Sports Psychology And Baseball
Six Tips To Being A Better Baseball Pitcher
I get calls and emails from baseball players, parents of baseball players and coaches quite frequently.
They typically reach out to me with one of three problems:
They are stuck in a hitting slump.
They are struggling with the yips and can not throw accurately.
Pitchers are lacking in confidence, focus and control of their pitches and they can not throw strikes consistently.
Recently, I counseled one of the best baseball pitchers in my geographic area.
Like many elite athletes, he was quite perfectionistic and highly self-critical of himself and his performances on the mound, even though he had had a very fine baseball career when he came to see me.
In order to help this young competitor to do well in college and take his pitching to the next level, there were a number of psychological and emotional shifts which, I encouraged him to make several changes during our counseling sessions.
1. I reminded him that while pitching can be a lonely and individual task, his team mates and his coaches have some responsibility and role in determining the outcome of the game. If they make errors or do not hit, that is simply not his fault and their performances are, to a large extent out of his control. In short, he had to remember that he has others who can help him and take some pressure off of his shoulders.
2. Throwing strikes or pounding the strike zone is a useful thought for lots of pitchers. In fact, one of my DVD programs is called How To Throw More Strikes With Sport Psychology And Self-Hypnosis.
However, for this pitcher and for other pitchers,
this idea can sometimes be too rigid or too perfectionistic. Moreover, it can cause some pitchers to be too careful with the ball.
Instead of thinking of throwing strikes, I encouraged him to think of throwing in a manner that will “create outs.”
This idea freed this pitcher up to deliver pitches which can produce pop ups, fly outs and ground outs. These are desirable outcomes for any baseball pitcher.
Changing his thinking in this manner, also allowed him to feel more confident and comfortable on the mound.
3. I encouraged him to commit to a routine that would get him ready, confident and focused in the bullpen, in the dugout and in between pitches.
4. In talking with this young man, it seemed that he liked the idea of being a relief pitcher more than being a starter. I encouraged him to explain this to his college coaches and to see if he could assume that role once he got to the university.
5. I also suggested that he add another pitch to his repertoire. He threw a two seem fastball, a four seem fastball, a slider and a curve ball. Adding a cutter would help to keep his interest in the game and make it harder for hitters to guess what he might be throwing.
6. I showed this pitcher how he can use simple techniques from the disciplines of meditation, self-hypnosis and visualization to find his zone and the strike zone if and when he started to struggle on the mound.
Jay P. Granat, Ph.D. is a Psychotherapist, Author and Founder of www.StayInTheZone.com. He has appeared in many major media outlets including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, ESPN and Good Morning America. He is the author of many self help books and programs including How To Throw More Strikes, 101 Ways To Break A Hitting Slump and How To Get Into The Zone And Stay In The Zone With Sport Psychology And Self-Hypnosis. These products and others are available at www.StayInTheZone.com. Dr. Granat is available for seminars and coaching and can be reached at 888 580-ZONE or at firstname.lastname@example.org.