Help Pitching Mechanics before it becomes a Mental Game Issue
It is probably impossible to know if pitchers pitching mechanics goes awry before their mental game falls apart or vice versa. Either way, coaches have to know what to look for and how to help.
Throwing mechanics and hitting mechanics have similar problems, one moment they are good and the next they seem so far away. It is common to see a baseball pitcher sailing along and mowing hitters down, before being unable to find home plate or get anyone out. That scenario is especially true at the lower levels of baseball, when players have less experience to figure out what went awry. Sometimes, pitcher’s mechanics change and other times, pitcher’s mindset changes, if not both. Figuring out the problem is never easy, but coaches, who can figure it out, have a chance of helping pitchers stay in games, without having to make pitching changes. Coaches should look for inconsistencies to get pitchers back on track as soon as possible.
Is it pitching mechanics or a mental thing?
Usually, coaches can tell when it is mental because of a pitcher’s body language. Along with bad body language, pitchers often change the time between throwing pitches, a possible sign they are having trouble concentrating. When a problem appears to be mental, a coaching visit to the mound usually gives pitchers a chance to clear their mind, the coaching intent of the visit. Keeping the same mindset, body rhythm, and pace between pitches is important.
Noticing pitching mechanics changes takes experience. Following is a checklist for youth baseball coaches to go through to help pitchers make game adjustments to get them back on track.
Pitching Mechanics Checklist for Coaches
Pitching Coaches should:
Keep track of the time between pitches when pitchers are in a good groove so they can compare that to unproductive times. Reminding pitchers to speed up or slowdown the in between pitch time, when necessary, is valuable advice.
- Keep track of knee lift height when going good to compare that to when pitchers change their delivery rhythm.
- Make sure pitchers take ball out of the glove at the same exact time each pitch, as that also changes the timing.
- Watch the speed of delivery – the timing from knee up position to release – as that is another key, so pitchers are not rushing or slowing their usual actions. It is common for pitchers to rush their motion in tense situations.
- Keep track of pitchers stride foot landing spot. It is common for inexperienced pitchers to change their direction and or length of stride, especially as they tire.
- Watch for a lowering of the elbow at release. This action leads to many high pitches in the strike zone and is the first indicator the pitcher is tiring.
As implied, incorrect pitching mechanics lead to mental game concerns and vice versa. As implied, mental and physical changes are more likely in tight game situations. Finally, it takes a concentrated coach to notice any of these pitching mechanics issues, but it is one of the fun and challenging parts of baseball coaching.