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Coaches, How specifically do you teach pitch recognition (i.e. identify fastball, curveball)? Last year my team finished 3rd in our conference and our main weakness was too many strikeouts and too many men left on base.It just seemed that we were too aggressive at times and too passive other days. I have a good group of guys that I want to help. I return 7 starters. Any advice or help would be appreciated.
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Instead of pitch recognition, work on pitch selection. In most cases a high school teams weakness is the bullpen. Work deep into the count, and wait for your pitch, it will come. Pitch recognition comes with experience, if you are selective you will see more pithes resulting in better recognition tendencies.
At the H.S.level, we try to get the kids to recognize pitch path. There is a big difference between cb starting path and fb path. Initially you want kids to recognize release points, and try to pick the ball up out of the hand, then path of the ball. How many times do you see the righty vs. righty, and the hitter buckle slightly at the cb? Obviously the path of the pitch caused him to want to bail out, then pitch breaks over the plate. I am constantly trying to get them in their minds to "think" breaking pitch on ball at em, or when it starts up in the zone. If it is a fb, turn and take it, if it is the one up in the zone, then it is a ball. The tough one is the hard breaker that starts in the zone and falls for a ball, or the 2 strike cb. That is when spin recognition has to take over. As their swing is initiated, hopefully thier hands are back and they can recognize spin and take that pitch. Talking about this is the perfect indicator that the best pitch in baseball is the change, because of path and spin. My assistant, who is our hitting instructor, always asks our kids after every at bat what pitch, location, and path. Make them think about more of pitch than their mechanics.
Sorry, I disagree, TX. If your theory was to be used, I would strike out on the slider away and the 12-6 curve ball. You have gave the batter too much to think about. In high school, look fast ball. If P has a good hammer, back up in box and make him throw it to the back of the zone. Make P beat you with a great breaking ball but beat his fastball every time.

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In my opinion, it is much more important for the average high school hitter to think (not guess) and look for the percentage pitch. For instance on 1-0, 2-0, 2-1, 3-1, 3-0(with green light) and 3-2 (if the pitcher can't throw his b.b. for a strike), the percentage pitch is the fastball. Get a good pitch and put it in play!
0-2, 1-2, and 2-2 are pitcher's counts, and the percentage pitch is a breaking ball. Use two-strike hitting concepts, anticipate it, and put it in play.
Also, remember Pete Rose's Rule...if the pitcher misses with his first pitch, nine times out of ten he comes back with a fastball. Bang it!
Back in November, I heard Turtle Thomas from LSU talk about this subject, and he had some great ideas that we will use this winter.

He suggest having a hitter in the box as normal, and the pitcher going through the motion but not releasing the ball. The pitcher holds his hand differntly at the point of delivery, and the hitter must identify what they saw (FB, BP, Chg, etc.).
Another idea that I have used is to use the same scenario, but have the pitcher follow through without the ball. Instead he follows through with 1 finger up, 2 fingers up, or a closed fist. The hitter must tell what they saw.
In my opinion, the biggest key to pitch recognition is experience. Next, however, is knowing what to look for and improving the ability to see the ball early in the train the eyes and not just the hands. To me, this is a proactive approach vs. a reactive approach.
One drill I have incorporated that will give you and the player immediate feedback is what I call ball strike. Have your kids stand in the box without a bat and have them call out ball or strike before the ball reaches the plate. We put a marker about five feet out in front of the plate. When the ball gets to the marker the hitter calls out ball or strike. You will be amazed at the pitches that alot of kids call strike on and ball on. Teaching kids to relax at the plate and to hit with confidence is key. Teaching kids that their success is directly related to the quality of pitch that they swing at is also key. Good hitters hit good pitches.
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While they are learning pitch recognition they should be monitored for readiness at the plate. Did they load their hands back, stride to a balanced landing, in time to pull the trigger. The position of the bat, the distribution of the weight,when the ball is half way home, allows them get off their best swing on the ball of their chosing. Failure to reach the good launch point on every pitch can sabatage an at bat even with the best pitch recognition.
We do have a plan we try to teach our players, that is centered on the approach that we want to attack the fastball, especially early in the count and lay off the curve ball (unless hanging) until we get two strikes. At our level we see pitchers who work away, away, away with the fastball,rarely coming inside. Therefore, with the plate being basically 7 baseballs wide, we teach players to attack balls middle (3) and away(4,5,6). The challenge will come with the players trying to hit the outside pitch too far in front of the plate, which will result in the weak groundball to ss or 3b.
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another good drill is to incorporate bunting in with it. we have our pitchers throw. the batter will bunt all and only fastballs, pulling back on breaking balls. this allows us not only work on pitch recognition but bunting as well.
i agree that most high school pitchers have a different release (and sometimes release point) on different pitches. also the way it leaves the hand.

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