Jay P. Granat, Ph.D.
What do top pitchers do mentally to throw more strikes and win more games?
Over the years, I have coached and counseled many outstanding pitchers. I have observed what enables them to get mentally tough and pitch in the zone when the pressure is on.
I have also studied what causes to them to choke, lose confidence,
Lose focus, lose control of their emotions, feel tension throughout their body and relinquish control of the strike zone.
What follows is a list of the mental skills that top hurlers bring to their games.
- They are confident on the mound.
- They know how to relax their minds and their before they pitch and when they pitch.
- Top pitchers know how to tune distractions and negative thoughts and maintain a laser-like focus on the task at hand.
- They know how to find some enjoyment in the game whether they win or whether they lose. Of course, they would rather win.
- To be a great starting pitcher you need at least three pitches.
- However, having four or five pitches that you can control can be a real asset.
- If you are a relief pitcher or a closer, you can probably be effective with two pitches.
- Good pitchers have a two to one strike to ball ratio.
- Good pitchers get ahead of the batter early on in the count.
- Speed is important, but movement on pitches is also very important.
- Good pitchers know how to waste pitches when necessary.
- Top throwers study batters very carefully and they have a strategy as to how they want to pitch to each hitter who they face.
- Good pitchers need to form good relationships with their coaches.
- Top pitchers have good relationships with their catcher.
- Top pitchers have good relationships with other pitchers.
- Outstanding pitchers strive for good relationships with the entire baseball organization.
- Pitchers need to develop an understanding of the kinesiology that underpins pitching.
- The best pitchers can tune out trash talk by their adversaries.
- Pitchers have simple mantras that they say to themselves in between pitches.
- They change these mantras periodically during their careers.
- The best pitchers are comfortable pitching on the road and at home.
- Like many athletic endeavors, pitching has a rhythm to it. Integrating and utilizing music as part of your mental training regime is a very useful idea. According to a study that I did with some interns some years ago, almost 97% percent of high school and college athletes use music in their training and they all believe that music can help them get into the zone. Create a track that helps you get into a good frame of mind and the right energy level.
- Many first rate pitchers love pitching with a big crowd watching.
- Mentally tough pitchers want the ball in key games. They like the challenge and they embrace the opportunity to compete in pressure packed situations.
- If they fall behind in the count, they can maintain their confidence, focus, relaxation, positive self-talk and championship body language.
- It is important for pitchers to determine if they are mentally best as a starter, as a relief pitcher or as a closer.
- Pitchers competing in large media outlets need to learn how to manage their relationships with the press and with reporters.
- Young pitchers have good relationships with their parents and their coaches.
- Pitchers who excel are not overly self-critical and are not overly perfectionistic.
- Many fine pitchers keep accurate data and spreadsheets so they can determine the best pitching strategy for a given hitter.
- Good pitchers know their ERA, their strike to ball ratio, the number of first pitch strikes they throw, the number of pitches they throw to each batter, their effectiveness against righties and lefties.
- It is essential for pitchers to understand their strengths and weaknesses and to always be improving on their mental skills and their physical skills.
- I have a lot of pitchers write personal essays of about 250 words describing being in the zone and being out of the zone. They learn a lot from this exercise with regard to what causes them to choke and what causes them to enter the zone.
- It is essential for pitchers to learn how to utilize self-hypnosis because hypnosis can recreate all the feelings, attitudes and behavior that activate and create the zone.
- Some athletes like to visualize a perfect performance. There is nothing wrong with this approach. However, I think visualizing a good performance may be better. I don't want to encourage perfectionism. You don't have to be perfect to perform very well.
- Also, visualizing being resilient after you struggle a bit may be very useful for pitchers. Many athletes who come to talk to me want to learn how to be more resilient when they get behind in the count or give up a long ball.
- In the zone the pitcher is confident, focused, relaxed, in the present, trusting his body mechanics, having fun and believes that his or her dreams can become a reality.
I have been teaching young athlete and world class pitchers and athletes these skills for thirty years and I have a number of self-help programs that are available on this site.
You can get my pitching video here: https://stayinthezone.com/shop/how-to-throw-more-strikes-with-sport-psychology-self-hypnosis/
You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at