Did you know that baseball is one of the only sports where the defense controls the ball? As a pitcher, it’s comforting to know that when you are on the mound you literally hold the heartbeat of the game. You can dictate how fast or how slow the game will go based on the rhythm you set out to establish, and the rhythm of your choosing will depend on your routine.
What does it mean to have a routine?
A routine is something you will purposely do every single time. You should develop a routine for the following situations:
- When you arrive at the field
- When you are warming up
- When you are throwing your bullpen before the game
- Before each pitch
- After the game
How can a routine benefit me?
Routines are beneficial for three reasons: It give you a purpose to each pitch, it gives you a sense of control, and helps you overcome setbacks. As a pitcher, having a purpose with each pitch is crucial! One thing many pitchers leave to chance is how they think on the mound, they let the situation affect their emotions and thought process. A quality pre-pitch routine will include what you will say or think to yourself before you actually throw the ball. Having a routine helps you to focus on “this pitch” rather than leaving a pitch or even an entire at-bat to chance.
The second reason a routine is beneficial is because it gives you a sense of control. Have ever seen a pitcher who has “lost it”? Their pitches are flying everywhere, they are becoming frustrated, and you could read their body language that things just aren’t going their way, so what do they do? They try even harder, or get angrier which in turn makes matters worse! A pitcher cannot control his performance if he cannot control himself. Having a routine will help you do this as a pitcher. When you have a routine, you are in control, and when you are in control anxiety is less prevalent and you shift your focus from getting the batter out to concentrating on the process.
The third reason your routine is beneficial is because it will help you overcome setbacks. Too many pitchers these days don’t know how to react when they are struggling. It’s because they haven’t prepared for it! You should know exactly how you are going to choose to respond when adversity hits, and work it into your routine. Here are some routines you could use as releases to overcome a setback.
- Walk to the back of the mound with your back to the plate, take a deep breath, and “blow-out” your tension
- Pick up some grass or some dirt, squeeze it as hard as you can, then “toss away” your frustration
- Stand on the mound and clear off the mound, as if you are “wiping away” that last pitch
Whatever you decide to have as your release, the key is that you do not pitch until you are in control, ready to focus on “this pitch”.
The key to choosing a routine is that it must be comfortable for you. Make sure your routine puts you in the position to throw each pitch “On Purpose, With Purpose”.