Stop Striking Out!

Written By: JK Whited

Do you feel like you're constantly striking out? Does it cause frustration?

WELL STOP! Striking out is a part of the game, but there are fixes to help you improve. The most common thing we see that results in striking out are the lack of confidence to produce. Walking from the on-deck circle to the batter’s box worried about how they are going to perform will raise the probability of striking out.

But First...

If you are a coach or parent, you have to ensure that your player goes up to the plate with confidence that no matter what the outcome is, everything will be okay. It is important for them to understand that the world is not going to end because they did not put the ball in play. Also, there is not going to be negative repercussions when the player enters the dugout or especially when they get in the car after the game. Striking out is a component of the game. The best players in the world do it all the time, but the player has to understand that it is a risk/reward. They risk striking out but could get rewarded with a ball hit into the gap for a double.

This article explains several causes to striking out, as well as solutions and things to avoid.

Causes of Strike Outs

Entering the box scared
This is what most youth players look like entering the batter's box

Timid & Worried

The first cause of striking out is a timid and worried mindset. Even if you practice having great swings in the cage, if you go to the plate timid, it won’t matter. When you practice outside of the game, you are training your body to do the exact same thing when you step into the box on game day. Practice is supposed to teach you how to learn what to do in various situations that are possible in game time. If you do not get into the box at practice with confidence that you are going to get a hit, then it will transfer to game day and result in not producing.

Picky

Being too picky means finding the perfect pitch and it leads to looking at too many pitches early in the count. If you are stepping into the box waiting for “yours” and watch the first two strikes fly by, then you are in a hole. You need to take your hacks, especially early because you do not want to get in an 0-2 count. The percentage of striking out when your down in the count rises dramatically. Swing EARLY!

Poor or Late Decisions

As you get older, the pitchers start throwing the ball faster. The faster the ball is, the harder it is to make later and accurate decisions. It is already difficult to determine whether or not to swing based off the short time of seeing the ball. Waiting too long to react makes it hard to make an accurate decision about where it is, what it is, and what speed it is. The decision needs to be made as soon as possible. Sometimes when you strike out, the reason is going to be “I did not understand where the ball was and how fast it was coming in.” If so, how does this happen? What does it mean? Poor lower half mechanics lead to poor upper half mechanics, which eventually leads to slow barrel speed or barrel acceleration. Late accurate decisions ultimately do not allow you to be the best player that you can be and results in striking out frequently.

 

What to Avoid

False Pressure

We know for a fact that strikeouts are going to happen and it is okay! It is part of the game. However, putting false pressure on yourself will not help the situation. You might be in the bottom of the 7th inning with two outs and the winning run on third. Do you want to get into the box tensed up and say, “I have to produce” on repeat in your head? Or get into the box relaxed and treat this at-bat just like any other one? So many other kids experience this type of pressure that they put upon themselves because they are too worried about the outcome. They are scared to disappoint their fans, teammates, and family, which ultimately causes them to go in with a timid mindset. Avoid putting false pressure upon yourself. It will allow you to enjoy baseball more.

Two Strike Swing Change

If you change your swing with two strikes, you are basically stripping away what you do well already. Have you ever seen a major league baseball player change anything about how they try to swing the bat with two strikes? Of course. They may expand the zone mentally because you might have a clue of the upcoming pitch. However, if you are college level or lower, do not change your swing in the middle of an at-bat because you do not want to take away what you already do well. Secondly, “just make contact” is a timid approach. If you have two strikes and you just want to make contact then you are probably going to strike out. Stick to what you know and make any adjustments after the at-bat.

Non-Athletic Swings/Mechanics

What does it mean to have an athletic explosive swing? It means to understand how to develop better bat acceleration and giving yourself more time and power. In order to do that, you have to swing in an athletic explosive style. If you are watching videos that focus on knob stuff, handsy stuff, and wide bases with very little movement and not understanding about how the hips work, then you're going to strike out more. You are going to constantly be beaten by fast pitchers or any pitcher with any sort of deception. Especially when you get older!

Not Knowing

You have to know what you are seeing! You have to understand what is going on in games, what your swing is doing in practice, why you might be late, and why you might be missing over the top of balls. If you do not understand what you are doing, then you're gonna continue to make the same mistakes and it's gonna get more and more frustrating.

Fixing Striking Out

Attack Early

Attack early in the count to prevent yourself from falling into the 0-2 count. Being too picky results in too many strikeouts because the hittable pitches are not being swung at. If you attack early, you are generally going to get a fastball in the first or second pitch in the at-bat. The pitcher is hoping to get ahead early by getting the batter to watch the first two strikes, then throw pitches to make the batter chase. Even if you miss it and you take a hack, you may have put some fear and doubt into the pitcher’s mind. It never hurts to attack early in the count rather than watch perfectly good pitches go by.

Don't Miss Opportunities

Good hitters are good because they do not miss when the pitcher misses their spot. If you watch baseball games on TV, how many guys are going to hit a curveball or slider on the corner at the knees for a homer? Nobody! It is a tough pitch to hit. Therefore, they do not miss opportunities early in the count unless they are sitting on a pitch. Sometimes sitting on a pitch is smart, but if you are a youth player do not worry about that. If you see a fastball in the first two or three pitches, then go for it! If you swing at the first pitch and miss, you still have two other opportunities. You have three strikes for a reason, to swing at them and not to watch them.

Develp Better Bat Speed & Acceleration Time

Developing better bat speed equals acceleration. It will ultimately give you more power, but also more time. How do you achieve this? One of the things we teach at Baseball Rebellion is understanding your body and how the body works. We use The Rebel’s Rack to help develop the footwork and the progression system. Whether you see us in-person or online, then you are going to understand what this means. We have a very systematic approach that is athletic and explosive. The first motion determines the rest of the swing and how fast your bat speed is, but first, you have to understand how your body works in order to achieve a better bat speed and acceleration time.

Know Your Misses - Early, Late, Over, Under

What does it mean by understanding your misses? If you're missing the ball and striking out or foul tipping, you're missing in generally four ways. (1) Timing mistake. You are swinging too early. Meaning the ball is too far out in front of you and the barrel is coming across the plate before the ball reaches the catcher. (2) The opposite would be too late. Meaning the ball is too deep for the batter to decide to swing. This relates back to making accurate decisions early. Therefore, you can let the ball get closer before you have to take your hack. (3) You are missing over the ball or (4) under the ball, resulting in not giving yourself a chance to hit. However, if you do know what you are doing wrong and why then you will not resolve the problem. You might be explosive and have good bat speed, but if you do not know how you are missing then you are never going to fix it. You can figure out your mistakes by having your at-bats recorded and review them later on.

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