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Learning To Pitch With Pizazz

Jan 3, 2008
Although baseball is a team game - and complete cooperation from every player is necessary for victory - coaches, players and spectators agree that the most important factor in the success of a team is the pitcher.

Many major-league managers have attempted to evaluate just how much pitching means to a team. Their estimates generally run from 70 to 85 per cent. It is not important to accurately gauge the precise percentage of pitching to the success of a team; it is more important for a team to have good pitching.

Pitchers come in all sizes and shapes. The perfect physical qualifications for a pitcher are height and weight in equal proportion. Coaches like their pitchers to be about six feet tall and weigh approximately one hundred and seventy-five to two hundred pounds. These physical attributes are desirous, not necessary, and there are school pitchers with excellent records who fail to measure up to either of these physical qualifications.

Coaches also like pitchers who can "hum that ball"; that is, the pitcher who throws the ball fast and hard. Yet there are many pitchers of school age who can fool the batters without an overpowering fast ball. Good control, and the ability to get the ball over any part of the plate, will sometimes make up for the lack of a good fast ball.

The pitcher who possesses determination and has the temperament and disposition to overlook fielding lapses by his teammates, has won half the battle toward success. Too many young pitchers with excellent promise for the future never develop because they lack an "attitude," the ability to absorb the intangible factors so common in every game.

The pitcher who never learns to accept fielding and mental errors as part of the game will not advance too far. He may be the perfect physical specimen as regards height and weight but his own mental attitude may be tougher to conquer than a lineup of the most powerful hitters on any team.

A pitcher must remember that his teammates want to win as badly as he does. He must try to ignore a fumbled grounder, a muffed fly, a wild throw. Errors are part of the game and he must bear in mind that all players make mistakes, just as businessmen, or even members of his own family at home.

The Grip. - There is a definite art involved in gripping and throwing the ball. The ball must be held in the proper position if the pitcher expects to throw it with any accuracy and skill. The index and middle fingers must be on top of the ball, placed across the seams, and the thumb should be on the bottom of the ball. This is the throwing grip for just about every type of pitch.

Many pitchers have made the major leagues without that "good fast ball" and without measuring up to the desired physical standards. Control, intelligence and courage are also most important attributes.

Proper Position. - Before delivering the ball to the batter the pitcher must assume the proper position on the mound, the position he takes without any runner, or runners, on base.

This right-handed pitcher is in proper position to deliver the ball to the plate. The heel of his right foot, the pivot foot, is in contact with the pitching rubber or plate, and his left, or free, foot is to the rear of the pitcher's rubber. Reverse the position of the feet for a left-handed pitcher.

The pitcher should be is relaxed, his eyes straight ahead. He is should look over the batter and wait for the catcher to give him his signal. The pitching arm can be held at the side or behind the back. As long as the pitcher feels comfortable, it makes little difference just where he places his free arm.

Once the pitcher receives the signal from the catcher and nods in agreement, he is ready to start the first phase of his delivery.

Master the grip and proper position, and you will be on your way to becoming a great pitcher.
About the Author
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