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When does the Preparation Begin?
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Darrell Coulter
Bonne Terre, Mo

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September 15, 2011 – 11:20 pm
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I always find it interesting that in almost every interview I see or read about the Mental Side of Pitching I hear a player or coach talk about the No.1 Key to Success is preparation.  But rarely will you ever hear a current Major League Player give out intimate details about what their preparation is.  It is intimately personal and the key to their success. Some guard like it is a Top Secret Formula and to them it is.

But if you watch closely, You will find out it is all about their routines.

The most successful pitchers are the ones who have figured out how to combine their talent and work ethic to create a system of routines that they use to mentally and physically prepare to pitch.

Whether they are superstitious or not, you screw with their routines and they will lose their mind.

Do you have or use any of the following, most Pitchers need to.

  • A defined, detailed pregame routine.
  • A detailed pitching plan for every game you pitch
  • A defined, detailed warm up routine
  • A Bullpen routine
  • A Pitching Mound Routine
  • A post game routine
This is just the tip of the iceberg.  And That is just the mental side. 
It sounds like a lot of work, well you are right it is. 
But that is where the True Secret of their success is hidden.  
It’s all in the Preparation.  
That is the Mental Side of Pitching, Trusting Your Preparation enough to compete at your very best.
How do you prepare?  How do you compare?
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Brent Pourciau USAW Certified
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September 15, 2011 – 11:45 pm
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Great topic Darrell! I really failed at pregame preparation when in pro-ball and I believe it is why I had some great games and then some horribly games. I asked to be pulled from the starting rotation because I hated my pregame routine. I felt I could prepare so much better when in the pen. This is because I would not pay attention to the game until the inning before I was going to enter. This way I stayed more relaxed and didn't overdue it. I was definitly not your typical pitcher because I would perform better when thrown in the fire with very little preparation.

I would love to hear your pregame routine and also to spark some good debate, do you feel that there is a different pregame routine for different pitchers?

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Darrell Coulter
Bonne Terre, Mo

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September 16, 2011 – 10:02 am
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Brent,

Just the pregame routine is an interesting topic.

Here is what I teach.  99% of what I teach is based on what I wish someone would have taught me before I was 15 years old.  I struggled with this until probably my 3rd year in the Minor Leagues.  They used me as a starter and reliever and it would change week to week.  It was hard to get any kind of routine down, but as always I learned the hard way.

Pregame Routine.

Starts when you arrive at the baseball field.  This is when I tell pitchers they need to mentally and physically check in.  It is now time to forget about everything else in life and prepare to pitch that day.

For a baseball player the baseball field should be a refuge, a place where they can control their environment.

The rest is based on Role and /or Rotation.  

Lets start with the reliever.  They need to know what their role is for that day.  Are they Long relief, set -up or closer.  Will they be used against all hitters or just particular match ups.  when a reliever knows what their role is when it gets closer to their time of the game they can start to prepare, stretch, play catch with outfielder before innings and pay closer attention to when their opportunity is more than likely to come up.

 

With starters I encourage at least an hour before the game they work with the coach and the catcher on reviewing what their pitching plan is for that particular team that day.  When they are done spend 10- 15 minutes mentally visualizing pitching the first time through the order.  

Once they are done, they can begin the pregame warm up routine. Some where around 30 minutes before first pitch.

My experience has been when we as coaches can break it down into routines it becomes less overwhelming and easier to learn.

Broke down into four segments all with there own routine.

  • Start with light jogging and stretching routine
  • Flat ground throwing routine
  • Bull pen mound warm up pitches routine
  • Field Mound warm up pitches routine

Should be done anywhere between 5 to 7 minutes prior to game with Bull Pen warm up.

By then you should be as mentally and physically prepared as you can be to pitch that day.

Then your Pitching Mound routine should take over from there.

Yes I think there is some slight differences in different starters routines, but it is usually based on what they feel they need to do to get loose and ready to pitch.  I have had some who could be ready with 25 bull pen warm up pitches and others who needed 35 or 40.  What I try to do is give them a framework or outline routine and have them personalize it to their particular needs or wants. It is a learning process that never ends.  It helps build their confidence knowing they did all they could to prepare to pitch that day.

That is my take, what are the other coaches out there doing?

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Brent Pourciau USAW Certified
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September 16, 2011 – 11:53 am
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Here was my pregame routine as a starter:

  1. Dynamic Warm-up
  2. Resistance Tubing
  3. Flat ground throws to about 120 feet and then in to 60 with a few pitches out of the stretch.
  4. Bull pen – 30-45 pitches
  5. Put on jacket to stay warm and then visualization preparation.

My problem was I was your average athlete who built himself into a pro through pure determination and hard work. Personally for me it didn't matter if I walked on the mound with a great pregame routine. The problem was, if my intensity level was 50-60% starting with my first pitch, I either got hit around or I walked the bases because I didn't want to get hit around. This stress would usually get my adrenaline going and then my intensity would jump up to 85-90% and I would start to deal. The problem was the days I was overworked and exhausted, then my intensity would not change and I was more than likely coming out of the game because I was not getting the job done.

I learned this about half way through my first year and struggled with finding the best way to get my intensity up from my first pitch. This is why I loved the pen. When I would go into the game, the game usually was in a stressful moment which got my adrenaline going. I even experimented with supplements to help me with my intensity but I never really figured it out. Any ideas on how to spark your intensity from the first pitch?

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Darrell Coulter
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September 16, 2011 – 6:31 pm
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Brent,

Seriously, this is why I do pitching personality profiles on all my pitchers.  Some are more geared towards being a reliever.  It sounds like with your personality you were probably more suited for the pen.  That is why coaches defining roles helps pitchers be more confident, if they accept them and it fits their personality.

As for as intensity, that usually comes from your soul.

Situations and circumstances can many times light that fire, sounds like that’s what they did for you.

But if I had a magic potion, I am sure more than a few coaches would be interested in buying some. 

I am still working on that though. Laugh

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Brent Pourciau USAW Certified
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September 17, 2011 – 12:57 am
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I wish I had that magic potion back then!

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Zedoryu
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September 17, 2011 – 4:04 am
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Would want to use that magic potion 😀 I’m sure it will be helpful to all pitchers.

       

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Brent Pourciau USAW Certified
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September 17, 2011 – 11:04 am
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Darrell, don't get me wrong. I am not saying a pregame routine isn't important. It is very important. The problem is when you have established your pregame routine just like when you have established a good off-season workout this isn't all it is going to take to be the best. This is a great foundation for success but I feel ultimate success comes from what you said, which is something deep inside your soul.

When I interviewed Jim Morris as much as I picked his brain about what he was doing training wise and pregame wise to prepare himself for success he always credited his entire success to his faith. I also asked him point blank, “How much of your success do you contribute to faith out of everything we talked about in the interview and he said 100% of it!” I believe he is correct. You must have a divine connection to something greater than yourself to overcome the odds or you have to be a genetic specimen.

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