When our batters have two strikes at the plate, we often yell, “Protect the plate!” But have we taught them how to do that? With two strikes in the count, the player is going to feel some pressure anyway, fearing a strikeout. That nervousness is going to affect their judgment, maybe causing them to swing at a bad pitch.
They need to be taught that “protect the plate” doesn’t mean swing at anything in the general vicinity. We mean they need to widen the zone a bit and shorten their swing, doing their best to make contact on pitches that could be called strikes. They might want to choke up on the bat and shorten their stride.
Here’s an article from baseballtips.com that offers some specific moves you can teach your kids to make when hitting with two strikes. The writer, Coach Sam Piraro of San Jose State University, suggests a number of useful and specific mental as well as physical adjustments. He adds that by making contact, the batter creates the possibility of advanced runners, forced errors, bloop hits, bad hops/lost in the sun and a frustrated pitcher.
He suggests using ball-strike count settings during batting practice. An excellent idea! That way the kids can learn to make the basic adjustments without the pressure of the game, when they don’t want to trudge back to the bench after whiffing in front of teammates and parents. Let them practice hitting with two strikes so when you yell, “Protect the plate” they’ll know what you mean and what to do.