Share your pregame mental prep routines


What do you do specifically to mentally prepare for pitching?


I never really did anything specific. I would warm up, and while I was doing that I would go over the opposition starting lineup in my head, figure out how to pitch to them and get them out—and then I would take the mound and do just that.


Not related to pitching but music…
I played a physical instrument, drums. I would go through a simple couple minute stretch of my fingers, hands, wrists, forearms and shoulders. Then I would play a series of rudiments (basic exercises all drummers learn)…same rudiments, in the same order, every time. Then I would visualize and run through the first couple of songs in my head and tapping along with my drumsticks. Didn’t matter if it was a little dirty club or a “big” gig the warm up was the same. As I was doing my rudimentary exercises and running through the first two songs I would focus on breathing and getting mental focus.
A “pregame” can apply to many things in life.


Hey, Fearsome—I never knew that you too were a musician! So was I, a symphony orchestra musician who also did chamber music, ballet, opera, some shows, some jazz—this was how I made a good living for some 37 years, before I retired from the Los Angeles Philharmonic (not of my own choosing; that darned degenerative osteoarthritis did me in). Now I’m once again involved up to my ears with baseball, and although I don’t play any more I can certainly hang around on this website—and also on Sidearm—and, when I can, offer some advice and help.


I’ve downloaded some of your music Zita. Absolutely beautiful! I am sorry your not able to play professionally anymore but I am grateful your work has been captured digitally so that many can still enjoy it.


Ted22, you have just made my day! I was very good at what I did in that capacity, and as you can imagine my co-workers appreciated it, so I’m happy to hear that others outside of music feel likewise. Thank you.


Hey Zita,
I didn’t know that about you, that is very cool. You certainly enjoyed a lot of different avenues in your career and that is awesome!!
There are a lot of correlations between sports and music (art)…things that are individual (even if part of a team or group) that take a great deal of concentration. Being able to be focused and still relaxed is a mental place that takes practice and preparation. I have been in situations where I had to sit in on a gig (rock band so there was no music or charts to read), I did not know most of the songs and had about 10 minutes of prep in the form of a chat with the guitarist. Worked out a few visual signals and go for it. I was able to get through that because I was prepared through a lot of practice…I knew my strengths and limitations, I had a solid base of music theory and I was able to feel my way through the songs without any major disasters even though I had not heard most of them before and had no charts. The same can be said for a pitcher who does not have their best stuff one day and is working with a new catcher. The first and biggest step to being able to relax and execute is tons and tons of practice.


I know what you mean about working with a new catcher. One day I found myself having to work with a catcher who did not know my stuff—my regular catcher had a screaming toothache and had scheduled an appointment with his dentist—and so I met with this new guy and told him that I would call all the pitches, the way Howie Pollet had done with the St. Louis Cardinals way back when, and all he had to do was stick his glove out in the general area where he wanted the ball and just wait for it! And I pitched a three-hit shutout, no problem, and we won 8-0…Also, I forgot to mention that in the 80s and early 90s I got to do quite a bit of conducting, and I enjoyed every minute of it. There’s really nothing like a whole orchestra, or a sizeable chamber ensemble, to work with. Another feather in my cap.


That is really nice to hear. How do I listen to your music, Zita?

I’m not musically inclined, but I do play the radio… ( yeah I know, lame)


I always listen to two classical-music channels on my TV—Classical Masterpieces and Light Classical, mostly the former, and I have an ever-expanding collection of CDs ranging from Bach to Messaien and beyond. I usually take a CD or two in the car and listen to them there.The last one I listened to was a terrific recording of Hindemith’s “Symphony in E-flat” with Leonard Bernstein conducting the N.Y. Philharmonic, and I had no idea that Lenny was so good with Hindemith—it was a masterpiece.