I have below average velocity and throw about 65% of my pitches are strikes on my fastball anyway, but my problem is they come right down the middle? what are some drills I can do that will make me learn to use the corners? and hit my spots good?
I have some general remarks for you, and some specific ones.
Control arises from optimized, repeatable mechanics (that lead to a highly consistent release point).
IMO, you should spend as much time as you need optimizing your mechanics first, and control will very naturally follow.
Here are a couple of other ‘tricks’ that you can think about for making the most of your pitching mechanics, at whatever stage of refinement they are currently at:
(1) Wherever the catcher has set up, throw to a “dime” in his glove. I.e., don’t be satisfied by the concept of throwing to the strike zone, or the catcher’s glove–imagine a dime-sized spot inside the catcher’s glove and have as your goal to hit that dime on every pitch. (Does that mean you should beat yourself up when you fail to achieve this goal on every pitch? No. Setting high goals and stretching yourself to achieve them is much more about the “process” than any single “result”.)
(2) Keep your eyes focused on your target (the “dime”, see #1, above) from before your first motion to the plate until you have released the ball. Not every elite pitcher does this, but the ones who don’t look strange to us because they are exceptions. Do not underestimate the power of your eyes to provide quality feedback for your brain which, in turn, must pilot your body through a high quality pitch delivery. Our “predator configured” eyes–that is, both eyes located on the front of our face, for successful targeting and attacking of prey–are extremely powerful tools when locked on to a target that our brain is interested in.
All of that being said, you can imagine just the sort of drills pitchers have done since time began to develop control. Basically, they all boil down to drawing, constructing, buying, or whatever,… some kind of target to throw at. And then, repetitive throwing at the target.
Flippin is right on with his comment. To add to it, visualization is an underestimated tool. By visualizing the pitch you want to make you essentially program your body to perform the action.
Another “trick” if you will, is to try and throw the ball through the catcher’s mitt. this forces you to focus on the mitt and then eliminates the whole “placing” the ball issue that can come up when trying to hit a spot. I’ve found this technique to be very beneficial personally.
In addition to the great advice just posted, I’ve used the following with excellent results.
Taget your catcher’s L or R side of his mask. If your right-handed, target the right side (your right), if your left handed target his left side(your left). If on the other hand your tossing to a teammate, use the side(s) of his face.
The picture on the left is an example. The picture on the right is what you’ll actually see from the mound- 60+ feet away.
Also, it helps if you use a train’g ball like the one pictured below. Rawlings has an 850 just for train’g purposes. The ball is a few bucks ($3.50), however if you can’t find a train’g ball its no big thing.
The catcher’s mask as a target is excellent for stricter drills later on when your required to increase your location accuracy. The glove as a target is great at the begin’g - but you’ll find the mask technique gives you:
A stable target that doesn’t move, inning to inning like the glove can.
The mask is easier to pick up and maintain while going through your motion.
The mask offers a reference point when your in your “adjustment” phase during a game.
The mask as a target for all fastballs is better for the plate umpire to gauge strikes with when your trying to get back in the ZONE after an adjustment period of base on balls.
During my first pitching lessons - my pitching coach told me that I should try to hit within a catcher’s glove of the target area. I am in 9th grade and this seems to have helped me become more consistent with location and provided me something that was doable. I am sure I will need to become more accurate as I get older - but for a starting point this seems ok and gives pretty good feed back.
BTW - The coach also would set up inside or outside and he always wanted me to extend directly toward his mid line (he said to pretend like I was trying to hit him in the crotch with every pitch). This helped me to understand that hitting the outside or inside corners required only a small adjustment/step with the initial stride.
A drill he had me do between lessons was - to go out to a stripped parking lot - that was empty and had me measure off 60 feet put a plate down and the catcher would setup on the corners and I would try to hit these locations. What I found out was that to hit the corners only required my lead foot to land on either edge of the parking space line (about a 3 inch change in landing location). I was able to keep my arm motion pretty much the same.
Aim big, miss big. Aim small, miss small. [size=9](from the NPA)[/size]
Goes back to laflippin’s comment about aiming for a dime-size target. Pretty simple concept.
And kidmullen is correct - most adjustments pitchers need to make are small.