Log-in
Search

Go Zone 1, 2, 3

Posted on April 17, 2013 by Stephen Stemle | 0 comments

Zones 1, 2, and 3 are collectively called the Go Zone.  They are green to represent passage and should be the first Zones you get comfortable throwing in.  Pitches that hit the Go Zone are quality strikes no matter what pitch you throw. The 2 Zone is not as tall because it is easier to hit a pitch high in the strike-zone over the middle of the plate compared to a pitch in the 1 or 3 Zone (the inner or outer-thirds of the plate). Every pitcher wants to stay away from the belt-high pitch in the middle of the plate. 

To command pitches in the Go Zone, you must have a downhill plane on the flight of the baseball to reach the bottom two-thirds of the strike-zone.  When a pitch is thrown on a downhill plane the hitter is more likely to hit the top of the ball, producing a ground ball or a swing and miss.  Its more difficult for the hitter to recognize the velocity of the pitch and the pitch type when pitches are in or below the Go Zone. 

If the pitch is flat, or ends up above the Go Zone and below the letters, it is much easier for the hitter to square the ball at contact.  The objective of the hitter is to put the bat on the plane of the ball for as long as possible. When a flat pitch, or a pitch with horizontal movement, crosses the plate, it stays in the hitters bat path longer than a pitch with a downhill plane.

Flat planed pitches move horizontally early in ball flight compared to the short late movement of pitches with a downhill plane.  The earlier the ball moves out of the pitchers hand the more time the hitter has to recognize and time the pitch.  

Use the Go Zones to get ahead of the hitter in 0-0 counts, getting ahead puts the hitter in a defensive mode and makes them protect the plate.  Getting ahead in the count also gives you more pitch-choices a hitter is willing to swing at. As you get ahead in the count, pitch type, pitch Lokation, and sequence possibilities increase for the hitter. If you are unable to command the Go Zone in 0-0 counts and hitters get ahead in the count, the odds of them seeing a fastball go up.  

The further behind in the count a hitter falls (0-1, 0-2, 1-2), the more likely they will expand their strike-zone.  This means they will swing at a higher percentage of pitches toward the edges of the plate or under the strike-zone (4, 5, 6 Chase Zones).  It gives the hitter a sense of urgency.  They are more likely to protect the plate and expand the strike-zone while behind. Statistically this will reduce the hitter’s batting average and power numbers.

Getting ahead in the count 0-1 puts you on the offensive and gives you more control of the at-bat. Getting ahead puts the hitter is in a defensive mode and you have more options of pitches and Lokations the hitter will swing at. While behind, they must protect the plate and defend against more pitch possibilities.

If the hitter is behind in the count with two strikes they must protect the entire plate including the corners. That adds up to nearly 24 inches of space to defend. And if they must also consider two or three possible pitches in multiple Lokations, they're timing will generally be at its worst. This is why hitters are taught to shorten their swings with two strikes, so they have longer to recognize a pitch before putting a swing on it.

If you consistently get behind in the count, 1-0, 2-0, 3-0, 2-1 or 3-1, which are called hitter's counts, you must throw strikes to avoid a walk. When the batter is in a hitter's count, they can be very selective and look for the perfect pitch because they understand you have to throw a strike to avoid a walk. This narrows pitch Lokations and possibilities a hitter has to take into consideration and makes timing easier. 

When you are forced to throw a strike, the percentage of fastballs usually increases. When a hitter expects a fastball and gets a fastball, their timing is at its best.  This is when the fastball actually looks slower to the hitter than it actually is because timing is good.  We call this decreasing perceived velocity. 

When a hitter is ahead in the count they can look for one pitch in one area. This limits the areas they have to protect against and the number of pitches they are willing to swing at.  In a 2-0, 2-1, 3-0 or 3-1 count, a hitter can cut the plate into sections and decide beforehand which pitches he is willing to swing at. A fastball is the most common pitch a hitter will decide to “sit on” or expect.  Most professional hitters use this approach to some extent.

 

Continue reading →

Purpose Zones 7, 8

Posted on April 14, 2013 by Stephen Stemle | 0 comments

The Purpose Zones are yellow to represent caution. Throwing Purpose Pitches for a ball will be one of the most effective tools you can use as a pitcher.  It is equally as important to throw pitches off the plate inside as it is to throw strikes. Not every pitch has to be a strike to serve a purpose. This is a little known fact among coaches and pitchers alike.

Target Purpose Zones to keep hitters honest and prevent them from diving over the plate to reach an outside pitch. If the hitter recognizes a pitcher is afraid to throw in the Purpose Zone they can look for the pitch middle away, dive over the plate and actually pull outside pitches  This raises batting averages and power to all fields. 

Generally the pitcher owns the outer-half of the plate and the hitter has the edge on the inner-half. If you can't throw the Purpose Pitch, the hitter will begin to get comfortable in the batter's box. Once the hitter recognizes that you won't throw the Purpose Pitch they own both halves of the plate and they can reach a bigger percentage of the outer Go or Chase Zone.

                 

The more Lokations you command, the less likely hitters will anticipate what Lokation the next pitch will be in.  If they can eliminate Lokations they know you cannot command from their minds, they have better possibility of getting the pitch and Lokation they're looking for.  This will make timing better and pitch recognition easier. 

