Are We Teaching Pitching Backwards? | The Mental Game | TopVelocity Baseball Forum
July 1, 2011
I love your site. But I had to start the conversation. I absolutely love how you teach the mechanics of pitching. But for years now I have focused on researching and training the Mental side of pitching. After getting drafted out of High School and spending four seasons in the Minor Leagues I realized that I didn't know anything about pitching. That pitching against the best players in the world takes a mental, physical and a detailed pitching plan. And I was not at 18 mentally prepared to play a 150+ games a year.
I truly believe that it is the single biggest reason that young pitchers struggle with the attention that comes with being the center of attention. We find these young men that have great God Given Ability with a great arm and many coaches just throw them out there on the mound without a plan or sound pitching mechanics. Even good pitching coaches I know don't want to touch the mental and emotional side of pitching. I don't know if it is fear or lack of confidence or what , but the first thing I do when I work with a new pitcher is sit down and do a pitching personality profile with them.
- I want to know what they know about pitching.
- I want to know why they want to pitch.
- I want to know what motivates them and what their expectations are for themselves.
- I want to know if they have worked with a pitching coach before.
- Then I ask them if they really know how to watch a game?
- Who is their favorite pitcher and why?
- I want to know how hard they are willing to work.
- Why they really play?
- I want to test their confidence level and mental toughness.
Then I create a plan that fully incorporates the mental side of pitching first.
- I explain what mechanics are and why they are so important.
- I explain to them that the fastball is the heart and soul of pitching.
- I explain that confidence comes from having a complete pitching plan and program that gives them the mental and physical skills to be successful.
- I let them know that it will be hardest thing they have ever done.
- Then I ask them again if they really want to be a pitcher.
- I explain the pressure that comes with the position and blame that comes with losing.
- If they are still with me I know we least have a basic understanding of what pitching is and what it is going to take mentally and physically to be the best you can be.
Only then if I believe they are mentally focused on what it is going to take that I will even begin to put a workout plan together. If they just want to have fun with their friends then pitching might not be their best position. But if they have the personality to develop the mental toughness it takes to be a confident pitcher, then and only then will I work with them.
I think it is every coaches responsibility to put these young players in a position to be successful, not selfishly play them where we want them to play.
Yes, all this before I ever see them throw a pitch. If you are charging for your coaching experience then I believe we owe it to be totally honest with the player and the parents up front.
I don't want a dime from anybody if I can't help them be the best pitcher (not thrower) they can be.
I would love your opinions.
April 27, 2008
Darrell, you already know I think your mental map program is great. I think you do a great job laying out the road map to a successful career. Your program goes great with the 3X Pitching Velocity program. I can't wait for you to finish it up so you can put it out their for all of those pitchers who are struggling with not only finding the perfect program but who are struggling with developing a strong work ethic.
To answer your question, are we pitching backwards, I have to say YES. Mechanically conventional wisdom coaches from the top down. Developmentally conventional wisdom says working out does not improve performance and mentally conventional wisdom says if you were not born with it then you better find something else to do in your life! Could this be anymore backwards?
When I hold my 3X Velocity Camps I always ask my guys to raise their hands if they have found that great coach in their careers yet. I maybe get one person who raises his hand. This is proof that the majority of coaches in this game are having a very small effect on the young ball player of today.
July 1, 2011
I think you are dead on. When I talk to different pitching coaches and they ask me what I think the most important part of pitching is they are usually a little taken back. I truly believe it is TRUST, not Talent. The less talented player can be very successful if they know and trust what they are able to accomplish.
If you are a player or a coach ask yourself?
- Do I trust my talent?
- Do I trust my coach/pitcher?
- Do I trust my work ethic?
- Do I trust my mental preparation?
- Do I trust my catcher?
- Do I trust my mechanics/ or the ability to teach them.
- Do I trust my Scouting Report?
- Do I trust my Game day pitching plan?
- Do I trust my pre-game routine?
- Do I trust my mental toughness to battle through adversity?
July 14, 2011
Wow – Darrell… What a great post. I think your approach is especially important with today's players. Our attention spans are shortening – it's even hard for me to watch an entire game on tv pitch-by-pitch, and I don't do it near as much as I used to. And our players are used to being entertained almost constantly – I actually think baseball is boring to many of them. I coach the 8th grade team that feeds into the varsity program that my sons played in. Coaching a mental approach to the game is my number one goal. One of the challenges is that our kids aren't really baseball fans – not the way old guys like me grew up watching baseball. I try to teach them how to focus on a baseball game one pitch at a time. When I ask them, almost none of them have ever watched every pitch of a major league baseball game on tv or live. I sometimes assign a Sunday night game on tv as homework.
One of the things I tell them is that baseball is not the most important thing in the world – except for when you're doing it. The very first thing we teach them before we let them on the field at our first practice is that as soon as we cross the line at the gate into the complex, we start running. The reason we do that is to remind them that that's the point at which they should put everything but baseball out of their mind. I tell them that you can't treat baseball as just something else to do for a couple of hours – no different than playing a video game, or listening to an i-pod, or texting, or hanging out at the mall. You have to treat baseball as something special or you'll never be successful at it. I love your approach. Please don't hesitate to post more about it.
Proud father of a U.S. Marine (HOME from Afghanistan)
July 1, 2011
You make some very important observations and points. I'll tell you something that I learned coaching my daughter's 5th Grade Girls AAU Basketball Team years ago. That girls what someone they can trust, then you can get the buy in. If they trust you they will run through a wall for you. With the boys, they want someone to explain and show them what to do then you get the buy in, if they believe you have their best interest at heart then they will follow. I believe the main reason today's young players think baseball is boring is because we haven't truly taught them how to watch a game and the mental capacity it takes to play it. That's why I try to teach the mental side first, if we can explain the game and show them how to play it right, then we have a chance to get the buy in and keep their attention. The ability to make players better than they think they can be is what makes you a great coach and friend. The best coaches in the world are able to teach, educate and motivate. A lot of what you are teaching are valuable life skills, not just sports cliches. Thanks for your feedback and for having what I think is a great coaching perspective. You got it right.
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