I know what my answer is but read on to see if we agree.
I am now 100% on-board with the value of charting pitchers in practice – read on to discover how doing so will help your pitchers.
I’ve always been a proponent of charting pitchers in games, but only recently came over to the charting-pitchers-in-practice side of the fence. Missy Lombardi (University of Oklahoma) and Jen Rocha (University of Florida) convinced me this summer at our annual Pitching Summit.
Both of these programs have great pitching year in and year out, and while a lot has to do with the incredible coaching skills these two coaches possess, I listened to how they both use daily practice charting to improve and challenge their pitchers.
While their methods are different, you can’t argue with their results. Charting doesn’t have to be complicated or require extra people. Pitchers can chart each other or themselves, and the “chart” can be nothing more than a piece of paper like you see on the right – split down the middle with Ball on one side and Strike on the other. List the types of pitches thrown on the left side and then just put a check after each pitch in either the Strike or Ball column, based on the results of the pitch.
As you can see from this very basic chart, this pitcher’s Screwball isn’t ready for prime time yet, while her Fastball (FB), Changeup and Curve look pretty reliable.
Date each chart and not only keep a record, but also keep a total Strike Percentage on each pitcher. Shoot for a strike percentage in the upper 60’s and also keep a strike percentage standings among your pitchers. At first, pitchers won’t like this kind of public standings and yet, that’s exactly what happens come game day – somebody is better in some way than the others, which is why they get the ball.
What starts to happen, when you chart pitches in practice, is that pitchers tend to focus on what you emphasize – so if strikes matter, they tend to throw more of them. If you’re worried about strikes down the middle, then make those count as either 1 or 2 balls. Once you start using charts in practice your pitchers will begin to see their value and will come up with creative ways to separate “good strikes” from the harmful variety.
Listed to the right are not only some of the benefits of charting pitchers in practice, but also a simple game that two pitchers can play against each other; one pitches an inning while the other charts, and then they switch.
In our eClinic on Critical Counts: How to Stop the Walks, I take you through charting your pitchers in practice and include a downloadable chart you can use.
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