Mound Management (Part 2)

By Alan Jaeger

Defining A Typical Pitcher’s Process

From my experience of working with pitchers over the years I have found that the characteristics of their Process tends to be very similar.  For example, in the previous section, where we defined the Process with four checkpoints — 1) Deep Breath, 2) Look for Focal Point, 3) Mechanical Cue, and 4) Commitment to Focal Point — I have found that most pitchers eventually identify with a similar approach.  And it makes sense because all four of these checkpoints are reliable, tactical and chronological with regard to a pitchers bottom line.

Let’s briefly go over each one of these checkpoints and see if any of these components resonate with you.

Checkpoint #1 — Taking a Deep Breath is a good reminder to slow down and relax — most people in this day and age have a better understanding of the beneficial role breathing plays in our physical and mental health (especially if you have a daily mental practice that may involve breath work, tuning into your breath may be a natural fit and starting point to your Process).

Checkpoint #2 — Having a Focal Point is great because pitchers ultimately want to know where they are going (Intent/End Point), and this gives the mind somewhere tangible to go (“energy follows attention”).  In the natural course of events, once you have given the mind a specific place to go, you have positioned it to “complete” this intention.

Checkpoint #3 — A Mechanical Cue can be a great “physical” reminder as part of your process.  I personally liked the feeling of hitting my balance point or “checking in” before I went to the plate.  For others, it may be something about your front side, direction, and so on.  This physical cue can be a great link between your Focal Point/Intention, and your last step, your Finish.

Checkpoint #4 — Your Commitment/Conviction to “finish” the job is very important because the mind not only wants to know where it’s starting point or Intention is, but equally important, the completion of this Intention.  This sense of Intent (where do I want to go) and Finish (Commitment/Conviction) are fundamental to most, if not all pitchers, consciously or unconsciously.

(Note regarding Mechanics): If you feel a mechanical checkpoint is helpful to your Process, that’s great.  Ultimately, just know that your Process may be as simple as having a Focal Point (Intention), and Attacking your Focal Point (Commitment/Conviction).  Therefore, don’t feel a need to have a mechanical checkpoint in place.  I’ve been told by a number of pitchers that one of the reasons they love this approach is because the feeling of seeing and attacking their focal point actually eliminates their need to focus on their mechanics in game situations.  Again, try a few different checkpoints and see what works for you.

The point is, whatever feels right for you is YOUR Process.  It could be one element, like, “take a deep breath and go”, or it could be “see my focal point and attack”.  Regardless, your Process is simply about controlling the 1, 2, 3 or 4 keys to executing your best pitch possible.  Once you know this, it is very empowering because you realize that pitching now comes down to being GREAT at what you can control, your Process, as opposed to trying to control countless, changing variables that may arise simply because you are in a game situation.

Alan Jaeger has consulted with several high school/college programs including UCLA, Arizona and Cal State Fullerton, and MLB Organizations including the Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels and Cleveland Indians.  For more information about Jaeger Sports and their products (“Thrive On Throwing 2” DVD or Digital Download, J-Bands and Mental Training Book, “Getting Focused, Staying Focused”), please visit their website at www.jaegersports.com or call 310-665-0746.  You may also download additional articles/videos at http://www.jaegersports.com/press_articles.php/, and Youtube, keyword jaeger sports.  Twitter: @jaegersports

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