Pitching Bullpens

By Steven Ellis former Chicago Cubs pitching pro

1. 1. Mixing speeds and locations: One of the best drills a pitcher can do is to work in practice on mixing speeds and locations. This is how a typical game will be, so it is advantageous to work like a game in practice. This type of precision and pitch control is going to take a lot of practice. The pitcher should stay on the pitch until she hits it. For example, she may throw 10 inside fastballs and only one outside fastball. Hopefully as she practices more and more, it will take less and less time for her to hit the pitches. Mix the sequences up as she becomes more skilled at hitting the target. Only use the pitches that your pitcher throws. You will see quickly what targets or combinations need more work. Here are some examples of throwing opposites in practice:

1. Inside and Outside
2. Low inside and Low Outside
3. High Inside and High Outside
4. High Middle and Low Middle
5. Middle Inside and Middle Outside
6. Low Inside and High outside
7. Low Outside and High Inside
8. Change-ups outside and fastball inside
9. Change-ups inside and fastballs outside
10. Drop ball inside and Rise ball outside
11. Drop ball outside and rise ball inside
12. Curve ball outside and rise ball inside.
13. Curve ball for a strike and Rise ball in the zone.
14. Curve ball for a chase pitch and Drop Ball for a strike
15. Rise ball for a chase pitch and Screw ball for a strike
16. Drop ball outside for a strike out pitch and Drop ball inside for a strike.

 

SPOT WORK:

You can do many variations on spot work, however the following are some examples. The 5 spots refers to high in, high out, low in, low out and low middle. It would be helpful to record the number of pitches it takes to hit the spots and see if you can reduce that number each time you do spot work. It helps give a “training manual” that will aid in experience and confidence.

a. 10 – 20 pitches at each of the 5 spots.

b. 10-20 pitches alternating low out with low in.

c. 10-20 pitches alternating high out with high in.

d. 10-20 pitches alternating high in with low in.

e. 10-20 pitches alternating high out with low out.

f. 10-20 pitches alternating high out with low in.

g. 10-20 pitches alternating high in with low out.

h. 30-50 pitches going around to all 5 spots.

i.30-50 pitches going around to all 5 spots, but you must hit the spot in order to go to the next spot.

OUNTDOWNS: Countdowns is one of my students favorite practice drills. It causes the student to really focus on the ‘purpose’ of pitching and it also challenges the pitcher to become better with each pitch. It can get tough at times, but that is part of the mental stage a pitcher must learn to work through. Make sure you have the time to finish it and do not give up. For the more advanced pitcher, the targets must be precise. For the beginner, you may widen the zone slightly to help them gain confidence. Do not “give in” once you start. Set the boundaries before you begin the workout. You should have note cards with the specific pitches you are going to throw written down before you begin. If you have ample time, you may also count back up the pitches.

The pitcher will begin by throwing 10 pitches of a certain pitch, then 9 of a different pitch, then 8 of a different one, etc. The pitches that actually hit the designated target are counted. You should keep track of the total number of pitches it takes to reach the required number of pitches. The pitcher will work all the way down to 1 and then back up to 10. The next time the pitcher completes the drill, she should try to throw fewer pitches than the time before.

Sample Countdown Workout:
Designated pitch & location:
Actual # of pitches thrown:

a. 10 best control pitch 12
b. 9 low outside 16
c. 8 high inside 13
d. 7 low inside 9
e. 6 change-ups 10
f. 5 pitchouts to a right hander 5
g. 4 low middle 8
h. 3 high inside to a left hander 14
i. 2 curve balls for strikes 8
j. 1 pitcher’s choice 1

55 Total pitches
96 Actual Pitches


 

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