Pitch recognition is a critical skill for hitters to develop, but how do you teach it to players?
In the video clip below Coach Steve Nicollerat, founder of Coaching Baseball Right and a veteran of 40 years coaching varsity high school baseball, youth baseball teams and camps shares how he teaches pitch recognition to players, Coach Nicollerat is also a National Master Certified Epstein Hitting Instructor.
Teaching pitching recognition is important because as the players mature they will need to have a plan when they are at the plate. To do that they will need to recognize pitches and for that reason, players need to be taught this skill.
The age at which you should start teaching pitch recognition will vary greatly depending on the player, the team and the coach. However, it is possible to begin teaching these skills to players as young as 9 and 10.
Coach Nicollerat uses the following progression in teaching
The coach will pitch to a player and the player will be asked to call ball or strike as soon as they recognize. A second coach wil grade the accuracy of the player’s call. After a few pitches have the second coach place a cone at the point when the player makes the ball or strike call. This will serve as a visual marker for the players. Now ask the player to make the ball strike call before the ball reaches the cone. Move the cone to the new location and continue to ask the player to make the call sooner.
Have the hitter stand in verses a pitcher (not a coach) and repeat the same process as drill 1. The goal is to become more accurate with the ball/strike call and to make the call earlier.
Here the hitter will be asked to first look middle half in. They will simply say yes or no indicating if the ball was middle half in. A coach will grade the accuracy. Then you will ask the player to look middle half away and indicate yes or no if the ball is in that zone.
Then as in the previous drill place a cone on the ground at the point the player makes the call and ask them to make the call before the ball gets to the cone.
Is for recognizing fastball vs curveball. The goal is to make accurate calls as the ball is leaving the hand.
Coach Nicollerat has many other great coaching tools available at Coaching Baseball Right.
The YouTube video below has audio, so please make sure that your speakers are on and that you have access to the site. Note that some schools block access to Youtube.