Thursday, June 21, 2012

Re-Defining Success

As a pitcher, success is something that we measure with every pitch. We ask ourselves: Was that a good pitch? Was it hard enough? Did the batter hit it? Was it hit hard? The questions keep going. Oftentimes a pitcher will measure success under the idea that failure is not an option. Well, I would like to change your perspective on what a successful pitcher is. This means we have to re-define what success means in the sport of baseball.

The most important thing to know is that baseball is a sport of failure. I know it seems harsh, but it's true. It is the only sport that an above-average hitter fails seven times out of ten. That's 70% of the time! It seems like pitchers have a huge advantage, but what happens the other 30% of the time? Well, a great pitcher has a an era of 3.00 or less. This means that in that small window of success, an offense still manages to get 3 runs a game off of a pitcher.

What do all these numbers imply? It means that we cannot measure success with score or ERA or even strikeouts for that matter. We cannot rely on factors outside of our control to determine our success, because there are too many variables that we cannot account for or even measure. By measuring success in this way, we give ourselves a false sense of accomplishment and/or failure. We want to measure things that give us a more accurate account of our performance and realistic expectations of ourselves.

What can we measure? In order to answer this we have to figure out what is in our control. Every one has a to have a starting point, a time when you begin to measure success. For professional athletes it is a constant in their routine. In season, this begins immediately after their outing with how they recover. It then moves from there to measuring the success of side sessions and then pre-gameday preparation, pre-game preparation and all the way through the start. For the sake of this article we will focus specifically on the game itself. It is a great place to start from and to learn the process. Later, we can expand on it.

Here are some questions we can use to help measure success in a game. They are broken down into 4 categories: Before the Inning Starts, During the Inning, Between Innings and The End of Your Performance.

Before the Inning Starts - Were my warmup pitches effective? Did I locate them? Did I have a plan for them? Did I throw each warmup pitch with conviction?

During the Inning - Did I throw each pitch with conviction? Did I hit my spots? (Notice how I didn't say 'did I throw strikes?' This is something the umpire controls, not you.) How was my tempo? How did I deal with adversity? (This is important because it can be the difference between a good outing and a bad one.) Did I field my position?

Between Innings - What did I do between innings? Was I in the game? If you are batting, are you able to separate it from pitching? (These require two completely independent means of measurement. You have to be able to switch and differentiate between the two.) Before taking the mound again was I ready to commit to a new inning?

The End of Your Performance - Do not make a final determination of your success until after the game when you have time to re-visit each question above. Your ability to stay in the moment will translate to the mound. If you are sulking in the corner this attitude can be projected on to other teammates. When you do have time to re-visit your outing (within 24-hours), quantify each answer by use of a scale. It could be as simple as answering the questions with always, sometimes, rarely, never. This way you can see how this improves over the season.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Don't let your measurement be result driven, meaning that once the ball leaves your hand the result is out of your control and therefore cannot be quantified or reflect your success.
- Sometimes in this game you will get beat even if you have done everything above. It is the nature of the game.
- If you can answer all these questions with confidence and you know you did everything you should have, that should be all you need to say "I was successful".
Be satisfied with that and I guarantee that you will become a better pitcher.

Remember: nothing can get you to the next level faster than working with a professional. If you, or someone else you know, needs individual instruction please contact me via email at for more information.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Importance of Off-Season Training

It's that time of year again. Spring season is coming to an end. Now is the most important time for a pitcher. Of course, if you've been playing every week since the fall, then you should take a few weeks off before beginning any training regimen. After that, it's crunch time.

We can gain a lot from an off-season training program. First, we start back at square one and begin rebuilding our base, our fundamental foundation of pitching. This is great for pitchers because there is no pressure to perform or "carry the team". It's a great rebuilding period. We can go slow and iron out all the wrinkles.

