Consistent Location: Its Importance
I can’t stress enough to pitchers the importance of location. It is the one key element that they can adjust during a game. Since so much of pitching is mental, it is imperative to always give a pitcher a way through any tough situation. For instance if a pitcher believes his stuff, i.e., different pitches at different velocities, is what gets hitters out and on a particular day he is getting hit, then he believes his stuff isn’t good enough. He then has nowhere to turn because, on that day, his stuff wasn’t good enough. He ends up being taken out of the game wondering if the next time he will be any better. However, if a pitcher knows that his stuff is always good enough, then the reason he would ever get hit would be his location, and if he learns, by practice, how to adjust his location, he possesses a tool to make himself effective most of the time.
When I think back over my 18-year professional career, most of the time that I wasn’t effective was because of the location of my pitches. It was certainly true that because I had average to below average major league pitches, my location had to be more exact than someone like Nolan Ryan with a hundred mile an hour fastball. But the principle of good location worked for me as well as pitchers like Nolan Ryan.
I teach pitchers to throw consistently underneath the bat. That means that they will always concentrate on throwing their pitches from the top of the knees to the dirt. For low-ball pitchers, their strike zone is the 2” area at the knees. I want them to throw to the corners and to six inches on either side of the plate.
Consistency comes from much practice. Pitchers like Tom Glavine have proven that being able to throw consistently to one area, on and off the plate causes hitters to go after pitches out of the strike zone.
The area from the top of the knees to the waistline and over the heart of the plate is called the no pitch zone in which pitchers should stay away from. Pitchers should throw above the waist for (1) effect, and for strikeouts when the hitter is susceptible to that pitch or when the hitter is set up for it. However, I still believe pitchers should primarily pitch down and be able to miss the strike zone in and out and down when they want. In summary if you can throw your best pitches for strikes in your pitcher’s strike location you will be successful. THE KEY ALWAYS; LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION.
All players, especially pitchers, should exercise positive visualization. Pitchers should pay attention to the location of the pitches that either were swung at and missed or hit poorly or are hit where the pitcher wants the hitter to hit the ball, i.e., on the ground, up the middle, in a double play situation. If a pitcher’s power pitch is low and away he must be able to visualize that pitch going to that exact location.
Proper visualization involves such depth that your body can feel the pitch being made from your feet to the tips of the fingers of your pitching hand. You should be able to visualize in slow motion, mentally feeling the ball come off your fingertips, watching the spin and the break of the ball as it mentally moves toward the plate and seeing it hit the middle of the pocket of the catcher’s glove as the hitter swings and misses it.
Good visualization is an excellent way to practice without putting any strain on your arm. You should visualize your power pitch and all your other pitches with their break. You should mentally image different counts and all situations that you might encounter. Many times missing the strike zone is as important as hitting it.
The great thing about out visualization is that you can do it at any time and that it requires no stress on your arm. I suggest that every pitcher should take at least ten minutes every day to visualize and create situations for success. It can be done in bed at night before you go to sleep or at different break times during the day.
It is also mandatory that in the heat of a game you visualize a pitch being successful before you throw it. Before you step on the rubber for each pitch you should visualize the right pitch to throw. If the catcher gives you a sign for a different pitch then you must either shake him off and go to your pitch or if you agree with the sign visualize the pitch before you throw it.
A good catcher or even a coach, if he is calling the pitches, will think right along with you and there shouldn’t be a need to shake off very many pitches.
By Geoff Zahn
Former Head Baseball Coach University of Michigan and 12 Year Major League Veteran Pitcher
Part two: Concentration and Aids for Developing Control

October 14, 2014 | Featured, Instructional Articles | 0

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