Keep Out Experiment In Progress

I believe there are 3 critical aspects to the Mental Side of Pitching.

For some reason most pitching coaches don’t focus on the mental side of pitching.   For years I thought it was one of my greatest strengths, but the reality was, when I got drafted by the Phillies I didn’t have a clue about what it mentally took to be a great pitcher.

So ever since then I have become obsessed with trying to figure out how as a pitching coach I can effectively teach the mental aspects of pitching and break it down in a way young pitchers can grasp it.

I think the mental side of pitching can be broke down into 3 distinct areas.

Knowledge:  This encompasses everything that has to do with baseball and pitching itself.

It includes:

  • How and when to throw pitches
  • Game Situations
  • How to work hitters
  • Locating pitches
  • Changing Speeds
  • Hit and Run Counts
  • Base Stealing Counts
  • Bunting Situations

There are more we will get into in future posts.  This is a good starter list on being a student of the game

Thinking: This encompasses everything to do with your thought process and how you process information before the game and on the pitcher’s mound.

It includes:
  • Positive thoughts
  • Negative thoughts
  • Focus
  • Concentration
  • Confidence
  • Success
  • Motivation
  • Desire
  • Self Esteem

These are just a few, again I will break these and more down individually in future posts.

Emotional/Behavior:  This encompasses everything about how you respond and react to different situations and events that unfold before, during and after the game.

It includes:

  • Attitude
  • Character
  • Sportsmanship
  • Dedication
  • Work Ethic
  • How you treat Teammates, Coaches, Parents, Teachers and Fans
  • Respect for the Umpires
  • Knowing What You Can Control
  • Self Discipline

Again these are just a few.  I will dig deeper in future posts.

Mental Toughness is developed in the heat of the battle.  But the understanding of what needs to be developed is what pitching coaches should be teaching young pitchers at every level.

The truth is I am afraid that most pitching coaches today either don’t know how to teach the mental side of pitching or they don’t want to take the time to dedicate part of practice on it.

If pitching coaches don’t make it a priority then it will never be one to young pitchers.

I was recently asked If I thought you could teach competitiveness? 

After deliberating on it a while I responded,

I don’t know if you can,  But I am going to keep on trying.

There is more to the Mental Side of Pitching then trying to figure out how not to choke with the game on the line.

The Real Mental Side of Pitching is when you can take your mental strengths and your physical talent and execute great pitches in the biggest game of the year.

You know what, I think they call it Pitching!

What do you think?

(Thanks Coach Robo)

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2 Comments

  • Spencer April 13, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    I am 16 years old and throw in the mid 80s. My mechanics are very solid. I throw strikes until the field starts screwing up. As soon as they start blowing easy outs I start throwing balls. I know that I should stop think about the basics and just start throwing strikes but it is easier said than done. Any advise?

    • Darrell Coulter April 13, 2012 at 11:34 pm

      Spencer I hear ya. I have been there. But the key to becoming mentally strong is the ability to move on to the next pitch. You have to mentally and physically move on. I know in the heat of the battle that is easier said than done. But from the sounds of it you have good stuff and throw hard for your age, so you have to make it a personal challenge to yourself that you are going to pick up your teammates and bail them out. I promise the older you get and when you head off to college or pro ball your teammates will make some great plays to save you when you missed location with a pitch. It’s baseball sometimes that is just how it is, but being competitive it still makes you mad. That is why I teach all my pitchers to have a pre-pitch routine that helps them get over the last pitch and focus on making the next pitch a good one. You truly become a great pitcher when you can mentally and physically can let the last pitch/play go and laser focus on making the next great pitch. Most college coaches and pro scouts want to see you pitch through some adversity to see how you will handle it. I guarantee you will get more respect by being a warrior and picking up your teammates. That is the stuff that college coaches and scouts are really looking for. Just make sure when you step on the rubber to make the next pitch that your mind is back on making a great pitch. By refocusing before every pitch you will create a habit and mentally you will quit focusing on the last error and move on to executing a great pitch. Let me know how it goes. Great to hear from you.

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