Now this rebuilding period happens in two different age groups and at two different times of the year. For the older guys high school and above, summer gives you an opportunity to extend your season and prepare for the next level. Everyone knows what happens in October! Your off-season program usually begins in the late fall.

For the younger guys (those not yet in high school) and for those that are not playing summer baseball, that time is NOW! I consider this age group the developmental stage. For young pitchers to grow it is vital that the proper base is built. If you're one of my students you know that for something to become a habit it must be repeated 1,000 times. Then it becomes muscle memory. What's a better time to do this than right now?!

The important thing here is that we start slow. We learn good habits by not overloading the brain with more information than it can handle. This means we would learn a new drill, or two, about every two weeks, working from one part of the pitcher's delivery to the next. Now before I mentioned you need to do something 1,000 times before it become habit. That doesn't mean 500 times now and 500 times in the winter. That means we repeat every drill 1,000 times, before moving on to the next. So, you have to do your homework.

Those that take this seriously can really benefit come spring time. I guarantee if you put the work in this off-season, you will be shocked at how much better you have become. I can also guarantee you that with a good strength training program you will be much stronger as well.

Remember: nothing can get you to the next level faster than working with a professional. I can help you with all of this and more. If you, or someone else you know, needs individual instruction please contact me via email at for more information.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Doubling Up On Pitches

Well... it's been a while since my last visit to the blog-sphere, but here I am and just in time for the start of the spring season!

The topic of discussion today is doubling up on pitches. Why, when and how?

First, what does it mean to double up on pitches? Simply put, it is throwing the same pitch twice in a row to a similar location. The reasons we do this are too numerous to list here but some of the most important are as follows.

I would say the most important reason is to show everyone, including the umpire that you are in control. This effects the game in two ways. One, showing the umpire that you can be consistent will give you a better chance of getting borderline calls later in the game, especially when it counts the most. Example: If one of my pitchers throw a pitch I feel is too close to be a ball, I will ask him to throw it again, in the same spot. This is a tactful way (without showing the up the umpire and without emotion) to say "hey I thought that was a strike. Here it is again, take another look". It's a challenge. Maybe the umpire didn't get a good look at the last one and the probability that he calls this one a strike is much greater.

Next, this shows the opposition that you can put the ball anywhere you want at any given time. This is a good way to keep a hitter off balance. Now the hitter knows that he has to hit your pitch, not his.

Last, it shows your defense that you are in control. This takes the pressure of them and if your consistently throwing strikes, you keep your offense on their toes so they can make those tough plays to bail you out when you need it.

Now, that being said, I am not saying throw 2 pitches over middle back to back. Let the situation dictate when you double-up and how. One example would be a 1-0 pitch where the previous pitch just missed on the outside corner. I am going right back there and getting that call. Another example would be an 0-1 pitch. You just threw a fastball right on the outside corner for a strike. This is not a pitch a good hitter would normally swing at, but what have you done? You just opened up that side of the plate. Go right back there but move the pitch about 2-3 inches (1 ball) outside of that. I would say 80% of the time you will get a swing, which is exactly what you want.

You have to use this method with all of your pitches. Double-up on curves, low in the zone. I guarantee you if you can show control in this way, you will be more successful.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Changeup: Best Pitch in Baseball?

Well, that depends on a lot of different factors.

First of all, every off speed pitch in a pitcher's arsenal works off of one thing, a well located fastball. If you've been keeping up with this blog you should already know that velocity isn't everything.
A well located fastball does 2 things to a batter. First, with consistency, it can tell a hitter that you are in control, decreasing the probability that you will leave a pitch over the middle thereby forcing the hitter to swing at your pitch, not his. If he knows you're not going to give in to him, then he will go out of his comfort zone to try and reach base.

Second, a well located fastball sets up your off speed. By throwing different pitches that start on the same plane, you can dramatically increase your ability to deceive the hitter. All of this, however, is dependent upon accuracy.

So why the changeup? 

