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,
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.