Inconsistent College Pitcher

Hello. I am a Sophomore college pitcher and I am really struggling with my pitches right now. I know I have the stuff to be successful, but I can’t tame it right now. It’s getting to the point where I am over thinking everything as well.
I’m a RHP, 6’0 180lbs

We have only played four games this season due to bad weather, and in one of those games I was the starting pitcher. I pitched into the fifth inning but I was finally pulled after loading the bases and not getting anyone out.

We ended up losing 4-0 and I gave up 1 Earned Run with 3 Unearned.
However, I walked seven and hit three.

Also, lately my bullpens have been nothing but frustrating. My breaking ball either floats inside (on righties) and hits batters, or it breaks to much and is too low or in the dirt. My changeup also floats inside a lot, or it stays high. My fastball is fine, but I cannot hit the outside corner to save my life. Every pitch is either right down the middle or on the inside part of the plate.
The thing that frustrates me the most is seeing my breaking ball float. It’s barely getting there. When it works correctly, it has a very sharp break to the outside corner and usually is my swing and miss pitch. I can also throw it for strikes when the batters least expect it.
My changeup also can be nasty. Every time when warming up for practice I can throw it anywhere I want, with ease. Yet when I pitch, it does nothing and has been the result of a few home runs from last season.
Another thing that is frustrating is the fact that I cannot hit the outside corner (or come inside to lefties) with ALL of my pitches.

A few things I have noticed:
My plant foot seems to always land closed (forcing the ball inside) but how can I fix that?
Maybe I release my breakingball too early or to the side?
I might not be finishing my pitches.

I can possibly have a teammate shoot a video the next time I have a bullpen, so you all can see for yourselves.

Basically if I can get any tips, or mechanical fixes, it would be greatly appreciated. I’m very frustrated and I want to be able to enjoy pitching without overthinking. Also, if I can regain the ability to hit the outside corner, it will open up the plate for me to be more successful in games. (Too many times I face batters and they have long at bats because they foul off all the inside pitches, or the attempted outside pitches are balls.)

Thanks!

~ahowl11

Best thing you can do at this point is to get a video up. I would be hesitant to give suggestions without looking at the video first.

Okay, we usually do bullpens on Tuesdays so I will make sure I get a video up by Wednesday. If for some reason we throw pens today, I will post a video up ASAP

If you are having issues with missing consistently high and inside, your arm may be dragging behind. Video still is the best way for us to help you though.

And, of course, a dragging arm isn’t a late arm - it’s an early front side.

Anything that causes you to open up early (e.g. posture of glove issues) will cause the release point to pull back and raise up. This leads to “up and in” pitches as well as hanging curve balls.

But, as already stated, the best thing is to post up some video and let us take a look.

Forget video, the last thing I would focus upon would be making a mechanical change. You need to spend more time developing a feel for each pitch by isolating your focus to one pitch during pen and flat ground.

Narrow your focus to one pitch at a time until you can repeat it. Don’t go through typical 3 or 4 pitch pen. Choose one pitch and then move to the next after you can repeat it.

Start developing personal cues that work for you. Create a cue for each pitch, “FB down”, may be hold onto it longer, speed up the hands, etc… The key is you being able to develop your own cues.

Focus on reference points during pen and moving to game mound. You have to become more aware it sounds like and mechanics aren’t going to change that.

Become AWARE: Chart it, write it down, use each cue as part of your pre-pitch routine.

The thought process for most coaches and player is to always look at fixing mechanics, which will in turn bring you more success is ridiculous. Why is it always the first bit of advice that pitching coaches suggest???

Your checkpoints should go something like this:
Feel out of hand: there’s a difference between a FB away vs. in etc
Cues and pre pitch: you have 100% control over this, own it!!
Reference points changing: be aware of how your stuff is playing that day

What you will find is that the body will make its own mechanical changes, those are the best kind of changes!!

Mechanics are t the cure during this point of the year.

This is excellent advice. Every now and then we lose the feel for a certain pitch for a multitude of reasons. Often the change in our mechanics from this is virtually imperceptible. This is a great way to get the feel back and ‘fix’ what is wrong.

I recommend throwing bullpens in 3 blocked sets of 5-8 pitches apiece. That gives you 15-24 attempts to locate the same pitch to the same spot. Take 5 mins of rest then do it again. Try to ‘remember’ how the successful pitches felt from the prior set, and throw to exact same spot.

