Becoming a discipline hitter takes practice. It is not a skill that just comes with seeing pitches over the course of a season. It is a skill that must be actively practiced. The best way to practice discipline at the plate is with the inclusion of specific drills or a specific focus during every practice or training session.
All too often players get in the habit of swinging at every pitch during a round of batting practice or front toss. The problem arises when players expand their strike zone to swing at those pitches, creating a swing-mode mentality. Swing-mode mentality refers to the mind-set of hitters to swing at any pitch without deciding pitch-type, speed or location.
The goal with the following front toss drill is to make each hitter make a decision whether or not to swing the bat on every pitch. This will help with pitch recognition as well as keeping hitters back on the ball due to the fact that they have to see the ball the whole way to the hitting zone.
The drill is a normal front toss drill in the fact that the hitters can take regular swings as opposed to special focus drills such as Faceoff or Walk-up. The tosser will throw two types of balls to the hitter. One pitch will be with two-seam rotation and the other is with four-seam rotation. Simply have the hitter hit either the two-seam or four-seam and take the other. This requires the hitter to watch, recognize and track each and every pitch. Once the drill is mastered add in some other spin variations such as breaking ball spin or knuckle ball spin.
One thing to watch for with the hitter is how they are taking the pitches they must lay off. Keep and eye to see if the hitter is maintaining proper posture once the front foot hits the ground. Ensure that the top side or upper half is not diving over the plate and the hips are not leaking forward. The taken pitches during this drill can tell you more about your approach to the ball than the balls you actually swing at.
With this drill you will be able to work on pitch recognition, discipline and the ability to stay back and behind the ball. This drill is still great even if the hitter does not take a swing the entire round. Don’t let your hitter get frustrated if he takes a pitch he is supposed to swing at. Tracking the ball and recognizing spin is the most important part. The hitter still must decide if pitches are strikes to eliminate expanding the strike zone just to swing.