The mental game of pitching is one of the most misunderstood parts of the baseball. Many pitchers with undetermined attitudes and mediocre coaching can leave one very frustrated and insecure. Insecurity creates doubt which creates a severe lack of confidence. Once confidence is gone the pitcher is “gone.” Good coaches have good tendencies on when to pull a pitcher from a game by being able to determine their confidence level. Most pitchers focus on the physical part of the game but severely undermine the importance of the mental part. I would guess that the majority of pitchers that are unsuccessful had a lack of confidence, mound presence and mental stability. Having a good mentality as a pitcher will set apart the mediocre pitchers from the great ones.

Pitching is the most or one of the toughest positions in all of sports. Being able to position, control, explode and balance ones body on a slope (mound) is a extremely difficult task and if it were easy then more than 6% of high school pitchers would advance to a further level (professional or college). Being confident in who you are and the preparation you have put in will put a pitcher in a better situation mentally to succeed.

Any feelings of fear, negativity, what-if’s, etc will determine the fate of a pitchers outing before it has begun. Knowing you WILL get a hitter out, throw a strike, create soft contact and ultimately win is key. There should be no choice in what your fate will be for each pitch an outing. Knowing you are the BEST will only help a pitcher and the earlier he can learn this the quicker his road will be into becoming a successful pitcher. Be a “winner” and do not take no for an answer.

One of the more difficult things about mental toughness is how to teach it. Being open minded as a pitcher and having the right mentor is key to learning how to become mentally tough. Being conscientious of your mental state and being able to refocus/regroup is key. Even the best players make mistakes but they also make adjustments, learn and improve. They also forget about the past negative outing. These types of pitchers have the ability to block out anything negative or distracting.

Pitching has a lot of moving parts and any distraction can redirect positivity. One pitch can be the difference of a good outing and a bad outing so there is no margin for error. Along with what is happening on the mound there are multiple distractions such as rowdy fans, yelling coaches, players chatting, base runners, signals and most importantly pressures of the game. Runners in scoring position, 3-2 count, two out walk, fielding error are all pressures of the game that can cause a pitcher to give in and give up mentally. It’s not just you and the catcher on the field. I have two words that come to mind what distractions like these are presented; “poise and control.” Having these attributes are key to having mental toughness in a game that is full of distractions. Till next time!