My JR in college, we were getting ready to play University of San Diego. Harold Reynolds came into our dugout to give us a quick pep-talk.
The gist of his message was simple. "In baseball, you just have to finger things out as they come. There are no clear-cut rules. You have to allow the situation to dictate your game."
In other words, you have to adjust.
As hitters, we're only as good as the pitches we swing at.
Getting a good pitch to hit is a prerequisite to Winning The At-Bat.
When a hitter is able to adjust to the count, it’s just another advantage.
0-0 Count - The pitcher wants to get ahead, so be aggressive early.
I've never bought into the idea of taking the first strike because the first strike might be the best pitch you'll see all day.
If you're going to be selective, be selectively-aggressive.
Key-hole the Fastball down the middle.
When you get it, don't miss it.
1-0 Count - This is the first "hitter's count"—it's a good time to take a controlled aggressive swing on something up in the zone.
Be ready for the Fastball or for the pitch, they throw most for a strike.
2-0 Count - Now, this is when you really can let it fly. That doesn't mean you're swinging out of your shoes. Instead, you're taking a Hell-Hack while staying within yourself - swinging with controlled-aggression.
The pitcher wants to avoid going 3-0, so they will typically come right at you with a Fastball or the pitch they throw most for a strike.
Most importantly - we can't get cheated by the Fastball. I'd rather see you roll over a weak grounder pull-side than get jammed in this count.
Start on time to be on time.
3-1 Count - This is your chance to shine. You worked hard to get to this count, so here’s your chance to swing with intent to do some serious damage.
Don't let it slip away.
If there's ever a count where you're going to get the best pitches to attack, it's probably here.
The pitcher made the mistake of taking you here. Make them pay—big time.
3-0 Count - Take unless you have the green light. A walk is as good as a line drive up the middle for most of you. If you're swinging here, you better do damage.
0-1 Count - Now you're behind in the count. If you were late or early on the previous pitch, the pitcher might follow up with the same pitch to see if you can adjust.
Let's call it the 0-1 double-up.
EX: Late on the Fastball? You'll probably get another fastball until you can show you can handle the Velo. Early on the off-speed? You'll probably get more off-speed until you show you can stay back.
1-1 Count - Hunt the pitch they’re throwing most for strikes.
0-2 Count - The pitcher will either change speeds, make you chase, or change levels to set up the next pitch.
Again, know the pitcher's out-pitch here. When you're 0-2, your job is to battle! Period.
Make the pitcher work, put pressure on the defense, and use a solid B-Swing. For most of you, a good B-Swing is shortening up a tick, loading late, and posting up.
2-2 Count - One of the most common pitches in a 2-2 count, especially in a double play situation, is a 2-2 breaking ball or off-speed pitch-to-contact.
In other words, something softer that's down in the zone.
The goal here is to get you to make soft contact, preferably on the ground.
See the ball up, and try hitting it hard, oppo.
Hitting is about adjustments.
If you're taking the same swing on every pitch, you're not hitting; you're just swinging.
Let the game dictate the situation.
Let the situation dictate the type of swing.
What's your favorite count to hit in? Reply and let me know.
What's your approach?
What's your approach to get your mind right?
Here's my take: Some of your best days at the late will be when your swing feels off.
Why? Because you stop trying to achieve the perfect swing. Now you're able to play with reckless abandon, and suddenly your natural abilities surface.
As athletes, we have to develop a love for adversity. Bad umpires and micromanaging coaches are an opportunity to build this skill.
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