Monday, January 2, 2012

3 Tips to Achieve Pitching Proficiency

Achieving pitching proficiency requires you to perform constant repetition of key pitching movements. Malcolm Gladwell, in his book "Outliers: The Story of Success," posits the existence of what he calls the "10,000-Hour Rule," which suggests that the key to your success in any activity requires that you practice a specific task for at least 10,000 hours. While Gladwell may not necessarily have had pitching in mind when he wrote his book, to master the art of pitching, perform focused, pitching-specific drills on an almost daily basis.
Throwing Strikes From Various Distances
According to the Complete Pitcher website, throwing strikes from various distances is an exercise routinely performed by Japanese baseball pitchers, and is intended to help you develop pinpoint control of your pitches. With your catcher---who will serve as your umpire---sitting behind home plate, throw from a distance that's about half your usual pitching distance. Place a distance marker at this point, then place an additional six markers between this point and a point that's twice your usual pitching distance. Markers should be about 10 feet apart and in line with the plate. You are required to throw 3 strikes at each distance before you're allowed to move to the next farthest distance. Attempting to throw strikes from farther-than-usual distances help to develop sound mechanics and a strong arm.
Pitching In Reverse
Tom House, a former Major League Baseball pitcher, pitching coach and author of several books about pitching, suggests that another Japanese pitching drill, pitching in reverse, refines your pitching mechanics. Perform this exercise by assuming your finished pitching stance, then take your entire pitching motion and perform it in reverse, taking care to mimic as closely as possible the proper sequence of the delivery, only in reverse. Picturing yourself and your pitching motion being rewound on a video is often helpful with this drill. Perform this exercise 20 times per day.
Video Analysis
According to Dick Mills, a former Major League Baseball pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, most pitching drills---especially the drills that disrupt or break up your movement flow---are counterproductive for mastering your mechanics of pitching. Mills states that most drills "interfere with the feeling of correctly executed segments, performed in a fluent total movement." Mills suggests that, instead of practicing conventional pitching drills, learn proper pitching mechanics from a qualified professional and frequently use stop-frame video analysis to help make subtle adjustments to your delivery. Video analysis of your mechanics and delivery provides you and your pitching coach with powerful visual feedback, and provides you a visual record with which to track your progress.

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