The cost of replacing a ball each time it goes into the bushes or bounces around in the bleachers can be very expensive. Therefore, in the amateur game it’s common to use the same ball over and over again. So, a game ball can collect grass stains, sand, scuff marks, dampness, flat spots, and even become oblong.
On the other hand, pitching a new baseball right out of the box has a certain feel to it with respect to its laces and surface texture.
Does all this affect your pitching a baseball, pitch selection, and your influence on the ball? You bet it does! Remember pitching a baseball is a skill. And with any skill, it requires some training and practice. So how can pitchers in the amateur game of baseball train for these conditions?
Here are some suggestions.
Collect seven (7) baseballs used at your level of competition. In particular, you want the following:
A new baseball right out of the box.
A baseball used for about five innings or more - but dry.
A baseball that’s been used for infield practice.
A baseball that’s been used for BP (batting practice).
A baseball that’s damp.
A baseball with noticeable grass stains on it.
A baseball with scuff marks on it – any scuff mark.
Deliver each pitch with about 2/3rds game speed. Start with the new ball right out of the box and write down your impressions of its feel, its condition, and what you expect of its performance – given the pitch selection that you’re noted for.
After each pitch, write down what your experience was, how the pitch moved. Take as many pitches as your feel necessary to convince yourself that you have a firm understanding of - what you first expected compared with your actual experience was.
Next, select another baseball, say, a baseball that was used for five innings or more and with your hands take special note of its feel. Write down how you expect this ball to act - it's pitching movement. Go through the same exercise that you did with the first ball. Again, write down your experience – but, add to your notes what the differences were between the two baseballs and how these differences affected your performance. Continue with all of the baseballs in your collection making special notes where necessary.
At the end of this simple pitching exercise you will have an impressive reference table as a guide before your next appearance.
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