What Is A Two Strike Approach & How Do I Teach It To My Son/Daughter?

Sep 17, 2020 by Nick Rotola CEO of American Baseball Camps in  baseball dad baseball mom Youth Baseball Advice
Two Strike Approach - American Baseball Camps-min

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:

  1. Walks
  2. Ground balls where you get out but the runner scores from third
  3. Fly balls where the runner tags up and scores or advances one base
  4. Errors inflicted from putting the bat on the ball and making the defense make a play
  5. Limits strikeouts
  6. Improves on base percentage
    1. Improves steals
    2. Improves runs scored
  7. Makes the pitcher throw more pitches
    1. Tires the pitchers out earlier
    2. Tires the defense out
  8. 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:

  1. Hitting a baseball is the hardest activity in any sport.
  2. 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.
    1. 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)
  3. 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:

  1. Wiffle balls are cheap, he already has a bat. Throw a glove on the ground that’s your plate.
  2. 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.
  3. Help him with the setup.
    1. Scoot closer to the plate
    2. Choke up about 1 inch on the bat
    3. Widen his stance – this limits movement, most specifically head movement. Head movement can make it hard to make contact!
    4. Tell him to swing at anything close, and to be ready for an outside pitch.
  4. Throw him outside a lot and get him used to hitting balls just off the plate.
  5. 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.
  6. 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

American Baseball Camps — 10 Tips for Little League Coaches

Apr 15, 2019

10 Tips For Little League Coaches

In our journey in baseball we have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly with coaches. The one that breaks everything, the one that’s all about himself, we’ve seem them all! Together we have collaborated with 10 helpful tips for Little League Coaches. Most of these are things that we’ve seen coaches do in our life that all the players really loved and responded well to!

#1 Be Consistent

Ever wonder why managers in the MLB never ever show emotion in the dugout. It is because they realize the power of staying even keel in baseball. Your players will play better if they can learn to be consistent. So you, as their little league coach, have to set the standard of consistency.

#2 Be Fun

The best coaches I’ve ever had were just as fun to be around as my friends on the team. Good coaches are friendly, and they make being at the ballfield more fun than it already is. Don’t be afraid to joke with players and make fun a bit. Boys and young men like that kind of stuff. Run fun practices, with fun games and drills. Keep the dugout lively, and show your kids by example how to have fun at the yard.



#3 Teach How to Handle Pressure

This Forbes Article on Success and Pressure reveals that top athletes are the ones that are the most comfortable under pressure! Put pressure on your players in practice and challenge them. The same old sissy BP and stand around isn’t making anyone better. Try running high intensity drills while teaching your players how to stay calm and focused in those situations. This one pays dividends for your players in baseball and in life, according to Forbes.

#4 Teach How to Handle Adversity

“Baseball is a game of failure” – Baseball Cliche of the Century

You’ve heard the quote a thousand times but don’t forget its implications for your players. Good coaches teach players how to handle adversity when it comes. Take terrible moments in baseball as coaching moments that your players can learn from. Be approachable, and offer advice in the right moments. Teach a kid how to handle striking out 4 times in a row, and he’ll be able to handle anything else life throws his way.

#5 Be Approachable

My D1 Baseball Coach is the best coach I have ever had, and it is because he is easy to talk to. The days of screaming and yelling and demoralizing young players are over. The best coaches are smart, consistent, strong, and approachable. Let your kids know that they can talk to you directly if they have any concerns at all (especially about playing time). This will remove all of the doubt that mom and dad are putting on a kid about his playing time, because before a problem even surfaces the player resolves it with the coach directly.

#6 Know the Game

Both D1 programs I have been at have preached this loud and clear to their players, be a student of the game. This applies to coaches as well. Being the most knowledgeable baseball mind on the field will not only give you an edge against other teams, it will develop a pattern of trust and respect among your players. Don’t be that coach that brags about his high school days and hasn’t learned a single baseball thing since. Be a student of the game, as you continue to become a better teacher of it!

#7 Teach your Players to Compete

One of the best drills for this is the errors game. Put the whole team at SS in a single file line. If you make an error you are out, and keep playing until one is standing. This will teach players to compete and it will develop their will to win. Two very important factors in the game of baseball.

#8 Teach Them who they’re really Playing Against

“In baseball there are really only two thing you are competing against every day — yourself and the game!” – Brian Cain

When you just compete against yourself and the game you take lots of factors out of the equation that can only hurt the ballclub.



For example, at the D1 level we have extensive scouting reports given to us on every pitcher we face the entire season. We have his pitches, pitch speeds, hold times, pick off tenancies, pitch tenancies, arm slot, and anything else you could possibly need to prepare for a guy. Here’s the kicker – we throw it out the window at game-time. Why? players play the best when they play against themselves and the game.

#9 Teach Them to Control what they can Control

“Be where your feet are” – Nick Saban

There are things in baseball that your players don’t need to worry about. The weather, the umpires, the kid on the other team that’s supposed to be 12 but looks 32; all of these things are out of a players control. So they aren’t worth thinking about in a game where focus on what you are doing is so crucial. Things that a player can control are: approach, plan, focus, work-ethic, dedication. These are the things that an athlete should be judged on. Physical errors are often out of a players control, mental errors are usually controllable. Teach a kid to just focus on the things that are within his control and he is much more likely to “be where his feet are” as Nick Saban is suggesting.

