Ever notice how some teams who play close games end up winning those games in the late innings at the plate. Good teams who are coached right and do the right things tend to win those close games late. Here are a few tips to keep in mind to teach your hitting team on how to win the battle at the plate late.
1. The pitcher has to pitch to the batter.
He is the one who needs to throw strikes, and that is where the battle begins. Pitchers want to throw strikes early late in the game and get ahead of the hitter. Great hitters like Ted Williams and Tony Gwynn looked for strikes they could hit early. On average, hitters tend to have a better chance of getting a hit early in the count. So tell your hitters to be ready early.
2. Make the pitcher throw strikes.
Now that your hitter is looking for a strike early, the batter also needs to show some patience. A pitcher may make a good pitch on his first or second throw and that is okay. The batter still needs to look for pitches in his zone and strive to drive those pitches.
The most important thing to remember is to look for strikes. If a pitcher wants to nibble and throw off the plate, that is fine. A walk is just as good as a hit. Getting on base late puts more pressure on the pitcher, and increases the chances of the pitcher making a mistake to the next hitter.
3. Keep the swings under control.
Hitters tend to want to be heroes and forget about the fundamentals late in the game. Remind your hitters that hitting the ball in the gaps, using the whole field, and striving to hit under control is the best way to increase your chances of winning the ballgame.
Swinging out of control, pulling the ball, and not going up to the plate with a good approach decreases the batter’s chances of getting on base, and thus hurts the team.
4. Be observant.
With the pressure on, pitchers tend to throw the same pitch over and over again in the same situation. Observant hitters will pick up on this and be able to use it to their advantage. Any edge you can get at the plate can help you succeed in the task at hand.
And above all, the most important thing to remember at the plate is the three C’s: confidence, control, and composure.
Jim Kosmerick is the manager for the Pontiac Cubs Baseball Club, a semi-pro team based in Pontiac, Michigan. Kosmerick has been coaching at the semi-pro level for the past 12 years with teams based in Pontiac and Battle Creek, Michigan. His teams have won numerous titles and he has helped guide many college players on to the minor and major leagues.