You should run from anyone who tries to tell you that pitching isn’t mental, that it’s merely a physical, mechanical endeavor. Being a pitcher is hard, in part because of how much the mental side comes in to play on a pitch-by-pitch, inning-by-inning basis. So, let’s go over a few traits you need to be great.
Learning the nuances of the game of baseball is as simple as paying attention. The best players pay attention whether in the game or the dugout and constantly assess risk & reward, cause & effect, and the habits of other players.
Too many pitchers don’t pick up the habits of hitters, learn pitch sequencing or situational pitching because they’re not engaged with the game. Because pitchers will only pitch, on average, 5–15% of their team’s total innings, it’s important that they pay attention to the game the other 90% of the time; most of the learning will take place when not on the mound.
“I threw this pitch and that happened.” “I missed that spot because my mechanics did this…” The best pitchers are their own pitching coaches, and are constantly assessing why they succeed, why they fail and how to make adjustments along the way. When one is observant he sets the stage for self-analysis, and self-analysis leads to self-discovery.
The time to be humble is after the game, when the job is done. Before the game, arrogance needs to be the prevalent attitude — are you better than your competition?
“You’re darn right I am — by a long shot. This team has no chance of even sniffing the baseball today. Runs? They’ll be lucky to get a single hit. Even on my bad days I’m unhittable.”
There’s no room for doubt or humility. You’re the best there’s ever been. Period. If they get a hit, it’s a fluke. If they get a bunch of hits, wow — they won the lottery.
To be unfettered means being confident, focused and undeterred in the face of adversity. Pitchers will find themselves in the most stressful situations of any player — one pitch can, and often does, determine the outcome. Bases loaded with no outs? Winning run on third? 3–1 on the cleanup hitter? Thousands in the crowd screaming against you? Hecklers in your ear? Great pitchers learn to not only remain calm, but thrive amid pressure and distraction.
Especially for starting pitchers, it can be a long handful of days before rectifying a bad performance. Dwelling on a poor outing will only cause more stress and anxiety the next time out. It’s important to be able to separate oneself from baseball when off the field, so personal happiness can be maintained. One’s personal life should never suffer because of a bad game, and baseball will stay fun and exciting if two separate lives are lived.
A routine is important, and developing a routine requires a pitcher with a focus on organization — arranging his life in a structured manner to ensure consistency. The best pitchers learn what works for them, develop a plan around what works, and they stick to it — every time out. Regardless of the between-game and pre-game ritual, the best pitchers adhere to them because consistency eliminates variables that could have a negative effect.
I Help Pitchers Become GREAT.
I’ve got tons more content to help you on your journey to the top. Start by downloading my free eBook, How to Throw a Hammer Curveball.
Originally published at www.danblewett.com on June 4, 2017