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pitching drills/tips to tackle fear of hitting batters

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  • pitching drills/tips to tackle fear of hitting batters

    Well this is my first spring training in 4 years, and i've found myself being very wary of batters since returning to the mound. So much so that it is throwing me off both accuracy-wise and velocity-wise. I've changed my arm slot since coming back which is further complicating this issue.

    Are there any tips/words of wisdom/ or drills that can help fix this (quickly)? Besides the usual practice of having hitters stand in on pitching practice. Opening day is only 3 weeks away and I don't want to miss out on a pitching spot because of this rookie problem!

    Thanks fellas.

  • #2
    As I understand you are looking for advice on how to overcome your fear of hitting batters? Interesting question.

    I don't know of any specific drills for that very purpose. My advice would be to continue working on your mechanics and accuracy, and to focus on being confident in your abilities. I think the best way to over come fear of something is to master the task that is making you afraid.

    Another idea might be to consider that batters are trained to avoid being hit, or if they are going to get hit, HOW to best get hit without being injured. So keep that in mind too.

    Comment


    • #3
      Syd,

      What you are describing is much more a mental problem than a physical one. First off, I'd suggest facing your fears and try hitting a batter or two! They're more durable than you think they are, and they come a dime-a-dozen. Hit one, and they'll send a new one right up after him. Seriously, hitting a batter is part of the game. They'll live. Don't cry any tears for them. That doesn't mean you should try to do it, but if it happens, it happens.

      Now, for drills. The anxiety you are describing is a huge deal with young kids. My oldest son is 9, entering kid pitch for the first time. Many of his league opponents are his classmates and friends - he really worries about hitting them. To correct this, we've worked on two things:

      1) I set up catching between 2 posts in our back yard that are about 3.5 feet apart. They just happen to be there, but they work great for making him pitch between (like having a LH & RH batter at once.) The posts are a little dangerous, but this could be simulated with a stack of cardboard boxes, etc. Anything to visually "narrow" your target area.

      2) We have a black catcher's mitt, and I buy a pack of those small colored dot stickers (about 1" diameter, I guess) and I place a different color dot in the center of the mitt after each pitch. I won't "show" the dot until my son gets into his delivery. His job is to pitch to the dot and yell out the color immediately after releasing the ball. This accomplishes TWO things: First, he is focused on a tiny target. When it comes to throwing ball, or playing golf, or shooting guns, or anything similar, the best mantra is "Aim Small, Miss Small." That means the more precisely you define your target, the smaller your misses will be when you don't execute perfectly. When you are pitching, don't aim for the strike zone. If you miss, it's a ball (or a pegged batter.) Instead aim for the mitt (or better yet, aim for a 1" spot inside the mitt) and judge yourself by how closely you missed that target on EVERY pitch. If you are aiming for a 1" dot over the center of the plate, and aren't satisfied with yourself if you miss that target by 1 foot, then the batter is "light years" away, way over there in the batter's box. Secondly, when you are focused on that small target, you aren't focused on the batter. You literally shouldn't even SEE the batter, the umpire, or even they catcher for that matter; you should see the center of the mitt and everything else is peripheral "fuzz."

      What I'm speaking to here is the ability to focus so intently that you can mentally block out all unnecessary clutter. With sounds, if you are riding in a car, you should be able to carry on a conversation without regard to the radio (or, vice versa, sing along with a song without regard for the other people talking in the car.) Batting during a game, you should be able to block out the cheers and jeers, but yet hear your coach's voice distinctly if he's giving instruction. Same type of thing with your visual field: block out everything that doesn't matter - and the batter falls into that category. Your only focus as a pitcher is to execute your pitch and deliver it to that target inside the mitt. Whatever happens the moment after you release the ball is outside of your control.

      Comment


      • #4
        UAME, thanks so much - that was exactly what I needed to hear. I feel more confident after reading your various thoughts and can't wait to put it to work in practice on Sunday.
        Cheers!

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by UAME View Post
          They're more durable than you think they are, and they come a dime-a-dozen. Hit one, and they'll send a new one right up after him.
          I think you owe me a new keyboard there buddy. This one is soaked with coffee now.

          Best line of the month.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by UAME View Post
            First off, I'd suggest facing your fears and try hitting a batter or two! They're more durable than you think they are, and they come a dime-a-dozen. Hit one, and they'll send a new one right up after him.
            I think I will include this as I'm throwing out 'coaching tidbits" during the game


            Originally posted by UAME View Post
            I place a different color dot in the center of the mitt after each pitch. I won't "show" the dot until my son gets into his delivery. His job is to pitch to the dot and yell out the color immediately after releasing the ball. This accomplishes TWO things: First, he is focused on a tiny target. When it comes to throwing ball, or playing golf, or shooting guns, or anything similar, the best mantra is "Aim Small, Miss Small." That means the more precisely you define your target, the smaller your misses will be when you don't execute perfectly. When you are pitching, don't aim for the strike zone. If you miss, it's a ball (or a pegged batter.) Instead aim for the mitt (or better yet, aim for a 1" spot inside the mitt) and judge yourself by how closely you missed that target on EVERY pitch.
            I love this tip. Thanks for sharing.

            Comment

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