Learn about the strike zone from the hitter’s vantage point

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The hitter’s strike zone is the area above home plate (or in some cases even off of home plate) where the batter gets the highest percentage of hits based on the number of balls put into play.

The strike zone grid.

The hitter’s zone is considered to have nine areas comprised of a three-by-three grid spanning the entire strike zone. Teams at higher levels of baseball chart how well their own players, as well as their opponents, hit when a pitch is thrown to a particular zone on the grid.

This information can be an invaluable tool for pitchers, helping them find a hitter’s weakness, and allowing them to target those weaknesses. And, for a hitter, this information is vital to recognize their own weaknesses so that he can work to improve on them, or avoid swinging at pitches in that area altogether when possible.

Free swingers.

Most players are adept at hitting balls from four to six of the nine areas within the hitter’s zone. The most common areas where hitters excel in are the inner middle, middle lower, middle and middle away zones. The areas where hitters most commonly have trouble are the upper in and lower away areas.

Some exceptional hitters demonstrate an ability to hit pitches regardless of where they are thrown. These hitters are often free swingers, or are at least thought of as such. But, to their credit, the simple fact that they rarely walk but are able to put nearly everything they swing at hard into play is quite impressive. A couple of the most prominent major league players with this uncanny ability to hit balls in any of the nine grid areas and quite often outside the nine areas, are Vladimir Guerrero and Ichiro Suzuki.

Learn about the strike zone from the hitters vantage point

But, this type of skill is rare. To improve your chances of hitting the ball hard and consistently, your best bet is to hit a pitch in the strike zone.

What strike zone works for you?

It is important to learn what pitches work best for you. This is your strike zone. Learn which pitches you should take and which you should let loose on. Doing so will improve your approach at the plate immensely. And, regarding those pitch locations you’re not so good at, take time to practice hitting balls in those regions.

To learn your weaknesses, track the types of pitches you hit, and the ones you have difficulty with. Was the pitch you swung and missed high and away, or low and inside? Was the pitch over the plate and low, or low and away? Tracking this information is likely to show you a trend – a trend that you can work to break out of.

Go down to your local batting cage and set the pitching machine to direct pitches only to the particular zones that you have trouble with. Do so until you find a way to hit pitches in that location, and until it becomes second nature to you.

Making the strike zone work to your advantage.

If you have control of the pitch count (less than two strikes), don’t let the pitcher or umpire force you to swing at a pitch that isn’t right for you, perhaps a pitch in one of those difficult locations. The kind of pitch that you’re working hard to be better at in the batting cage. Trusting yourself and being willing to take strikes is difficult to do, but necessary. Taking a borderline pitch for a strike is a lot better than rolling over on it and weakly grounding out.

When you first get into the batter’s box, focus on hitting a pitch in one of your strongest zones. Doing so will improve the likelihood of you getting a hit. If you see a pitch where you don’t want it, and you’re ahead in the count, let it go. The worst thing you can do as a hitter is step into the batter’s box with a two-strike mentality, attempting to cover the entire plate.

Once you have two strikes on you, you need to then expand your strike zone to include all nine areas and be a little more defensive. But, before that time, your success depends on how well you know your personal hitter’s strike zone.