Thursday, January 6, 2011

You Don't Have To Strike Every Hitter Out

One of the most basic pieces of advice I share with pitchers is to pitch to contact. Pitching to contact means that you learn to trust your fielders instead of trying to strike out each hitter. It also slows the pace of the game, which can lead to long innings. Long innings can tire out your teammates, and may allow them to lose confidence in you.

Not pitching to contact and trying to strike out every hitter leads to one thing - walks. Walks are a pitcher’s worst enemy, as they allow your opponent to reach base without working for it.

Pitchers that do not pitch to contact are usually scared if the batter hits the ball, the batter will hit it hard and far. Another characteristic of this type of pitcher is someone who lacks confidence and as a result constantly thinks that bad things will happen. They try to make the perfect pitch with the hope that the batter will not swing and the umpire will call the pitch a strike. But the most apparent sign of a pitcher that does not pitch to contact is one who will walk a lot of people and as a result, struggles to be successful.

I have seen pitchers struggle with the thought of contact at every level, from professionals to youth, and every pitcher at every level will struggle with it at some point.

If you find yourself in this situation, you have to find the renewed confidence in yourself and your teammates. Your fielders want to make plays for you. And you have to believe that you can pitch well.

Pitching to contact is not simply throwing pitches down the middle of the plate and hoping that hitters will not make solid contact. You still must focus on making good pitches with good control. If you do this, hitters will not be able to make solid contact consistently and you will be successful.

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