As a baseball pitcher, you should be aware that your position in the team is one of the most crucial. When a baseball team fills out their rosters, they usually look for excellent pitching. That’s why pitchers are often dubbed as the “different-maker” in a game. So, if they don’t have their A-game, the chances of winning are slim.
If you’re an aspiring pitcher looking to improve your pitching, consider following the tried and true tips to polish your skills.
Polish Your Mechanical Skills
If you have a good arm but have issues with locating your pitches, it’s likely to be a mechanical problem. That’s because it’s challenging to control the ball if you can’t control your body and achieve a consistent release point. You can test out your strength control by using a sports radar gun to see how fast each pitch you make is, and once you identify the issues, you can make the necessary adjustments to improve your mechanics.
Check if your pivot foot alignment is in front of the rubber since this can affect horizontal control. You need to start throwing on the hand size of the rubber, meaning if you’re right-handed, start from the right side while pivoting your front foot in the same direction—and the opposite for left-handed individuals. Plus, you need to see if you square up your shoulders to the target because if you do, there’s a good chance you’ll have to shift your posture and lean to the glove side to do it properly.
Finally, check to see if you’re using a consistent grip. For a typical four-seam fastball grip, your fingers should be around 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch apart. However, if that isn’t working for you, widen out your grip slightly to improve control.
Physically Condition Yourself
As a pitcher, you’ll need to be physically fit to perform well. That’s because a pitcher’s fitness level can directly affect their ability to put the ball where they want in the strike zone. Adding strength and adequately conditioning your whole kinetic chain from your legs to the core of your arm can help you maintain a perfect balance alongside good posture throughout the delivery pitch.
Be Stable and Don’t Overdo It
When pitching, you mustn’t overgrip or raise aggressively since this would hinder your control. Your fingers need to be available to change positions to control the pitch during the last few seconds before releasing the pitch. Plus, you’ll need to stabilize your head when delivering the pitch since if you lose control here, you won’t likely be able to keep control.
Condition Your Mind
As a pitcher, besides being physically fit, you need to condition your mind. Check yourself to see if you’re concentrating well enough. That’s because you should be able to block out internal and external distractions, focusing on each pitch while being able to think about how you throw a particular angle, why you’re selecting it, and where you want to throw it. Additionally, it’s best to avoid doing too much to hone your skills better and be aware of your strengths and limitations.
It’s also worth noting that if you’re looking to become a great all-around pitcher, you’ll need to get rid of your fear of failing. Build your courage to complete under stressful situations, maintain your poise and emotions, and have ample self-discipline in harsh competitive conditions.
Finally, a crucial skill that every pitcher needs to have is the ability to visualize. It’s best to check if the pitcher’s head is still, especially following the release of breaking pitchers, since many of them pull down with their head and shoulder when throwing breaking pitches, losing sight of the ball.
Although this is fine, you should get your head up early enough to track the back of the ball into the hitting zone, readying to field your position and protect yourself. Additionally, the leading cause why pitchers often lose control is that they fail to get their eyes back on the target before coming through with the pitch since they’re so focused on looking at the runner.
You can work on your focus by getting yourself used to take a good look at targets before delivering, even if it means giving the runners an extra step of leadoff.
A big misconception in baseball is that playing the sport is enough to condition yourself to pitch, but that’s far from the truth. To get to the next level, you’ll need to prepare intensively as big-league pitchers spend more time preparing to pitch than pitching itself—and the tips mentioned can make the process easier.