls and strikes, anticipate pitch types and to lay off of balls in the dirt...
...all comes down to how well our pitch recognition is functioning.
The beautiful thing about pitch recognition is this...
...it's a skill that can be taught, trained and mastered,