What's your pre-pitch routine?

Let’s talk pre-pitch routines. Do you have one?

Most pitchers just look in, take the sign from the catcher, wind-up, throw the pitch—and then hope for good results.

It’s important to understand that having a consistent pre-pitch routine has a great deal to do with pitching relaxed and creating better results on each and every pitch.

Here was my pre-pitch routine in pro ball:

  • Get relaxed and set on the rubber
  • Look in and get sign from catcher
  • Decide on location
  • Visualize the target—focus on a dime size spot in the catcher’s mitt
  • Verbalize to myself the pitch and location (“fastball, low and
  • Take a deep breath to relax—and then focus on the glove
  • Commit to throwing my best pitch
  • Trust that pitch
  • Start my delivery

Having a routine is all about getting more focused to do your job of hitting the glove more consistently.

What’s your routine? Would you change anything with mine?


Before anything else—figure out what the batter is looking for, and DON’T GIVE IT TO HIM!!!

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I thought of my pitches like golf shots. Imagine the ideal path of the ball. I threw mainly a sinker from the sidearm slot so I pictured it coming in a diving right under the righty’s bat to his back leg. Lefties I worked inside mostly, so I pictured it starting just at his front thigh and coming right back to the inner half.

I always had a timing cue in my head. If I had guys on base I had a number in my head that I counted to after coming set and changed it each time vary my looks. I constantly thought to myself “stay back” as a way to avoid rushing to the plate.

Last thing, if my gut didn’t like what the catcher threw down, but I still nodded yes, I tried to step off for a new sign. This was a constant mental battle, but I learned the hard way that a pitch thrown without conviction is a pitch that gets hammered.

Besides all that not much. Only a few thoughts are needed.


Good stuff. I’d add one item: check your emotions.


Sidewinder34, your last statement—“A pitch thrown without conviction is a pitch that gets hammered”—should be required reading and memorization by coaches at all levels of the game!!!

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All of the above are great… just be careful with seeing the guy now getting into the box that just lit you up two innings ago and saying to yourself … " Oh great … him again!"

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I stand at the base of the mound to receive the ball back from the catcher and get settled. I think about what sign I want to see next as the ball is on its way back to me. After I catch it, I place the ball in the base of the web / top of the pocket with the “U” facing me. I don’t look at the ball, I simply feel the seams. As I walk back up the right side of the hill, I check on any runners and review the situation in my head as I wipe the sweat from my throwing arm off on my right hip. What am I doing with a ball hit in front of me; right at me, to my left or to my right, or if I catch a line drive. I remember who takes big secondaries and who I can easily double off. I transfer the ball into my throwing hand as I turn to mount the rubber and carefully place my pivot foot, twisting it slightly to lock it down and I stare in to get the sign.

We come to an agreement on the next pitch and I immediately see its entire flight path to the center of mitt. I check the runners and come to set making a subtle turn of the ball if I need to adjust my grip for the pitch call. If it doesn’t feel perfect, I check on a runner with a nice long look straight through him…never at him…staying focused. I pick up the target as my head comes back around toward the plate and attack.

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I would say, instead of muttering to yourself “Oh great—him again”, you should take a few moments and remember something Ed Lopat once told me—a cornerstone of strategic pitching: “Figure out what the batter is looking for—and don’t give it to him.” And call your catcher out to the mound for a conference. Between the two of you should come up with a way to get that pest out and send him back to his dugout foaming at the mouth!

Nobody on base?

-Deep breath so I’m not tense

-Step onto rubber

-Focus on the next pitch I’m going to throw

-Get sign from catcher

-Visualize the next pitch I’m about to throw going where I want it to go

-Grip the pitch and begin my windup

Plain and simple

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