MISTAKES PITCHERS MAKE BEFORE THE FIRST PITCH
Below are some common things I see pitchers do (or not do) while getting prepared that can have a direct negative effect on their in-game performance. Take this information and alter how you get ready to pitch!
#1: Not properly warming up
Remember this: we warm up to throw, not throw to warm up. Too many pitchers don't properly prepare themselves to throw a baseball. Especially in a cool Spring climate like Oregon, it is imperative that you get the blood flowing, break a sweat, and get your body loose and ready to throw. Get a good dynamic warm-up and from there you can break into your pre-bullpen throwing. A dynamic warm-up is one where you progressively move your body to get loose. Gone are the days of running to the outfield fence and circling up to stretch!
#2: Throwing too much
If you are properly warmed up before you play catch, you should only need to play catch until your arm feels good and loose while your mechanics are in-line. There's no need to use all your bullets before you even step on a mound. Some pitchers like to extend things and throw a little farther to get loose, if that's something you feel comfortable doing then continue doing it, but remember to save your best for the game.
Same thing on the mound. I hate seeing guys throw 35+ pitches before even entering a game. If you're warmed up and your arm is loose from playing catch, then in the bullpen you should merely be getting a feel for your pitches and locating from both the wind-up and the stretch. Find a routine that works for you, but I don't see any reason to throw more than 20-25 pitches in your bullpen (relievers like Mariano Rivera often throw as few as 10 pitches to get ready). Don't leave it all in the pen, you need to be at your best IN THE GAME.
#3: Not focusing
Once you're in the game, your focus should be entirely on the task at hand. Visualize each pitch before you make it. Understand the situation you will be entering. Prepare yourself mentally for what you will be facing. Even losing focus on one pitch can be the difference in a game. I know I have been there where I look back on a bad pitch I make and realize I could have better prepared mentally to make it! It's a terrible feeling! Focus pitch to pitch and don't let it happen to you. The more you practice this, the easier it becomes!
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