Lokator Target Zone Blog Introduction

Posted on April 18, 2013 by Stephen Stemle | 0 comments

Welcome to the Lokator® Zone Blog.  Entries will consist of general descriptions of all Zones and explanations of how to use them.  It is crucial for pitchers, catchers, and coaches to recognize what Lokations, pitches, and patterns work best for each individual.  It is more important to understand yourself as a pitcher than it is to know the hitter's scouting report.   

Radar guns are more accessible than ever.  As a result, pitch command has been underrated recently in favor of velocity.  Anybody can read a number off a gun and call a pitcher the next superstar, but if they can't command the strike zone what good does it do?  The art of pitching is commanding Lokations, changing speeds, and applying movement to the ball.   

There is no question good velocity can help pitchers get away with Lokation mistakes and may even get weaker hitters out on a consistent basis at younger levels. But pitch command, pitch selection and proper sequencing are necessities when striving for consistent success.

Knowing which Lokations to target and when to throw specific pitches are the first steps in learning how to get a hitter out.

The Lokator® System will teach where and when to throw the correct pitch. Whether a pitcher has blazing velocity or not, with good Lokation, movement, and pitch selection, they can get outs on a consistent basis.

Many pitchers must learn pitch command and selection the hard way, by getting hit around and knocked out of games.  Confidence is such a big part of pitching and giving up hits and runs makes it more difficult to challenge hitters and get ahead early in the count.  Use the Lokator® System to gain confidence in practice and find yourself as a pitcher! 


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Chase Zone 4

Posted on April 16, 2013 by Stephen Stemle | 0 comments

The 4 Zone is the most important edge of the strike-zone to command.  It is black to represent the bottom edge of the strike-zone and runs a close second in importance to the Go Zone. It is crucial to your success to miss down. If you're trying to throw a strike low in the Go Zone and you miss, you want to miss in the 4 Zone or below. It will be less likely to get hit hard and have a better chance of getting an out.  

Hitting the 4 Zone guarantees a downhill plane on the pitch. This will lead to more ground balls and swing and misses. It will also make it more difficult on the hitter to perceive the velocity of the pitch. When you miss targeted Lokations and throw above the Go Zone, the hitter will be more likely to get his bat on the plane of the ball for a longer period of time.

It is better to throw borderline strikes in the 4 Zone than to throw a sure strike above the Go Zone. It is as important to miss in the correct Lokations as it is to hit the spot your targeting. The closer the pitch is to the hitter's eyes, the easier it is for them to measure up the pitch and get the bat on the plane of the ball. This results in balls being driven in gaps and out of ballparks.

The two-seam fastball that starts in the bottom of the Go Zone will often end up in the 4 Zone. The late movement of the ball makes it dive below the Go Zone after the hitter has already made up his mind to swing. This pitch comes in handy in many situations including:

  • a double play situation
  • a man on third with less than two outs
  • throwing a fastball in a fastball count  
  • first pitch to any hitter

In these situations, you can think about the 4 Zone as the catcher sets up and gives the target. 

Be aggressive early in the count and work in or below the Go Zone, get as many one-pitch outs via ground balls to an infielder as possible. Roy Halladay has been very successful at throwing the sinking fastball in the 4 Zone to induce groundballs early in counts. It keeps pitch counts down, fielders in the game, and also produces the highest double-play possibilities. 

The 4 Zone is also a good place for curveballs and change-ups at any point in the count, any pitch that ends in the 4 Zone has spent time in the strike-zone during flight. It is impossible for a pitch to hit the 4 Zone and be called a hanging pitch. Hanging pitches are pitches that are easy for the hitter to recognize and make contact with. Hangers are usually above the Go Zone with little movement (Danger Zone) just waiting to get crushed. 

It’s important to command breaking pitches in the 4 Zone because it usually means that the pitch has good "tilt" or "depth". Tilt is the top-spin or vertical movement of the curveball while it is crossing the plate. A breaking pitch with good tilt will look more appealing than one with very little tilt. One with no tilt (flat) will go from side-to-side and move off the plate earlier for the hitter to recognize. This will make it easier for the hitter to take the pitch or get his bat on the plane of the ball if he decides to swing. Many pitches in the 4 Zone will result in a ground ball, a called strike, or a swing-and-miss. 

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Danger Zone

Posted on April 11, 2013 by Stephen Stemle | 0 comments

Red represents danger. Stay out of the Danger Zone above the 2 Zone and below the black line at all costs.  When throwing a fastball behind in the count, the Freeze Zones turn to Danger Zones.  If the hitter is ahead in the count and expecting a fastball, the flat planed pitch is very dangerous and likely to be driven for extra-base hits and home runs.  It makes pitch recognition and timing easier and stays in the hitting zone longer.  Work on keeping missed Lokations below the Go Zone! 

The Danger Zone above the 2 gets a lot of airtime on Sportscenter because so many home runs are hit on these pitches.  Pay attention to baseball highlights to see proof that the Danger Zone is most often taken advantage of by hitters.  Offensive action is often closely connected to this area.  When announcers talk about hanging pitches they are usually referring to pitches in the Danger Zone.  

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Under Zone (U Zone)

Posted on April 10, 2013 by Stephen Stemle | 0 comments

The grey area under the Chase Zones (4, 5, 6) and the Purpose Zones (7, 8) is called the Under Zone or the U Zone.  It doesn't have outlined dimensions like the rest of the Zones but it still very important area to understand and use.  Often times when a pitch is swung at in the U Zone the results are a ground ball or a swing and a miss, but the key is to realize how to get swings at pitches in the U Zone.      

The U Zone shares many of the same qualities as the Chase Zone 4 other than you will rarely get a called strike call from it.  It is a safe place to miss when you are targeting Go (1, 2, 3) or Chase Zones.  It is almost as important to miss in the Under Zone as it is to hit the Zones you are targeting.  The U Zone guarantees a downhill plane on the ball and makes it difficult for the hitter to match the bat plane with the ball plane, this will reduce extra base hits and home runs.  Damage control is a huge component of the Lokator System.   

Hitters who have trouble with the breaking ball are very good candidates to fish for the curveball or slider in the Under Zone, especially when they are behind in the count looking to protect the plate.  Most breaking pitches that end in the U Zone have good tilt or depth, meaning there is most likely vertical movement on the pitch as it crosses through the hitting area.  This will always make it harder for the hitter to make solid contact.            

When a hitter takes a fastball in the Go Zone they recognize what the pitch looks like while the ball is in flight.  If you can follow the fastball with an off speed pitch starting in the same spot of the Go Zone, they will be more likely to swing after tracking the flight of the previous fastball.  Whether or not you use a breaking ball or a change up, the off speed pitch starting in the Go Zone will most likely end up in the U Zone instead of Go Zone, making the pitch more likely to be swung at.  To get swinging strikes in the U Zone it is crucial to command the Go Zone with your fastball.

For older pitchers who throw a split finger fastball, the U Zone can be the most important strikeout area of the Lokator.  A splitter that starts in the bottom of the Go Zone and has a late tumbling action towards the U Zone can promote a ton of strikeouts.  Pitchers with split finger fastballs should also concentrate on commanding their fastball in all three sections of the Go Zone and  following them with splitters in the same slot finishing in the U Zone.     



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