Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Splitting Your Focus with Runners on Base

Even though you try to do your best to keep your opponents off the bases, the nature of the game is that runners will reach base. With runners on base, you will have to learn to pitch with your focus on several different things at once. You also have to learn to quickly shift your focus from the base paths to the batter’s box.

It is easy to become distracted when the threat of an attempted stolen base is likely. Being able to shift your focus from the batter and which pitch you need to throw, to the base runner and his speed and the length of his lead, will help you maintain control.

After you and your catcher have agreed on the pitch, your attention now turns to the base runner. At this point, you want to make sure that you continue to mix up your rhythm in an attempt to decrease the base runner’s lead, keeping him as close to the base as possible. In a split second, your concentration has to again change to the execution of the pitch to the hitter.

If a runner does attempt to steal a base, your first baseman and other teammates should be yelling and letting everyone, especially the catcher, know. Occasionally, a runner may try to fake a steal. Once the pitcher starts his motion, the runner will act as if he is going to steal. After three or four steps, he will stop and watch the pitch. Your opponents’ goal is to get you to hurry your pitch, which will affect your control.

It is important to remain focused on the pitch even when you hear your teammates yelling to alert you that the runner is attempting to steal. You should assume that the runner is trying to steal the base, but you have to remain focused on your pitch. If you rush and do not throw your pitch in the location you initially planned, you may throw the pitch for a ball. Or worse, you could throw a pitch where the hitter wants it and he could get a base hit.

If you have yet to reach a league where runners are allowed to lead and steal on the pitch, you still have some things to think about. It becomes more important to throw pitches that the catcher can catch. Any ball that gets past the catcher is probably going to result in the runner moving up to the next base.

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