Bullpen vs Batter Mentality


#1

So when I was a kid I never had an issue with control or speed. We moved around a lot and I missed a year and a half of throwing between 6th and 8th grade year. After that span of time, I’ve always had an issue of control and speed. Throughout high school I wasn’t the greatest pitcher, I liked to do it, but my understanding of everything was pretty limited.

I’ve seemed to start fixing a lot of my issues on my own, and I know that between last fall and now I’ve had at minimum a 5 mph increase in my fastball speed. When I throw bullpens now, I have a lot of velocity and control. I’ve been on a mound twice with hitters in practice, and I don’t know what it is, but my mental approach just is not right. I get too psyched out. I don’t hit my spots, my velocity then suffers, and my curve seems to go into hiding.

Now, I have changed a lot over the past year including my approach on the mound, my mechanics, how I throw my curve and change. My question is how do I fix what I feel like is a vicious cycle of getting too tense on the mound. I worry to much. I had the discussion with one of my catchers who said exactly this and after discussion, I thought it is something I should be actively seeking to reduce. So I need advice on how to:

-Be a relaxed pitcher
-Be an aggressive pitcher
-Be a confident pitcher
-Be a bulldog

Any help would be appreciated. If I could get my control and thought process right, it may be the difference between me staying on JV or making Varsity. It will also affect how far I go with my summer team.


#2

Satchel Paige once said, and I don’t think anyone could have put it more succinctly: “You have to believe in yourself. When you believe, you do.” Think about it for a minute. You’ve taken care of some mechanical issues and you have some good stuff—but what’s holding you back? What’s preventing you from doing what you know you can do on the mound? I’d like to know—maybe I can set things straight. :slight_smile:


#3

Pitch more, think less!!! Trust your catcher, let him call the game and fill up the glove. As your confidence in your mechanics goes up it will all come together.


#4

Zita, I guess at one point I lost confidence in my stuff. I had the more wild arm since high school at every position. I leave my stuff up. Yet I do know that I am farther along than I ever have been in speed, control, and mechanics, so I need to start trusting myself. What is holding myself back is my own self, my mental approach to the game. That is it. I know I have the physical capability and the work ethic to do it (not to sound stuck up, as I do not mean to say that I am better than anyone).

Buwhite, is right on the pitching more and thinking less. I guess another issue is that it is almost like saying not to look at the elephant in the room. So I’ve got to focus more on my attitude and focus at every outing, the same way each and every time as calm, relaxed, composed, and aggressive. I need to learn to trust my catchers more as well.


#5

It sounds like you are a smart guy but sometimes that can really get in the way. Don’t think about anything except your mechanics, great mechanics can make it so that you can throw a strike even if you don’t open your eyes, home doesn’t move, plate is always 18 inches across and it’s not going to change much up and down either. So your mechanics is the only thing to focus your mind on, your catcher calls the game, you say yep and then throw it.

Confidence will gain with each game that you repeat the mechanics, repeat the pitches and repeat the results.


#6

There’s an old story—or maybe it’s a poem—about a centipede who was getting along all right, no problems—until one day a curious frog came up to him and said “I’ve been watching you for some time, and I just don’t get it. How do you know which foot to put down first?” The centipede started thinking about that—and suddenly he couldn’t move. Sometimes too much thinking isn’t exactly a good thing.
I remember one time, many moons ago, when I was hearing all sorts of nightmarish stories from pitchers at all levels, all centered around the theme of “My stuff isn’t working!” You know—the fast ball loses its hippity-hop, the curve ball hangs, the slider is flat, the knuckleball refuses to knuckle, the strike zone jumps around like a jackrabbit on steroids—well, I heard it all, and one winter I started thinking about this, wondering what I would do in such a situation, how I would handle it. Then suddenly the “How would I handle it?” morphed into “Could I handle it?”, and one night I had a nightmare about it. In the nightmare I was warming up in the bullpen, getting ready to come into the game in the ninth inning to protect a one-run lead, and suddenly my two best pitches, the slider and the knuckle-curve, went into hiding and refused to come out. I couldn’t find the plate. And when I went out to the mound I discovered that the opposing batters had all grown to twelve feet high and the bats were six feet long. Yikes! I awoke with a start and couldn’t get back to sleep for a long time.
Then one day I was talking to my pitching coach, and I brought up the subject of those stories. I was trying to be casual and offhand, but I wasn’t doing a good job of it because he suddenly got this look of intent concentration on his face, and when I asked him how he would handle such a situation he turned the question right back at me and asked how I would handle it. That stopped me in my tracks, and suddenly I found myself telling him about the nightmare. He listened for a minute and then quietly interrupted me with "We’ll start there."
He then proceeded to introduce me to a psychological strategy I’d had no idea he knew anything about. He guided me into a state of deep relaxation, and he took me back in time and we explored some of the games in which I had pitched in relief—and almost at once we hit pay dirt. What it was with me was an anxiety I had about pitching in tight spots with less than my best stuff—something I hadn’t been aware of. He went after it and in about an hour he knocked the whole thing out of commission; he restored my confidence, gave me more reassurance and reinforcement than I had ever thought existed, and completely demolished any uneasiness I might have had about pitching in that kind of situation. The next day I went out and pitched a two-hit shutout, no walks, eight strikeouts…and I never had that problem again.
One never knows what a pitching coach who happens to be an active major league pitcher might have up his sleeve besides his arm. I remember how he talked to me about trusting my stuff—he emphasized that I was a strikeout pitcher with a very nasty slider, and that really got through to me. Well, this was an extreme case—yours might not be, but one thing you can do is trust your stuff—and your catcher. 8)


