Mental Approach to Pitching

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1 Mental Approach to Pitching Since you were a young boy, you have been overwhelmed by coaches who teach only the mechanics of pitching. What they fail to realize, however, is that mechanics is only one aspect of pitching. Furthermore, they do not address common problems such as: 1. An increase in cases of Paralysis by Analysis, a condition by which pitchers begin to worry so much about their mechanics that they fail to focus on the task at hand- Getting A Hitter Out! 2. Developing a competitive nature within the members of their staff. To avoid this situation much must be said about the mental approach to pitching. To make things easier to understand, we will lump things into three basic areas; 1. Pitch Smart 2. Work Fast 3. Be tough I. Pitching Smart There is an old baseball belief that hitting is simply timing. If that is true, then defining pitching is made much easier. PITCHING IS SIMPLY RUINING A HITTERS TIMING. Once you find this to be true you will more fully understand the following belief. A good high school pitcher normally throws one pitch for strikes more than 60% of the time. As the hitters in college baseball become better, an effective collegiate pitcher must be able to command at least two pitches or speeds. Pitch Selection By Counts A. Getting Ahead ( 1-1, , and 0-0) A Hitter s batting average drops over a hundred points if a strike is thrown in these counts. B. Making Them Hit (3-0, 3-1, 3-2, 2-0, 2-1, 2-2) The best college hitters batting average is just over.400. This means that when facing the best, at their best, he will get himself out six times out of ten. Tilt Pitching Tilt pitching is a combination of two pitches. The first, a set-up pitch is thrown up and in on the hitter. The second is thrown down and away immediately following the set-up. In a pitcher s advantage situation (0-1, 0-2, 1-2), tilt combination set up a hitter for a strike out or a weakly hit ball to the opposite side.

2 Over the Falls A pitch thrown over the falls is an off speed pitch which breaks from the hitter s knees and into the dirt. Usually, this pitch is thrown when ahead in the count (0-1, 1-1.) Ideally we want the batter to chase the pitch. Furthermore, it may serve as a successful set up pitch. Put simply, if you are too far ahead of the hitter, DO NOT THROW IT FOR A STRIKE. Bitch Pitch This phrase requests you to throw your best pitch in the best location. It will usually come in situations where you are ahead of the hitter, or in situations in which we have predetermined that if a guy is going to reach base via a hit he will have to do so hitting your best pitch. As we are so far ahead in the count, we want him to hit this pitch. Examples of Bitch Pitches A. Fastball on the outer half and down B. Over the Falls breaking pitch C. Change Up in the dirt D. FB Up, out of the zone II. Working Fast As a pitcher, you must understand that you have the ability to dictate the tempo of the game. This ability carries over to the other players. For instance, experienced infielders will tell you that it is much easier to work behind a pitcher who moves quickly and throws strikes. Furthermore, many hitters feel unsettled about a guy who works fast, and dares them to step into the box. Consequently, we promote working quickly. Keep in mind however, that he does not mean speeding up one s mechanics, but instead deals solely with the time between pitches. III. Being Tough As a pitcher you must want to compete and you must believe that you are better than the hitter in the box. Furthermore, you must learn to deal with those things in which you have no control over. For example, 1. The Weather 2. The Opposition 3. Errors 4. The Playing Surface 5. Park Dimensions 6. Your W/L Record 7. Your Health to an extent 8. An Umpire 9. The Time that you have to get ready 10. Mound Conditions

3 A tough pitcher will find a way to deal with these things, while a weak one will become engulfed by them. As a pitcher, you will find many around you that will have the competitive edge. Similarly, you will also find some who lack toughness. Perhaps the best way to develop toughness is to mirror the behavior of those whom you respect. IT DOES NOT MATTER HOW GOOD YOU ARE PHYSICALLY, IF YOU LACK MENTAL TOUGHNESS. The Plan Pitching Plan and Count Situations The pitching plan is a simple, well developed scheme to enable the pitcher to get ahead and stay ahead of hitters (reduced pitch counts), increase the trust and confidence of the pitcher/catcher combination, minimize the guest work out of pitching (pitches and locations), reduce the number of visits to the mound, and off the foundation of situational pitching on which the pitcher can relay. Catchers With this system, you are in control of what pitches are thrown and when. You must understand and be able to execute the plan in order for our pitchers to be successful. You also need to familiarize yourself with each of our pitches and know what their strengths and weaknesses are. Pitchers You need to learn to TRUST the system. Once you become proficient with your control, you will realize its effectiveness. You are going to be ahead of the hitters which will keep you pitch counts down, allowing you to stay in the game. 1. Hit the Catcher s Glove 2. Throw the ball to the plate on a DOWNWARD PLANE 3. Throw two of you first three pitches for strikes. Remember the 1-1 count is the most important because a strike will put us ahead of hitters and throw our best pitches to our most consistent locations, rather than completely relying upon a hitter s weaknesses. We want to CHALLENGE the batter to hit one of our first three pitches. 4. The more pitches a hitter sees the better he becomes: get rid of him fast! Situational Pitching 1. In counts we are never even with the hitter. Instead we are always ahead or behind (1-1, and 2-2 counts are considered behind.) Whenever we are behind throw a strike. 2. When ahead, you have the freedom to throw whatever pitch or set up you want 3. General Rules a. 2 inside- Throw next pitch outside 2 inside- Throw next pitch inside b. 2 hard- Throw an off speed pitch 2 soft- Throw a fastball