We talk about pitching in planes. While it is another segment all together, what you intend to do with this philosophy is throw an off speed pitch that looks as close to the fastball as possible. The changeup is that pitch. Arm angle is the same, arm speed is the same, and wrist angle is the same. It's just slower and most of the time it moves.

While a well located fastball can setup your off speed pitches, a GOOD changeup can be the glue that holds all of your other pitches together. This includes your fastball.

What is a good changeup?

I like to say that a good change is 7-10 mph slower than your fastball and it changes planes (has some break in it).

I know several drills that can help develop a great changeup. Having an instructor when learning or developing pitches is invaluable.

Remember: nothing can get you to the next level faster than working with a professional. If you, or someone else you know, needs individual instruction please contact me via email at for more information.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Improving Velocity - Quick Fix

Velocity is constantly on the minds of pitchers at every level. Although velocity is not the most important factor in being successful, it is still a very valuable asset when playing at higher levels. I am going to tell you how you can instantly add a little velocity to your pitches or at least give you a little more life on your fastball by addressing a common issue amongst younger pitchers; getting behind the baseball.

We hear this phrase all the time, at every level, but what does it mean?

Well, to put it simply, it means using ALL the force generated by the body to throw the ball, while taking as much strain off the arm as possible. Oftentimes pitchers generate a lot of power but miss out on using it because the body jumps ahead of the ball too fast, making the arm do all of the work. So how do we fix this?

One simple fix is to separate your hands a little earlier. This gives the arm a head start getting it into the slot easier and allow the body to stay back. Here is a simple drill you can do to teach your muscles the right timing. Get to the balanced position and pause. A split second before you begin to drop your lift leg, begin to separate your hands. Continue your motion until just before you come out of balance and pull your lift leg and arms back up to the balance position you started in. Repeat this 10 times and rest for 30 sec. You should do 2 or 3 sets of this drill every other day.

Remember: nothing can get you to the next level faster than working with a professional. If you, or someone else you know, needs individual instruction please contact me via email at for more information.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Importance of Private Lessons

I wanted to take some time after a few weeks off to answer a question I get all the time: "Why do I need lessons?"

It is no secret. The higher level you play at, the more personal coaching you get. Why? Well, it is really quite simple. There are more coaches available to specialize in each position (i.e., hitting, pitching, outfield, infield, etc.). At any level, high school or below (even some college teams), rosters are small, creating a demand for multi-tooled players. It's not too often that you see a guy who is only a pitcher at these levels. They do it all.

So, what does that mean? It means that it is up to you to focus on individual aspects of your game. This can be quite difficult when a player has to squeeze in a bullpen between BP and outfield drills. Not to take anything away from the coaches, these guys deserve a lot of credit for squeezing all this into a 1 or 2 hour practice.

Bottom line: you need additional time outside of practice to focus on something as demanding as pitching. You will need to do some things on your own and that is how you get to the next level. It is important to maximize the extra time you have to achieve the results you looking for. This is where the personal instructor comes in.

A private instructor knows exactly how to make the most of the time you have and can teach you how to work on things in your own free time. Also, it is extremely important that the instructor takes into account what is going on in practice so that the player is not over-worked. Having an expert like this goes a long way and shortens the learning curve.

The Perfect Game is here to help you grow!

Remember: nothing can get you to the next level faster than working with a professional. If you, or someone else you know, needs individual instruction please contact me via email at for more information.

Thank You

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been reading thus far. I hope that everyone has found something valuable in this blog. Please continue to share this site because the best is yet to come!

Here are some things to look forward to:

- will be up and running soon!
- NEW instructional videos
- Testimonials
- Diagrams, Charts, Workouts and more!

In the mean time, take a look at this weeks blog about the importance of lessons. Next week we will get ready for fall baseball and off-season training.

Remember: nothing can get you to the next level faster than working with a professional. If you, or someone else you know, needs individual instruction please contact me via email at for more information.