A Simple Mental Drill for Pitchers

A few years ago, while working with a group of pitchers, I realized that we had too many kids standing around doing nothing…well, except talking. This gave me an idea for a drill.

We all know that pitchers (especially young kids) can get rattled pretty easily from noises in the crowd, those annoying little kids that clap, dugout chants, etc. – so I decided that I wanted those kids that were talking to play a role in each other’s mental development. It’s extremely simple:

Make noise. Clap, yell, say funny things, whatever they want. Just do not touch the pitcher or get too close to him (or her for those that have female pitchers).

Here’s the way I like to do this:

  • Explain the goal of the drill up front. The pitcher needs to focus on the location of the target, nothing else. Don’t look or listen to anyone. FOCUS. No laughing, no frustration, no talking, no looking.
  • Make a game of it. While we don’t do this too often we will be doing it soon. Try something like 1 point for hitting the target, -1 when the pitcher laughs, shows frustration from the noise, etc.
  • Kids will clap, yell, sing, tell jokes, etc. or all of the above. I will sometimes even have kids stand to the side and do things to force the pitcher to focus visually as well.
  • Be sure to have some pitches with absolute quiet. You’d be surprised how kids will get thrown off when they’re used to hearing noises and suddenly they’re wondering why it’s quiet.

The point of this drill is to get pitchers used to dealing with auditory and visual issues they’ll deal with in a game. Do this drill for at least a short amount of time during bullpen’s each week.