Mental toughness…that is indeed the key.
When I was in high school, many moons ago, we had a science teacher who liked to demonstrate experiments to the class. From time to time one of those experiments would fizzle—and the teacher, bless him, would just shrug and say "Oh well, it’ll work out better next time."
Something to keep in mind. If you’re out there on the mound and something isn’t right—say, one of your pitches isn’t behaving itself—just put it aside for the time being and go to your other stuff that you know is working for you. Don’t get into a situation where you’re fretting and fussing over that one pitch that isn’t working—and here’s a story that illustrates this.
Back in the 60s the Cincinnati Reds had a pitcher named Jay Hook whose middle name might well have been “inconsistent”. He was like the little girl with the curl in the nursery rhyme; when he was good, he was very, very good, but when he was bad—he stank on hot ice. Well, on one day he was pitching against the Pittsburgh Pirates, and he stank on hot ice; the Pirates were eating him alive, turning every pitch he threw into line-drive extra-base hits. It got to the point where Reds manager Fred Hutchinson had to take him out of the game. Hook returned to the dugout and sat in a corner and bemoaned the loss of his fast ball; it had up and deserted him.
In vain did Jim Brosnan, a very good relief pitcher who might have made an excellent pitching coach had he been so inclined, try to talk to Hook.mHe tried to explain that nobody has all his best stuff every time out: “That’s when you learn this game,” he said. “You have other pitches to throw. Use them when your fast ball isn’t there.” He might as well have been talking to the wall, because Hook appeared not to hear him; he just sat there and moaned, over and over and over, “Without my fast ball I can’t pitch.” So Brosnan gave up trying to talk to him.
Hook didn’t last much longer in the majors after that. I guess he just didn’t have the required mental toughness, the resourcefulness that might have saved the day for him had he just put that fast ball back on the shelf and go to his other pitches. 8)