Throwing your bullpens this way all the time will help your overall command of each pitch, even when there isn’t something ‘wrong’. When everything is working properly, you can throw a different pitch in each 5-8 pitch block i.e. 5 down and in 2-seamers, 5 down and away sliders, 5 up and in 4-seamers, etc.

At the very end of the bullpen, I liked to end with a simulated at bat. If I missed my spot, it was a ball (even if it was in the strike zone). Only if I got my spot was it a strike. If I got 3 ‘strikes’ before 4 misses, I was really in charge that day.

I agree that you shouldn’t be looking at mechs for your answer. 4 games into the season isn’t the time to be messin in the kitchen.
I like to exaggerate locates in the pen, if you are throwing high move the catcher closer, can’t hit the outside corner? Have the catcher set-up there and work. You’ve got to let the athleticism of the position work…in other words, you know… do the work, do not “think” this through, work. Remember your mechs got you there and can take you further, let them.
I’ve always found that guys who are just beating their heads on the wall, were too tense, too worried…how are ya gonna make “that” work???
Go out and fly a kite…relax…change your level of stress and let it go.

Some solid advice guys.

I never thought about it that way, it will make it a lot easier that’s for sure! My next bullpen (which should be today) I will work on hitting my different spots without worrying about my mechanics. However, I will still have someone shoot a video, and I will post it, just so you can see for yourselves.

Today, I will work on one pitch and one location at a time until I can hit that spot consistently.

I will get back to you all with my results and also a video of my pen.

Thank you for the advice!

The mind can be trained to expand your ability to concentrate. You want to transition from intellectual pitching (focusing on pitching ABC’s) to instinctual pitching (having your mind and the target become locked in like tuning in a radio station.)

You should be able to tune out peripheral images or distractions and hone in on the task of hitting a spot. You know that if you just hop up on the mound and throw the ball toward a catcher, the result is the ball will go somewhere in the area of the catcher. That’s not pitching right? That’s warming up, getting loose…it doesn’t take much concentration.

The difference between being in the middle of the plate and hitting the outside corner is physically a matter of mere inches but mentally it is hugely more significant.

Why do we immediately look toward mechanical fixes for control problems? Because we can’t easily see into the mind. Exercises for the mind and meditation are worth looking into. I participate in the shooting sports. There are some correlations with pitching. Both require learned mechanics/fundamentals and both require levels of concentration. Practice that is meaningful requires a combination of both.

Often we realize there is a problem only after we have already reinforced both poor fundamentals and lack of concentration through hours of poor practice. It takes a lot of focused effort to turn that around.

I’ve never thought of that as well. Focus does play a huge part if you want to be a successful pitcher, and I have struggled at times with that.

Here is a video. I took others but this is the best one because you can see my mechanics as well as the path of the ball. I only threw Breaking Balls in this part of the Bullpen. I have other videos from different angles from my other segments, but you can never tell where the ball is going.

From reading your original post, it sounded like you describing a glove side issue. Reviewed your video and that is what stood out to me. When you reach with the glove arm it should stay there as and anchor and let the body come around towards that glove. This is the “chest to the glove” cue.

When the glove arm is pulled away from the body, the fastball that you are trying to locate low and away will have a tendency to miss middle and a lot of times up and in on a right handed batter. With the breaking pitch, the front arm goes away from the body, the pitch will either hang middle-in to a righty, or you will try to make and adjustment by holding on to the ball longer and throw it towards the left-handed batters box.

So really, all you have to do is make sure when you are following through that you anchor your glove arm and that it is against your body at release. I know some people are saying not to focus on mechanics so early in the season, but if you aren’t feeling comfortable mechanically it can be hard to keep the confidence up. Keep working hard and you will find a groove. good luck this season!

Thank you for the observation, I will tinker with that today. Should be a simple fix.

Is your pitching coach giving you any feedback or direction?

A couple of things, I’ve noticed since watching this video.

You are completely set up to throw inside to right-handers.

Watch the video as you take your stance with the pivot foot centered on the pitcher’s plate, then you shift your foot hard to the left when you pick it up and turn it. Don’t do that!

Fix: Put your pivot foot back down in the same place you started-- just turn it.

