I remember where I was when I first read page 51 of that book.

We all have those moments.

You see something, hear something, read something…

And suddenly it makes SENSE… It’s like you just stumbled upon some secret TRUTH – something you knew all along but had somehow remained hidden.

That’s what it was like when I first read the passage about the HIPPO in Tim Gallway’sInner Game of Tennis.

inner-game-of-tennis
Thankfully I came across it early in my transition to coaching (over a decade ago now).

It was like getting struck with a thunderbolt… I knew instantly.

My approach to coaching pitchers would never be the same.

At the WBCC coaches convention, former big league pitcher (turned Red Sox mental performance coach), Bob Tewksbury, listed it among his top 10 books on the “mental game”.

And I completely agree…  But more than that, it’s a great read for anybody evenconsidering coaching pitchers (or really any sport-specific skill).

For some reason, it was that passage about Gallway’s trip to the San Diego Zoo that got me.

It went something like this:

He’s there at the zoo watching a Mommy Hippo “teaching” it’s baby to swim.

First by showing how it’s done… diving down and coming back up for air.

Then nudging the baby into the water…

And watching it sink like a stone.

Giving it some time to struggle before finally going after it and guiding it back to the surface.

Then repeating the process…

Only this time, moving away and leaving it ALONE!

As he puts it in the book, Mommy Hippo somehow knew “that her role in the learning process was finished.”

This time Baby hit the bottom and pushed off with its own legs and returned to the surface.

“Then the new skill was repeated again and again.”

Now granted… teaching a young athlete to pitch isn’t QUITE the same thing.

We’re not exactly “hard-wired” for 90 MPH pitching mechanics…

BUT… There’s something to be said for respecting the natural learning process.

Too often, we as coaches (or parents) want to help so much, we can’t help but TALK, TALK, TALK… we want to share everything we know.

But at some point all of that “COACHING” turns into something you never intended…

INTERFERENCE!

And I have to admit, I’ve definitely been guilty of that at times.

When I first came across Gallway’s book, I’d been struggling with my pitching instruction, regurgitating what I’d seen other coaches doing.

Correcting every repetition. Every throw. Focusing too much on positions…

Deep down I knew the static drills and “positioning” approach was interfering with the pitchers natural athleticism.

It started me on a quest to find a better way… a more “ballistic” approach to developing pitchers.

And in time, it led to the system of dynamic drills and exercises inside the Ballistic Pitching Blueprint.

Coaching became a lot more fun (and lot more simple).

I just needed to learn to be more like Mommy Hippo…

Show ’em how it’s done.

Provide the right guidance.

Then GET OUT of the way.

Nothing like watching a pitcher (who’d been struggling) become more powerful right before your eyes.

That’s all for now.

Committed to Your Pitching Success,

Coach Phil

PS – If you’re ready to say goodbye to “interference” and help your pitchers tap into the natural learning process like Mommy Hippo, I invite you to try the Ballistic Pitching Blueprint.

 

 

Ah, back at it… another “Mental Side of Pitching” tip for you today…

This weekend I went back to school…

Well, not literally… I attended the annual World Baseball Coaches Convention (along with more than 1,000 other coaches from around the country).

Nothing like a couple days of deep immersion to get the wheels turning and recharge your mental coaching batteries.

Some great presentations… ideas were traded, coaching philosophies were exchanged and tested. Always a healthy thing.

Never stop questioning. Never stop learning.

And personally, I always walk away from these events with a nugget or two (OR TEN) that I can apply with my own coaching…

One thing that came up more than once and really stuck with me.

Because it often gets overlooked…

It’s a HABIT I thankfully developed (though too late) in my own career – I dropped my ERA two full points when I started doing this.

And when I got away from it, I always got into trouble.

It’s the idea of finding your own RESET button on the mound.

What does that mean?

I’ll often talk to guys about the 3 Step Cycle of pitch execution:

Mental Approach —>  Execution  —>  Result

(I first came across this in “The Mental ABCs of Pitching” – a must read for any pitcher, IMHO).

As a pitcher, the first two steps in the cycle are IN your control… The result? Not so much.

But… improve your approach and execution and better results will naturally follow.

The KEY is… not to let allow an “undesirable” result negatively affect your approach (and consequently your execution on the next pitch).

So how do you nip it in the bud?

Find your own personal RESET button.

Make a bad pitch? Hit RESET.

Or maybe a GOOD pitch but a BAD result? (Makes you want to rip your hair out)

Better put it behind you before you toe the rubber.

Just like you were playing a video game… Hit that RESET button. Start fresh.

For one D1 coach presenting, he liked to swipe across the pitching rubber with his foot, brushing imaginary dirt away.

