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How To Create An Approach At The Plate

Written By: Eric Tyler

How To Create An Approach At The Plate

What Is An Approach?

An approach is essentially a gameplan for how you as a hitter are going to be successful during the at-bat. There are many different factors that go into an approach or gameplan at the plate. What the pitcher throws, the velocity they throw with, what you’re good at as a hitter, what you struggle with, and the situation in the game are all factors of an approach. The fact of the matter is, hitting is hard, and the better your approach is at the plate, the simpler it gets. 

I don’t want to go any further with this article without saying that a hitter’s approach is extremely individualized to themselves. What works for one hitter may be detrimental to the next. This article will go into what I believe is the easiest and most effective approach at the amateur level. However, know that this may not work for you. Sorry. I don’t write to individuals, I write to the masses so get over it and keep it moving. An approach is something that combines all of the factors I mentioned above and morphs it into one simple gameplan with the goal of being successful. This takes work. Time. Studying. It’s not easy and it’s not bulletproof. But in an event like hitting, all we’re trying to do is improve our odds. If going to the plate with a good approach helps turn that 2, 7 off suit hand into two face cards the same suit then you’ve done your job. 

Why Is An Approach Important?

An approach is a way to simplify a hitter’s thoughts and make it easier for them to be ON TIME. There is a very simple reason why those two words are capitalized. It’s because those two words are what a hitter's goal should be 99.99% of the time at the plate. So by creating an approach of what pitch to look for and what we as a hitter are trying to do to that pitch (Hard in the air, backside ground ball, move the runner, etc.) we begin hunting a pitch. Every amateur hitter should be able to hit a pitch they know is coming. So, if they sell out to their approach and what pitch they are looking for, it makes that pitch easier to hit when it comes.

How To Create An Approach

What Are You Good At?

Creating your own approach takes time and effort. It starts with understanding yourself as a hitter. What are you good at? What do you struggle with? If you can’t answer those two questions then I suggest getting in the cage and swinging with more awareness instead of taking 200 mindless swings a day. You have to know your capabilities as a hitter. How do you handle inside pitches? Can you adjust to off-speed? Knowing yourself and what you can and can’t do is the first step in creating an approach.

What Is The Pitcher Good At?

After knowing yourself and what you’re good at as a hitter, we then look towards our opponent. What are the pitcher’s capabilities? Is he a hard thrower? Soft tossing lefty? What is his out pitch? Does he pitch backward?  Knowing what the pitcher can and can’t do allows you to eliminate possibilities in your approach. If it’s the 6th inning and the pitcher hasn’t got a breaking ball over for a strike yet, you probably won’t get one early in the count. Again, this takes effort and willingness to pay attention to your teammate’s at-bats and what is going on in the game.

What Is Happening In The Game

What situation are you in? If you’re up with the tying run on third with the infield in, your approach is going to be drastically different than no one on with 2 outs in the 3rd. Are we in a situation with a runner on second with less than 2 outs? What is the pitcher trying to prevent? How will they pitch us to prevent that? Same with 1st and 3rd with one out. That pitcher will do anything in their power to get a ground ball out of you. Our approach and what we’re looking for/trying to do has to change. Understanding the game and how to score runs can help mold your approach.

An Approach That Leads To More On-Time Swings

The video above explains what I believe to be the easiest and simplest approach given a normal situation; such as any at-bat that doesn’t require you to “move the runner” or get a run in. This approach allows you to be on time for more pitches and eliminate the need to adjust every single pitch. By being on time for the pitcher’s best fastball, you eliminate the need to hurry up. If ever late on a fastball, the hitter isn’t as sold out to the approach as needed. But, if they are always on time for the pitcher’s best fastball, they are able to only have to make one adjustment; slow down.

Improving Your Odds

Again, creating a perfect approach doesn’t guarantee success. Even executing your gameplan doesn’t guarantee success. Hitting is hard and defenses are good. But, by establishing a good approach and sticking to it, you as a hitter give yourself the best chance of being successful. Create a plan that works for you and dive into it with full conviction!

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