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)

 

“The Natural” was easily my favorite baseball movie growing up.

And it was more than just being drawn to the mythical, bigger-than-life Roy Hobbs who could blow it by “the Whammer” on 3 straight pitches and hit a game-ending 500 foot moonshot into the stadium lights…

And a bat named Wonderboy he carved from a tree out back that got struck by lightning when he was a kid.

That was part of it.

The purity of it.

[h5]But it’s also a story of redemption.[/h5]

Of a guy who makes mistakes, gets derailed…

And comes back.

He’s surrounded on all sides by crooksters, gamblers, hustlers… forces trying to corrupt him and bring him down.

And every time he gets away from the PURITY of the game and what he LOVED about it when he was a kid, he gets off track and his performance suffers…

Until he reconnects with his high school sweetheart.

Reconnects with that kid he was and what he loved so much about the game in the first place.

There’s a great line in the movie that I puzzled over when I was a kid…

Roy Hobbs is laid up in bed (in a maternity ward of all places) recovering from an internal wound, still paying the price for an incident in his past.

And Iris (played by Glen Close) says:

“Now I believe we have two lives…”

Roy: “Hu-What do you mean?”

[h5]Iris: “…The life we learn with. And the life we LIVE with after that.”[/h5]

Today, with my playing days well behind me, I feel I know exactly what she meant.

I made all kinds of mistakes as a young ballplayer.

And there are plenty of things I’d do differently if I could do it again…

  • In terms of my APPROACH
  • How I took care of myself
  • How I PREPARED…

You can even apply her statement to each and every game or practice…

“What did I learn today?”

“How can I USE that knowledge to help me get better tomorrow?”

My young self was clueless about those things.

But here’s what I wouldn’t trade for anything…

The lessons baseball taught me.

Because when you dedicate yourself to something like being the best pitcher you can be…

And stay TRUE to it… it can’t help but change you.

It’s not just about becoming a better pitcher (though that part is nice)…

It’s the person you become in the process.

And today, I’m blessed to be able to pass along some of those things I learned in my FIRST baseball life with the next generation of pitchers.

And it doesn’t get more rewarding than that.

Do YOU know what you’re going to do today to get better for tomorrow?

Or are you just winging it…

If you could use some hands-on guidance and structure to keep you moving forward towards your baseball dreams, I’ve got good news.

Today, I’m opening up TWO additional spots in my Remote Coaching Program.

Click Here to Get Started

Now this hands-on coaching isn’t for everyone.

Here’s how to know if you’re a good fit:

  • You’re dedicated and ready to see how good you can be
  • You’ve got long-term goals and you’re willing to put in the daily work to make them reality
  • You can find an extra 10-15 minutes a day to get it done
  • You understand your focus, attention and consistency will make the difference

Again, I’m only letting in TWO pitchers right now and these spots will be gone fast.

Click Here to Claim Your Spot before it’s gone.

Until next time…

Committed to Your Pitching Success,

Coach Phil

PS – Here’s another one of my favorite lines:

“You’ve got a gift, Roy… But it’s not enough. You’ve got to develop yourself. If you rely too much on your own gift, you’ll fail.”

Work Hard. Work Smart… Get Better.

AHhh… spring is in the air, the MLB season is officially underway, and I’ve got the soundtrack from “The Natural” pumping in the background…

Makes me wanna get outside and throw the ball around!

Alas, those days are over…

So instead, on this fine spring day, I’m gonna share a little tidbit for maximizing your throwing program I picked up from my JERK teammate (at least that’s what I thought of him at the time).

It’s my freshman year at Northwestern, and I’m coming off a fall and winter of rehab and limited throwing.

After a thorough introduction to the brutal cold of winter in Chicago, we’re finally getting outside as a staff to get our throwing in.

Coach Stodds takes us out onto the football turf while the position players are working on… whatever they do when us pitchers aren’t around.

I’m pumped to finally be able to air it, let it go… unleash my arm after being forced to keep it contained… and at the same time I’m a little nervous.

I got paired up with one of the seniors – he was built more like a bodybuilder than a pitcher, and let’s just say he wasn’t the friendliest of guys.

I could tell he wasn’t especially happy to be throwing with me, either… In his mind, I was just a DUMB freshman who was probably gonna steal innings from him.

And with the perspective you only get when removed by time and a thousand-plus games, I can look back now and realize he was pretty much spot on.

I had a LOT to learn…  (and he made sure I knew it)

Anyway, we work it back to about 120 feet, then 150… and I have ZERO feel for the ball.

Every throw from HIM hits me right in the chest.

Every throw I make forces him to reach up (or JUMP up) to keep it from flying over his head.

I can tell he’s getting annoyed.

Then I completely airmail one 10 feet high, sending him trotting after it. I hear him say to a fellow senior, “Are you KIDDING me with this guy?”

He fires it back at me on a line and hits me right in the chest…

My next throw?

15 feet over his head.

This time I can literally SEE the fire burning in his eyes…

He gets the ball, regroups, and in angry fit of rage proceeds to launch one 100 ft over my head…

I watch it sail over and CLANG against the metal bleachers halfway up the stadium steps.

“What a complete #&*%!”   I think to myself.

I turn to glare back at him, only to be met by a smile and look that says, “No, YOU’RE the #&%!”

“Go get the BALL!” he shouts.

I can hear some my teammates laughing, telling him to take it easy on me as I’m climbing the steps to retrieve the ball.

But I also realized (even though I didn’t appreciate his approach) he was right…

Here I was playing D1 baseball and I can’t even go through my throwing program without it turning into a circus. Something had to change.

I had to demand MORE of myself, hold myself to a higher standard…

I had to learn to make an ADJUSTMENT.

As I geared up for my next throw I was fuming…. But I was also determined NOT to overthrow it and give him more ammunition.

I purposely reset my sights LOW, made a good hard throw, and one-hopped it off the turf, hitting him right in the chest.

Gradually, my throws got more and more accurate… His anger subsided, I got in a groove, and all of sudden I was feeling pretty good.

And while I may not agree with (or condone) his approach, I will say this:

My teammate taught me a valuable lesson that day. 

It was the start of me turning into a PITCHER instead of a thrower…

And taking a new approach with my daily throwing program.

And today, it’s something I preach all the time with my pitchers…

Your daily throwing program is one of your most valuable training tools if you know how to use it.

Over the years I developed a system that worked for me. And I encourage my pitchers to try it out for themselves, while giving them the freedom to tweak things to fit their style.

And it starts right in your warmup.

They’re often amazed at first by how they can improve their command and velocity at the same time.

Every throw matters.

You can see this approach in action inside my Motion Mapping Method program (and discover a step by step process for getting IN-TUNE with your pitching delivery).

Until next time…

Committed to Your Pitching Success,

Coach Phil

PS – Dealing with “jerks” is an unfortunate fact of life… (another little tidbit – a lot of times, they’re really just mad at themselves).

Don’t let ’em get you down… Instead, look for what you can LEARN to help you get better (even if it’s from someone you think is a jerk at the time). Maybe someday you’ll even thank them for it.

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