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You're down to your last strike. The pitcher has effectively kicked sand in your face. In the worst case scenario you are way down in the count -- like O-2 -- and the pitcher is actually looking at the on deck circle to see who has to face next. Then somebody from your dugout yells "hey, you're tough with two buddy! Tough with two."
Let's face it, some people are tougher than others with two strikes. The question I'm seeking answers to in an upcoming Hardball Magazine article is what is the best approach to two-strike hitting? Should you choke up? Move in? Widen your stance? Or should you do nothing at all? Do you change your mechanics? Your mental approach? What do you do and how do you think it helps you?

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After getting over the fact that I really should have pulled the trigger on that first pitch fastball... I just try to be ready for anything. Especially when I'm down 0-2, I shorten my swing and try to cover anything close, usually fouling off a few pitches until I get something I can drive.
I don't advise changing mechanics. You may want to adjust in the batters box, depending on the pitcher and what he has done - maybe not. Most hitters are not too comfortable doing this, though. Especially, young players. Mentally, you have to prepare to make contact - concentrate on contact so you can foul the ball. If you can foul the next one it takes the pitcher out of the groove and builds the batters confidence. Change the mentality from a hit to a good at bat. Always remember a good at bat is 6 pitches even if you do not get on. And, sometimes a few fouls will frustrate the pitcher and change the scenario. Win the war of attrition with the pitcher.
A few tried and true two strike solutions would be the following: Coach should have palyers try different things till they see which work best for each hitter.
Baseball Tip 1. For hitters who strike out often or in a “must have” contact situation, have the hitter choke up an inch or so on the bat. This will give the hitter that little extra bat control which could be the difference for making contact which is the ultimate goal with two strikes.
Baseball Tip 2. Have the hitter widen their stance or even take no stride. A shorter stride or less moving parts will allow the hitter to just concentrate on using their hands and not over swinging. This should help hitters who have a tendency to get fooled by off speed pitches.
Baseball Tip 3. A mental thought that may help the hitter is to have them think of hitting the ball back through the middle. This will promote the “just make contact” philosophy and prevent the tendency of trying to kill the ball and over swinging with the big muscles instead of using the hands more.
Baseball Tip 4. A couple of other philosophies to ingrain in the hitter with two strikes are to look away (outside pitch) and adjust in and to look fastball and adjust to off speed pitches. By looking away the hitter will keep his front shoulder on the pitch longer and it is easier to adjust to a slower pitch if looking fast then vice versa.
A couple of other baseball hitting instruction suggestions for the coach:
Have situational batting practice where hitters have counts on them – 2 strikes for example.
Mix up speeds in batting practice so hitters get more practice at adjusting to different speeds and pitches.
In the third base coaches box the coach should point to thier own eyes to remind the hitters to “see the ball”. Coaches should avoid giving mechanical hitting concepts like ’stay back” and “don’t over stride” – these suggestions will take away concentration from the ball which is where you want all the hitter’s focus. Encouraging comments like “you can do it” and “keep battling” are always good.
Finally, a heightened awareness is needed with two strikes. A couple of drills to give the hitter’s this concept are:
With a batting tee, short flips or drops (not regular batting practice) – Have the hitter close their eyes as the coach puts the ball on the tee – the coach can adjust the location of the tee, flip or drop each time – with their eyes still closed the coach tells the hitter to stride and then the hitter opens their eyes, finds the ball and immediately swings. These drills will give the hitter the feeling of heightened awareness and the sense of urgency necesssary with two strikes on them.
I step out, shorten up just a little bit, take one deliberately compact swing, hold hands a hair closer to body, step in, remind self to "trust the hands", deep breath - exhale - here we go ....
Shorten up. For me this just means no stride or pick up the front foot and put it down. Hands stay back a little longer and contact become most important while power is sacrificed. I look to take the ball to the opposite field and let the ball travel deep in the zone. Even with the above, I recommend staying as aggressive as always. Choking up on the bat is not comfortable for me, but works well for some.
One of the key things to help you win the battle with two strikes is to crowd the plate a little and move up in the box a little as well, for any normal pitcher who doesn't have anything extreme, like a ninety five mph fast ball for example. This strategy will tend to let you take away the outside pitch which many pitchers like to try and get you out with. Also, it let's you see any breaking pitch with a little less break or drop, because you're up in the box.
The other guys covered the stuff about choking up a bit, but you'll need to put your mental state of mind on hyper confident as well. You can step out between pitches and take a practice swing visualizing super sharp contact with the next pitch. By practicing filling your mind with positive mental rehearsal before each pitch, you will keep the anxiety demon at bay.
Think top half as well, which will make it harder to miss because the overwhelming percentage of missing is under. Lastly, if you learn to practice what follows, it is super effective when the situation desparately calls for emergency contact. Like with a terribly dominant pitcher. Regularly practice shortening up and check swinging balls just like pepper, but a bit crisper. You can get very good at popping little shots over the infield. You need to practice it is all.
I gotta agree with Ted I tell my son 0-2 inch up in the box and step into the plate and relax because the pitcher is either gonna buzz you off the plate and waste a pitch or try to fool you with a breaking ball but the main thing is to stay relaxed and focused and swing if it's close
I average about 80 games played a year. I normally don't put myself in that situation, but when it does happen, I do move up in the box with a slight choke. I'm looking for something off-speed with movement. If I get a fastball anywhere around the plate, I'm either hitting it or fouling it off. But I'm looking for off-speed, anticipating the drop, yet not ready to chase one out of the zone. Lastly, I'm looking to go the other way, especially if a fastball is in the zone.
I think you change your mental approach, because you have to expect that the pitcher will come with the same pitch he threw you the first time. If you took the first pitch, & made the pitcher think that you are intimidated by that pitch, then more than likely, he will come back with that same pitch, & that's when you drive it.
As a long time player my personal approach of hitting with two strikes I do some mental and physical adjustments at the plate. I step out of the box to take a relaxing deep breath and a quick assessment of the situation. How many outs, runner's on, game score, what inning, etc. Yes, that is already part of the hitting plan when you step in the box but with two strikes being even more mentally prepared is now critical. Other thoughts: Does the pitcher have a history of wasting pitches or are you prone to swinging at almost any pitch near the strike zone. Mentally focusing on the ball release becomes even more important to pick up speed, rotation and location. No guessing. I think widening the stance helps and just trying to make contact rather looking to drive the ball cuts down on the K's too. I don't choke up on the bat because I feel I have selected the proper bat size already and I want to reach any pitch out over the plate. Years ago I would swing at pitches early in the count to avoid the 0-2, 1-2 counts and since I've taken a better mental approach to hitting with two strikes I am comfortable and getting better at bats and better pitches to hit. It is also frustrating to a pitcher to give up a hit or a walk with an 0-2, 1-2 count and that will benefit hitters the next time around.
I have been taught in years past to change some the physical mechanics of my swing: no stride, choke up, use the arms more. And, in truth, I have found it harder to hit the two-strike pitch because of two reasons. One, you are outside of your comfort zone by using a different swing. Two, instead of thinking about hitting the pitch you are thinking about to hit the pitch, which is where the frozen batter comes into play.

Simplify, everything and pursue only one objectives. Hit the ball. It does not matter where the ball is, if it is comes hit it. The mental strategy is the only thing that changes.
Hitting in the lower third of the batting order and usually with men on my first appraoch is to see as many pitching as I can stand. If and when I get two strikes on me, I then shorten up! I usually choke up on the bat a little and look to drive the ball in play any way I can. For me it makes me look (concentrate) harder at a good pitch to hit try not to get fooled by something off speed and make contact.


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