A two strike approach is a plan a hitter executes when they have two strikes on them at the plate.
Many at-bats get to two strikes in youth baseball, so it is important to have a strategy when the time comes!
Know that hitting with two strikes is significantly harder than hitting early in the count, which is already hard.
Below is a table of MLB statistics in each count, note that the two strike counts are the lowest.
This graph doesn’t tell the whole story, however.
There are a lot of things really good hitters do with two strikes that help the team tremendously but don’t count toward batting average!
Also, this graph is for the MLB. We’re talking about much harder pitches to hit with two strikes and much better defenses. Your results from reading this blog are going to be much greater than theirs, because your son/daughter is going to know things that the pitcher on the 12u team your playing doesn’t know yet.
Here’s the list of positive, non batting average, things that come from a good two strike approach:
- Ground balls where you get out but the runner scores from third
- Fly balls where the runner tags up and scores or advances one base
- Errors inflicted from putting the bat on the ball and making the defense make a play
- Limits strikeouts
- Improves on base percentage
- Improves steals
- Improves runs scored
- Makes the pitcher throw more pitches
- Tires the pitchers out earlier
- Tires the defense out
- Makes you one of coach’s favorites
Those are some pretty great things that happen when you have a great plan with two strikes, now let’s jump to the plan.
Step 1: Get Up On The Plate
9 out of 10 youth baseball pitchers will try to throw outside when the hitter has two strikes on them at the plate. This doesn’t change when you get older, in D1 and Pro-Ball it’s still like 7 out of 10.
1a. Make It Easier
When you know the ball will likely be outside, you can take that pitch away by scooting up on the plate. You’re making an outside pitch look like its down the middle – making it easier to hit.
1b. Take The Umpire Out Of It
Pitches that seem outside when you are up on the plate are going to be really outside, limiting the amount of times you get screwed by an umpires bad call on the outside corner (big plus! & sorry for the language!).
1c. Make The Pitcher Nervous
Have you ever tried to play catch with someone, when someone without a glove is standing right by them? Isn’t it a lot harder than when that person is standing further away? Same concept with pitching to someone that is standing close to the plate, it sucks. Want to get in the pitchers head and have more success with two strikes? Get on the plate.
Step 2: Don’t Be That Parent
I think we probably touch on this point in every single blog post, but gah-lee it doesn’t help your kid at all to yell at him during his at bat.
Learning a two strike approach is something that happens in the off season, in a practice, at home. It’s not a matter of yelling get on the plate when your son has two strikes on him.
If you don’t trust my opinion as a former D1 & Professional ballplayer & founder of this company, then let me hit you with the science here:
- Hitting a baseball is the hardest activity in any sport.
- Males have smaller corpus collosums, making them worse at multi-tasking than women. What does this mean? We can’t focus on hitting when our parent is yelling orders at us. It seems like it makes it better, it’s actually much worse.
- More on this: “The corpus callosum is the fiber tract that joins the left and right hemispheres in the brain and is often cited as one of the regions that show robust sexual dimorphisms: Women tend to have larger and more bulbous corpus callosa than men. This finding has been interpreted as showing that women have more communication between hemispheres, and think more holistically.” (Great Courses Daily)
- Confidence is the most important factor in hitting. Confidence is challenged by doubt & worry. Both doubt and worry are inflicted when you yell at a hitter during his at bat.
Instead: sit back, relax, and trust that your son/daughter will do what you have worked on. If not, it’s no big deal. Like every good manager says, he’ll get em next time.
Step 3: Practice It
Did you ever wonder what they do at most youth baseball practices? Play catch, ground balls, fly balls, hit, maybe base running at times.
Coach does not have the time to develop every player like they should.
Also, not to offend people, but honestly – you get what you pay for with a youth baseball coach & no one cares about your son/daughter like you do so don’t expect him to.
I will say, if your son/daughter is tough to get out with two strikes – coach is going to love him!
So as a parent, how do you practice a two strike approach? Oh crap, hadn’t thought of that. Just kidding, here’s a list:
- Wiffle balls are cheap, he already has a bat. Throw a glove on the ground that’s your plate.
- Tell him: lets work on your two strike approach, this is what you do when you have two strikes on you at the plate: 0-2, 1-2, 2-2, or full count.
- Help him with the setup.
- Scoot closer to the plate
- Choke up about 1 inch on the bat
- Widen his stance – this limits movement, most specifically head movement. Head movement can make it hard to make contact!
- Tell him to swing at anything close, and to be ready for an outside pitch.
- Throw him outside a lot and get him used to hitting balls just off the plate.
- Mix in balls often and instruct him not to swing at them. Sometimes kids can get carried away with the phrase ‘swing at anything close.’ So reinforce pitch selection, and only swinging at pitching you can hit.
- Have him explain what a two strike approach is back to you that way you know he knows it.
Work this into your backyard routine, as you should be doing as often as he is up for it. Remember, getting better and becoming a great baseball player needs to be his dream, not yours! Don’t be overbearing, but do everything you can to help him!
Thanks for taking the time to read about the game your son/daughter loves so much.
This blog was written by Nick Rotola, Founder of American Baseball Camps. Nick played D1 ball as a SS/CF at Oral Roberts, a powerhouse in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Nick played two seasons in AA American Association where he played outfield and hit leadoff/ninth. Nick is the author of many of our blogs, and of the e-book: At Home Baseball Program – Click Here To Download That Book