Pitching With Confidence: Visualize Your Success

young pitcher with confidenceThe 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.

“All eyes on me, watch this!”  

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.

 John Wooden’s Definition of Success

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.

John Wooden SuccessYou 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!

About the Author

Justin Orenduff is the co-founder of the Pitching wing of Baseball Rebellion. In his 3 year stint as Head Pitching Instructor at I.T.S. Baseball, Justin has gained much local notoriety as an excellent pitching development specialist. In 2014, Justin created the Delivery Value System (DVS), the only mechanics based statistically significant model for risk assessment and performance prediction in pitchers. Also, in 2014, Justin created the Throwers Development Program (TDP), to rid the game of baseball from unhealthy, unsafe, and unsupported Traditional Long Toss programs. Currently, Justin does Online Lessons through Baseball Rebellion and in person lessons through I.T.S. Baseball. He has been the lead writer for the Baseball Pitching Rebellion since its inception in 2012. His first physical product is in development now for launch in early 2015. Prior to I.T.S. Baseball/Baseball Rebellion, Justin was a collegiate All-American at George Washington and VCU, pitched for Team USA, and was a first round draft pick of the LA Dodgers (33rd overall). After a 7 year MiLB Career, Justin returned to VCU and obtained his degree in Business in 2011.

5 Comments on "Pitching With Confidence: Visualize Your Success"

  1. MiltonUniversity April 30, 2014 at 6:57 pm · Reply

    I assume this is applicable to hitting as well?

    • Justin Orenduff April 30, 2014 at 7:05 pm · Reply

      Of course, stepping out of the box and embracing the moment may relax the hitter’s mindset as well.

  2. GaryG April 30, 2014 at 8:21 pm · Reply

    Love it!

  3. Doug May 1, 2014 at 2:51 pm · Reply

    Awesome Justin – love it! I love all your stuff!
    We see much greater results whenever we coach the complete player!
    I originally started with mechanics quite a few years ago now- had a good measure of success helping hitters, especially if they were young or just starting.
    When I first discovered Chas about 4 years ago I just had to meet and talk to him. So after finishing up coaching a team at a national tournament in Memphis I drove to meet Chas and spent a day with him.
    Needless to say I was very impressed! I am a big Chas fan! My grandkids are going to be coached by him! Especially on learning how to not just hit but too really drive the low-away pitch!
    However, about 3 years before meeting Chas I had really started to learn the mental game when I realized that mechanics only takes a player so far and since game performance is largely mental that if i was to be a better hitting instructor that I couldn’t just leave this mental area of the game to chance.
    If baseball is 90% mental then what does that mean for us?
    What a new world I have discovered! I’m a better person and my coaching is off the chart! I’m loving every minute of the mental side and can’t wait to learn more every day!
    I remember telling Chas on that first day, a story or two of how I was now able to help a struggling 18U hitter with a BA below 100 to got to over 330 for the rest of the season in only 2 sessions – instead of the many months it had taken previously for me to help a struggling high school or college player when I only worked on their mechanics usually seeing only marginal improvement.
    So keep on growing and learning guys – there is a whole new paradigm beginning.

  4. Graham May 30, 2014 at 1:53 pm · Reply

    Nice utilization of Sport Psychology here. Visualization/Imagery is a great tool, especially for pitchers since pitching everyday is pretty harmful. Tools such as visualization are skills that need to be practiced just as much as physical skills

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