Are you a pitcher who wants to strike out more batters? Are you a parent of a pitcher
who would like your child to pitch to his or her fullest potential? Have you been pitching
poorly in big games lately? Do you feel like you or your kid is choking when he
or she steps on the mound?
Over the years, I have coached many talented baseball and softball pitchers. Lots of
them have had great arms, but many of them know little about the psychology of pitching
and hitting. A large number of these athletes need help I mastering the mental aspects
of the battle between the pitcher and the hitter.
In my opinion, there are many important psychological aspects of pitching. In
this article, I want to discuss a bit about pitching strategy and a bit about developing
the right state of mind for pitching effectively.
When I counsel pitchers who are not performing as well as they would like to, there
are a nine issues that I tend to focus on and emphasize initially.
1. First, I am usually in contact with their pitching coaches to make sure their
mechanics are solid. If the pitcher has mastered two pitches, I insist that
they learn a third one. If he or she has mastered three pitches, I want them
learn a fourth one. Having a variety of pitches makes you a superior
pitcher, because it gives you an edge in the guessing game that goes between
the hitter and the pitcher. If you have a good fast ball and can add a repertoire
of five pitches you can control the game and create a lot of difficulty for many
2. Add some deception and disguise to your pitching motion. Conceal the ball
and learn to deliver your pitches from different arm locations. This will
make it harder for the hitter to pick up the ball and makes it more difficult
for hitters to track the ball effectively.
3. Know the batters well and know what they like to hit and what they don’t
like to hit. Study the hitters you will face whenever you came. Watch
them in games and in batting practice. Take notes on what you observe and learn.
4. Hitter’s stances and body types give you a good idea as to what kinds of pitches they like to hit. In general, tall players with long swings like to extend on the ball.
5. Always consider the count and the game situation when selecting your pitches.
You must master the chess game that is a vital part of pitching. Many players
who I coach are very weak in this mental aspect of the game.
6. Remember what has worked well with particular hitters and what has not worked
well. If you have had success against a particular player, stay with your strategy.
If you have been hit hard by a batter, do something different.
7. Talk to other teammates, coaches and pitchers to learn as much as you can
about every batter you face. Study the charts of the game and develop a
data base about your opponents. Keep this information on your computer
and study it before the game.
8. Make sure that you, your coaches and your catcher are on the same page with
with regard to your strategy and your pitching plan for the game.
9. In order to develop the right mind set to pitch effectively, you need to learn
how to stay relaxed, focused and confident at all times. Many pitchers who
I counsel know a little bit about visualization, but few of them know how
to get themselves into the mental zone that they need to be in when they
step on the mound. I teach pitchers a variety of mental techniques including
self-hypnosis, hypnosis, meditation, relaxation training and guided imagery
so that they can learn how to ease themselves into the zone when they step
on the mound. Some of these techniques are practiced before the game and
in between innings others are used in between pitches or after a pitcher makes
a mistake and starts to lose his or her confidence.
Many top pitchers use Chapters 19 and 20 for confidence and Chapter 7 to
improve their precision and focus. To get the Stay In The Zone program
go to: http://www.stayinthezone.com/get_stay.htm
To contact Dr. Granat, regarding mental toughness coaching for pitching,
Call 888 580-ZONE. Or visit www.StayInTheZone.com.
Or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jay P. Granat, Ph.D.