#7

Id have to say in bullpens you work out mechanical flaws and improve on efficencies where as the game in my experience i just try to throw it through the catchers mitt and by the hitter.


#8

Exactly, cagunheat.
I threw every day, even if it was just playing catch for fifteen minutes—surest way to keep the arm loose and flexible—and a couple of times a week I would do a bullpen session, in which I might work on a new pitch, refine an existing one, or address some aspect of mechanics. I’ve always said that this is the purpose of bullpen sessions. And sometimes it’s to correct a problem. Case in point: Whitey Ford.
He came up to the Yankees in 1950. He started one game, and the opposition was eating him up for breakfast, lunch and between-meal snacks, turning every pitch he threw into line-drive extra-base hits. In the fifth inning first baseman Tommy Henrich came running out to the mound and told Mr. Ford that the first-base coach was calling every pitch! This was the first indication that Whitey might be telegraphing his pitches.
The next day pitching coach Jim Turner and extra pitching coach Ed Lopat took him into the bullpen and had him throw from the stretch, because that was when the problem was occurring. Turner was somewhat confused and kept scratching his head—but Lopat, who had an eerie ability to zero in instantly on a problem, spotted it at once: Ford was positioning his glove hand one way for a fast ball and another way for a curve, and because he was a southpaw it was no trouble for the opposing first-base coach to pick up on it and relay the information to the hitters. Lopat then took Ford aside, told him quietly what he was doing wrong, and worked with him to correct that problem in that bullpen session.
So you’re on the right track. That’s what bullpens are for. 8)


#9

Going back a few years when my son was 9, he was a hard thrower. If he walked a batter or two, he would close his eyes, think of where he wanted the ball to go, and throw . . . still with his eyes closed! The kids were freakin’ scared of this hard throwing kid pitching with his eyes closed, and would automatically duck and bail . . . but these pitches were strikes. I saw him a few times last year do the same thing in the LL Majors. He would throw a couple of balls, and then the next pitch he would throw with his eyes closed. Again, he would be back to throwing strikes. He told me the plate doesn’t move, the catcher doesn’t move, the distance is the same, he’s pitched a thousand pitches, he just needs to focus on what he wants. I’m not recommending pitching with your eyes closed, but focus on where you want the ball to go and the your arm and body do the work. Don’t always relie on what you see.


#10

This should also go into a subsection called “Putting fear in the batters”! I got a kick out of reading it, because it reminded me of another way of scaring the bleep out of the hitters. This other way answered to Andrew Eugene Pettitte, and here’s what he would do. He would look in to get the sign from the catcher, and he would pull his cap down low over his forehead, and the lower half of his face would be concealed by his glove, so all the batter could see were his eyes. And Pettitte would look in at the hitter…and all the guy could see was that menacing stare… :evil:


#11

i had this problem but then i realized, im pitching, i control the game, im better than this hitter, good hitters only succed 3/10 times(higher for lower levels) and if you accidently hit the batter or walk him, theres always another batter you get to face and you can prove what youve got with him.

like i said i had this problem too but this is the mindset i was using last season and did pretty good, 8-3 and 2 saves