Currently, when you execute your stride, your foot plant ends up on the right third of the mound, while your pivot foot was on the left third of the mound. This lines you up to throw directly at a right-handed batter and not toward the catcher.

Fix: get your alignment down the target line. Place a strip of white athletic tape from the center of the rubber to the end of the mound and stride onto the tape. When you turn and place your pivot foot, have the ball of your foot at the intersection of the tape and the rubber.

Your curve ball has some nice movement, but you are wasting the early part of the movement just getting the ball to run back to the target line. If you make the above adjustments, the hitters will perceive your curve ball to have harder breaking action.

Also, your hand break is very high. Try to break the hands explosively from the waist, giving your stride a chance to finish before your arm gets cocked.

Another thing I think I see is that you are nearly vertical going into your lift. Try to get that front hip forward. Instead of lifting up, lift up and toward the plate by having your weight on the inside of your right foot as you start your lift. Try getting your left knee as far forward at the top of the lift as you can and really drive with that back leg. Be sure you are staying on that white tape. Combining the low and explosive hand break with the forward leaning leg lift should really help your body get some speed down the hill which will translate into more velocity for you.

JD has some sound advice—get away from pitching for a while, go fly a kite, whatever. I remember how Lefty Gomez, one of the great Yankee pitchers, extricated himself from a mess on the mound.
It was the 1938 World Series, and he was in a jam in the eighth inning—bases loaded, a dangerous hitter at bat…Then suddenly he called time and stepped off the mound. A small plane had suddenly come into view, and Gomez was an airplane buff. He stood there and watched as the pilot, evidently a stunt flier, started going through a whole repertoire of loops, rolls, dives and all the other things stunt pilots do, and all the fans in the stands fell silent and watched as well. The pilot did this for about ten minutes, and then with a final dip of the wings flew out of sight. Gomez, now completely relaxed, returned to the mound and got the side out without being scored on.
Something similar to this occurred during a minor-league game when a dirigible loaded with passengers appeared in the sky above the playing field. It dropped to some 200 feet and hovered so that the fans in the aircraft could get a good view of the proceedings on the field. The plate umpire was distracted at first, but finally he stopped play, looked up at the visitor from above and hollered: “If a batted ball hits that thing, it’s a ground-rule double!” :slight_smile:
Play resumed with no further incident, and everyone got a kick out of it.

Well, I had a horrible pen yesterday and I got pretty upset. Couldn’t hit my spots.

My coach pulled me aside and told me I threw a heck of a game in the game I pitched in at the beginning of last month. We lost 4-0 to a team that had beat us by double digits the previous two games, the day before. That team can rake.

He said that with me it’s all mental. So did my catcher. My catcher told me that I have two zones. One zone is where I’m having fun, focused, and throwing strikes. My other zone is where I am frustrated, anxious, and trying to hard. That’s where I make my mistakes.

So, Coach Paul thank you very much for your observations they will help a lot. Although about getting my front hip forward and putting weight on the right side of my pivot foot… Wouldn’t that make me unbalanced? I’ve just tried a few dry runs and I keep leaning forward without being able to pause for that half-second. I’m afraid that I would almost be rushing to the plate. Can you explain how it works, I am curious because I do want some more velocity.

As far as giving pitching a rest, again you all are right. I’ve been dwelling on my mechanics for the past month and it just gets more frustrating. I think I’m gonna focus on other things this weekend and not worry about baseball.

Another reason why I may be having issues goes back to the mental aspect. We played four games in two days at the beginning of the month. Since then we have had many games cancelled due to weather. So all we do is practice in that indoor facility, and frankly I am sick of that place. I am really wanting to get on the field and get rid of my cabin fever.

Again thank you for the help, I will post updates on my progress, as well as some questions if they come up

Read these books they will help with your mental approach:

Head’s Up Baseball Ken Ravizza Tom Hanson ISBN 1-57028-021-5
The Mental ABC’s of Pitching H.A. Dorfman ISBN 1-888698-29-2
The Mental Game of Baseball H.A. Dorfman and Karl Kuehl ISBN 1-888698-54-3

It is a good character trait to always strive for improvement…at work…with your relationships…for self pride. But when it comes to baseball; find a way to enjoy the game no matter what. If you put your nose to the grindstone; you are going to end up with a bloody nose.