How To Focus And Throw More Strikes
By Steven Ellis, former Chicago Cubs pitching pro
A pitcher must be able to focus on his goals while he is on the mound. This includes full concentration on the task at hand, and he must be able to block out distractions from the stands and the opposing dugout. Failing to concentrate on what must be done can result in the pitcher losing control of the inning, and ultimately the game.
One of the biggest distractions to a pitcher is the opposing dugout. Players like to annoy the pitcher, and one way to do this is to taunt and cheer very loudly. They may start up annoying chants and cheers that are intended to get in the pitchers head. Another tactic is to be very quiet until the pitcher begins his windup, and then explode in loud noises. These are all strategies that a pitcher needs to learn to ignore.
The best way to ignore these chants and taunts is to do just that…ignore them. This can be hard, especially if the dugouts are close to the field. If ignoring them is not an option, use them to your advantage. Think to yourself that they are being annoying because that is the only way they know how to get to you. They can’t touch your stuff, so they must resort to these distraction strategies. Tell yourself that they can’t hit you. Positive self talk is very important in keeping concentration on the mound.
Another method to concentrate better is to only focus on the catcher’s mitt…and not just his mitt, but a single spot inside of his mitt. Find this spot and stare at it. Focus all your attention on this one spot. Keep your eyes fixed on this spot in the mitt, block everything else out, and make your pitch. Holding your focus on your target is a great way to concentrate, as well as increase you accuracy.
Talk to your teammates. Tell them to cheer you on! It can be intimidating for you as a pitcher if the other team is yelling and cheering, and your team is dead silent. Encourage them to encourage you! Having the support of your teammates will help you focus on what you are doing. Tell them to encourage you with positive comments like “You are pitching great”, or “They can’t touch you!”
Sometimes, a game starts to seem out of control. You may be pitching, and all of a sudden a team gets a few hits off you and the bases are loaded. This can seem like an out of body experience, because all of a sudden you are in a jam. Before this can happen, it is a good idea to step off the mound, walk around a bit, and take a deep breath. This can calm your nerves, and it will give your brain a fresh wave of oxygen to keep your concentration level high.
Being able to concentrate on your goal is very important for a pitcher. There are many strategies to do this, so find a few that work for you! Once you are able to hold your concentration, you will be able to keep your emotions in check during the game.
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Want to learn more about developing better control? Arm yourself with the most innovative and up-to-date baseball pitching training available. These related pitching materials from former Chicago Cubs pitching pro Steven Ellis are guaranteed to help you or the players you coach pitch better and reach the next level faster!