#12

Actually, this is true for all levels of the game. A batter, on the average, will strike out or otherwise be retired seven times out of ten. So, as a pitcher, you only have to be concerned with the other three times out of ten. And that’s where things like strategic pitching (my own area of expertise) come into play.
You get to know the opposing hitters, their strengths and weaknesses, their quirks such as how they stand at the plate, where their strike zone is or is not, and you formulate your plan as to how to pitch to them so as to get them out consistently. You get to know how to position your fielders, such as when you want to go for a double play. You learn to trust your stuff and your catcher. And you get out there on the mound with one idea—you are, indeed, better than the hitters, and you’re going to show them how and why.
And you get them out, and you win the game or earn a nice juicy save. I learned all this from one of the finest pitching coaches anyone could ever hope to work with—Ed Lopat, a key member of the Yankees’ legendary Big Three pitching rotation of the late 40s to mid-50s, a guy who not only could pitch but could also coach and teach (when he wasn’t busy beating the Cleveland Indians to an unrecognizable pulp!). And what I learned was nothing short of priceless. :smiley: 8) :baseballpitcher:


#13

Well, today I threw in that scrimmage. I did a little better than I did the other day. I only threw one inning, but that was all they had planned for me to throw. 2 walks, 2 hits, 1 earned run. Part of the issue as well is that my coach is calling strikes from behind the mound, and there were a few of those that my catcher and I were just wondering where something had missed. All the guys that hang out with me though said the same thing. I am too tense, I’m trying to be perfect, etc.


#14

I don’t know whether you were “too tense” or “trying to be perfect”, but I do know that you were confused by all this conflicting information coming at you from all sides. And who wouldn’t be confused? Someone behind the mound calling strikes, and you were trying to listen to that and at the same time trying to concentrate on what your catcher was calling, and goodness knows what else. That is definitely too much, and it has to stop. Either have your coach call the pitches or have your catcher do it, and I for one would rather you have your catcher do it. You know what they say about too many cooks. 8)


#15

[quote=“Zita Carno”]I don’t know whether you were “too tense” or “trying to be perfect”, but I do know that you were confused by all this conflicting information coming at you from all sides. And who wouldn’t be confused? Someone behind the mound calling strikes, and you were trying to listen to that and at the same time trying to concentrate on what your catcher was calling, and goodness knows what else. That is definitely too much, and it has to stop. Either have your coach call the pitches or have your catcher do it, and I for one would rather you have your catcher do it. You know what they say about too many cooks. 8)[/quote]Sorry for the confusion Zita but my coach was calling strikes as in umping the game from behind the mound, but I still agree that all the information that is being said to me is just a lot of bother.

I’ve got so many people trying to tell me not to think about it and just throw, but this isn’t helping me at all.


#16

What are you thinking about, throwing a strike, what pitch to throw, location…what is going on in the bean that is getting you so put out?


#17

[quote=“buwhite”]What are you thinking about, throwing a strike, what pitch to throw, location…what is going on in the bean that is getting you so put out?[/quote]check your pm’s, because I guess i find myself thinking about anything and everything to try and change the issue.


#18

I know this may be difficult for you to do, but I want you to stop thinking. Clear your mind. Then, I want you to focus on just one thing on the mound…your catcher and what he’s signaling to you to throw. Zero in on it…and forget everything else. Let everything around you fade out. Nothing matters except your catcher and what he wants you to throw to him. This is a technique I learned from my pitching coach a long time ago, and I found it extremely helpful in regaining my focus and concentration, because there are times when pitchers will lose their concentration for one reason or another.
What it all boils down to is—pitch your game, not someone else’s. 8)


#19

[quote=“Zita Carno”]I know this may be difficult for you to do, but I want you to stop thinking. Clear your mind. Then, I want you to focus on just one thing on the mound…your catcher and what he’s signaling to you to throw. Zero in on it…and forget everything else. Let everything around you fade out. Nothing matters except your catcher and what he wants you to throw to him. This is a technique I learned from my pitching coach a long time ago, and I found it extremely helpful in regaining my focus and concentration, because there are times when pitchers will lose their concentration for one reason or another.
What it all boils down to is—pitch your game, not someone else’s. 8)[/quote]
Hey, thanks to all who have posted. I’ve been super stressed lately, and after taking a break, I’ve just realized that it is another part. 2 games don’t affect me, nor make me as a pitcher. Yes I have had my off days, but at the same point, I’ve changed so much, increased so much, and so I should have that much more confidence. I will work on that Zita. Thanks.