4 Reading Hitters First of all, it must be understood that a pitcher must pitch to his strengths. This said it is also important to state that the hitter s weaknesses are many times evident and may be used against him. You can witness his weaknesses by watching: 1. Batting Practice a. Does he have a short swing? (Does the knob of the bat go down) b. Does he use all fields? c. Does he roll his hands at contact? 2. Body Build a. Is he strong? b. Does he have a runner s body? 3. Previous Games and At Bats a. Does he change his approach with two strikes? b. Does he hit the first pitch? c. Will he chase when behind in the court? d. Will he get himself out? 4. The way He Takes Pitches a. Does he keep his hands back on off speed pitches? b. Does he fly open? 5. His Feet and Placement in the Batter s Box Once these things are noticed, we may classify most hitters into specific types. Slap Guy Usually hits either at the beginning or at the end of the line up. Normally a good runner who lacks upper body strength, he often lines up off of the plate looking to hit everything up the middle or to the opposite field. Usually he stays back well and has a short swing, making him an ideal hit and run guy. Also, he is usually a good bunter Big League Examples- Brett Butler, Walt Weiss, Tom Goodwin To Get Him Out Bust him in with hard stuff, and make him try to pull the ball. Once you do this successfully, you may notice that he will scrap staying back and try to jump out to avoid getting jammed. When this happens, he becomes vulnerable to off speed.

5 Pull Guy Usually hits in the middle of the order. This is the big strong kid who wows everyone in batting practice with his home runs to the pull side. He normally lines up on top of the plate, daring you to beat him inside. As he looks to pull everything he normally has a difficult time staying back. He can neither bunt nor run, and it is not a good guy to hit and run with because he has a long swing. Big League Examples- Mark McGwire, Jeff Bagwell, and Jose Canseco To Get Him Out- Even though he is on top of the plate and appears that he can crush the outside pitch, in actuality this is the pitch that he struggles with the most. As a result, work away and with off speed. When ahead, you can challenge him up and in, but realize that if you make a mistake there and leave it over the plate, he can hurt you. Combination Hitter Normally hitting in the three or four hole, these guys are the best athletes and are dangerous because they do several things. He runs very well, and also has some power. He will use all fields and bunt for a base hit. Big League Examples- Ken Griffey Jr., Barry Bonds, Andruw Jones To Get Him Out- This is the guy that we do not want to beat us. We must get ahead of him with our best pitch. With bases empty, challenge him. With a base open, be smart and make him hit your pitch. Plumber This guy does nothing above average. He hits down in the order and is in the lineup for defensive purposes. He will try to bunt and slap but normally has a hard time doing either one. Whenever possible, he will sacrifice bunt. He can hurt you by reaching base by a walk or hit by pitch. Big League Examples-Mario Mendoza, Rafael Belliard, Luis Sojo To Get Him Out- Throw strikes and make him hit. Do not be too fine. Holding Runners It is said that the double play is the pitcher s best friend as it eliminates the big inning. Perhaps the following examples best illustrates this. Mike, a RHP, walks the leadoff hitter of an inning. Noticing that Mike stays set each time and does not change his looks, the runner at first gets a good read on him after the second pitch. On the third pitch, the runner uses his read and gets a good jump. Although Mike is quick to the plate and is catcher got the ball to second in less than 2.0 seconds, the runner is safe. With a 1-2 count and a runner on second, the

6 hitter grounds out the second baseman, allowing the runner to advance. The next hitter hits a sacrifice fly ball to left field, scoring the runner at third. OR Mike walks the leadoff man of an inning. Changing his looks and the time he becomes set, the runner at first is unable to get a good read on him and cannot steal. On the third pitch of the at bat, the hitter hits a ground ball to the second baseman, resulting in a double play. The next hitter hits a fly ball to the left fielder for the final out of the inning. I. Be Quick to the Plate A. Slide Step i. Pick up the stride foot and turn the stride knee toward the back knee ii. Get your hand out of your glove quickly in order to give your arm time to get back iii. Achieve a balance point, albeit a quick one, on each pitch B. If you chose not to use the slide step, work to be quicker than 1.5 seconds from the time you break your set until the ball reaches the plate. C. Change Your Looks and the Time That You Are Set i. Head Bobs ii. Number of Times that you look at second base iii. One, Two, and Three seconds set iv. Freeze out and step out v. Picks 1. Hook em Horns Picks

7 Running Situations Running Situations and How to Defend the Stolen Base In determining when the situation may be running, you must factor in: Ball/Strike Counts Hit and Run Situations 1. The runner s speed- Determined by a. His body build b. How he ran in previous at bats or games c. His position d. Statistics 2. Their Batting Order a. Normally it is not a good idea to run with two outs and the bottom of the order up. 3. The Hitter s Ability 4. The Game Situation a. Inning b. Score 1. With no outs or one out in running situations, the opposition will most likely run in non pitchout situations. These may be defined as counts other than 0-1, 0-2, and 1-2. Furthermore, they will not run with a 3-0 count. In reading this the importance of getting ahead is stressed. By throwing strikes earlier in the count you give the opposition fewer chances to run. 2. With two outs, the opposition is likely to be more aggressive. As a result, the only count in which they will not run is 3-0. With a contact hitter at the plate and a runner on first, first and second, or first and third, the opposition may elect to hit and run. Once again they are most likely to do so in non pitchout counts (0-0, 1-1, 2-1, and 3-1). 1. With a contact hitter at the plate and a runner on first, first and second, or first and third, the opposition may elect to hit and run. Once again, they are most likely to do so on non pitchout counts, (0-0, 1-1, 2-1, and 3-1.)

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