Sunday, March 14, 2010

Go Ahead, See if You Can Hit It!

"I became a good pitcher when I stopped trying to make them miss the ball and started trying to make them hit it," - Sandy Koufax, Hall of Fame pitcher from the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers

   This week, as we started baseball practice at Toms River High School South, I made sure to take some time to go over some important ideas and concepts with our pitchers. At practice as they began throwing bullpen sessions and preparing for our upcoming preseason schedule, we took some time handle the mental side of the pitching. I typed-up a handout with about a dozen quotes about pitching and made sure to put this one on the end, in bold, like and exclamation point.

  Even though we had our first three scrimmages rained out, it gave us some time to focus on these important concepts.  I made sure to a few moments to read to them the quote above from Brooklyn bred Sandy Koufax - one of the greatest pitchers in the history of the game. 

The gist is - challenge the hitter! Throw them your best and see if they can handle it.  Don't worry about trying to dance around their talents, make them worry about your talent. 

Then end result of this idea should be every single pitcher's goal - strike one.  The sooner you get there as a pitcher, the sooner that batter is on the bench worrying about his next at bat against you.

 I happened to catch a minute or two of the Mets preseason broadcast of game from March 13th feature left-hander Oliver Perez who threw four no-hit innings. He was the lucky recipient of some personal coaching by Koufax who is connected to the Mets through owner Fred Wilpon who was Sandy's high school teammate in Brooklyn at Lafayette HS. The broadcasters let us in on the coaching and the proverbial "secret-sauce" - as many have tried to help Perez who has been struggling the past few seasons. Sandy said, you know what, just relax and throw the ball. 

And I'd bet he told Perez to make the hitters try to hit it.

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