Monday, December 11th, 2017

Pitchers – warm up in the same direction

June 12, 2017 by  
Filed under Pitching

Warm up in the same direction!

As a pitcher, I don’t think I warmed up in a real bullpen until I got to high school.  And even then I think only one or two fields had them.  Most of the time a catcher and I would find an area in the outfield, walk off about 60 feet, and start throwing.  No mound, no pitching rubber, and no home plate.  A lot of pitchers find themselves in a similar situation today.  

I’ve written some popular posts about the importance of developing your own personal pre-game pitching routine.  Some involve the importance of having one and others get more specific on what to do to get ready to pitch.  If you haven’t seen them, I recommend you check them out.  I linked to some of them below.

Another small tip that pitchers often overlook when having to warm-up without a bullpen area is throwing in the same direction as you will in the game.  The photo I included with this post shows an example.  Whether you have to warm-up down the right field or left field area, throw in the same direction you will have to throw when the game starts.  This helps in a few ways.

  1. It obviously mimics the angle so it is not as big of an adjustment when you step on the mound.  The closer you match the in-game pitching environment in warm-ups, the better prepared you can be to pitch.  This can help on the mental side of things.  Having success and confidence in a particular environment will get you to feel more confident and successful when you put yourself back into that similar environment.  The human brain tends to not like change.
  2. On the physical side, the pitcher gets a chance to warm-up in the same wind and sun direction.  If the first taste of pitching into a howling wind is when you step on the mound in a game, you may be in trouble.  Warming-up in the same directions gives you the ability to make physical adjustments prior to entering the game.  For older pitchers, keep in mind that different pitches react differently to wind.  A curveball thrown with your back to the wind typically does not have as much of a break as opposed to when the wind is in your face.  Other pitches may be impacted as well.  Figure all that out in warm-ups and adjust accordingly before you step onto the mound.
  3. If your catcher is warming you up, he gets the ability to prepare for game-time realities as well like wind/sun direction, throwing background, and how your pitches are reacting.  More information = better physical and mental preparation for him too.

If you have access to a good bullpen, the advantages of throwing off a real mound with a pitching rubber, a home plate, and an exact distance typically outweighs the need to throw in the same direction so don’t feel you must ignore the bullpen and just throw in the outfield.  However, if you throw in a bullpen, just be aware of what possible changes you may face when you step onto the mound.  Thinking ahead for possible challenges is part of the warming-up process as well.

Previous posts on the topic:

Pre-game pitching routine (Part 1)

Pre-game pitching routine (Part 2)

The power of a routine

Different pitchers = different bullpens


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