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Old Thu Jan 11, 2018, 09:20pm
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Strike Zone Accuracy - Getting the Knee Pitch

I attended the NCAA annual meeting last week and one of the points of emphasis was strike zone accuracy. In my notes, I made a goal for this season of "getting the knee pitch", where the top of the ball is at or above the kneecap.

I was working on my preseason stuff today when I realized I have no idea how to work to accomplish this goal. I try to get every pitch right, yet I know that I still struggle with accuracy and consistency at the bottom of the zone at times, and I know for a fact, I don't call the kneecap as accurately as I could/should. I know this because I have called a heaping handful of "shin strikes", typically at the worst possible time.

Any tips for getting better at the low zone while not giving up focus on the rest of the zone?
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Old Thu Jan 11, 2018, 10:09pm
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Originally Posted by teebob21 View Post
I attended the NCAA annual meeting last week and one of the points of emphasis was strike zone accuracy. In my notes, I made a goal for this season of "getting the knee pitch", where the top of the ball is at or above the kneecap.

I was working on my preseason stuff today when I realized I have no idea how to work to accomplish this goal. I try to get every pitch right, yet I know that I still struggle with accuracy and consistency at the bottom of the zone at times, and I know for a fact, I don't call the kneecap as accurately as I could/should. I know this because I have called a heaping handful of "shin strikes", typically at the worst possible time.

Any tips for getting better at the low zone while not giving up focus on the rest of the zone?
When I miss a pitch, have that rough inning (or innings/game), I go back to these basics; stance, slot, eye level, tracking, timing. I have three points that apply to the low pitch, tips that seem to work the best for me.

1) Head height, setting your eye level. Ignore all the language and lip service related to keeping your chin at least as high as the top of the catcher's head. If you are fully in the slot, and seeing the ball thru the zone and into the glove by looking across the zone from the slot, then the catcher's head has zero relevance. Assuming your stance will allow, get your eyes set at the bottom of the batter's sternum, the top edge of the strike zone. Not only will you have locked in the top, but you are now closer to the top of the knees. Obviously, the closer you are to that point (top of the knee), the better you can judge it.

EXCEPTION: If the catcher squeezes, you have no choice, you have to look over the catcher. If/when the catcher takes the low pitch away, don't reward her by guessing that strike. And, yes, when being evaluated, just agree with the evaluator, and say you will work on not being too low.

2) Tracking. See the ball all the way, all the way, all the way into the glove. No matter what anyone says, your eyes cannot stay focused on a ball that is caught 2 feet to the side of you, and 2 feet below your eye level without moving your head. And the most important time to be focused is thru the plate, when too many umpires have lost the ball trying to ghold their head still. Keep your nose pointing to the ball until it is in the glove, no matter where that takes your head, and you will surely remain focused. This isn't you telling them where the pitch missed (although it sure ought to be a fair hint!!), it's you tracking the ball to the very end in a very natural motion.

3) Timing. Slow down, see the ball thru the zone, into the glove. Replay it in your mind, and make sure you saw a strike before you actually call the pitch. You may be thinking strike, but realize at the last instant that it dropped; your mind saw a strike on the knees all the way in, you thought. That shin shot is most often you rushing/losing concentration at the end. As long as you use the same consistent timing for all pitches, both balls and strikes, that fraction of a second to reprocess won't be considered doubt.

Final note: Most batters in this game are in the front of the box; for those batters, be sure you see the ball on the top of the back knee, not judge it at the front (which is 3 feet in front of the plate). The tips above should help.
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Old Fri Jan 12, 2018, 02:14pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teebob21 View Post
I attended the NCAA annual meeting last week and one of the points of emphasis was strike zone accuracy. In my notes, I made a goal for this season of "getting the knee pitch", where the top of the ball is at or above the kneecap.

I was working on my preseason stuff today when I realized I have no idea how to work to accomplish this goal. I try to get every pitch right, yet I know that I still struggle with accuracy and consistency at the bottom of the zone at times, and I know for a fact, I don't call the kneecap as accurately as I could/should. I know this because I have called a heaping handful of "shin strikes", typically at the worst possible time.

Any tips for getting better at the low zone while not giving up focus on the rest of the zone?
One thing that greatly improves my zone is to pick up the spin of the ball like a good batter would. Somehow it forces me to track the pitch better and keep my focus up.
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