The object of the Purpose Pitch is to move the hitter's shoulders, hips, or feet backwards.   The illustrations shown below are ideal hitter reactions to each level of the Purpose Zone fastballs.

 

 High Purpose Pitch Reaction

     

 

Mid Purpose Pitch Reaction

 

Low Purpose Pitch Reaction

 

Targeting the Purpose Zones is not intending to hit the batter in any way. The goal is to throw in the open area between the inside corner of the plate and the hitter to keep them honest. Catchers should recognize this area and be able to set up inside off the plate to make it easier for the pitcher to get the fastball inside. Aiming for an umpire’s mask can also be a good target if he is between the catcher and hitter.

The lower the purpose pitch is the further inside it has to be. The higher it is the more towards the inside corner it can be.  This is why the Purpose Zones go further towards the hitter, the further down they go

A hitter generally will not move out of the way of a pitch that hits the inside corner of the plate at or below the waist. But if you raise that pitch from the waist to the elbows of the hitter, he's most likely getting out of the way.  If the pitch is from the hitter's letters to his belt on the inside black of the plate, the pitch should work, but when you go below the belt on the inside corner, the pitch has to be further inside off the plate to move the hitter's feet.

The most useful Purpose Pitches are at the numbers 7 and 8.  These move the hitter back off the plate and will stand them straight up so they are more susceptible to the pitch down-and-away later in the count.  

Older pitchers can work on executing the fastball through the arm side 7 or 8 Purpose Zones and then the curveball or change up in the Go Zone in succession during bullpens. If hitters know you will throw the Purpose Pitch it be more difficult for them to keep their front side in on a breaking pitch.  

Both the Purpose Pitch and Go Zone Curveball are in the same area or "slot" when the ball is halfway to the plate so it looks like the same pitch which makes it harder for the hitter to recognize the pitch.  It actually takes them longer to recognize the pitch making timing harder as well.  If you never throw the Purpose Pitch, then the hitter can recognize the curveball early in flight because it is the only pitch that spends time in the Purpose Zone.   

For younger pitchers a change-up in the Go or Chase Zones can be just as successful following a Purpose Pitch. After you throw the Purpose Pitch the hitters timing is geared up for the fastball, so the change up looks slower afterwards and you have a bigger percentage of the outer part of the plate to work with.  The opposite of high and hard will always be slow and low.  Disrupt timing!

 

Continue reading →

Over Zone (O Zone)

Posted on April 12, 2013 by Stephen Stemle | 0 comments

The red area from approximately the hitters waist to shoulders is called the Over Zone or the O Zone.  This Zone can be dangerous but it also can be used to your advantage. It is generally dangerous  when your behind in the count and with off speed pitches but can be used successfully in a number of different situations.

The most common way the O Zone is used is when a particular hitter has trouble lying off of the high-heat at his letters.  After you see the hitter chase the high fastball you can throw the next pitch slightly higher to see if they're willing to chase it again.  Keep throwing the fastball slightly higher and higher to see how high the batter is willing to chase. This strategy of pitch-sequencing is called “climbing the ladder.”   Pitchers with good velocity are more likely to use this strategy more often. 

After throwing two or three high hard fastballs in the O Zone, hitters are set up for the off-speed, which translates to a change-up or breaking ball in the bottom of the Go Zone or 4 Zone. The opposite of high-and-hard is low-and-slow. Using this sequence is an example of changing speeds and Lokations on consecutive pitches to disrupt the hitter’s timing.  It can also be called speeding up the hitter's bat.

It is better to practice aiming at the top half of the O Zone around the hitter's chest.  This is one of the few instances where it can be dangerous to miss down.  4 seam Fastballs in the O Zone will change the hitter's eye level and timing.  Commanding the O Zone will give you a chance at a getting a swing, unlike the Purpose Zone, especially if the hitter has trouble laying off the high heat.

Once you command the O Zone the hitter has tracked and timed a high flat planed fastball.  They know they would need a quick bat and good fastball timing to hit that pitch squarely.  After the hitter tracks the high fastball they keep that timing for the next pitch, so it will generally be harder to time a change up in the Go or 4 Zone afterwards. They will most likely swing early or shift their weight forward early on a change up in the Go or 4 Zone.  This is called speeding the hitter's bat up.   

The O Zone is also very useful for pitchers who throw the 12-6 curveball.  Breaking pitches with heavy vertical movement, tilt, or top spin mostly break within the hallway of the plate to the pitching rubber.  That 12-6 breaking ball has to be aimed in the RB for the pitch to end in the Go or 4 Zone.  Once you command the breaking ball in the Go Zone, you can throw the fastball behind it from the same slot (O Zone) where the previous BB started to break.  Hitter's will see both the fastball and breaking ball in the same spot when the pitch is halfway to them.  This makes timing and pitch recognition difficult. 

There are times to use the O Zone instead of the Purpose Pitch.  You don't always want to throw an aggressive pitch inside off the plate towards the hitter in all situations.  When facing the bottom of the order and ahead in the count, facing a slumping hitter, or have the bases loaded, the O Zone can be used instead of a Purpose Pitch.  It will set the hitter up for an off speed pitch without taking a big risk of hitting them.  Game situations will have a big impact on how aggressive you should be with Purpose Pitches.  Know when to use the O Zone instead! 

Continue reading →

 
Scroll to top