9 Things You Can Do To Be a Better Pitcher

  1. Throw at least 70% first pitch strikes- A pitchers life motto should be: Get ahead, stay ahead. Think about it this way, every strike that you throw makes the batter’s chance of a hit go down. Have someone keep track of your first pitch strike percentage and make 70% your goal.
  2. Attack hitters with 2 outs and nobody on- Two out walks are UNACCEPTABLE. Go after the batter and attack the strike zone.
  3. Be able to throw 2 types of breaking balls- One, you should be able to throw for a strike when needed and the other you should be able to throw in the dirt when you want to make the batter chase it.
  4. Use both sides of the plate- Too many pitchers will miss inside early in a game and then stay away the rest of the game. To keep hitters off balance you need to be able to command both the inside and outside of the plate.
  5. Have a pickoff move that gets to first base in 1 second or less- Get a stop watch and have someone time you. A solid move will get the ball to the first basemen around one second.
  6. Focus on one pitch at a time- A good pitcher doesn’t get caught up with things he can’t control. His focus is always on the upcoming pitch.
  7. Start strong- Come into the game sharp and ready. If you are a starting pitcher who is a notorious slow starter, pretend like you throw the first inning in the bullpen. Visualize going through the first three batters in the pen and go into the game as if you’re in mid game form.
  8. Practice throwing from the stretch- When Greg Maddux used to warm up in the bullpen before a start, he would throw 70% from the stretch and 30% from the windup. Why was this? Because Maddux knew that the most important pitches he would throw would be from the stretch with runners on base.
  9. Get the most out of your bullpen sessions- Don’t just go through the motions in the bullpen. Always throw bullpen pitches with a count in mind. 0-0 curveball for a strike, 0-2 fastball off the plate, etc. That way every pitch has a purpose and you never feel unprepared for a game situation.

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  • Chad

    Good stuff Franco. Just read the whole post. One thing I would say is that while first pitch strikes are very important there’s one thing that you might add and that is the 1-1 count. Its the most important count for pitchers because it determines whether you’re ahead or behind for the rest of the at bat. Throwing lots of first pitch strikes is ideal but getting 2 out of the first 3 is equally important.

  • Bryan

    Something that really helped me, which I’ll add, is the idea of learning to effectively change the eye level of the batter (I’m sure you’re familiar with this concept). Young pitchers can truly learn to stay efficient and command their fastball, perhaps throwing it 80%+ of the time, while hitting the knees, the letters, letters again, back to the knees, the belt, etc.

    Cheers.

    • http://www.nextlevelballplayer.com Franco

      Great insight Bryan- Most pitchers work on hitting their spots inside and out, but neglect perfecting up and down. How many times to you see big league hitters chase the high fastball? It can be even more effective in high school and college.

      Cheers

  • Justin Farina

    Later in my career (when I stopped being a waste of roster space and finally became a decent pitcher) I learned from a few Dominican pitchers to “live inside”. I spent the majority of my time attacking hitters inside (fastball to lefties, fastball/sliders to righties). I found they were more uncomfortable with pitches coming in tight. It allowed me to stretch the plate out and keep them off balance.

    ALSO – pitchers need to stop running poles. Jogging ruined my arm, my mentality, and made me slow and weak. Pitchers are power athletes and need to train as such.

    • http://www.nextlevelballplayer.com Franco

      Farina- Great insight. Totally agree with ya- Commanding both sides of the plate is absolutely crucial!

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  • Jim Knytych

    Franco- Great site man. I coach out at Plainfield East high school is suburban chicago and have told my players to check your site out. I agree with Farina I have changed my pitchers conditioning and pitching approach. We throw inside all the time because most hitters want to get extended and get eaten up inside which expands the hitters strike zone. All our conditioning is short explosive sprint work. This is great keep up the good work dave.

    Jim Knytych

    • http://www.nextlevelballplayer.com Franco

      Jimmy! So good to hear from you. That’s great you are coaching now. Thanks for passing on Next Level Ballplayer to your team. Commanding both sides of the plate is crucial at all levels. Too many HS and college pitchers get away from it. Hopefully the new metal bats will allow them to be “rewarded” when they jam hitters.

  • http://WWW.HENRYSBASEBALLCLUB.COM HENRY MUNEVAR

    GREAT BUT I THREW SIDEARM AND COULD MAKE IT GO LEFT AND RIGHT. I COULD HEAR THE OPOSITION SAYING WE CAN’T HIT THAT #$@#&% PITCH SO STOP THROWING IT!!! THEY DID NOT REALISE THAT IT WAS THE LATE BREAK ON THE BALL AS TO WHY THEY WERE NOT ABLE TO HIT IS SQUARE. THEY HIT IT BUT MANY GROUND BALLS TO 3RD AND POP UPS TO THE INFIELD WERE THE NORMAL. THE LONG STEP TO THE BATTER AND HOLDING THE BALL CENTERED WERE VERY IMPORTANT!!