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
    away”)
  • 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?

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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.

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

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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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