The preparation for the game is a critical part of the pitcher's (and coach's) responsibilities. Every pitcher must be equipped with a specific routine that can be adjusted to the weather conditions and the pitcher's shape-up for that day.
I believe that most pitchers warm up too early, throw too many pitches, and work too fine in the bullpen. Warming up the arm is, of course, important, but the main objective is to get the pitcher focused, to get both his mind and body ready to pitch.
The pitcher should start by jogging until he breaks into a sweat. That should take three to five minutes, depending upon the heat. The pitcher should then go through a stretching routine, followed by 10 reps of light resistance exercises with surgical tubing.
The surgical tubing segment will increase the blood flow to the pitching muscles and reduce the necessity for extensive throwing in the bullpen.
Note: The pitcher should not throw more than 40 warmup pitches in the pen. The fewer pitches he throws, the more pitches he will have left for the game.
After warming up in the pen, the pitcher should towel himself off and rest for three to four minutes. If he's a pitcher who really sweats, he may also want to change into a dry shirt.
Before starting an inning, he should throw all his pitches at least once, ending with a pitch out of the stretch. It's essential to throw quality pitches between innings, not just flip the ball up there. The pitcher should try to throw five pitches or less between innings, as those pitches count against the total available to him.
In the dugout between innings, the pitcher should stay off his feet, wear a coat if necessary, towel off, and replace lost fluids. He should sit with the catcher and review the last inning and the plan for the coming inning, referring to the pitching charts when necessary.
He should not allow himself to get caught up in the offensive part of the game, to avoid emotional highs and lows. He should focus on his pitching.
Some pitchers always seem to have a rough first inning. They may, in fact, have to warm up twice before the game: (1) warm up and sit down for about five minutes, and (2) then throw again.
First-inning trouble is a mental thing for the most part. The pitcher becomes convinced it's going to happen to him and it stays in the back of his mind: "Well, I always have a tough first inning." It soon becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The double warmup offers a psychological way of creating the second inning.
Pitchers must have a disaster plan for the first inning. They cannot afford to start every game with a two or three run giveaway. They should work on their pitching plan: pitch carefully and intelligently, pitching to their strengths and not getting hung up on one pitch or over-throwing.
They should use one or two kinds of pitches, but not show all their pitches in the first inning. They should also make sure to have a go-to pitch for emergencies (when they begin struggling). Goal: Keep it simple and get out of the first inning without giving up any runs.
Relief pitchers don't have the luxury of being able to throw 30+ pitches and taking their time. They have to be able to warm up in a hurry. Whenever the game suddenly gets out of hand, the relief pitcher will have to play quick-catch.
He should get two pitches ready, or just one if there's no time; and he should throw every pitch out of the stretch.
Long and short relievers should loosen up a little before the game and during it, if necessary, to get the kinks out. Young guys warm up too much and throw too many pitches down in the bullpen.
Relief men should pay attention to the game and be able to warm up quickly. They should also jog a bit every inning and stretch, without necessarily throwing, so that if they are suddenly called upon after sitting around for five or six innings, they will be loose.
We try to give our relievers a general idea of their role and how we intend to use them on a particular day. Any time we get a pitcher up three times, we will either get him into the game or sit him down for the rest of the game.
It is important to keep count of their pitches in the bullpen and to assess their effort level, even if they are not scheduled to throw that day.
Many pitchers begin pressing when they see other pitchers begin to warm up. They should be taught to focus on the game, pitch by pitch and ignore everything over which they have no control.
When being relieved, the pitcher should hand the ball to the coach and jog off the field. Upon getting to the dugout, he should immediately head for the trainer for his treatment, or he may choose to sit down for a few minutes and reflect.
Pitchers will sometimes get frustrated when they get relieved and will blow off their stretching and treatment by their trainer. Coaches should make them understand that once they are done pitching on that day, they are expected to immediately start preparing for their next outing.
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|Title Annotation:||baseball pitching|
|Publication:||Coach and Athletic Director|
|Date:||Nov 1, 1997|
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