The first thing people ask of a baseball pitcher is, “How fast does he throw?”
Fortunately, there is more to pitching than just overall speed, although that is a necessary thing as pitchers move up the baseball ladder. Even the fastest of pitchers fail without other ingredients for success. Pitching success comes down to the ability to perform well in three areas – pitching mechanics (delivery), variety of pitches and the mental game.
Following are pitching tips for success, which detail the key elements in each of those categories.
Pitching Tips for Mechanical Efficiency
Pitching begins with good throwing mechanics styled into ballet like actions to deliver balls over home plate. There is no substitute for correct throwing mechanics so players reach their arm-strength potential, without major injury. The correct throwing mechanics include:
- A rhythmic arm swinging action, where the thumbs break down as the fingers remain above the ball on the backside and the glove on the front side
- The throwers lead hip heading directly towards the target with the length of the stride depending on the length of the throw
- Full arm extension, after a ball of foot landing, with complete weight transfer as the hips open
Pitching involves the correct throwing mechanics with a couple of power build-up and release adjustments:
- Players lift the lead leg, with foot under knee, as the front side closes off to the batter – height of knee lift and amount of turn varies from pitcher to pitcher
- Break of hands once the hip and shoulder begins their direct descent and movement home
- Maximum stride length towards home leading to maximum arm extension, with full arm speed
- A steady and level head and eyes at ball release, as the weight transfers forward with the back leg lifting off ground and moving forward
Pitching Tips for Various Pitches
Pitchers deliver balls with 95 to 100 percent arm speed on all pitches, with ball movement and speed variation determined by different ball grips and hand locations. Following are the most common pitches:
- Four seem fastball for highest velocity pitch – gripped over the big horseshoe section of ball with two fingers on the seam and the thumb directly underneath the ball as the hand stays diretly behind the ball
- Two seem fastball for late downward movement on ball – gripped with two fingers – index and middle fingers on or across the two seems of ball with a slight inward rotation of the hand at release
- Curve balls and sliders for more drastic movement away from pitchers arm side – thrown with two fingers on the side of ball at release – more so for curve ball than slider – creating top and side spin rotation
- Change ups for taking speed off ball with fastball arm speed – thrown with split fingered or circle change grip to kill the speed
Of course, all pitches are only as good when controlled. Throwing pitches to the desired location side of plate and height – is necessary and takes a great amount of fundamental repetition. Pitchers who can repeat their pitching mechanics have the best chance of having the necessary control.
Pitching Tips for the Mental Game of Pitching
Besides the physical aspect of pitching and the various pitches available, the mental game of pitching is crucial for success. Following are pitching tips for the mental edge:
- Staying in the Moment – pitchers only have control over the next pitch, so it is important to block out all game and batter distractions
- Along the same lines, pitcher must put 100% concentration on their target (catcher’s glove)to have a chance at maintaining the control desired
- Conviction – pitchers must believe the pitch they are throwing to the location desired is the right pitch for that situation; not having conviction generally leads to a lack of confidence and the resulting mistakes
- Poise – pitchers are the focal point of every baseball game, so a positive sense of self is necessary to be the “main actor” on the baseball stage.
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