For years children have enjoyed the wonderful feeling of throwing; whether it is in the middle of a snowball fight in winter, skimming rocks on the water, throwing fallen apples off the tree, or playing catch with a friend. Let’s face it – it is fun to throw and hit something you are aiming at. This is a basic requirement of pitching. You have to like to throw a baseball.
Pitching is simply taking the gift of throwing a ball and applying some strategy to it – kind of like playing chess. Hear me out...
Chess Masters: Study thousands of moves from games of opponents in order to gain some advantage to understand their opponents strengths and weaknesses.
Pitching Masters: Study the swings of hitters (spray charts) from previous games to gain an advantage over their opponent by adjusting to their strengths and attacking weaknesses.
Chess Masters: Are highly competitive people who often look calm and under control at all times, hiding their intense focus on their next move whether at the advantage or not.
Pitching Masters: Are highly competitive people who look calm and under control at all times, hiding the fact that they may be throwing a masterpiece or getting shelled out there.
Chess Masters: Don’t spend time focusing on the quality of their opponent but rather what they need to do to take care of the task at hand. All opponents, higher or lower ranked, are treated as worthy and met with the same energy and desire to win.
Pitching Masters: Don’t worry about the opponents record or batting average or their previous history. They instead take their best tools that day to retire each batter they may face.
Chess Masters: Love to play chess and treat each match as an opportunity to celebrate their passion for the game.
Pitching Masters: Love pitching and, much like their chess playing friends, show their love for pitching and never take a moment to do what they love to do for granted.
Chess Masters: Go into each match looking to play well and accept that they will not have a perfect record but can have perfect effort at all times.
Pitching Masters: Play each game trying to make good pitches, one pitch at a time, and understand that good pitches occasionally will get hit hard or be dropped by a fielder behind them. Perfect effort is more attainable than a perfect result.
A competitive, well trained mind is so important to a pitcher’s success. Physical skills are always going to be a necessary component and will often be the easiest indicator of pitching aptitude. Pitchers who can “play chess” like the greatest chess masters.
Take the time to talk to your parents, coaches, teammates, and those others in your personal support system. Together try to figure out your pitching style and decide what your strengths and needs are.
Remember that your style can change as you develop physically and you will find that what worked one time may no longer give you the same positive results in the future. Be open minded to new suggestions but be closed to negative comments that will block your focus.
Take pride and accountability for your special gift. Do not take the opportunity to be a pitcher for granted and you will be rewarded with satisfaction for a job well done.