One of the great things about a good curveball is that it’s not only an effective breaking ball, but it can also be a great change of speed. And Warren Spahn really said it best: Hitting is all about timing, and pitching is about upsetting that timing.

So with the curveball, not only are you fooling the batter with the movement on the pitch, but you’re also upsetting that timing. Whereas a slider can be a nasty pitch (another great breaking ball), it’s a lot more of a power pitch and doesn’t give you the same big speed differential you get with the curveball.

To show you what I mean, let’s take a look at Clayton Kershaw’s pitching arsenal

Kershaw-Pitch-Speed-Scatter-Plot
source: BrooksBaseball.net (fantastic resource)

What you can see pretty clearly from this scatter chart is that Clayton Kershaw has a pretty devastating pitching repertoire. He’s got a mid 90’s fastball, a changeup and slider in the mid 80’s, and then he’s got that hammer in the mid 70’s.

On top of that, he’s got 4 different pitch types that the hitter has to deal with. The fastball is hard and straight, the changeup is slower and fades to his arm side, the slider moves the other way, and the curveball has that big drop along with the sideways movement.

But going back to the curveball as a change of speed… what you’ll notice is that while his slider is a great pitch, it’s right around the same speed as his changeup. And don’t get me wrong, you can be effective with just that combination. But by adding that bigger, slower curveball to the mix, you’re giving the hitter a totally different speed and break to think about. And in his case it gives him a spectrum of pitches with more than a 20 MPH speed differential from fastest to slowest.

Factor in that he hides the ball so well, and good luck timing that.

Another thing to keep in mind, for young pitchers especially… Kershaw only throws his curveball about 13% of the time. You don’t want to fall in love with this pitch and throw it too much. But if you can develop command of your curveball it can make all of your other pitches more effective – the hitter has to respect it. And then you’ll have that nasty pitch in your back pocket that you can break out in key situations.

 

For more Advanced Curveball Traning, I invite you to try the Curveball Mastery System: CurveballMastery.com/system

Curveball-Video-Training

KISS-imageOkay, let’s get right to it… At times, pitching can seem EXTREMELY complicated, challenging and downright confusing. But it doesn’t have to be…

There’s a popular acronym that really applies here, especially when it comes to actually competing between the lines.

K.I.S.S… Keep It Simple Stupid…

In today’s post I’m going to attempt to keep things “Stupid Simple” by sharing with you ONE thing that will have a bigger impact on your season than just about anything else.

…At least when it comes to your success on the mound.

Then I’m going to give you TWO super-simple, no-nonsense tips to make you use this knowledge effectively in the game. And just a headsup – these will seem like total no-brainer, obvious things…

But don’t be fooled.

Pitchers and coaches overlook this stuff ALL the time… and it ends up costing them BIG time.

Okay, so without further ado, here’s my ONE big “secret” for a successful season of domination on the mound…

Ready? Here goes: [h1]Avoid. Crooked. Numbers.[/h1]

Yup, that’s it. Not totally sure what I’m talking about? It’s something a pitching coach of mine preached all the time.

“You don’t get hurt letting up 1’s and 0’s… It’s those crooked numbers, the 3’s and 4’s.”

Put simply, we’re talking about avoiding the BIG inning. Giving up multiple runs…

Nothing ruins an otherwise solid outing faster. We’ve all been there.

You cruise through 4 innings and then give up a 3 (or 5) spot in the 5th.

Or maybe you give have a rough start and give up 4 in the first before settling down and giving up 1 run over the next 5 innings and lose 5-3.
[h3]That ONE bad inning is a killer![/h3]

It’s the difference between a great outing and a ho-hum, close-but-no-cigar performance.

And over the course of a season those add up.

Ask yourself this…

At the end of the season, if you look back at your lines/boxscores from each game, how much BETTER would your numbers be if you eliminated all the crooked numbers and replaced them with 1’s or 0’s?

How many more WINS could you have helped your team get?

How much lower would your ERA be?

It’s the difference between Maddux and AJ Burnett (among other things).

Maddux-Burnett

Burnett’s got  more dominant “stuff”… But Maddux mastered the art of avoiding the big inning. 

