You often hear pitching coaches talk to young pitchers about the importance of having good balance. And I completely agree… but not in the typical “get to a balance point” meaning.
Read this article to see more about why I’m not a big fan of the balance drill:
Pitching Drills: Why Most are a Complete Waste of Time
For me, Balance is a core principle that applies not just to your pitching delivery, but extends to every aspect of pitching (and LIFE for that matter).
You need balance in your delivery, balance in your mental approach, balance in your pitch selection, balance in your strategy, balance in your training, balance in your diet, balance in your sleep patterns, balance in your off-field activities, balance in your relationships… you get the idea.
[h4]Here are some tips for maintaining good Balance as it relates to:[/h4]
[h5]1. Your Mechanics[/h5]
Dynamic balance: Stopping in your leg lift and getting to a balance point is static balance… it kills momentum. Momentum is key for a powerful, efficient delivery. So you really want to focus on dynamic balance, or balance while moving. Here’s a good drill for working on dynamic balance and stability.
Glove side/Arm side: In your delivery, your glove arm has a direct effect on your throwing arm, so it’s important to maintain good balance and make sure both arms are working together. Read this article on good glove arm action.
Upper half, Lower half: the pitching delivery is a fast, explosive movement involving momentum and rotational power. Good timing is critical for transferring momentum up your kinetic chain and out to your arm. To accomplish this, your arms and legs need to be in sync. Another way to think of this is the idea of your upper half matching your lower half, or more simply, being balanced.
[h5]2. Your Mindset[/h5]
Ups & Downs: There’s an old adage, “keep your lows high and your highs low.” Over the course of a season you’re bound to have many ups and downs, moments of triumph and total failure. If you get too high after a great performance, you risk getting complacent, setting yourself up for a great fall. Get too down in the dumps after a rough game and it can be tough to dig yourself out. The key is keeping things in perspective. Keep an even keel, keep showing up and giving it everything you’ve got.
Control your emotions: It’s easy to get caught up in the heat of competition when something doesn’t go your way on the mound. The ump makes a bad call, your short stop boots a double play ball… it’s natural to get frustrated when these things happen. But focusing on them won’t help you get the next batter out. In fact, frustration and negative emotions can often tip the scale, causing you to spin out of control. Next time this happens, step off the mound and take a breath. Gather your emotions, and focus on what you can control – your next pitch.
For more, check out this article on the Mental Game of Pitching.
[h5]3. Your Pitch Selection[/h5]
When it comes to pitch selection, pitching is more art than science. Every pitcher is unique, every pitcher has different stuff. You have to know what works for you, what doesn’t. Learning to read the hitter and adapt to the situation are things you develop through experience and years of pitching. That said, there are some basic guidelines you can follow to increase your odds for success:
Keep ‘em guessing: Warren Spahn has a great quote, “A pitcher needs two pitches, one they’re looking for and one to cross them up.” Simple, but true. It doesn’t matter if you throw gas if the hitter knows it’s coming. Change speeds, change locations. Read this article on the importance of commanding your pitches.
Don’t fall in love with one pitch: Sometimes you might have success with a certain pitch, and the tendency is to go back to that pitch again and again. But go to that well too many times, and you’re bound to get in trouble. Hitters will adjust, and even worse, you may lose the feel for your other pitches. So try to maintain good balance with your pitch selection and use all your pitches.
Note: I’m not suggesting you should throw 16 different pitches… read this article:
How Many Pitches Do You Really Need?
[h5]4. Your Training[/h5]
Don’t spend all your time pitching: When it comes to mastering the art of pitching, nothing beats throwing from the mound. But as I mentioned in my article on the benefits of long toss, spending all your time on mound work can increase the risk of injury. But don’t just take my word for it – hear what Dr. Glenn Fleisig has to say:
“The best training for baseball pitching is baseball pitching. If you train from a mound at maximum effort, your muscles and neurological system would benefit. That being said, you cannot train from a mound (continually) because you would get hurt. You want a training program that is similar, but different enough to simulate pitching.” – Dr. Glenn Fleisig
So yes, you want to spend plenty of time working on the mound to develop a consistent delivery and command of your pitches, but as with everything else, take a balanced approach. Mix in flat ground pitching and long toss. And don’t neglect your mobility and flexibility (I highly recommend checking out Eric Cressey’s Assess & Correct). Get in the weight room and work on your strength and joint integrity. Do your sprints and plyo work to condition your ATP system.
Good balance is a key part of being a complete pitcher. And it’s not just about mechanics. In fact, we just scratched the surface here. I didn’t even get into balance with your diet, balance with your attitude, balance with your intensity… the list is endless.
[h5]So what does having good Balance mean to you? Leave a comment below![/h5]