A good head coaching friend of mine recently called me to see if I could mentor his new, young pitching coach. So while I invited him to have lunch and watch a practice, I also put together this document.
COACH MAZZ’S NOTE: THERE ARE ABOUT 4 OR SO CURSES IN THIS DOCUMENT.
My Pitching Absolutes
Ideally prior to each practice you have some small transition period. Could be three minutes of deep breathing or even a layout of the practice plan, but something to get them from video game, class, girlfriend mode to baseball mode is crucial
One of my players drafted last year, Zack Short, is with the Cubs. They are huge on yoga and also on mindfulness. Might as well have our guys do it.
Unless it is a day where we do team defense early in the practice (in which case we stretch with the team and throw like position players), our pitchers warm up (the time from start to picking up the first baseball) is about 25-30 minutes.
Hip Mobility – 3 minutes
Lower half active warm up – 5 minutes.
Lower half band stretching – 5 minutes
Spine stretching – 5 minutes.
Upper body (bands, shoulder/elbow routine) – 5-8 minutes.
Weighted ball routine for warm up – 3 minutes.
I always try to partner up guys based on either who is doing something the same (throwing a bull pen, long toss, live, etc). Meaning, they switch partners each day. So sometimes right before throwing I say…limited throwing guys here, medium guys here, airing it out long tossers here. And thus they partner with someone doing the same thing.
Basic catch: Key points…
They must throw to a target. If a target isn’t given, the whole group does burpees.
They can often throw three pitches to the same spot before a new target or pitch is given.
To be a great pitcher, you must be a great thrower. So this beginning throwing is just that, throwing, not pitching.
If they are trying to change anything mechanically when pitching, this is when it starts. They can’t play catch/long toss for 50-100 throws and do something wrong that they are trying to change.
Up to each guy. Everyone’s arm is different.
The only thing I don’t like is really hard, high in the air long toss. I’m convinced it leads to Tommy John.
Each day they should do change ups at 70 feet. Breaking balls at 45 feet.
Each day, unless arm is shot, throw either flat ground working on all pitches to another pitcher or off a mound to a pitcher, or if you have enough catchers they can throw short/75% off the mound to a catcher.
All the shit we tell them, can never duplicate them having the ball come out of their hand and go to a spot. The more often, the better they are. They need to self coach.
At least twice a week we do a non pitching routine.
Intentional walk pitches. 2 each side (must check runner at 2B).
Two pitch outs each side. Quick step to plate.
Throwing bunts and come backers to first.
Feeds to second, bunts to third, comebackers and bunts to the plate.
Their partner acts as the fielder.
All pick offs, including pick off plays, and bunts, and 1st and thirds they go over with a partner.
We do team defense, but as pitchers we do…
Short hops no glove.
Short hops with glove.
Turn arounds (pitcher has back to partner), partner yells when to turn and ball is on the way and he has to react.
We do knock out games.
I crush tennis balls at them.
And recovery drills, they have to find the ball, stay in control, and get an out.
The more games and competitions we can do, the better. Kids these days are as good as ever but our youth baseball system doesn’t teach competition like it used to.
Most of the pens are done in the stretch.
Almost every bullpen has some pitches that are filmed with an ipad or iphone using coaches eye, this allows me to send them the video.
Often times the bullpen has runner on distractions where their pitching partner acts as a baserunner.
Generally bullpens take this three part form.
First part : do what you want. Work on anything you feel you need or get ready for part 2.
It could be one pitch to one spot.
Sequence day…hard in, soft away.
First three pitches of an at bat. Catcher calls.
Stand in day. A hitter or stand in dummy is in.
Test or competition:
They either compete against their partner any that days test (first pitch strikes, best of 10 for example).
Or I might do a 6 pitch test…They have to throw 2 located fastballs, 2 quality change ups, a breaking ball strike, breaking ball strike out. So 6 pitches, then we see how few pitches it takes them to do it. So 6 is the best you can get. I record all the scores and email the whole team the results.
After pens we do a reverse throw series or some guys use bands. Their call.
I try to give them something fun to do. Here are all my things…often they can pick.
Stadium runs, with out without vest.
Football catches. Use a football or a glove and a baseball.
Straight up football Sunday’s. 6 on 6 pitchers playing football (fall only so we don’t lose a pitcher to an ankle come spring).
Med ball runs.
Circuit training day. 15 minutes or a circuit I design.
I always bring music and crank tunes.
Post conditioning stretch.
I also let pitchers leave practice when their shit is done. No waiting around for asshole position players.
MECHANICAL AND MENTAL PITCHING PHILOSOPHIES
Hitters are dumb.
Hitting is hard. Hardest thing in sports and we are on the other side of that.
Watch bp, a whole lot of outs at 60 mph.
We are on offense, we have the ball.
Your defense wants to make a play or hit, so stop taking all day between pitches.
There are many ways to get out. No two pitchers are the same and there are not perfect mechanics.
Those who have a true balance point and finish in a really good fielding position…sooner or later play lacrosse.
The slower you throw, the more inside off the plate you must throw.
The consistent guys get the innings.
Write a quote under your hat…when find yourself in your head (what is my era, is that a scout, not this hitter again, my short stop sucks, this ump blows, it’s hot, it’s cold, am I going to get another start, my curveball won’t work) look under your hat at your quote…my guys have things like….
Trust your shit.
I’m a professional glove hitter.
I have they ball they don’t.
Make this guy cry.
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