The coach and pitcher should work closely together to develop a pitching style and pattern which is better suited for the individual pitcher. A pitcher needs to know and understand his pitching strengths and limitations. The pitcher should learn to pitch within himself, within his own abilities.
Good control is the most important aspect of pitching. With control, we are referring to the command of various pitches, within and just out of the strike zone. There are three well defined factors in developing control: the mechanical aspects, the mental process, and proper visualization.
I. Mechanical Aspects of Control
A. Good balance and rhythm
B. Proper Alignment of body and arm
C. Consistent grip
D. Consistent arm action
E. Consistent release point
F. Good physical conditioning
II. Mental Aspects of Control
Successful pitchers have a great power of concentration, courage and confidence. They are aggressive and challenge hitters plus, they have developed a good knowledge of pitching.
A. Concentration. A pitcher must be able to block out outside and internal distractions and focus on each pitch. He should be able to think of how he throws a certain pitch, why he is selecting the pitch, and where he wants to throw it.
B. Courage. A successful pitcher must have courage to compete under very stressful situations. He needs the courage to challenge hitters and throw the pitch for strikes. The pitcher needs to be able to maintain his poise and emotions and have a great amount of self-discipline in tough competitive situations.
C. Pitching knowledge. This means the pitcher not only has to know how to pitch, how to set up hitters and face various situations, but just as importantly he has to know and accept his own strengths and limitations. He has to learn how to pitch within himself and not try to do things he’s not capable of doing.
D. Confidence. A pitcher first develops confidence through hard work, proper preparation and then from prior success. Because he has prepared himself, he should feel comfortable, should’t feel failure, and should be able to concentrate on the job at hand.
Of course this is mental as well as visual process, but a pitcher should program himself to visualize what he is about to do.
A. Teach pitchers to verbalize the pitch first; to say “fastball, low inside, or slider low and away”. They are “calling their shot” and do this for the coach and themselves during bullpen work.
B. Visualize the location to a specific fine target. The pitcher needs to understand himself. For example, on the breaking pitch, does he focus on the spot where the pitch should end up, or the spot where he starts his pitch? Either technique is effective.
C. The pitcher “fine focuses” on the specific spot, then during the foot and body pivot he looks down for balance, but fine focuses again as the leg lifts up. He should think, leg up, eyes up.
1. During the delivery of the actual pitch, the pitcher should track the pitch to the specific spot. He mentally and visually wills the pitch to that location.
2. On the breaking pitch, the pitcher may pull down with the head and shoulders so violently that he may lose sight of the ball, but he should come up early enough to track the ball into the hitting zone and be ready to field his position, and protect himself.
Again, a pitcher should not attempt to throw too many different types of pitches, or throw from various arm angles or release points. Work to develop a good consistent motion for all pitches. Control can be learned and can be improved with proper practice and concentration. Its the difference between being a pitcher and being a thrower.