Hold on – before you think I’m suggesting that umpires are blind, or that pitchers should throw balls – read on and then decide.
If your pitcher’s ever struggle with their balance, their feel or their confidence then I’ve got a drill for you!
Our eyes are extremely powerful. Not only do they control a majority of what our brain takes in throughout our lives, they also play a major role in our balance as well as our interpretation of the world around us.
The eyes matter greatly when it comes to pitching – or do they?
It seems obvious that we need our eyes to pitch and would sound absurd to suggest otherwise. But, often, our eyes display something other than reality. Take pitching for instance. A pitcher stands on the rubber and looks in for the target or sign. As soon as that signal is flashed, the eyes have a choice: they can picture exactly how this pitch should go, or they can recall all the ways in the past this pitch has screwed up.
The eyes can play either the future, the present or the past. They’re actually like a movie camera that’s either recording or replaying, and too often, our pitchers use their eyes to replay past tragedies instead of recording current events (or better yet, forecasting the next pitch exactly the way they’d like to see it!).
So, here’s a drill to bypass the negative ways our eyes can dredge up the past, as well as helping us see if our pitcher is balanced as she’s releasing the ball – and I call it Blind Fastballs.
This drill helps pitchers improve in 3 critical ways:
- Their Balance
- Their Feel
- Their Confidence
The drill goes like this:
- After warming up, the pitcher gets on the pitching rubber, with a ball, and closes her eyes. She should pitch to a catcher.
- The pitcher keeps her eyes closed as she pitches the ball.
- Before opening her eyes, she should say where she thinks the pitch went, like “up and to the left”.
- The catcher should hold the ball where she/he caught it until the pitcher calls out the location. This REALLY helps the pitcher start to match up what she felt with what she sees.
- At first, she’ll be totally wrong when she calls out location, but quickly she’ll get it right.
This drill really helps your pitchers realize they’re better than they think they are (they can pitch with their eyes closed and throw pretty good pitches), that they have more ability to “feel” where the pitch goes than they throught they did, and, if they have a balance problem it will show them because they’ll fall in that direction.
A word of caution – make sure the pitcher opens her eyes BEFORE the catcher throws the ball back to her, and DON’T do this drill with a batter in the box!
If your pitcher really struggles with calling out where the pitch went, then eliminate this part and simply have her pitch with her eyes closed and call out “ball” or “strike” based on what she felt when releasing the ball.
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