It’s difference between a line that looks like this:

crooked-numbers-scoreboard-big-inning

And one that looks like this:

scoreboard-baseball-scoreless

Seems simple, but it really is incredibly important. Avoiding the big inning can make or break an outing… and by extension, your season and CAREER.

Okay, I think I’ve hammered home the point enough… I can hear you saying, “Okay, I GET it already!”

So now what? Like anything, it’s not just what you know… It’s what you DO with what you know that matters.

So here are TWO super-simple tips to help you AVOID the big inning this season:

[h1]ONE: Get Ahead… and TWO: Don’t Give In[/h1]

That’s it. Almost sounds TOO simple, right? It ain’t… See, pitching doesn’t have to be this big, giant mystery.

And when pitchers get in trouble, it usually boils down to them messing up one (or both) of these two things.

Either they get stuck working behind in the count a lot…

Or they aren’t able to bear down and focus when they get in a jam.

For me, as a young pitcher, I had that second part down…

I knew how to pitch with my back against the wall and get out of a jam.

I THRIVED on it.

But there was a PROBLEM… I was always avoiding contact and pitching behind in the count… And getting myself in more JAMS as a result!

No bueno…

You go that well too many times, sooner or later it’s gonna bite you.

When I got SMART (for me, at least) and started focusing on “forcing contact” instead of trying to miss bats all the time, things got a WHOLE lot easier…

And it really is that simple.

[circle_list] [list_item]Attack the strike zone early.[/list_item] [list_item]Work ahead…[/list_item] [list_item]And don’t fold when the chips are down.[/list_item][/circle_list] Do those TWO things and not only does the game get easier, pitching becomes a lot more FUN. 

Okay, I think I’ll wrap it up there.

As Sean Connory used to say in The Untouchables…

“Here endeth the lesson.”

here-endeth-the-lesson

Until next time…

Committed to Your Pitching Success,

Coach Phil

PS – If you read this far, maybe you wouldn’t mind going one step further. If you liked this post, do me a HUGE favor… Hit one of those buttons to SHARE this post! (Your support is how the BetterPitching community grows)

 

There’s a great scene in Bull Durham where Annie gives Nuke Laloosh (best baseball movie names ever?) some perplexing advice…

Annie: “I want you to breathe through your eyelids.”

Nuke: “My eyelids???”

Annie: “Like the lava lizards of the Galapagos Islands.”

She also has him start wearing a garter belt under his uniform… all in the interest of distracting his mind from the tension-inducing thoughts that swirl through his head on the mound.

The anxiety and strain of having to throw strikes (amid his own doubts and fears).

The solution… Take his mind off of it.

And in the process, free himself up to do what his body already knows how to do perfectly well.

Without the voice in his head gumming up the works.

And wouldn’t you know it, things start clicking.

Nuke starts pitching like a man possessed.

He only runs into trouble later when his eyelids get “jammed.”

But that’s okay… Because just as Nuke tells Annie in the end:

“You know something, Annie… You can’t breathe through your eyelids.”

Annie: “Of course you can’t breathe through your eyelids. Whoever told you such a ridiculous thing?”

But there IS something to the idea of tuning out that nasty voice in your head.

And replacing it with something else…

Here are three things that worked for me in my career (give ‘em a try):

1. Tapping Into Music:

One thing I liked to out on the mound, any time I found myself getting tight was just to hum one of my favorite songs. Always got me in a groove, kicked my right brain into gear and got me ready to go.

2. Having a Mantra:

To keep me focused on process (vs. being overwhelmed by circumstances and potential outcomes), I liked to utter the simple phrase, “Execute.” Worked great to keep me calm and locked in.

3. Using Super Powers:

This one’s a little whacky, I admit. But it has to do with your ability to VISUALIZE. You know how Superman could use his laser-beam heat vision to blow something up? Before I’d go into my motion, I’d try to see a red laser beam focused right on the catcher’s glove. Hey, worked for me… don’t knock it til you give a it a try!

So no, you’re not a lava lizard…

But you can take a clue from the idea to help you stay in the zone out there on the mound.

It starts with developing a powerful delivery your can TRUST when it matters most.

So when the lights are on and you’re between the lines you can just let loose and do your thing…

With Confidence and Power.

Click here to learn how: http://ballisticpitching.com/blueprint

Until next time…

Committed to Your Pitching Success,

Coach Phil

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