Calling pitches is hard, especially when there are a bunch of pitchers on the same team so coaches often call the same game for every pitcher. This might be hurting you so discover something you can do about it.
As a pitcher, you probably have a bunch of pitches that you take pride in. When people ask you how many pitches you have you get excited when you can say a bunch. While it might sound impressive to have lots of pitches it’s important to remember what you have pitches for. You don’t have all those pitches to impress people, you have pitches to attack different parts of the strike zone and get batters out.
Coaches work with pitchers to call pitches and help get those batters out. But sometimes, the types of pitches that your coach is calling may not be the best pitch for you to throw in that particular situation. Here’s an example, let’s say that Cindy has a rise, drop, off-speed drop and changeup while Allison has a screw, curve and change. Those are 2 totally different types of pitchers since Cindy can throw up (rise) and down (drop) really good and Allison can throw in (screw) and out (curve). The pitching coach would need to call a totally different game for both of these pitchers in order for each one to be successful.
But that doesn’t always happen. And, it’s not always the coach’s fault. Coaches have a lot of players to keep track of and calling pitches requires the coach to know each pitcher’s pitches, and, more importantly, to know those pitches in order from best to worst.
Whether you’re guest pitching for a team or pitching for your regular team here’s a suggestion to help you help your pitching coach call your best game:
- Take out a piece of paper and write down all of your pitches. Then number them from Best to Worst. Here’s an easy way to figure this out – think about a 3-1 count and then answer what pitch you would throw in that situation. Number your pitches from 1 being best (I’d be confident to throw this in a 3-1 situation) to worst (I’d probably never throw this when I’m in a 3-1 situation).
- Re-write your pitches in order from Best to Worst.
- Then give this list to you pitching coach. Don’t just walk up to her or him and say “here’s my list, call these pitches”, that’s not a good approach. Instead you might try something like this, “coach, I thought I’d help make calling my pitches easier by listing my pitches from my Best to my Worst.
The last thing you want to keep in mind is to stay toward the top of your list when calling and throwing pitches. This will put you in more of a position of control with the hitter and help keep you ahead in the count. The more you throw your bottom list pitches the more likely you’ll get behind in the count since those aren’t very reliable.
And finally, when practicing give your top 3-4 pitches your attention until you could list them in any order on your list from Best to Worst. Only then should you really worry about practicing your remaining pitches. The exception being the Change Up as every pitcher needs a good change up and the better your change up is the better of a pitcher you’ll be.
For more help with this topic check out the following:
eClinic: Critical Counts: How to Stop the Walks
Book: The Complete Book of Pitching