Sunday, September 18, 2011

How to Throw a Strike in Baseball

By Jim Bain

How difficult can it be to throw a strike in baseball? I mean, we're not talking painting the corner with a slider or bending an arching curve ball, we're simply throwing a simple fastball for a strike. Let's establish, then examine the facts involved in throwing strikes.

The regulation pitching distance for High School players and older, is 60' 6" and if the pitcher is 5' 11" or taller, after his stride he is @ 55' away from home plate. From that mere distance, he must throw the baseball inside a 17", width of home plate, by 3' to 4' high, depending on the batters size, box.

Those measurements appear to be a very large target to hit from a relatively close distance, not a particularly difficult task to accomplish. If we stopped our investigation at this point we'd most likely have to conclude, throwing a strike in baseball is easy.

However, there is one unanswered question which cast doubt on our conclusion. Why is it, at particular times, a major league baseball pitcher who is paid millions of dollars a year to throw strikes, absolutely can not throw two strikes in a row?

Obviously they have the ability and history of being quite capable of throwing consistent strikes, but if they fail, how can we expect our youngsters to succeed, and what happens when this inability to control their throws occurs.

In my opinion, the first thing a young pitcher needs to learn and continue to improve, is concentration or focus on what he's attempting to do. I believe sometimes, even though they are professionals, major league pitchers lose focus and that is what negatively effects their control.

So how do we retain or learn to focus while pitching? Let's examine the steps in which we can accomplish this.

We take a deep breath, exhaling we totally shut the activities, noise and actions going on around us, out of our mind. Don't mistake this for ignoring the circumstances of the situation you're in. You still must be aware if there are base runners on, strike and ball count, number of outs and who you're pitching to. I'm referring to the buzz of traffic, the voice of a particularly annoying fan or the crying of a baby, these are the distractions we shut out in order to remove clutter and chaos from our mind. Our main purpose at this point, is to regain a calming order in which to begin our refocusing.

As we stand on the pitching rubber, and after receiving the signals, we peer into the catcher's mitt and imagine a quarter being pasted to the pocket of the catcher's mitt. We don't want our thrown ball to hit the mitt, rather we want to hit that quarter.

After establishing our image of that quarter we want to hit, we visually, through imagery, change that quarter to a dime. We have regained focus by visualizing a quarter inside the catcher's mitt, then narrowed our focus to a laser beam by reducing the target to a dime. Visualize the baseball hitting that dime.

Once you begin your wind-up never remove your eyes from that dime. Continue this refocusing on every pitch until you regain your natural pitching motion and pattern, settling back into a normal pitching routine.

As an additional tip, if need be call time out and talk to your catcher and tell him what you want to do. Some catchers will offer a target, then bring it down as they shift weight, then re-establish it. That may be fine if you're not struggling, but until you regain your composure and focus you'll require a steady established target on which to concentrate.

Jim Bain, former Minor league baseball player, who since retiring has dedicated his life to teaching baseball to youth, shares his advice on running baseball drills on his exciting info packed website:

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