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Pitching Pointer #14, Feb. 23, 2024, Failing vs. Adjusting - It is All How You Perceive it.

Have you ever wished you could get one pitch back? A do-over? The one you keep thinking about and saying, "why didn't I stay with my first thought?" How about shaking off your catcher and throwing a hanger that get ripped into the gap for an RBI double?  That is second guess worthy on many levels.

It's normal to second guess yourself. Human nature has us forever thinking about what we should have done. Don't let that bring you down. Over the course of a season, with hard work, the numbers tend to align in your favor, signaling the benefits of your preparation and work ethic. 

Baseball has been described by many as a "game of failure".  We all have heard the explanation, "if you get up 10 times and make 7 outs you are a successful .300 hitter", that philosophy?  Frankly, that is an easy explanation that is aimed at making players feel good, but not develop.

The game of baseball is more trial and error with some strategy involved - in other words, a game of adjustments. It takes courage and confidence to make a mid-game change when struggling and what you are doing is not working.

Practice time is filled with tweaks and analysis, especially in this world of high tech, video and radar equipment. Adjustments are part of practice. Successful players adjust mid-game. It takes courage to adjust, but it really is more common sense! We live for the games when everything is clicking.  That is probably about a third of the time, when you are dealing on the mound and feel unbeatable.  Another third are the times when you can't seem to get out of your own way and struggle mightily.  All adjustments don't seem to work and you leave the game behind and move on. 

Some tips about adjustments:

1. Adjustments lead to your next leap forward.  We are making adjustments to improve ourselves, right?  Embrace the opportunity to make yourself better! Take time to feel and remember what you did in a practice session that felt better. Your memory is going to come in handy during that game situation. Some guys journal their changes and refer to them before gametime. How ever you need to hep remember what you did, it is better to make an in-game adjustment knowing you have tried it out beforehand. 

2. There is often a "lag time" between making an adjustment and finding game time consistency.  It is easy to go back to what has been comfortable when the pressure is on, we have all done it.  It may take, "going back to the drawing board", at your next practice opportunity, but don't give up on making the change. The best coaches will recognize if the change is not working. You will both agree to "move away" from that change and either go back to what you were doing or find a different adjustment.  Give it some time.  Don't let past failures put you in a negative mindset for future results.  Keep grinding and don't panic.  Great things are ahead.

 3. Every day - including game day - is a practice.  There is always something to work on, including during a game.  Use warmup pitches to find the adjustment on a poor curveball or flat changeup. There are three phases of adjustment on game day - pre-game warmup, followed by the first inning, then the rest of the game.  Pitchers can feel great warming up, but then the first inning comes, and it is a totally different story.  Nothing seems to work, and you are in emergency mode right away.  Or the opposite can be true.  A pregame could feel just terrible, and then you go out and pitch a gem. 

Over the years, I can't tell you the number of conversations that start with, "I felt great, except for the first inning, where I gave up four runs.  But I shut them down after that."

The issue is that they lost the game 4-3.  The answer is to make on the fly adjustments to get out of the first inning!  Often, once the first inning is over, your heart rate is up, your focus as well, and you are "into" the game.  But don't let the first inning be a warmup for the rest of the game...go into adjust mode immediately.

It takes practice to make adjustments with confidence. The key is to not be satisfied with average performance.  Try to find more out of yourself, and the best time to learn how to do this is when you are in your side session.  Get used to trying stuff, you never know what you may find!








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