How many of you know a player who in their heart and mind believes that they have never been thrown a called strike that was really a strike? You know the kid I mean, every time the umpire calls a strike she looks back with this look of disbelief. The “you have got to be kidding me” look that says they can’t believe the umpire should possibly be serious about that call. Of course you know one or maybe a few. Some of them are on your team while some are opponents that you face off with on a regular basis.
Well, here is what I think is going on. These kids are sure they know the zone and they can’t believe that anyone else has a better view than they do. Either they are irrationally confident players or, more likely, they really don’t have as good a grasp on the strike zone as they think they do. The questions that we worked on as we tackled this challenge were simple.
Do you really think every umpire is wrong, every pitch? And do you want to be right or do you want to do right?
I have a player who I work with who has this exact situation going on and it was driving me crazy. It drives me crazy because this is a very talented hitter. She drives the ball with power and also has a very high batting average. She is the kid who should be going up to the plate with fire in her eyes, knowing she can change the scoreboard with every swing. When we do our regular lessons, she is killing the ball, almost no matter where I pitch it, swinging free and easy, and having fun hitting the ball hard. When we get into game action she switches gears into wait for the perfect pitch mode and invariably digs herself a hole during almost every at bat.
How to change the mindset was our challenge. We started with an exercise where we used our Square Cuts Training Disc as a visual guide to show the contact points from way inside to way outside and asked her to identify the location of every pitch. What became very clear, very quickly is that her impression of where the pitches are and the reality of where they are was very different. Pitches that she thought were way outside were really borderline strikes and the pitches that she thought were on the edge of the zone were in the yellow zone of the three color home plates we use. After about 25 pitches and some video proof of where the pitches really were we got the point across.
Hopefully by gaining more awareness we can change the way this hitter approaches her at bats. All of you know that I think aggressive is good, hopefully this player will be able to be more aggressive now that she has a better idea of what the zone really is.
Knowledge is power!