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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Mental Side of Baseball Pitching

By Chris Moheno
In many sports and athletic disciplines, the difference between a good performer and a great performer is mental toughness, intelligence and confidence. The same applies to baseball hitting and baseball pitching, the two all important aspects to baseball players and baseball teams. A hitting slump or a pitcher who can't find the strike zone and get an out are both problems that can almost always be solved with proper mental techniques and strengths. In this article, the mental side of pitching will be discussed in order to maximize your results.

Think Success and Have Confidence

Quite simply, those who do not believe in their own abilities will not see the successes their physical talent tells you they should have. If you think you will fail, that you will not throw a strike or get a batter to fly out or swing and miss, than chances are you will fail. You must believe in yourself and trust your physical talents. Know that you can hit the corners of the strike zone and believe that even if you don't have your best stuff, you are still good enough to do your job effectively.

Separate From Your Emotions

It is easy to let your emotions get the best of you on the mound. There are so many individual plays that can go against you, a missed strike call, a bad play in the field, a mistake that a hitter took advantage of for a home run. It is up to you, the pitcher, to rebound from this. Just like a poker player going on "tilt" a pitcher who loses control of his emotions can quickly self-destruct. Do not let these bad moments get the best of you. Have a short memory and focus on the job still at hand. If you throw a bad pitch that somebody gets a hold of, focus especially hard on needing to get the job done before more damage is done. If a strike is called a ball, focus on the fact that the hitter will not always be lucky enough to get that call. As soon as you get angry, upset or distressed, you're taken out of your game and your performance will suffer.

Trust Your Teammates

It is crucial to always remember that you are not alone out there on the mound; you must trust and rely on your teammates. You don't need to have every batter swing, miss and strikeout. Know that you have good teammates who will track down those fly balls. If you are in trouble with people on the bases and no outs, focus on getting that ground ball, knowing your infielders will turn the double play and get you out of the jam. Believe that your catcher has done his homework and knows what pitches would be best for you to throw. With 8 other teammates out there supporting you, take advantage of them and use them to your benefit. If you start thinking you're alone and that it is all on your shoulders, in your striving to be "perfect" you will likely come up short.

Think Your Way through Situations

Not every situation you will face will be the same, nor is every opponent you face the same. Different batters have different weaknesses, strengths and tendencies and different situations call for various strategies. It is important to be intelligent on the mound and think your way through these moments. While you always want to fall back on your best pitch in a tough situation, remember that if your best pitch is a fast ball inside, and a batter can only hit those pitches, it is best to fool them with something else. Be intelligent and always think through all the different situations you will face as opposed to treating them all the same way.

These are just some of the important mental aspects of baseball pitching; and many of these same principles can be applied to baseball hitting as well. Remember, at most levels of the game the talent across the board is fairly equal. The athletic capabilities of different players only vary slightly. It is the mental components that turn those athletic capabilities into pitching successes.

There are plenty of players who squandered their 100 MPH fastballs by not being able to control it in tough situations. Just the same, there are all time greats such as Greg Maddux who relied on their craftiness, intelligence and their baseball training rather than domineering stuff to make a great career. Hone your mental toughness and follow these guidelines to see better results on the mound.

Chris Moheno has a long time passion for sports in general and for baseball coaching more specifically. His goal is to spread the word about effective non-fluff baseball training techniques for both more experienced and young baseball players, to help them perform better during the game. Discover more about baseball training on
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Hello Baseball Friend,
I welcome any comments or suggestions. If you have a question or a topic that you would like to read about, please leave a comment and I will try to address that topic as soon as I can. Good luck in the coming season!
Have a great day, Nick