By Steven Ellis for TheCompletePitcher.com
Every time I ask this question, “What do you learn first – speed, mechanics or control?” I get the wrong answer. It is critical that beginning pitchers learn the correct answer for this question. The answer is #1 learn the mechanics, #2 throw hard and #3 the control WILL COME. You should NEVER sacrifice speed for control. It is much easier to control the ball if you give maximum effort on every pitch. Trying to control the ball will result in aiming and the pitcher will only give a percentage of 100% effort and that percentage will change daily, and you can only imagine where the ball will go every time she gives you some percent of total effort. When you let up to “just throw strikes”, you alter your underlying mechanics and as a result, you will never learn to throw hard with control. And the ultimate goal of every pitcher should be to throw to their maximum potential. Every great pitcher in the game has gone through the games where they have walked 20 batters and thrown the ball over the backstop. The great ones didn’t slow down and “just throw strikes,” they had someone out there with them telling them to keep throwing hard and learn where the release point is and to ‘focus’ on the target. That is why they are now considered GREAT!
Many times the pitcher that is wild and out of control hasn’t had enough time to become comfortable with the motion and become confident in pressure situations. Practice is critical and one of the most valuable tools a pitcher will ever rely on, but practice isn’t enough. Pitchers must be put into games to feel the pressure. They have to be able to pitch under pressure, with everyone staring at them and the other team yelling. Coaches and parents have to be able to remain supportive and remember that we don’t care about instant success, but we want our pitchers to have successful “careers!” In an instant gratification society, it is difficult to understand why our 9 year old isn’t throwing perfect strikes on every pitch. But, no matter what, you give a 9 year old that throws 53 mph and is wild all over the place some time and some pressure situations, and I can promise you that she will be one of the best around.
These are at the heart of baseball philosophy.
1. Prevent the big inning.
2. "If you hold them scoreless, I promise you a tie" said the offensive coach to the defensive coach!
3. We cannot lose if we do not let them score.
4. In 65% of games, more runs are scored by the winning team in one inning than the losing team scores in the entire game.
5. Pitching is 75% of the game.
6. Pitching is 80% of the game.
7. Pitching is 90% of the game.
8. "Who is the toughest hitter you ever faced?" Anyone with a bat!
9. The pitcher is the fifth infielder and protects the center of the diamond.
10. The pitcher, when he completes his pitch to home plate, is only 54 feet from the hitter. He better have his glove ready.
11. You must be good defensively up the middle.
12. All championship teams have a great defensive catcher.
13. More errors are made by third basemen than any other position.
14. The first baseman makes the rest of the infielders look good.
15. That outfield can really go get them.
16. Every one on every play is in the right position.
17. They never beat themselves.
18. Their pre-game infield practice is really impressive.
19. They really play with a great deal of pride.
20. Did you see that team hustle on and off the field?
21. Keep the runner off first base.
22. Keep the runner off third base.
Related Pitching Materials
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