Thursday, July 20th, 2017

Beating a slow pitcher with your feet

April 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Hitting

Ask any Major Leaguer who they would rather face – a hard throwing guy bringing it 93mph or a soft throwing guy who throws anywhere from 75-86 mph – and I bet well over 85% of them will say “bring on the hard thrower!

To counter slow pitching, many coaches suggest/demand that their batters move to the front of the batter’s box.  Unfortunately, this often plays right into the pitcher’s strengths.  Here’s why as well as an alternative.

In this graphic, a batter stands in his normal spot and flails at a pitch that is slow and caught at the dirt at Star #1.

To adjust, the batter is told to move closer.  The pitcher, in turn, throws it slower and the catcher catches the ball at Star #2.  The batter flails again.

The coach flips and tells his batters to move to the very front of the box.  The pitcher responds by throwing it even slower and the catcher catches it at Star #3.  The batters flail again.

The reason why this strategy of moving up in the box often fails is because each adjustment the batter makes causes the pitcher to adjust more to his strengths which are throwing the ball slower and lower.  Each time the batter moves up, the pitcher throws slower and lower to counter.  This benefits the pitcher because he just does more of what he is good at doing … throwing slow and low.

Another option that may have more success is to do the opposite.  Have a batter move as far back in the box as possible as shown in this graphic.  

This seems counter-intuitive but think about what the pitcher is forced to do now.  He is forced to throw the ball harder because the batter has forced the catcher back as far as he can.  If the pitcher wants to reach the catcher, the pitcher has to throw the ball harder and higher.  Throwing the ball harder and elevating it are NOT his strengths.  He gets outs by throwing slower and lower.  Doing that now, however, just bounces the pitches farther in front of the catcher.  Ball one, ball two, etc.

No adjustment is perfect but this “back-of-the-box” method has worked for me and my teams just as much, if not more, than forcing hitters to the front. 

The key to hitting adjustments is trying to get the pitcher out of his strengths and into his weaknesses.  Moving to the back of the batter’s box can do just that with slow pitchers.

Comments

One Response to “Beating a slow pitcher with your feet”
  1. Drew Stegon says:

    I hate the “move up in the box” tactic. It changes the eye level of determining a strike 1/3 of the way out to the mound and it changes where you are going to have to swing. The slow pitch will be higher in your strike zone, if it truly is going to “fall” into your strike zone, if you move forward and we all know you cant hit a a ball above your hands.

    I preach the same thing… move BACK in the box if you want to adjust, but mostly I tell them they should stay right where they normally place their feet and adjust the timing of the swing by hip rotation later as the ball comes toward them (wait on the pitch).

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