About that “hardly ever strikes out”

Last weekend I was watching a college fastpitch softball game on TV (surprise surprise) when one of the announcers started talking about how the current hitter rarely strikes out. This is one of those statements I’ve heard a number of times through the years, and while it seems to impress a lot of people I have to admit I’m not one of them. Aggressive fastpitch softball swing

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a fan of or in favor of striking out. But then, I’m not in favor of any type of out, and that’s what a strikeout is – an out.

You can make an argument that it’s better to put the ball in play because something still might happen. You can advance a baserunner, or maybe even get lucky with an error. And all that is true.

But if those things aren’t happening during your at bat then it really doesn’t matter whether the out is a strikeout, a popup, a ground ball or something else.

Here’s how I look at it. If you have a high batting average or OPS and low strikeouts, that’s impressive. But if you have a low batting average or OPS with low strikeouts, it’s not such a big deal. You may not be swinging and missing, but you’re not exactly crushing the ball either.

Not striking out can be accomplished simply by being very conservative with your swings. A slow, careful swing aimed at “just making contact” will help you avoid striking out. But it’s not exactly going to drive the ball into the outfield either.

Sure, you’ll manage a few flairs, a duck snort or two, maybe even a ground ball through a pulled-in infield. But you’re going to make it too easy for your opponents to get you out.

I’d rather see a hitter be aggressive, with an intention of hitting the ball hard, than laying back just trying not to strike out. Sure, you’ll miss a few. But the odds are a lot of good things will happen along the way. Better things, in fact.

In most games you only get a few swings at most. Be sure you’re taking advantage of every one of them. That way, if you’re ever on TV, the announcers will have more to say about the things you do than the things you don’t do.

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About Ken Krause

Ken Krause has been coaching girls fastpitch softball for nearly 20 years. Some may know him as a contributing columnist to Softball Magazine, where he writes Krause's Korner -- a regular column sponsored by Louisville Slugger. Ken is also the Administrator of the Discuss Fastpitch Forum, the most popular fastpitch discussion forum on the Internet. He is currently a Three Star Master Coach with the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA), and is certified by both the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) and American Sports Education Program (ASEP). Ken is a private instructor specializing in pitchers, hitters, and catchers. He teaches at North Shore Baseball Academy in Libertyville, IL and Pro-Player Consultants in McHenry, IL.

Posted on April 20, 2016, in Hitting and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Great article Ken. I agree with you completely on this. I get irritated when parents or coaches yell about swinging at bad pitches. I’d rather see them being aggressive than just trying to put the bat on the ball. A groundout is just as bad as a swinging strikeout.

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  2. Thanks, Mike. Agree on being aggressive. I particularly dislike coaches who teach their young teams to just wait for walks instead of swinging the bat. What do the kids learn? Better to be aggressive and swing at a few bad pitches than sit back on their heels.

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