Friday, December 15th, 2017

Pacing your energy

July 25, 2012 by  
Filed under Pitching

In the past, I’ve written other posts about the importance of getting to the starting pitcher as early as possible.  I stated that

Greg Maddux. The master of calm, cool, and effective.

pitchers are often at their most vulnerable in the first inning.  One reason for this is the fact that the adrenaline at the start of the competition can cause a pitcher to be too hyped up to pitch effectively.  Of course, position players experience this too.

I learned this first hand a number of years ago when I was converted into a pitcher and had my first two starts on the mound in Single A ball.  I guess you could say I actually learned it the “easy” way since I figured it out before getting knocked around.  My first two innings of both games were pretty erratic and inconsistent.  After blowing out that initial adrenaline, I calmed down and began to pitch instead of just throw by about the third inning of both games.  Luckily, I won both games but I didn’t get past the sixth inning mainly because of the amount of pitches I threw in the first two.  The third start was different.  I remember thinking to myself prior to the start, “Why can’t I just start the game like it’s the third inning?  Be calm, throw strikes, and pace your energy more instead of jumping out like a sprinter and getting tired early.”  The result?  Probably one of the top five starts I ever had.

It was a valuable lesson for me and one that I try to pass on to pitchers today.  Starting pitchers must be at full strength from the first pitch of the game but that doesn’t mean you are a raging lunatic either.  Some pitchers think that getting really hyped up is needed to get ready to pitch.  This “football mentality” on the mound is easy to spot and also easy to beat.  A starter has to learn to pace their energy otherwise the bullpen will be needed too early.

If a young pitcher is having difficulty calming down like I explained above and ends up losing games in the process, one tip is to throw more pitches in the bullpen.  Lengthening their bullpen routine can get some of that extra adrenaline out and may help them calm down quicker.  Of course, the more pitches thrown in the bullpen often means less are saved for the game.  Eventually the goal for every pitcher is to be very efficient in the bullpen AND be at their best from the first pitch.

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