Why You Shouldn’t Focus On Pitching Mechanics During The Season!

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Have you read this article on Trevor Bauer?

It’s typical of today’s culture in baseball.

In today’s coaching society, there’s a mechanical tag for every mistake or mis-located pitch.

Struggling with command?  Change your mechanics.

Struggling with your breaking ball?  It’s because of your mechanics.

Oh, so you’re missing outside, send me a video and let me see what you’re doing wrong with your mechanics.

Get my point?

Keep reading and we will discuss what Trevor Bauer’s doing in Spring Training and why I wouldn’t recommend you doing it.

Let’s start with the basics and keep the process as elementary as possible.

Trevor mentioned trying to overwrite neuromuscular programming in 4 or 5 weeks is difficult to do.  I would agree.  What he’s referring to is altering his pitching mechanics.

Pitching mechanics is the cultural buzz word for the complex movement patterns required to throw a baseball.

These patterns form over the years and become deeply ingrained into the Central Nervous System.  The process starts as a young boy and after a certain age, they are virtually impossible to change.

Let’s use an analogy everyone is familiar with, speech patterns.

How many of you guys have seen Swamp People, “Choot em”.  The star of the program, Troy, has speech patterns that require sub titles and are native to South Louisiana.

Speech patterns are very similar to movement patterns being they form at a very young age and are deeply ingrained.  They are a product of our environment, intent and hundreds of other influences.

Pay attention to Troy’s accent in the heat of battle, he’s competing against a ferocious opponent in hopes of locating a kill shot, the size of a dime.  (Sound familiar pitchers?)

Let’s have a little fun with this:

Our boy from the swamp, Troy, decides he wants to expand his business and begins offering tours on his boat.  For some reason or another, people from Boston are flocking down in droves to take the tour.

In order to prepare, he hires a private coach to help him remove the captions from the bottom of the screen, he wants to speak more clearly in hopes of the passengers being able to understand him.

Since, the first few tours are filled with passengers from the Northeast, his coach decides to model the accent in the shape of a native Bostonian.

While preparing, ole Troy he begins to hear noticeable changes in his accent while practicing it alone.  He spends hours watching “Good Will Hunting”, and even finds a copy of Rosetta Stone, tailored and customized to the native Bostonian accent.   He practices it daily, because he knows he only has a few weeks until the speaking campaign starts.    He’s confident he’s made the switch and is ready to test it.

The first day, passengers line the boat and he gives the new accent his best shot.  Right away, Troy notices that it’s more difficult because he’s no longer speaking to himself.  His brain is being asked to pull double duty. One part of his brain is conscious of his change in accent, while the other side is responsible for the content of his speech.  He understands that the people on the boat want:

  • To see him hook a monster, but
  • They also are interested in hearing his life experiences on the swamp.

He continues to battle through, slowly and methodically, still aware of the customized accent.

What do you think happens to the Boston accent once a 1200 pound alligator jumps out of the water?

You guessed it, it’s right back to “Choot em.”

Why?  Because the decision or accent is longer a conscious choice, it’s involuntary. His CNS is being challenged, it’s “fight or flight” time and his brain responds to the situation based on how it’s been hardwired throughout years of experience.

The same can be said for trying to change pitching mechanics during the season or while competing.  Your goal as a pitcher is to get results, it’s a results driven process.  As a pitcher you have multiple constraints that you encounter every time you step on the mound:

  • Umpire’s strike zone
  • Weather
  • Competition
  • Trying to control the running game
  • Locating pitches and changing speeds
  • Etc,etc, etc……..

As you begin to age and the level of competition progresses, the degree of constraints increases while your ability to change movement patterns decreases.  You’re fighting a losing battle!

However, most pitchers and pitching coaches fail to realize this.  They think it’s still possible to catch the alligator while speaking with a Boston accent, even at Troy’s age.

It’s not going to happen!  During a competitive training cycle, it’s not about pitching mechanics.

In fact, while you’re pitching and competing, pitching mechanics cannot be a conscious thought.

If you’re hoping to make in-game adjustments with command and speed changes, and it hinges on changing your mechanics, good luck with that.  The more constraints present equates to less ability to attain motor precision.

In closing, we could all learn from the good people at The Center For Hearing & Speech:

 The speech patterns of a native language are deeply ingrained and resistant to change. In addition, English as a Second Language (ESL) programs typically focus more on improving vocabulary and grammar rather than pronunciation skills.

Instead of “hoping” to change your mechanics, focus more on the finer points of the game and the necessary requirements, like changing speeds, locating and finding a way to get hitters out.

What’s your thoughts?  Join us over at google+ to join the discussion!

Make sure you get my FREE Pitching Mechanics 101: ebook!  You don’t want to miss this!

 

Lantz Wheeler
Lantz coached college baseball for 8 years. He served as the pitching coach for St. Catharine College, Lipscomb University & the University Of Louisiana Monroe. He currently trains over 20 professional pitchers and 7 of his current players are pitching in MLB. He also consults with numerous NCAA D1 programs and 43 college teams use his Pitching Mechanics MasterMind System.
About the Author
Lantz Wheeler

Lantz coached college baseball for 8 years. He served as the pitching coach for St. Catharine College, Lipscomb University & the University Of Louisiana Monroe. He currently trains over 20 professional pitchers and 7 of his current players are pitching in MLB. He also consults with numerous NCAA D1 programs and 43 college teams use his Pitching Mechanics MasterMind System.

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{ 5 comments… add one }

  • Troy P March 25, 2013, 11:00 pm

    Lantz,

    I’m a speech pathologist and the analogy is spot-on! I love how you were able to intertwine the two in a way that makes perfect sense and is so easy to understand. It takes some talent do that :) Keep up the good work, I know everyone in our LL is familiar with Baseball Think Tank.

    Your ahead of the curve, keep it going!
    Troy

    Reply
  • Lantz March 25, 2013, 11:10 pm

    Troy,

    Appreciate the kind words and glad your team is getting some good use out of the site. Let me know if there is anything you would like to see covered and again, I appreciate the support and thanks for commenting.

    Lantz

    Reply
  • Zita Carno March 28, 2013, 3:37 am

    Good evening, Lantz.
    A lot of the blame must be placed on those pitching coaches who are so focused on the minutiae of mechanics that they fail to consider other aspects of pitching…things like repertoire, setting up the hitters, the mental and psychological aspects of the bump. My pitching coach of many moons ago never had to tell me much about mechanics, just suggested a couple of things here and there I could do, and it was always during a workout when we would zero in on something. What he really focused on with me was things like strategic pitching in its various ramifications; he would tell me stories from his own experience to illustrate points, or he would show me a different grip or a new pitch. The time to focus on things mechanical is NOT during the heat of a season! Thanks for bringing up the subject and setting things straight.
    Zita

    Reply
  • Lee Trotman October 6, 2013, 9:42 am

    Thanks for finally talking about >Trevor Bauer Mechanics Change <Loved it!

    Reply
    • Lantz November 4, 2013, 1:42 am

      Lee,

      Glad you enjoyed it man.

      Lantz

      Reply

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