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For The Love Of The Game - Pitching Instruction (Part 3)

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First, understand that there are 4 general aspects across all sports that are similar.

Physical- Players must be fit enough to perform the movements required by the sport

Technical- Players must understand and be able to perform the correct technique of different movements in order to succeed.

Tactical- Players must understand the game’s strategy and apply that a little differently depending on the opponent.

Mental- Players must be prepared for the challenges they will face across all of the previous three aspects and develop proper methods to deal with these challenges. The mental part of pitching is the most challenging one to master but the most important one to master.

The mind can affect each of these aspects either negatively or positively and in so many ways. Mental pitching means knowing all potential ways a pitcher’s mind can react to a certain situation and understanding what psychological concepts and methods to use to attack them. How well a baseball pitcher can train his mind to deal with challenges positively and with the right approach will effectively determine his ability to succeed in any situation.

Finding the answers to these questions is very important. We all have seen extremely physically talented players who never live up to their “potential.” And we’ve all seen less physically gifted players excel to levels no one thought possible. What can explain this?

"Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday's success or put its failures behind and start over again. That's the way life is, with a new game every day, and that's the way baseball is." -Bob Feller

1. Have a Purpose

Want to improve fastball command? Have a goal in mind every time you pick up a baseball. Every time you pick up a ball you have a chance to improve your location. Playing catch, throwing a bullpen in practice, or pitching in a game…it does not matter. Every throw gives you an opportunity to get better.

2. Make them count

Make every throw count. Do not waste your time by throwing from different arm slots or trying different useless grips for fun and wonde why your location is not there on game day. You only have so many throws in your arm. Make them count.

3. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

Implement the same throwing mechanics on every practice throw that you would on the first pitch of a game. You will make a lot of practice throws in your lifetime. Why not use those throws to improve what will ultimately be the deciding factor in whether or not you are successful?

4. Focus, Focus, Focus

Pick out a specific spot on your target and focus on hitting that target with every single throw. Start when your partner is close and its easier to hit the target. Expect to hit your target every time, especially when you are close. This will build confidence in your ability to hit spots. Adjust your expectations somewhat when your target is far away; as it’s harder to hit that target the further back you go. But do not use that as an excuse to lose focus.


5. Aim Small, Miss Small

As cheesy and overused as this phrase is, it’s actually quite profound. Make your target as small and specific as you can; your misses to that target will be small as well and you will improve command.

6. Visualize, Visualize, Visualize

Tell yourself what you want to do with the baseball and visualize it in your head and it will be easier for you to achieve it. If you can see yourself do it in your head, then you will be more likely to do it on the field.

7. Become a perfectionist


Expect to locate the ball exactly where you want to 100% of the time and nothing less. Always strive for perfection… but know that you will never attain it. You may ask why I would encourage you to spend so much time and energy on something you will never be able to achieve. Because it will make you better and you will constantly be harder to reach this unattainable goal. This takes time and maturity.

Follow these fastball pitching tips and you will significantly increase your level of pitching performance.

A brief Bio on Coach Luis Villarreal: Drafted in 2002 by the Boston Red Sox. Played 9 years in the minor leagues. Currently is the pitching instructor at Xtreme Speed in San Antonio, TX.

Pitching Instruction Part 1

Pitching Instruction Part 2

Pitching Instruction Part 4

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