Do you practice your purpose pitches?
Ever notice how many young pitchers have no idea how to throw a pitchout? If you want to see something funny (or sad depending on your perspective), have your pitchers do a drill where every pitch is a pitchout to the catcher. Then sit back and watch the absurdity. You’ll be amazed how many pitchers cannot do it.
I think the biggest reason for this is that nobody actually practices pitchouts and other types of purpose pitches. Pitchers typically just focus on getting the ball over the plate. They don’t always do it but their mindset is always to throw a strike. Of course, purpose pitches are often NOT strikes. And that’s the way it should be.
In my view, purpose pitches includes the following:
- pitchouts (both left and right side)
- any off-speed or breaking pitch that starts in the strike zone and then breaks out of it
- a hard fastball up and in that moves the batter’s eyes and/or body back off the plate (Note: you are absolutely NOT trying to hit the batter on this pitch!)
- a hard fastball just above the strike zone
AND PLEASE DO NOT CALL THESE “WASTE” PITCHES! Actually, call them what you want. That’s just a pet-peeve of mine. I’ll talk about why in a future post.
I think we can all agree that the pitches listed above are extremely valuable and effective for every pitcher to master. That being said, how many off-season pitches are geared towards improving these? Usually a big fat zero.
This off-season, be sure to spend some time developing purpose pitches. As the saying goes … “If they are expected to do something in a game, they better be doing it in practice.”