Pitchers are leaders! There is no question about it. Great pitchers are emotionally mature and can carry their team to victory just by their mere presence on the mound. It’s true that there are those pitchers who can influence the attitudes of each player on the team in a positive manner. Other pitchers who carry a chip on their shoulder, tend to have bad things happen to them; position players bobble the ball more often when they pitch. Why does this happen? Do your teammates play better when you pitch or are they intimidated by your negative attitude praying they don’t mess up because they don’t want to deal with you between innings? What type of pitcher do you want to become? What is your demeanor on the mound?
It takes mental toughness to be a great pitcher. It is the nature of the game that we cannot control at times; the odds. We know that Hall of Fame pitchers win only 50% of the time. Pitchers can’t win all of the time. Eventually we have an off day. Sometimes we have a great day but the opposing pitcher also has a great day and your team can’t produce runs. Here’s the kicker; sometimes we feel great and throw great and because of certain circumstances (one ball left up 3 inches to high, you throw a pitch right down the middle of the plate, too many errors on the field etc) you get beat. What great pitchers do under those circumstances is keep a good attitude regardless of how difficult it can be. Those are the pitchers whose odds are in their favor and end up with more wins than loses at the end of the season. My point: stay positive regardless of the circumstances.
Homeruns happen; get over it! This is the nature of the game. This is where pitchers need to be mentally tough. You cannot let the failure or the success of your last pitch affect the next. There is nothing greater than to see a pitcher get back in the groove and strike out the next two or three batters after they give up a dinger. How long does it take you to get back in the groove after someone lights you up? Get over it! Homeruns and long innings happen to the best of pitchers. The sooner you get rid of the negativity the sooner you calm down and get back into your groove.
Sometimes our greatest fans can influence us in a negative way when they are trying to help us succeed. Don’t let any negativity into your head when you are performing. You get beat most of the time under those circumstances. You are in control of your attitude and nobody else. Don’t let the negative energy from anyone else effect your confidence on the mound. Some of you are dealing with heckling fans, others heckling parents and coaches; yes even the people who care about our success just as much or more than we do, are the ones who can’t handle the pressure and they often say the most damaging things to us at times. Even though their intentions are good; what they say can hurt at times. We as pitchers cannot let that negativity influence our decisions and our attitudes when we are on the mound. You know when you don’t throw with confidence what’s going to happen out there. You get shelled! Keep the negative thoughts and the negative people out of your head and you will perform much better. Again, you are in control of your attitude, nobody else can take that from you.
Finally, there are literally a million things that can distract you from being your best self on the mound. So much of pitching is mental toughness and awareness. Learn to control your emotions and you will be surprised how much better you will become. Others will respect you for who you are and what you can accomplish on the mound day after day.