We have all seen a pitcher cruising along, mowing down the other team, and then POOF!!! It’s gone!!!
How did that happen?
Did his mechanics change? Did he suddenly forget how to pitch? Is it a fatigue issue?
Generally speaking…no, none of these are the answer. I will argue (a little later in the post) that his mechanics have changed…although not to the naked eye.
What this pitcher is experiencing is a rapid, onslaught of a breakdown in his mental game. It all started with 4 balls in a row and a 4-pitch walk. Then his confidence began to give a little and he started to question his ability. And although his coach and parents began to encourage him by yelling, “You can do it,” and “Believe in yourself,” and “Find a groove,” and my ALL-TIME FAVORITE…”Just throw strikes.” (Like he’s throwing ball on purpose.)
I had a client that we will call Ryan, contact me for a free consultation. Not only had this same scenario happened to Ryan…it had happened in 4 games in a row and always at the start of the 4th inning.
My first question was about physical conditioning and fatigue. Ryan and his dad assured me he had been properly rested and had only thrown between 40-52 pitches in the first 3 innings of each of these games. His dad (and his coach) had said he was physically conditioned to throw 90-100 pitches per game and had done so in practice games.
I knew then the interference was mental. Ryan had stated after a couple of outings where he lost his command and his velocity at the start of the 4th inning, he quickly developed a, “Here we go again mindset.” We started Ryan on our 4-Session R.A.C.E. Formula. We set Ryan up with some mental practice techniques to work on his mental game.
Ryan was NOT experiencing a lack of confidence. What Ryan was experiencing was FEAR!! More specifically, fear of failure. He knew if he continued down this path he was either going to removed from the starting rotation and become a reliever since he was only good for 4 innings, or if he remained a starter his coach was going to have a reliever ready with a quick hook on him at the start of his 4th inning.
So as the fear increased near the start of the 4th inning, his mind was affecting how his body worked. Remember earlier, I said I would argue that his mechanics did in fact change. They changed not because of a conscious change made by him to his delivery, but because the fear was interfering with his natural abilities and potential. Stress was altering his mechanics.
After working with Ryan through the R.A.C.E. formula, I am glad to report his pitching much deeper into games…keeping his command and his velocity. I still meet with Ryan occasionally to follow up and keep him on the path to reaching his potential.
Contact me today and let’s complete our free initial consultation and see how we can help YOU reach your potential. Call me toll free at 855-566-4867.