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Mental preparation for pitching is an important component to every pitchers pre-game routine. Developing a pre-game pitching routine or ritual is going to be different for every pitcher. Some pitchers may focus more heavily on the mental aspects, while others will ensure that their body is properly prepared for the rigors of pitching.
Either way, both aspects must be properly prepared in order to achieve your desired pitching success.
Depending on whether you are a relief or starting pitcher, your pre-pitch routine will vary. Naturally, starting pitchers will have more time to prepare, while relief pitchers may be called upon to pitch at any moment giving them little time to warm-up, or to mentally prepare.
Physical preparation before the season is a necessity, but mental preparation is vital towards pitching success during the season. It doesn't matter how intensive your physical training has been because if your mind is not trained prepared, you will crumble under the extreme pressures of pitching.
It is essential that a pitcher focuses on obtaining mental preparation before preparing your body physically.
I'm going to lay out some suggestions that will mentally prepare any baseball pitcher for game time. Remember, these are only recommendations because every pitcher must develop his own pre-game routine.
Every pitcher is at different levels of mental and even physical preparedness, but these ideas may help you obtain a more effective pre-game routine that will guide you towards success.
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Pre-pitching mental preparation
Before any pitcher begins his physical warm-up, he must focus on preparing his mind. Pitchers must attempt to eliminate any fear of failure or anxiety because these negative feelings will only inhibit your performance on the field.
Excellent mental preparation can be referred to as "getting into the zone."
Only athletes can truly understand what this state of mind is. When a pitcher or any athlete is in the zone, they become entirely focused on the task at hand and distractions disappear.
For example, a pitcher who has properly mental prepared and is in the zone, will see nothing but the pathway to the catchers glove. Focused pitchers develop tunnel vision, and when this is achieved, success is almost inevitable. Your pre-game mental preparation is a precursor to obtaining tunnel vision while you're on the mound.
4 ways to mentally prepare for pitching
Starting pitchers have the luxury of being able to sit in the locker room while the rest of the team is preparing. This period of time before the game is the absolute best environment for a pitcher to prepare his mind.
1. Limit outside distractions
Some pitchers will sit in silence, and just try to focus their mind on the task at-hand. This allows you to eliminate any outside distractions that are separate from baseball.
The only thing that should be on your mind is how you are going to help win the baseball game for your team. You must focus on winning.
Never focus on individual goals or achievements because your purpose as a pitcher is to help your team win the game. If you get ten strikeouts, but lose the game, you have failed. To be the best, you have to win.
Examine professional pitcher Chris Carpenter, and you will see how winning is the only thing he strives for. Carpenter has some of the best mental focus out of any pitcher in the MLB, and his focus is to win. He does not care about individual achievements because he understands that he is out on that mound to help his team win baseball games.
Pitchers must develop that killer instinct to win.
2. Visualize success
One of the best way to mentally prepare for pitching is to visualize.
Visualization is when a pitcher throws an entire game in his mind. Many pitchers try to mentally see themselves pitching by focusing on things that they want to achieve during the game.
For example, if you were struggling earlier in the week hitting the inside corner of the plate with your fastball, then you should see yourself throwing dozens of pitches to that inside corner.
If your curveball or slider has not been working the way you would like in practice, envision yourself throwing a nasty breaking pitch that buckles the batters knees. Envisioning perfection will build your confidence, and increase your focus for the upcoming game.
Some pitchers prefer to visualize in complete silence, but other will also listen to music during this mental exercise. It's purely preferential, and you must decide what works best for you individually.
3. Motivational or soothing music
Listening to music is also a great way to prepare your mind. Depending on your personality, you may want to listen to motivational music or some pitchers prefer to listen to more soothing music. Once again, listen to the music that you believe will either motivate you, or calm and focus your mind for pitching.
4. Review the opposition
Another way some pitchers mentally prepare for the upcoming game is by reviewing the opposing team. By looking at the oppositions statistics, you will be able to understand what you're going up against.
In addition, if you're able to obtain a scouting report on the batters, you will also be greater prepared because you can examine each batter's tendencies. Almost every professional pitcher utilizes this pre-game technique.
Keep working hard. No off days. No excuses.
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To get to the next level, preparation is everything. Big league pitchers spend far more time preparing to pitch than actually pitching.
If you believe adding velocity could be critical to your success, check out my latest strength training, conditioning and throwing programs for baseball pitchers of all ages.
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