It’s not enough that your pitcher can pitch well in the bullpen, she’s got to be able to pitch that way in a game. Although this sounds simple, too many pitchers struggle with doing just that. Discover the 4 reasons why this happens.
It’s frustrating for everyone when your pitchers are bullpen stars and game-time duds. This happens to pitchers of all levels and the 4 reasons why might actually surprise you.
We all need to have good pitchers and yet creating them can be a total mystery! But knowing the 4 reasons why pitchers typically shine in practice and become dull during games is a key to solving the mystery.
Knowing how to create practices that actually resemble the game-like conditions becomes super important. So let’s check out the 4 reasons why your pitchers do good in practice and NOT in games:
- They get DISTRACTED The bullpen is usually a very quiet place where there’s not much else happening, which means the pitcher’s able to concentrate by process of elimination, and NOT by her power to focus. Focusing is simply the ability to concentrate on one thing to the exclusion of other things. Pitchers are easily distracted by the harmful things that happen during a game from instead of focusing on helpful things. Since the following harmful and distractive things aren’t present during practice, they can really throw a pitcher off during a game:
- an umpires call or calls
- a teammate’s error
- the noise of the other team
- the size or skill of the hitter
- the people in, or the size of the crowd
- They get DEPLETED This one gets really tricky in practice because most pitchers don’t force themselves to practice at an output level like the one they pitch at in games. When a pitcher’s energy gets depleted she lessons her ability just enough to weaken her skill. It doesn’t take much to weaken a pitcher just enough that she’s no longer at her best. Some of the most common ways a pitcher gets depleted are:
- they get hot
- they get hungry
- they get too excited
- they don’t allow their energy time to build back up before their next pitch. This means they start rushing in between pitches, which is super common in games.
- They get DEFEATED. Here’s the most common reason pitchers are better in practice than in games, and that’s due to the numerous ways they allow themselves to get defeated. Frustrated is another way to think about your pitcher getting “defeated” but it basically comes down to her thoughts – is she stuck thinking about the past and asking “why”, or is she keeping her thoughts in the present and searching for “how” she’ll solve whatever is frustrating her. Very common reasons for pitchers getting defeated are:
- they start thinking too much about their past bad pitches and not enough about how to fix THIS pitch
- they start listening to people who are no doubt nervous and are just yelling out crazy stuff
- they panic, and start focusing on the consequences of making a mistake, instead of what they need to do to make THIS pitch work
- They get DUPED. Pitchers trick themselves into thinking they’re good by the way they practice. In practice, pitchers commonly throw 10 to 15 of the same pitch before moving on to another type. Then it’s 10 to 15 of that pitch before moving on. This pattern of LOTS of the same pitch is repeated every pitch, every practice, every day. It’s also common that same pitcher won’t stop practice until she “throws a good one”. While that type of practice makes the pitcher feel good it’s totally different than anything she’ll face in the game. She doesn’t get to end a game on a good one, unless the last one is good, and she certainly won’t be able to throw 15 rise balls in a row before getting one right. We’ve got to help our pitchers change their practices to better resemble games more. Single pitches, mixing speeds and being able to attack both sides of the plate as well as up and down are the skills that pitcher will need in a game so we need to help our pitchers practice these exact things so they don’t get duped by their un-game-like practices.
For help creating pitching practices that WILL allow them to be better game pitchers, check out: