Some pitchers, myself included, struggle in the first inning. The struggles can be attributed to lack of preparation, lack of confidence and the other team, among other reasons.
There are several truths to the lack of preparation. If your difficulties are caused by the lack of time you have spent preparing in the off season, you will never be as prepared as you can or should be. Laziness and a lack of determination are qualities that can only be improved by you – there is no advice I can offer.
Similar to a lack of off-season preparation, is a lack of preparation in between outings. Everyone who has pitched has been able to improve on some aspect of their game. Ask for feedback from those who know you best – your catcher, coach, parent or friend – either after the game or the next day. Be careful to ask during the game. Do not try to make major changes during the course of the game. Your focus should always be on what pitch you need to throw and where. Use your days in between outings to improve on the major things.
Maybe your problems are caused by a lack of confidence. Confidence is the biggest driver of success. Not having confidence in yourself or your teammates is a recipe for disaster. If you were hit around in your last outing, think back to what you did well in a previous outing. While warming up in the bullpen, make sure all of your pitches are working for you. If they are not, try to make smaller adjustments such as working on the point you release the ball. By doing this, you will improve control of your pitches while improving your confidence.
The final thing you have to remember is that your opponents’ best hitters will be hitting in the first inning. The best hitters will make up the top four spots in the order and they have earned those spots for a reason. It is important that you are focusing on your pitches from the very first pitch of the game.
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