Developing Confidence


My son is 17 years old and a Jr in HS. He is a RHP, 1B and 3B player. He has a low ERA and is the 2nd top pitcher on his team. This is his 2nd yr in Varsity and is doing well. His coach tends to use him aginst the bigger schools/teams because of his control and speed. However I feel my son holds back from his true potential and I don’t know why. We live in a small community and he is well known amongst the baseball community in our town and I think he’s scared to shine above his teammates BUT at the same time ma be scared of success. He’s hard on himself when things don’t go as planned and feels like he HAS to carry the team on his back; best similarity I can use is Kershaw and Dodgers. How do I help him develop his full potential and make him not fear success along with helping him learn to throw in a way he will not tear up his arm? Any advice on exercise, diet and self motivation is welcome. He has big dreams but living in a small town where it’s hard to be noticed can bring those dreams down quick. Advice on where to go for improvement so he knows if he is at level he should be to continue is appreciated.


Shining above his teammates will actually help his teammates in that it will raise the bar for them to help them improve - as long as he remains humble about it. Motivation comes from within and by setting an example for his teammates, those who compare themselves to better players will be motivated to strive for that higher bar.

As for being hard on himself when things go wrong, he needs to learn not to worry about things he can’t control. And, especially as a pitcher, most of what goes on is out of his control. In fact, about the only thing he can control is hitting his spots. Teammate errors, yelling coaches, crummy umpires, obnoxious fans, poor field conditions, foul weather, etc. are all out of his control.

Developing one’s full potential while taking care of the arm involves good mechanics, managed workload, proper conditioning, good nutrition and proper rest.


@APizano - Welcome to the forum.

I think we’ve all seen instances of pitchers not being able to execute in big moments. A lot of times, it’s because they are so afraid of all the risk of the moment: A hitter could hit a home run on a pitch you throw inside; a hitter could hit your 0-2 pitch and coach will be mad, or my teammates will get get pissed.

If your son is focused on all the bad things that could happen, chances are they will happen. I’ve seen this happen a lot. It’s happened to me a lot throughout my own baseball career.

The sport of baseball has the pitcher’s position played in the middle of the field, stopping and starting on their pace, and assigns a W or L at the end of the game in their stat line. What other “team” sport has a position with that much responsibility? That’s also the best part about the position! Once a pitcher accepts that fact that risk is present, he might as well start focusing on the reward and opportunities that exist:

  • The opportunity to be the hero
  • The opportunity to get the big W
  • The opportunity to take over and control a game
  • The opportunity to help the team win

I recognize this is easier said than done. But only once a pitcher realizes this, can he throw with 100% authority and without reservation. That’s how he can set himself up to be successful.

I wish your son all the best. It sounds like he’s a terrific young pitcher with a lot of baseball ahead of him!


So Steve,
My son struggles with this too sometimes…has control issues that come and go, so, its a bit of the chicken and the egg. Control issues cause a more timid approach and some self doubt thought process…or the other way around?
As a guy who has played at every level, what processes did you develop to help with this?


Mickey Rivers, who used to play centerfield for the Yankees (and did it very well), had this to say: “Ain’t no use worryin’ ‘bout things over which you got no control, ‘cause if you got no control over them ain’t no use worryin’. And ain’t no use worryin’ 'bout things over which you got control, ‘cause if you got control over them ain’t no use worryin’.” Wise words from old Gozzlehead. There really is only one thing the kid needs to be concerned about, and that’s the plate umpire—some of them are good, and some just plain stink on hot ice—but he does have at least some control over other baseball situations.
I would suggest that he get together with a good, and I mean good, pitching coach, preferably high minors or even major league, someone he can talk to and who can give him the support and reassurance he needs, who can help him develop and make full use of his confidence. I had such a pitching coach once, many moons ago, a guy with whom I worked for almost four years and who was the most incredible pitching coach one could ever hope to hook up with. His name was Ed Lopat, he was one of the Yankees’ Big Three pitching rotation from 1948 to the middle of 1955—and a guide, mentor and troubleshooter par excellence. What I learned from him in the almost four years we worked together was nothing short of priceless, and I could tell you stories about him! Someone like that could do your kid a lot of good and help him achieve what he’s been striving for—and help him become a better pitcher, just as Mr.Lopat did with me. So give it some thought.


Thank you Steve. You along with Roger who also commented have put a lot into perspective not only for my son but for me as a mother to understand a bit more of the why’s. He recently told me about your book TuffCuff and I am definitely purchasing this for him. Any other suggestions on reading materials or videos that can assist him? Thank you again for your much valued and appreciated comments. Best wishes!


Thank you for your much appreciated input. We are definitely looking into that!


Thank you Roger. I shared your post with him and it put him in a different more positive mind set and made him understand that some things are beyond his control and neess to let those things go.



Something for your son to think about…

When he finds himself struggling and is considering changing his approach, should he change to an approach he hasn’t practiced or stick with the one he has practiced a lot?

This is why I hate it when parents yell to a struggling pitcher, “Just play catch with Johnny (the catcher)”. They’re telling him to do something different than what he’s practiced and that pokes a hole in his confidence.


Yeah true.
Although he is an older guy now, 19. I can tell watching him when he is in his own head.
His most recent coach was yelling instructions out between every pitch which was maddening.
I always thought this was dumb and counter productive. What is messing in my estimation is the link…in the moment…between the cause and the fix. When I am missing down here is my fix…that is what is missing.
Pitching coaches can be very positive (although, he has yet to have an excellent one) and effective in pens, between starts or sometimes between innings. To me, giving a guy instruction between pitches is a kin to giving a guy swing instructions during his backswing on the golf course.



“My son is 17 years old and a Jr in HS. He is a RHP, 1B and 3B player. He has a low ERA and is the 2nd top pitcher on his team. This is his 2nd yr in Varsity and is doing well. His coach tends to use him against the bigger schools/teams because of his control and speed”

I don’t see a problem here. For a 17 year old, he’s doing pretty good. In fact, in a small town, to be holding his own like this is superior. Besides, not only is he holding his own on the field, but, he seems to manage the coaching environment - a environment that’s not all that unique to everyone else.

I’d suggest leaving your son to his own devices, his handling “it”, and easy does it with the counsel. As a young man, he’s now into that space of maturing manhood that requires either solving his own problems, a kind of “walk it off - deal with it”, or not. And on that note, I’d bet that he does that anyway. Either way, your son is managing his place in space on the field like he will, on his own someday. A thick-skin kind of mantel that every youngster gets, experience by experience. that’s what makes the transition from a boy to a man.

I can assume that my words here come as no comfort or compass. But then, your observations are the sensitive kind that only a mother, who cares very much for her son, can give. To be on the sidelines and observe that kind of bond is something that I haven’t witnessed, not in my career. So, I ask for your indulgence if my words are course around the edges - I don’t mean to insult or be insensitive.