#10 Teach Them to Think about One Thing at the Plate

“The closest thing to thinking about nothing at the plate is thinking about one thing at the plate” – The Mental Game of Baseball by Harvey Dorfman

Eliminate distractions in your players’ minds as they are up to the plate. Figure out what their plan/approach should be at the plate and come up with a short phrase or word that they can focus on while in the batters box. “Weight back” for example, or “throw the hands.” While this tip seems trivial, it can make a world of difference for a hitter at the plate. Don’t believe us? Just ask Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn — This guy is huge on only one thought in the batters box!

– Guest Author: Nick Rotola Professional Baseball Player

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A College Players’ View Of The Mental Game Of Baseball

Nov 07, 2019

 

“BASEBALL IS 90% MENTAL AND THE REST IS PHYSICAL!” – Yogi Berra

 

These wise words from the great Yogi Berra are trying to explain that the game we all know and love is mainly mental. Yes, you play the game with your body as in swinging the bat and throwing the ball. Meanwhile, the mental aspect is that you have to make the right decisions each and every play.

Baseball is a game of unconsciousness, this is the reason so much effort is accounted for within the little things. If you focus on the little things, you will find that making the unconscious decision is much easier.

In Baseball, being confident is very important. Confidence stretches further than being competitive, you have to believe that you are the best player on the field day in and day out.

As a pitcher or hitter, you must have self-confidence in order to fail less, and succeed more.

Another key part to the mental game of baseball is Imagery.

This usually means visualization, but if you use Sensory Imagery, your visualization skills will become more
powerful.



A good simple equation for this is

I x V = R (Imagery times Visualization equals reality).

This equation is basically saying that if you take a memory or vivid image and relive it, you will get real results.

For example hitting your first home run or throwing a no hitter, if you relive these memories and apply that feeling to what you are doing, you will become more successful.

Another good mental note to take and use in baseball is being aggressive.

Coaches may sometimes say “close the door”, “bury them”, this means go out there and don’t actually bury them 6 feet underground, but end the game pitch and hit with aggression so there is no chance of them coming back and winning the game.




Youth Baseball Tips — How To Bargain Shop Baseball Gear

Apr 17, 2019

Baseball is expensive, put more of your money into tournaments and camps that will make your kid better and less into gear with these savvy baseball shopping tips.

#1 Dick’s Sporting Goods — Online Clearance Opportunities

In 2016 Dick’s Sporting Goods announced its plan to build additional distribution centers across the US. They’re doing this because sporting goods like baseball equipment only sell in season. When they’re not selling particularly well (like right now for baseball) they are just burning holes in their distrubution center shelves as they are hoping to fill them with more in-season gear (like football right now). They need to get this baseball stuff out, that is why their clearance selection is so large right now during “baseball limbo.”

Here is a screen shot of some of their top bats on clearance:

Here is a direct link to shop Dick’s Clearance Bat Selection

The first one, the Easton Mako Torq for $199, that bat was $399 at one point. I’m telling you buy them clearance.



*Here’s another tip* – The college guys, we get to test these new bats, we velocity test them, bat speed, the whole nine yards. What do we learn? THERE IS NOTHING BETTER ABOUT THE BRAND NEW MODEL. In fact, many of the 3 year old bats have more pop because they’re broken in. If you watch the CWS (which is the best players in the world still swinging medal bats), many of them are using models from 2 and 3 years ago. They aren’t improving year to year, just new branding. So buy one that’s a couple years older, and let him use it for a couple of years so it fully breaks in.

#2 Baseball Savings — A Great Option For Gloves

First of all, don’t get your kid a new glove if he’s comfortable with the one he’s got right now. There’s a famous story about Dustin Pedroia (2nd Baseman for the Red Sox) when he was at Arizona State. Glove company Wilson came in and gave everyone on the team a brand new glove with their name on it and everything with only one stipulation, you had to wear it in games. Dustin wouldn’t do it. He was ASU’s starting SS and he had been using the same glove since he was 11 years old. ASU’s glove contract with Wilson survived, but it tells us something interesting about gloves. YOU DON’T HAVE TO BUY ONE EVERY YEAR. In fact, if you look at the best fielders on your kids’ team, they’re probably all using gloves they feel really comfortable with. Comfort is everything with gloves. Most of the time that means finding one that you like, and sticking with it for a long time.

Below we have selected a cheap an expensive glove option from Baseball Savings. I think they’ll both work great and hopefully your kid sticks with them for 4 or 5 years. After the 2 year mark is when you really fall in love with a glove. If you notice, both of these gloves are Rawlings. We think its the best leather, and if you look at the big league infielders, most of them use Rawlings. The big difference between these two great gloves is the leather. The cheap option here is a nice “I-Web” glove that is going to be good for a long time. The expensive option here is the “Pro Preferred” model and its a “Trapeze-Web”. This is one of the most famous shortstop gloves of all time. A lot of pros like this glove. Both of these gloves are 11.5 inch which is for a shortstop or second baseman. Third baseman traditionally use an 11.75 inch glove, and outfielders a 12.75 inch glove.

Cheap Option                                                                                        Expensive Option

                                                 

Link to this option                                                                               Link to this option



#3 Get New Balance Cleats — Most Comfortable & Last The Longest

Many of the College teams are switching over to New Balance cleats because the players are asking for them. These things are crazy comfortable and they last a long time. Cleats may be something you have to buy every year depending on your kids’ playing style, but these have the best chance to last you 2 or 3 years. Here is a screenshot of a good, low, molded cleat.

Link to these cleats

 

These recommendation were based on several hours of research and years of experience at the D1 level.

– Guest Author: Nick Rotola Professional Baseball Player

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