Baseball Pitching - Introduction
If you love to compete, then pitching may be for you. While you love to compete you must also be the type of person that can easily put aside failure and concentrate on the task at hand. It's rare for a pitcher to have many 1-2-3 innings. You're going to give up hits, walks, and deal with fielders making errors. If you can't get over these plays and focus completely on the next pitch, you're going to struggle and not reach your baseball pitching potential.
This section attempts to cover the fundamental baseball pitching mechanics that are important to the success of a young pitcher. Sound pitching mechanics are essential to the success and health of the pitcher. Pitching injuries have been shown to build up over time. The large number of pitching injuries at all levels of the game is proof that pitchers aren't being taught or handled properly. Your first concern as a player should be to work on developing sound mechanics and taking great care of your arm. As a coach your primary concern should also concern the health of your pitchers. No victory or league championship is worth damaging the arm of a pitcher on your team.
Pitching, just like hitting, will bring advice from almost everyone, especially if you're struggling. Handling the "advice" will often take as much mental toughness as pitching in a game. Most pitching problems are caused by poor mechanics. The mechanics of the baseball pitching motion can be difficult for a coach to dissect at full speed. Often advice will be given relating to one particular aspect of the motion. Much like a golf swing, if the fundamental mechanics of the pitching motion are flawed, changing one aspect of the motion will not fix the problem. As a pitcher it's your job to realize when your motion doesn't feel right. Lack of control can certainly be one of the most important signs that something is wrong. Pitching isn't something that you can do once in awhile and be successful. It's something you have to practice and continue to work at. Being able to work on your pitching motion while throwing less than full speed will be an important ingredient in determining your progress in developing sound pitching mechanics.
It's rare to find a young pitcher with good mechanics. Roger Clements once told a young pitcher during spring training that when he no longer had anything to work on he would no longer be pitching in the Majors. That should tell you pitching is something that requires hard work and a lot of it. You must dedicate yourself to being in good shape, taking care of your arm, and working on proper throwing mechanics to reduce the odds of hurting your arm. How much you pitch is also important. I believe that young pitchers need to throw a lot to build up arm strength, but have to be careful not to be throwing at full speed too much. There is some information on Pitch count in the Coaching section of the Website that addresses the issue of how much young pitchers should throw.
I think it's also important to realize that while good throwing mechanics are important, it shouldn't require a masters degree and slow motion video to figure it out. Baseball pitching has been analyzed to the point where it has become more complex than it should to be. As with hitting there are some basic fundamentals that should be followed, but beyond that don't try to throw exactly like someone else. Experiment and find out what works for you.
Baseball Pitching - The Mental Side
While the physical part of pitching is important, the mental part of pitching is of equal importance. Simply put, you must be mentally tough to be a good pitcher. This is something that you will develop over time and you must be able to analyze your performance each time out to improve in this area. Your ability to respond to adversity and focus on the hitter will often define how you perform in a game. If you get upset and lose focus once you give up a hit or an error is made behind you, then big innings by the opposing team will probably follow. The successful pitcher is the one who realizes that he must continue to focus on each hitter regardless of what has happened up to that point. He will learn from each at bat, but not dwell on the result.