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The ability to perform is a talent in itself. The best mechanics in the world can render useless without the mental capacity to allow the mechanics to happen in a competitive environment. Training the body to move properly is a huge factor in the development of the pitcher, but training the mind is just as important.
Prior to performing, we want the mindset to be geared to relinquish the competitive advantage of the mechanics. I have developed a simple approach of training a positive thought process right before stepping on the rubber to pitch.
When a pitcher steps on the rubber, we want him to be locked into a mindset that implements the cadence of movement but encompasses a larger visualization that promotes the aggressive nature of how his body will enact the desired movement. We want to avoid thinking of multiple mechanical variables. Doing so, will impede the flow of movement. We want to stimulate a visualization process that pulls all of the prior training into the final execution of the pitch.
Embracing performance, not placing an overemphasis on performance will help free the body of tension, ease performance anxiety, and lead to a direct correlation of success in a competitive environment. Before your next outing, I want you to try this visualization tactic I have had my students follow before they deliver their first pitch.
After you have fired your last warm-up pitch, the catcher throws down to second, and the third baseman tosses you the ball, I want you to try the following steps.
As you turn your focus towards home plate, and BEFORE you step on the rubber, start by looking out towards the first base dugout. Take notice of the players, coaches, and fans above the dugout. Continue your gaze, panning towards home plate and continue until you reach the third base dugout. Pick out individual faces and remember their face, as it will lead to extra motivation. Once you have completed your 180 degree turn, pause, slightly nod your head, and tell yourself the following.
Everyone is here to see me, and everyone is about to see what I’m capable of doing. I’m about to showcase everything I have worked for and practiced. This is my time to shine. Check this out, because I’m about to put on a show!
Step to the rubber, see the sign, and let the games begin!
Here’s an example of two of my students using this VISUAL TACTIC.
Far too often coaches stress “Throw Strikes!”, but never realize their message promotes a pitcher to become conservative, tight, and eventually aim/guide the baseball. Of course the pitcher wants to throw strikes, but if he learns how to believe in himself and visualize himself performing to the best of his ability, strikes will take care of themselves. Several years ago I was of fortunate to attend a dinner with legendary basketball coach John Wooden. I remember Wooden speaking about success, and how only one person can be the judge of success, and that person is YOU.
Success is peace of mind that is the direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.
You are already successful if you have spent your time and energy perfecting your pitching delivery. Take comfort in knowing you are prepared and already successful. And, as the game day approaches, relish the opportunity of performing in a game situation. The visualization tactic outlined above, is a great way to set the mind right before performance. Your movements will be more aggressive and you will be able to continually tap into your full potential.
The pitching mound is an area where you stand alone. Your teammates are behind you, ready to assist. But, you control the pace, and you can drastically influence the chance your team has to succeed with every pitch. Don’t waste this opportunity by being timid and scared. Make fans want to watch you, and opposing pitchers want to be like you. Nod your head, and go do it!
–Justin Orenduff, Leader of The Pitching Rebellion
Below you will find a clip from the movie Major League. This happens to my favorite movie of all time, but I figured you would enjoy it because “Wild Thing” Rick Vaughn, goes through his own visualization routine prior to stepping to the pitching rubber!