Pitching Mental Training

By Steven Ellis former Chicago Cubs pitching pro

One thing to watch out for as you get better at pitching, as you move up levels, or as you face weaker competition is loss of focus.

This can happen for two main reasons:

As your reactions become automatic they hold your attention less.

As you get better, you may find that you are not as challenged by other competitors.

You may find that these focus problems have their root in goal setting: if you are setting outcome goals such as 'coming first', then this will not be challenging if you win easily. This can be prevented by setting performance goals that are sufficiently difficult to maintain motivation, a sense of being stretched and concentration on improving skills even when competition is weak.

Training to improve focus for pitching

You can improve focus by practice and training, much like any other skill. You can practice it at its simplest almost as a form of meditation - firstly study an object for some time: get completely involved with it, in its shape, color, texture, smell, etc. Then practice switching the focus to a different object, being completely involved in this, and nothing else.

Similarly you can practice focus on sounds, listening to them and then switching focus to other sounds. This concentrated attention helps you to feel what sporting focus feels like. The rapid switching to another thing practices your ability to switch focus.

In normal training, visualize the performance of a skill using imagery, then focus on its execution as you actually perform it. Practice doing the skill without any analysis. Experience the feeling of flow. Associate this feeling of flow with a trigger word in your mind.


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