APRIL – TIP of the MONTH
Coach Jerry “Kal” Kalista
FROM April 1, 2014
PITCHING COACH’S PET-PEEVES
1. PITCHER’S POOR BULLPEN ROUTINE! ….. Treat every (before game & practice) bullpen session with the proper mental approach. All bullpens should be done with conviction and intent. Proper warm-up is a must before all bullpens. As you get older, bigger and stronger, you also should better understand your body and know what is needed to properly prepare for your bullpen session. All pitchers are not alike. Over time, each pitcher will develop their own pre-game and pre-practice bullpen routine. Don’t throw a complete game in the bull pen. If you are on the bench and coach tells you to hurry and get ready, you need to hurry and get ready in 12 pitches or less. It’s a crucial situation and you are needed ASAP.
2. PITCHER HAS TOO MANY PITCHES! ….. Coach, I have 5 pitches. I don’t think so. You might throw 5 different pitches, but probably don’t master any of them. Most big leaguers don’t have more than two or three pitches that they own (master). Commanding a good fastball should be every pitcher’s first priority. Then I think a change-up is the next best pitch to develop and own (master). There’s nothing wrong with having a third pitch to mix-in and show a batter on occasion. A complete pitcher must be able to command his pitches, hold runners and field his position.
3. PITCHERS DON’T COVER FIRST BASE! ….. Pitchers, you have a job on EVERY ground ball hit to the right side of the infield…GET OVER THERE (to first base) even if you are not directly involved in the play. PFP’s (Pitcher’s Fielding Practice) is a very important part of being a good pitcher. Once the baseball leaves your hand, you become an infielder. Learn, practice and own fielding your position as a pitcher. A complete pitcher must be able to field his position, command his pitches and hold runners. Make it a goal to be a good fielding pitcher.
4. PITCHERS THAT CAN’T CONTROL THE RUNNING GAME! ….. If you want to be a complete pitcher, you must be able to hold runners, as well as field your position and command your pitches. But coach, I don’t have a good pick-off move. A good pick-off move is not the only way to hold runners. You can change your timing to the plate. You can step off quickly (don’t throw the ball) and look. You can hold the ball until the runner or batter asks for a timeout. A pitcher should only throw to a base when they are trying to pick-off the runner with their BEST MOVE! Prepare for the game. Know the players with speed. Know the players with no speed. Add holding runners to your pitching plan.
5. PITCHER’S POOR MOUND PRESENCE! ….. First, work fast, change speeds and throw strikes! Don’t put your defense to sleep by making them continually wait for you to make a pitch. Know the situation; what hitter in the line-up, the score, how many outs, any base-runners. Game awareness is a key fundamental to success. You just let up a gap double, instead of standing on the mound feeling sorry for yourself, read the play, react and get to the proper back-up position to make a play on any over or under thrown balls. Bad calls, errors or badly thrown pitches may cause you to become frustrated and upset, but you must not show any emotion. Keep your body language under control. Focus on your performance, not the outcome.
6. DON’T DOUBT YOUR STUFF PITCHERS! ….. Don’t aim the ball. Don’t slow your arm down. If you hold back, you will end up aiming the ball, which will result in throwing fewer strikes. Each pitch should have the same arm speed as your fastball. The only thing that changes is your pitch grip. The pitch grip determines what the pitch does (breaks, sinks, slows down, etc.). Work on finding out what pitches best work with your arm speed and from your arm slot. If you want to be a successful pitcher, learn to throw strikes and pitch to contact. The best hitters in baseball will fail many more times than they will succeed. So what do you do? Pitch to contact. Throw strikes. Make the hitter want to swing. You have eight fielders to help you make a play to get the hitter out.
8. POOR PITCHER – CATCHER CHEMISTRY! ….. The pitcher and catcher (the battery) must be on the same page. The partnership begins with the warm-up, will carry over to the bullpen and then continues into the game. Both the pitcher and the catcher should be reading the batter’s stance and the batter’s swing together to come up with a plan (pitch and location) to get the hitter out. The catcher may make the original call (pitch & location), but the final decision lies with the pitcher. If you can’t agree, call time and talk it out.
Always be Positive! Always Give 100%!
Coach Jerry “Kal” Kalista
NOTE: Direct any questions or comments to Coach Kalista at firstname.lastname@example.org