A Pitching Drill That Requires Focus and Intensity
We're huge fans of drills which truly prepare our players for the games, and this one does that. There is far too much time wasted on the field, at the plate, and in the bullpen by players who are just going though the motions. A baseball game includes more than just the physical skills of baseball. It has pressure, anxiety, stress, anger, happiness, competition...you get the idea. So if games include these things, then it stands to reason that our practices should too.
Pitch The Count Drill
Something we do in the bullpen with our pitchers is called pitch the count. This can be done in the bullpen or in the cages, and is best suited for a pitcher/catcher combination although a target can take the place of the catcher if need be.
- Pitcher starts bullpen by throwing 3 of each pitch that he has.
- Next we go right into a count. Announce the count and let the pitcher choose what he's going to throw, and throw it.
- Talk to the pitcher about what and why he threw what he did. If you put the pitcher in favorable counts and he throws fastballs, talk to him about secondary pitches and when to use them.
- Continue putting the pitcher directly into counts and force him to execute. If he's having a hard time, you may give him 2 chances to execute that count. We want to make every pitch meaningful, and we want to apply the pressure of having to execute the pitch.
- After about a dozen pitches where you have put the pitcher directly into a count, let him pitch to a couple "batters" to work his own count and situation through visualization.
Pitchers sometimes will get lazy with their first pitch or two because they know they have 4 balls to work with. The same thing can happen with 0-2 or 1-2 counts where the pitcher thinks he is "way ahead". This pitching drill helps to fix that because the pitcher is forced to execute each and every pitch. For example, the coach may make the count 2-2 or even 3-2 for a few pitches. This adds to the pressure of the pitch, and teaches the pitcher that every pitch is valuable.
This pitching drill is great for talking to your pitcher about what he's doing on the mound, and if you have the game catcher involved as well, this is a fantastic drill for chemistry building between he and the pitcher. Don't hurry this drill, take your time and let the pitcher really contemplate what he wants to throw and then focus on executing that pitch. An 0-0 count should require as much thought as a 1-2 count, so make sure that focus is being applied and the pitcher is learning how to execute in every count he'll face.
This is a great drill to really maximize what you're getting done in the bullpen. After awhile the pitcher and catcher will begin to make decisions quickly and will develop a great chemistry that will translate well to the games.