Baseball Pitching Mind Games
Confidence in your Baseball Pitching
can be a very fickle business. Some days you can feel like
you are rolling along fine. Then, suddenly one bad thing
happens. Then, another happens, and then another.
Then, things really start to snowball. Other times you may feel that you can do no wrong. In this state, everything happens very easily for you and, you are
able to do just about whatever you want. You are in what
athletes call “the zone”.
challenge for every pitcher is to try to get most of his starts into this zone range. One reason pitchers have difficulty getting into or remaining in the zone is
due to a lack of concentration. A pitcher can improve his
concentration during a game by following this simple ritual:
1. Block out Background Noise: Before every batter,
make a point to block out all the background noise and to focus your attention only on the catcher’s mitt.
You do not want to be thinking about the fans, the backstop, the
umpire, the batter, or anything else. All your focus is on the
2. State, “Focus on the glove”: You should let any
thoughts that come into your head pass right through. Do not try
to think about those thoughts, just let them pass. Your focus remains on the glove and it is a good idea to even state this
mantra under your breath, “focus on glove” or some similar type expression.
3. If Difficulty Focusing, Re-Focus Again:
If you are still having
difficulty focusing, consider bringing down the bill of your baseball cap to make even more of a tunnel for
your eyes to follow to the catcher’s mitt. You can even bring up your baseball glove to just below your
eyes to narrow the target. Also, feel free to restart this
process again and again until you feel you have reached the desired state.
4. Begin Your Pitching: Once you feel you have
blocked out the background news, you should begin your pitching.
If you would like to
see an example of this exercise, go rent the movie, “For The Love Of The Game”. In this movie, Kevin Costner’s character goes through this type of ritual
when he uses the phrase, “Clear the mechanism” before pitching to the batter. Ultimately, you would like to get to a point where you have this level of
A second challenge
some pitchers have is confidence in their pitching when a mistake is made. A smart pitcher must
recognize that mistakes will happen. He could throw a hanging curveball that gets hit for a double to
the wall or maybe the second basemen boots an easy grounder. Regardless of how frustrating this might
be, a good pitcher must have a short term memory for these errors. Much like a quarterback who just
threw an interception, he must immediately forget that error and move onto the next pitch. This type of
short-term amnesia ensures the error doesn’t get you twice by dwelling on it with the next batter. Here
is a basic thinking ritual that can be performed to help with these
1. Breathe In and Exhale After the Error: Take one deep breath
and then exhale deeply. This will help you address the situation
2. State, “Oh, well. Nobody’s Perfect”: After you exhale, state under your breath, “Oh, well. Nobody’s perfect.”
This step will help
you compartmentalize the error.
3. Perform Focusing Ritual: Finally, start going back into the focusing ritual mentioned above.
This will allow you to shift your focus away from the error and
direct it toward a ritual that you have practiced again and again.
type of thinking ritual is good because it gives you a ready-made response for a stressful situation.
It allows you to address the problem right away and
compartmentalize it. Once you are able to do this, it is much
easier to turn your attention to the next batter. As you
advance in your baseball pitching career, you will begin to notice your success in baseball pitching tends to
focus more on how you handle these situations more than any other aspect of your game.
another tip on addressing high pitch counts, check out the article avoiding high pitch counts in baseball