Six Tips for Pitch Control

The following article from WebBall.com may be of some interest to coaches looking to improve their knowledge of pitching…

Spot every Warm Up Throw

Always, always throw to spots during warmups. This practice concentration before the game will make it easier to locate your strikes when you need them. [See a detailed article on the bullpen coach for more on the warm-up routine.]

One Dimensional Warm Up

Get the catcher to line up on the opposite edge of the plate to your throwing arm – i.e., if you’re right-handed, then the outside edge for a right-hand batter. You’ll establish control by concentrating on only one dimension of the plate (the width). [We have found great success by working over a practice plate that has side targets added to it.]

Stay Back

Imagine if you split your body in half – straight down the middle, back to front. Slow the front side down. Don’t let the body move forward until arm and body have had time to load up. [Yes, there are those who would disagree with this. All such advice must be adjusted to the tendancies – good or bad – of the pitcher: correct only what needs correcting.]

Hit the Mitt

Don’t watch the flight of the ball – watch it hit the mitt. Find a small target in the centre of the catcher’s mitt and throw through the mitt not to the mitt. [We also often suggest that the target be a knee cap or a shoulder pad, not always the mitt. On many fastballs you want to hit a spot over the plate so will need to find a target that gets you there. On breaking pitches you have to allow for the bend – a good catcher will understand that there are 2 targets on a breaking pitch and give you the right one, but with a less experienced target you may have to re-aim on your own.]

Ask for a Steady Miit

Coaches often overlook the catcher’s influence on a pitcher’s control. Catchers may have been taught to relax (drop) the hand during delivery (for a fluid, soft catch). But it’s easier to concentrate on a stable target than a moving or disappearing target. Ask your catcher to help your concentration by holding still. [The pitching coach may need to arbitrate if both players want only what’s best for them.]

Toe to the Rubber

When you’re throwing well with good control, toe the rubber – stay in your rhythm to start the next pitch. But when you’re out of sync, step off and take a breather. Remember you control the tempo – take advantage of that. If you throw strikes in a steady rhythm, your fielders will stay alert and consequently they’ll make more plays for you.