Help me out…I have a 10u team and when I take a mound visit I seem to want to rush it and not really take the time to calm the pitcher down when things aren’t going right for him. Looking for some positive feedback that I can relay on to them. “Keep your head up…you got this”…that is my approach. But…what can i say to really get his nervous back under control?
How long can a mound visit last? I ask because I always finish before the ump has to call me off…see what I mean? I need more positive things to tell my pitchers.
The easiest thing to do I’ve found is tell them to take a deep breath and get their breathing under control.
Sometimes if you go out and tell them a joke it shifts their focus and then when they go back to work for whatever reason they’ve refocused on the task and usually the rest of the inning goes better.
As far as how long of a visit stay out there till the Ump comes and gets you, usually at the lower levels Umps are pretty good at allowing enough time to get some points across and depending on the situation they might let you out longer if your guy is really struggling.
walk out with a smile on your face.
–this puts them at ease because they already know they are screwing up
Let him know, that you know, how hard he’s working and that you appreciate his effort.
–puts a good thought in his mind that his coach isn’t sitting in the dugout waiting to pull his ears off when he comes back in.
give him one thing to make an adjustment on
–this is no time for a full on pitching lesson. One thing gives him something to focus on to hopefully stop his head from spinning
remind him to control what he can control - take a deep breath and go to work.
head back to the dugout with your head held high and a smile on your face. (Feel free to whistle if you like!)
The only times you want to stay out there any longer than that would be to stall to get a new pitcher ready (which you should have been doing at the beginning of the inning anyway) or to give the kid a break if it’s really hot out (in that case, bring water with you to the mound)
Every pitcher reacts differently to different things, but I try to get him thinking about a success in practice or a previous game.
smile and make eye contact with your pitcher
briskly walk out there
refocus his attention
I tell them with a chuckle that “As bad as you think things are going right now, it’s only about 10% of that.” Everyone’s behind you. Nothing but confidence.
Let’s make this real simple. Aim small; Miss small. Remember the batting tee drill? Close your eyes, take a breathe, and see the ball sitting on that tee. Got it? Now remember how you feel when you knock it off there? Alright, open your eyes and knock it down.
Then I smack his visor down over his eyes or pat him on the shoulder just hard enough to knock him off balance and I trot off.
The great Yankee pitcher of the 30s and early 40s, Lefty Gomez, was pitching in the 1938 World Series against the Giants, and he ran into trouble in the eighth inning—bases loaded, two out, a dangerous hitter at bat. The Yankees were holding on to a lead by the skins of their teeth. Suddenly Gomez called time and stepped off the rubber. A small plane had come into view, and evidently the pilot was a stunt flier, because he went into a whole sequence of loops, rolls, dives and all the other things stunt fliers usually do. Gomez—and everyone else in the ballpark—stood silent for some ten minutes and watched the aerial show; Gomez was an airplane buff and he enjoyed it as much as, perhaps more than, everyone else. Finally, with a last dip, the pilot and his plane flew out of sight, and Lefty, by now completely relaxed, returned to the mound and struck out the batter to end the inning and the threat. Sometimes that’s all it takes—a momentary distraction, to break the tension and refocus the pitcher on his task.
A lot of times coaches don’t need to mention baseball, pitching, or anything else related. Sometimes just walking out and smiling does the trick.
Remember the trip to the mound is an attempt to stop the bleeding. The pitcher, especially young ones, is already feeling the pressure. Why add more things for him to think about. Instead just break the tension.
Former MLB catcher Rick Wilkins is a friend of mine, he said his favorite thing to do was crack some form of joke, (I’ve got a Dennis Eckersly pic with him and Rick on the mound and they’re just short of cracking up).
Break the spell, take the weight off. Kids this age don’t need misery anyway…
I’d say first make him smile and then get him focused. Whenever the PC comes out to talk to me, he starts with a line to loosen me up, and then gets me focused by discussing my plan to get the next guy out. I get so focused on execution that nerves cannot set in.