"Win this pitch!"
That's a line I say all the time during games. We say it, and the kids understand what it means, but we don't often practice it.
Then I had one of those "coaching moments." You know that time when you have 30 minutes in the cage, you have run through your plan, and don't want players to just take mindless BP. I was in that situation this morning. I dug deep into my bag of tricks (Generating Offense and Hitting Course) but for some reason came up with a brand new hitting game based on the phrase "win this pitch."
I'm calling the game "Win The Pitch," and it goes like this...
Each player gets a maximum of five pitches... if they win each one. If they "lose" a pitch, they are done. Seems simple, but it places consequences on making the correct decision, adds competitiveness, and game-like consequences to your hitting session.
SIDE NOTE: Few things bother me more than when coaches give players "another" swing because their last swing of the round was a bad one. I have yet to figure out how that emulates game conditions. But I digress...
Winning a Pitch -
To me this is mostly based on pitch selection. Give the hitter a count, and if he swings at a an appropriate pitch with an appropriate swing, it is a win.
For example, today, we used a 1-0 count, but it would be just as easy to mix the count up each pitch. If they took a fastball on the outside or inside corner, or one at the knees, even if it was a strike, it was a win. They took a pitch that was a pitcher's pitch in a hitter's count, and that is a win. They get another pitch.
If they take a breaking ball for a strike, even if it is a hanging breaking ball, that is a win. There is no sense in swinging at a breaking ball in a fastball count, and I can't tell if a hanging breaking ball fooled them the slightest bit.
If they hit a ball hard, it is a win. The ultimate goal of an at bat is to get a free base, or to hit the ball hard. Any hard hit ball is a win.
Aside from a hard hit ball, I tried to only base "winning" on pitch selection.
Losing a pitch -
If the hitter swings at an inappropriate pitch for the count, or swings and misses, it is a loss.
Keeping with our 1-0 example from today: Players can lose a pitch by swinging at a pitch on the outside corner, inside corner, at the knees, or swinging at a breaking ball that isn't a "hanger."
We also considered it "losing" a pitch if they swing and miss at any pitch, or if they take a mid-thigh (drivable) fastball right down the middle.
While we talk a lot about taking quality at bats, we often don't show players that quality at bats are made up of winning individual pitches. This game allows players to work on winning pitches in a competitive, game like setting.
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