The concept behind The Strike Plate® is much like that of a batting tee. Think about how a batting tee is trained with and the goals a player is trying to meet while hitting off a tee. Form, technique, hand - eye coordination, muscle memory, etc. are all terms that would be used to describe training with a batting tee.
These are also the same terms that should be used when explaining the hows and whys of training with The Strike Plate®.
Additionally, like a batting tee it can be used by an individual to do personal training as much and as often as desired.
How it Functions
The Strike Plate's vertical arms use a proprietary pendulum design. When struck the vertical arms have enough give to let the ball pass then settle back to their vertical position. It was specifically designed to set still in less than 20 seconds. In real game time situations that is approximately the amount of time it takes for the catcher to throw back the ball, the pitcher get ready and throw another pitch.
The exact time it takes for the vertical arm to set still varies deepening on the speed of the pitch, location of hit, etc. Generally the vertical arms will settle down and set still in less than 15 seconds. If a player wants to work faster than that they can always throw at the plates on the other vertical arm.
How to Train with it
The Strike Plate® is a very versatile training device that can be used in many ways and is limited only to a player's imagination.Here is the way we would suggest you start your training.
If at all possible use TSP in conjunction with a Home Plate underneath it.
For most it is unrealistic to expect to be able to hit the targets (with any consistency) at the full distance from the mound to home plate.
With that in mind - start by moving up and throw at a distance of an attainable challenge. A hit rate of 1 out of 3 to 4 pitches is a reasonable measure to use.
As it becomes easier to hit from that range - a rate of 3 out of 4 or 5 - back up to the attainable challenge range again.
Continue to repeat this and hopefully at some point the pitcher will gain the skill to hit them on a consistent basis from the mound to home plate (and ultimately even farther).
It is Important to Remember:
While hitting the targets is the ultimate goal, training to hit a small target away from the middle of the strike zone should be a point of emphasis. In short, from a training perspective trying to hit the targets on The Strike Plate is virtually as important as actually doing it.
Why It was designed
1. To help players become pitchers. It allows players to realistically practice pitching without the need of a catcher and coach. The Strike Plate® "coaches" players to pitch to the correct spots. With The Strike Plate® they can pitch as much and as often as they want and ultimately turn them into a pitcher.
2. To train pitchers how to hit a spot. The Strike Plates were specifically designed to be the size of a baseball so when a pitcher hits one they have hit the exact spot they were aiming for. When a pitcher hits a catcher's mitt, assuming the catcher does not move it, they have hit an area 4 times the diameter of a baseball. This is the difference between training a pitcher to hit an exact spot verses hitting a location. You can lay 9 or 10 baseballs flat on the face of a catcher's mitt.
How It was designed - It was designed to show the pitcher exactly where and where not to pitch the ball.
The four plates represent the upper and lower corners of a strike zone. The outer vertical bars place the centers of the strike plates precisely on the edges of home plate. The center vertical bar sets in the exact center of home plate. The horizontal bar is approximately upper thigh high.
As the ball passes by The Strike Plate® the pitcher immediately knows how well he did. The closer to the center and horizontal bar the worse - the closer to one of the strike plates the better. This relays the proper info to the player's brain to make the needed pitching adjustments.
The plates are not an easy target and are designed around the idea of "aim small miss small." This is a well known statement in shooting sports that is a proven fact. Aiming at a small spot will automatically get you closer to the exact dot you want to hit. Getting pitchers to understand this and training them to aim at a small spot was a major consideration in the design of The Strike Plate®.
Who it was designed for
The Strike Plate® was designed with 10- 12 year old players in mind but can be used for any age group. The Strike Plates were placed using the rule book defined strike zone for the average height of an 11 year old boy. As stated before The Strike Plate® can be used for any age because the plate width never changes and the strike zone is always subjective to each individual umpire. The key is it teaches the pitcher to stay out of the middle and to hit a desired spot.
The reason the 10-12 age group was selected is because this is when most leagues start letting players pitch. At this point every player is a prospect . Unfortunately due to lack of team practice time only 2 or 3 players per team will even get the chance to try to pitch. Only the players who can throw hard or get it over the plate will be worked with by the coaches. Then the players are labeled - this one can pitch this one can't - and in any given community for the most part these are your pitchers for this age group forever. Look around and you'll see most every high school pitcher was a little league pitcher and rarely if ever is the reverse true.
There is no such thing as having too many pitchers. Look at a College or MLB roster and it is obvious. Also lots of high level position players are former pitchers. The truth is when you look down the road of a future player their best bet to reach high level ball is having the ability to pitch, even if in the end they play a position other than pitcher.
We believe there is a little pitcher inside every person that wants to play. Every player can throw a baseball but pitching has to be learned and the only way to learn is to practice. The Strike Plate® allows everyone to practice pitching correctly, as much and as often as they want.
The 10-12 year old group was also selected because it is much easier to teach someone to pitch to the corners to start with. The usual way is to teach them to first throw down the middle of the plate then several years later start telling them to throw it to the corners and get mad at them because they can't keep it out of the middle of the plate. Well after several years of obtaining the muscle memory to throw it down the middle of home plate where do you think they are going to naturally throw it?
The Strike Plate® helps a pitcher learn to keep their pitches out of the middle of home plate. It starts training them from the very first pitch and continues to train them each and every pitch.
Who designed it
The Strike Plate® was invented by Doug Besherse. Doug has spent the majority of his life hitting targets and teaching others how to hit targets. He was a collegiate Pitcher and Catcher in Central Florida and has coached players from Tee Ball to College level.
Professionally Doug has spent the last 25 plus years working and participating in the shooting sports industry where he excels in shooting equipment without the aid of an aiming device or sight.