The strike zone in baseball is in some ways the only thing that matters.
For hitters, we’re only as good as the pitches we swing at. When we chase balls out of the zone, we lose. When we’re focused, present, and on time on pitches in the strike zone, we win.
How good we get at recognizing spin, speed, and location of balls in the strike zone dictates our quality of at-bats. To hit at a high level, we need strike zone awareness….
In other words, "what pitches will be above the knees and below the letters while crossing the plate?"
We may even need to be aware of the zone just off the plate.
Some umpires, well…they suck.
I can’t wait until they’re replaced behind the plate.
No offense umpires. I love ya, but it. Do better.
In this video, we're gonna talk about everything there is to know about the strike zone.
- The types of strike zones in baseball.
- Ted Williams's philosophy on the strike zone.
- The power of posting up.
- Looking away and adjusting in.
- Looking middle in and sitting dead red pull.
- The Power of Thinking "Gap to Gap"
Buckle up, let's get started.
Strike Zone Types In Baseball
One of the simplest ways to look at zones in the strike zone is in the form of 9 boxes.
Up in the zone, at the belt, and then at the knees.
Middle in, middle of the plate, middle away.
This gives you 9 zones for a hitter to visualize as possible strikes.
Anything out of the zone is a ball, anything in the zone is a strike.
A hitter’s #1 job is to swing at strikes.
More specifically, it’s to get a good pitch, a good pitch to handle.
Now - here’s where strategy and self-awareness come into play. The pitches you should be sitting on, attacking, and swinging at will be dependent on your role in the lineup, your strengths and weakness, the pitcher’s arsenal, meaning, what their out pitch is, what they pitch to start off an at-bat is, etc, and ultimately, the situation of the game.
All of these factors should dictate how aggressive or selective you are during an at-bat. I could make an hour-long video about pitch selection alone.
Ted Williams nailed it right on the head when he said hitting is about getting a good pitch to hit.
His 77 zone point of contact career batting average says many things but one of them is this - which part of the zone you make contact with matters.
More importantly, most of the damage you do on pitches will be on mistakes pitches left over the heart of the plate, and mistakes pitches left up in the zone.
This brings me to my next point.
The Power of Posting Up
Some of the furthest balls you will ever hit will be the hanging breaking ball or chest-high fastball.
Ever since a pitcher is 8 years old they’re taught to keep the ball down. Why?
Because the pitch up in the zone is an easier pitch to hit.
Second, as hitters, if we’re aggressive on pitches up in the zone, we’re less likely to chase.
The curveball that starts at the waist will end up in the dirt at point of contact.
The curveball that starts at the chest will end up in your wheelhouse at point of contact.
When we visualize the zone, we want to think about the upper three parts of the zone, as well as the top part of the middle parts of the zone to attack pitches especially when we have count leverage.
1-0, 2-0, 3-1.
If it’s high let it fly, if it’s low…you know the rest.
Looking Away & Adjusting In.
Similar to looking up and then adjusting down, we can look middle away, and then adjust middle in.
Now, the key benefit to this type of strike zone approach is being on time.
Hitting is about timing. We have to start on time, to be on time, but we also have to have the ability to stay back when we need to let the ball travel in the zone or take the pitch the other way.
As hitters, we do this by looking for something on the outer half of the plate and then adjusting by sucking our hands in to get the middle in pitch.
Now here’s a key point - the more on time we are on the pitch middle away, the more susceptible we will be on the pitch middle in and vice versa.
This is why we have to be selectively aggressive, especially early in the count.
As our exit-velo increases, and our ability to drive the ball with more authority, we need to have a plan that allows us to leverage our tools and athletic ability.
The higher level you go, and the more advanced the pitching, the harder it is to have full 100% plate coverage.
Only the elite- of the elite hitters are able to drive a high-velocity fastball on the outside black while reacting to the high-velocity fastball on the inside black, and vice versa.
This is why a great base foundation can be found in the following.
The Gap to Gap Approach.
Instead of trying to achieve full plate coverage, we’re going to simplify things.
We’re going to look for a pitch over the heart of the plate.
Middle, slightly middle in, and slightly middle away. Anything outside this key whole, we’re taking.
We’re selectively aggressive and attacking anything in this zone and when we get it, we don’t miss.
I go into depth with explaining each and everyone one of the approaches in the Win The At-Bat course where you can see how to train and apply this with over a dozen hitting drills.
You can get access to it for free when you Join the applied vision baseball app and start training your pitch recognition, pitch selection, and timing for $1.
Hitters: The strike zone in baseball is yours to control.
The at-bat is yours to dictate.
When you learn how to master pitch selection and plate awareness, the game will slow down, and you’ll begin to trust your abilities.
All of a sudden, hitting becomes fun whether you’re 0-4 with four strikeouts or 4-4 with four doubles.
Learn it. Apply it. Be and stay a student of the game.
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