Saturday, December 26, 2009

Baseball Pitching Tips - The Worst Baseball Question on Earth

By Larry Cicchiello

I truly believe in my heart that any questions that are asked should be totally respected and answered politely.

I've answered many questions on baseball hitting, baseball pitching, baseball coaching and more over several decades. I can proudly say that not once did I ever think the question was not a worthwhile question and I always showed the utmost respect to the person asking the question. However, there is one question on the topic of baseball pitching that I'm having a hard time coming to grips with. It is way off base, no pun intended. I must have heard it 1000 times. The question is one that is asked to a baseball pitcher about pitching to a real good hitter.

The big question asked to the pitcher is, "how do you pitch to... so and so?"

The sportswriter, sportscaster or baseball commentator is asking a pitcher how he pitches to a certain outstanding baseball hitter. I've learned a lot over the years by simply listening to these guys. For the most part, they are very intelligent and great "baseball people." But like I said, this question irks me!

Does the person asking the question think that the answer may be "breaking balls, low and away?"

Or does the person think the answer is "fastballs up and in?"

Or can it be "changeups down low?"

The proper answer given by any intelligent pitcher will always be the same and I've heard this answer 1,000 times in the last four or five decades. It's almost word for word, the same exact answer.

And the answer to this annoying question is... "I try to mix up my pitches, change speeds and move the ball around on him."

What other answer can there possibly be?

OK, I'm kidding a little bit about being annoyed. In all honesty, the question really doesn't bother me but I want to make a point.

I understand that as a pitcher, you may have a favorite pitch you like to use to a certain very good hitter, but you can't rely on it exclusively. Let's use an outstanding right-handed hitter as an example.

If you kept throwing him fast balls low and away, it's just a matter of time before he creams one to right field or to right center field. If you kept throwing him fastballs up and in, eventually he will cream one to left field or left center.

If you threw him all breaking balls, again eventually he will clobber you.

The point here is that real good hitters do not have glaring weaknesses! That's the reason they are real good baseball hitters. They may handle some pitches better than others, but they have no glaring weaknesses.

And the pitcher has to "mix it up" because the real good hitters will make adjustments.

If a batter is having a hard time with your changeup, you can't simply keep throwing it. The good hitter will go from looking terrible and then on about the fourth changeup he will put the baseball in orbit.

That's why your only approach is to mix up your pitches, change speeds, change locations and there is no set answer as to where you specifically try to locate a pitch or what particular pitch you throw to get them out.

It's not really a bad question but I just wanted to make a point here.

"Different pitches, different speeds and different locations" should be your only approach to be successful against the great hitters. Mix it up and go get em!

Larry is the president of Larwenty Online Enterprises Inc. and also the author of "Excellent Baseball Coaching: 30 Seconds Away." If you are a baseball player or are involved in baseball coaching at any level of play or a parent who wants to help your child improve, you will be fully equipped! His baseball website offers several FREE baseball tips from his very informative and very fairly priced eBooks.

Larry's baseball website is

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Mary said...

I want to thank you for your posts. I am the mom of a pretty talented 13 yo ball player who is showing some promise as a pitcher. Me, I know Nothing about the little techniques. When my TJ plays in-house and picked up a bad habit(pitching), our old coach wasn't able to correct it, he would just pull TJ. Frustrating... Once travel started it was always corrected immediately. I am picking up all kinds of pointers from you and TJ's private pitching coach. Next spring TJ moves into senior and I hope the volunteer coach has a clue..I appreciate the volunteers don't get me wrong, but if they can't correct a problem they should find someone who can. I have started reading all I can to learn more about the game...the real game. Thanks, I'm just a proud baseball mom

CB said...

Mary.. thanks for your reading my blog. Volunteer coaches give up there time when others don't so I would give them a little slack. As your son matures and get's to know his form better he should learn to spot problems in his delivery that he can correct on his own while on the mound in a game. Pitching requires adjustments. Since he has a private coach he should be able to bring all he learns with him to games as well. I try to teach my boys to learn from as many people as you can and take the best parts from all the teachings. The player has to take ownership the skills they use to play the game.