As we ring in the new year, there is talk of new year\'s resolutions and changing mindsets, but I want to talk about the importance of setting goals, specifically pitching goals. See, to me resolutions and goals are a bit different. Resolutions are things that often seem solitary, they\'re set once and never changed. They typically don\'t evolve throughout the year, and they may be forgotten or given up on, but they are a reminder of what you\'d like to become or what you\'d like to focus on. Don\'t get me wrong resolutions are great, but I think goals are better, and here\'s why.
Goals are ever-changing, once you reach one, you set another, and you continue to grow with and through your achievements. As a pitcher, you should always be evolving, always searching for ways to improve, all while acknowledging that you\'ve hit your goals along the way. Through my lessons, I\'ve had pitchers come in one day and state, \"I\'m going to hit 43 today!\", and then they do it. There\'s something special about setting your mind to an act or a goal, it tells your mind and your body, \"Hey, let\'s do this!\" I\'ve also had other pitchers who typically come in quietly, put their work in, and leave the facility. They, often, are a bit less focused than the pitchers who I mentioned above. Sure, they get better, but it usually is at a slower pace than those who openly stated their goal for that day.
Every pitcher is different, I acknowledge that. Just because a pitcher is quiet doesn\'t mean she doesn\'t have that special fire inside her. When I don\'t hear her state a goal, it doesn\'t mean she doesn\'t have one, but I think it\'s far more powerful when we voice our goals. Then, once she\'s allowed herself to say it out loud, I believe she is more likely to hold herself accountable. The goal is no longer just a thought in her head, something she might like to accomplish. Instead, it\'s something tangible, that her support system (mom, dad, coaches, teammates and friends) can help her accomplish.
So, I hope that those few paragraphs encouraged you to create some goals, or maybe encouraged you to speak to your pitcher or pitchers about goal setting. Now is the perfect time to do so, as most players are typically in the middle of their off-season. Maybe you took some much deserved time off during the holidays and it\'s time to get back on track with your practice schedule. As you set goals, it\'s important to set both short-term goals and long-term goals. This gives you some boxes to check along your journey so that you know you\'re trending in the right direction.
Each of your short term goals should help you reach that long-term goal. These benchmarks will help keep you motivated week to week or even day-to-day. Below are a few examples of short-term goals for pitchers.
We all have those big numbers in mind that we\'d like to show up on the radar. Maybe it\'s 60 mph, or maybe it\'s 45. Those numbers are great, but often your average velocity is more important. This is the velocity that you can rely on showing up consistently, not a number you hit once in a blue moon. To track your average velocity, write down the velocity of every full pitch you throw during that bullpen, or you track your last 20 pitches of the day and divide the total number by the number of pitches thrown.
Need help tracking your average velocity and strike percentage? Click on the red softball above for a printable bullpen chart.
I would argue that your short-term goals are the most important, as they will contribute to your long-term success. That being said, it\'s important to set some BIG goals as well. These goals should naturally take a bit longer to obtain, so make sure to acknowledge your small victories along the way. If you see continued progress towards your long-term goals, even a little, you\'re on the right track.
Above I mentioned that your average velocity is the most important, and it is, but we want to reach for the stars (sorry for the corny metaphor). Ultimately, once we hit that big number, you should then aim to make that your average, or at least close the gap. Maybe you want to gain 5 mph this year, or maybe you want to gain more. Depending on your age and your current speed, you may be able to gain 5 or more mph in a year. Set a reasonable but exciting goal, and plan out how you\'re going to achieve it.
Setting goals is great, but we set goals in order to achieve them, so it\'s important to make a road map or a checklist for obtaining your goals. If you can paint a clear picture of what you need to do to reach each individual goal, it will be far easier to achieve them.
Big dreams and goals are never accomplished in one day but instead little by little with great investment and attention to detail.