I got a question :)

Sometimes I have problems totally blocking out crowds when I am pitching. I real good example I can give was when I was at Whitcha State throwing in front of 7000+ people aganist Mike Pelfrey in our conferecne tournament (#9 pick).

Are there any mental exercises that could help me with this?

Thank you

Get married…

yes, marriage is one option. It may lead to your leaving baseball and this problem will be cured!

There are lots of things you can do. I’ll just start by saying you can’t block something out directly.

Don’t think of a pink elephant. Or a red slipper. Or giving up a HR.

I said DON"T think of those things.

The only way to “block something out” is to get so into something else. When you are pitching great you are so into the target the rest of the noise goes away.

You can practice this simply by reading or stareing at something when there are distractions in the room. Focus on an object for 10 each day.

This is a big topic and I’ll return to it later.

Well since Im 20 I can live w/o the marriage part for right now. But thank you very much on the focusing exercises I will definitly help. When your “in the zone” I know that it seems nothing can break you, but its those days when its 40 degrees and your fastball isnt there and it seems that can’t top finding gaps is what Im talking about.


PS - Thank You Again

My answer to almost any pitching question now ultimately comes to a guy doing a great job with his pre-pitch routine.

I was working with a guy yesterday who is a lefty who has trouble throwing to lefties. For him, facing a lefty was a “yellow light” – it through him off his game. In other words, he gets out of his routine. Instead of focusing on where he wants the pitch to go, he’s focusing on “don’t hit this guy.”

The answer is in being aware of his thinking – without awareness you don’t know you need to change anything. Then making sure he is focused on his target (regardless of who or what is hitting). Then practicing facing lefties so he builds his confidence.

None of this is rocket science, it’s just hard to see when you (as a pitcher) are in it.

Here’s a trick I’ve used for years in lots of sports, particularly in making foul shots in basketball – hyperfocus. In other words, I don’t aim for “the basket” in general; I aim for, say, a specific scuffmark on the back of the rim. This not only focuses me on the target, it helps me block out the crowd and other distracting thoughts, such as worries about failing. (I got this idea from video games, where I find that if I concentrate on hitting an opponent in a specific body part, I’m more likely to hit him somewhere on his body than if I just aim for him generally.)

Dr. Tom, your thoughts on this?

Couldn’t agree more. I like pitchers to pick a spot on the glove or catcher, not just the glove itself. Some guys don’t like this so I don’t force it, but a small target is best for most. More guys would be helped from it but it almost seems to scare them off. The key becomes to trust yourself – focus on the spot and trust yourself – as opposed to TRYING to hit the spot.

That is an interesting concept as far as having the pitcher focus on a much smaller spot, I never used it before and probably should’ve on days where I had no command.

I know some catchers use tape on their fingers to make the signs more visable for the pitcher, but if this helps a pitcher focus, could the C put a small dot inside the glove w/out violating any equipment or uniform codes?

I don’t know but it would be a good idea.

Like Mel Gibson said in the movie Patriot " AIM SMALL MISS SMALL" I don’t really know how I do it. But like what everybody is saying just focus on your target. You got to remember your the guy on the mound your the guy with the ball you have all the power you go when your ready. Now I’m not saying take hours but focus concentrate and most of all have fun. You have to remember that this is a game. No matter how many people are watching you just go out there and say I’m gunna do my best and that all I have to offer. Thats what I say to myself everytime. But as to what Tom said that is a great exercise to focus on an object every day and just block out everything and just focus on that object.

I’m a big fan of the ‘Clearing the Mechanism’ idea that I’ve always used as a pitcher.

I didn’t know thats what I was doing until I watched the movie For the Love of the Game starrting Kevin Costner, it demonstrates how to do this somewhat during the movie, I’ve refered it to friends and they’ve watched the movie and have been able to take what they’ve seen and applied it to themseleves.

Hope this helps

“clearing the mechanism” is a skill --like learning to through a change up. You need to know how to do it (there are a wide variety of ways) and you need to practice it. It requires mental strength that seems to decline as a player gets older (late 30s). Mental skills are just like physical skills.

Breath thru your eyelids…