A former big leaguer talked about grabbing his glove with his pitching hand.

For me, I liked to touch my finger to my thumb, put my glove up to my face and utter “Execute”.

rosin-bag-pitching

(For some, it might be going back and grabbing the rosin bag)

 

It doesn’t really matter what it is…

The key is, it’s something physical… LINKED with a thought.

It brings you back where you need to be.

Focused on what’s in front of you: The Task at Hand.

Being able to do that…

Maintaining that focus and keeping your head when things start going against you…

That’s often the difference between a GOOD outing and BAD outing.

And the sooner you find your reset button, the better you’ll get at it.

Then start making it a HABIT.

(And if you don’t already own “The Mental ABC’s of Pitching ” I would highly suggest you pick up a copy)

Okay, that’s all for now.

Until next time…

Committed to Your Pitching Success,

Coach Phil

PS – As a pitcher, your PHYSICAL skills and MENTAL approach go hand in hand.

It’s why all Ballistic Pitching Blueprint Blueprint members also get my Pitching Mindset Roadmap MP3’s FREE with the program. Here’s where to learn more: http://ballisticpitching.com/blueprint

 

 

Well, it’s another icey, wintery mess out there today.

(The heat’s back at least!)

Anyway, this morning something hit me as I was salting my driveway…

See, we live on a steep incline… And to get my car out I basically need to drive straight up (approximately 60 ft 6 inches) to get out onto the road.

And when I stepped out my door to see if the rainy/wintery was freezing it didn’t take long before I got an answer.

One small step onto our walk and I practically fell right back on my rear… did a little Bugs Bunny backpedal action just to stay up.

Total sheet of ICE.

“NO WAY I’m getting my car up that driveway,” I thought, and came back inside dejected…

See, the driveway basically backs up to a 5 foot ledge… If I ended up getting stuck, I knew I’d risk sliding all the way back, helplessly, and find myself (and my car) stuck in a ditch.

But I’d been excited to get out early and get working on a BUNCH of things I’ve got going on right now… Goals I’ve set for my week.

Just to name a few…

And if you heard my house this morning, you’d know it’d be pretty tough to get all those things done with a 3 and 4 year old running around.

So after giving the roads a check and deciding they were drive-able, I set out to get up that driveway… knowing it might not work out.

Luckily, I had a full bag of salt on hand (pays to plan ahead).

And I began carefully working my way up the driveway sprinkling the salt around… Lost my footing a few times and almost started a slide straight back to the bottom.

But eventually got it all done. Then I played the waiting game…

After about 5 minutes, I tested it out and knew I was in business.

I could walk from bottom to top without slipping… I got in my car and gave it a go.

Once I cleared the driveway (and breathed a big sigh of relief), the roads were actually fine. And now I can get somewhere to tackle those things on my list and make today productive.

Okay, so here’s the point.

(And this is something I learned from my years pitching and continue to apply today as a coach)

If you want to make your GOALS a reality… You’ve got to stay in motion.

Keep moving forward.

Let it guide you, motivate you.

Let’s say you’re a coach. How much better are your players when they’re motivated?

The problem is, it’s easy to get sidetracked… or get overwhelmed.

If you’re a high school pitcher throwing 78-80 MPH, maybe you have a goal to hit 85 this year (or why stop there, why not 88?)…

But, you might look at that sometimes and think, “eh, it’s IMPOSSIBLE, that’ll never happen.”

And sure… It might not happen tomorrow. But here’s the good news. It doesn’t have to happen tomorrow!

But let me ask you this…

Is there SOMETHING you could do TODAY that would make you 1% better? Or even 1/10th of a percent better?

I hope you said YES.

Because if you take that approach, and apply it… It adds up, BIG-time.

It’s something I always emphasize with my Weeknight Warrior pitchers and remote coaching clients.

  • It might be getting in front of the mirror each night and working on their delivery…
  • Or hopping off the couch or taking a 5 minute study break to do their Balance Drills
  • Or maybe it’s 5 minutes of visualization work.

Whatever it is… It’s about staying in MOTION.

You don’t need to make it happen overnight…

Just do something NOW to help you get better.

Keep showing up… every day.

Okay, enough reading. Time to get moving!

Until next time…

Committed to Your Pitching Success,

Coach Phil

PS – If you’d like to come train with me here in CT, I have a couple spots left for the 2/15 “Ballistic Pitching Bootcamp”.

The price is going up to $797 this Thursday, so get in now at a $300 discount. 

PPS – If you’re local to CT, Phase Two of the Weeknight Warriors throwing program is underway. PLUS we just added a Saturday Bullpen session.

Click Here for details or shoot me an email with any questions.

 

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