How to Grow Your Confidence as a Pitcher
The job of a pitcher is demanding. You engage your entire body to throw a ball to reach home plate in less than a second. You play intending to get strikeouts, and you try to stay in the game as long as possible to help out your team. But the physical aspects of pitching aren’t the only things that are demanding about the position. When you are standing on the mound, staring down the top batter from the opposing team, your mentality impacts the result of your pitch. Baseball is as much a mental game as it is a physical one, especially for pitchers.
Having a strong pitching mentality comes from confidence. Just like how you can’t add two mph to your average fastball overnight, building your confidence also takes effort and time. You gain confidence with practice. Pitchers practice their throwing velocity, arm mechanics, and pitch accuracy, and they also must train themselves to have confidence in those abilities when they step on the mound in a game.
There is no quick and simple answer for improving your pitching mentality, but this blog will give you several tips to employ in your everyday baseball life. Understand that developing your confidence is a process that takes time. Moreover, your confidence may not grow at the same pace as your physical skills. Your mental state in and out of baseball is a journey.
Ryan Weiss, a starting pitcher in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization, shared his personal tips for pitching confidence on his TikTok.
Weiss’ main tips for pitching confidence:
- Confidence comes from within.
- Trust your training.
- Believe that you deserve to be there.
- Find what motivates you.
These are great reminders to keep in the back of your brain, and now, we are going to dive deeper into some tactics to use to build and maintain strong confidence as a pitcher. We will first cover ways to ground yourself on the mound. Then we will discuss the importance of positivity in your mentality. We will also touch on several tricks that can help you when feeling confident feels nearly impossible.
Find Ways to Ground Yourself on the Mound
As a pitcher, whether you like it or not, the spotlight is on you. Then when you add on the pressure of wanting to get a strikeout, standing atop the mound can be intimidating, to say the least. But you need to feel in control of not only the pitcher's mound but also home plate and the entire field. Even when all the bases are loaded and the batter is 3-2, you need to maintain your command of the field. You can do that by staying calm, relaxed, and focused. You might start to panic, and you might get in your head, but we have some tips to help ground yourself when your spirit wavers.
The best ways to ground yourself on the mound:
- Visualize a successful outcome.
- Imagine the batter isn’t there.
- Use positive self-talk.
- Focus on a positive mantra.
- Take deep breaths.
Mental imagery is a tactic many pitchers use to build their confidence. Try visualizing a successful outcome before you even pitch, or imagine that the batter isn’t there and you’re just throwing to your catcher. If you tend to fixate on who the batter is up at the plate, mental imagery is a method that could work well for you.
When you’re talking to yourself while on the mound and about to pitch, monitor your thoughts and consciously make each one positive. Your self-talk should be self-assured. If it helps, you could focus on one single mantra you repeat over and over. Whether your talk is inner dialogue or actually verbal, it should all be confident and upbeat.
There is power in manifesting the outcome. When you put out positive energy and positive words into the world, the result will reflect that.
Of course, a tried and true grounding technique is taking deep breaths. Concentrate on the air flowing in and out of your lungs, and block out everything but the mitt of your catcher.
These pre-pitch routines are meant to help you focus and maintain a cool and collected mentality. Even the most composed pitcher feels pressure, but it’s not about avoiding the pressure but rather working with it. You must practice how you can stay calm and confident when the pressure is on.
Using pre-pitch grounding techniques does not ensure a perfect pitch with every throw. It’s about maintaining a fearless mindset even after a batter gets a double off of your pitch. Pitching is not about perfection. Odds are, you’ve probably heard the phrase, “get comfortable being uncomfortable,” from a coach or two over the years. Having confidence in yourself as a pitcher doesn’t mean being perfect. It means being able to fight through all of the uncomfortable feelings that come with playing the game.
Focus on the Positive, Brush Off the Negative
It’s so important to stay positive on the mound because a bad play can get you down without you even noticing. Focusing on the positive and brushing off the negative is easier said than done, but you can practice it like you practice anything else. As a pitcher, you can’t let one bad play stay with you when your team still needs your best.
Manifesting your performance with your energy is a major part of pitching. The energy that you put out into the world will reflect what you get back. If you let a bad play mess with your head, you’re more likely to let more bad plays happen. Conversely, if you keep a level head and think optimistically about the next plays, you have more control over the outcome of your pitches.
So, how do you focus on the positive? When you’re already in a good mood, it’s easier to stay positive. Maintaining good physical health helps you be in a good mood. That means fueling your body with proper nutrients, getting plenty of sleep, and sticking to your training schedule. You’re more likely to be in a lousy mood when your body feels lousy.
Brushing off the bad doesn’t apply only to game time. Even in practice or when you get negative feedback, train yourself not to dwell. Just get to work.
Ultimately, positivity is crucial when you’re a pitcher because consistent positivity transforms into confidence. And confidence is what’s going to push you to succeed.
Tactics to Help Build Confidence
Now that you’ve learned ways to ground yourself on the field and why positivity is essential, let’s review several tactics to help build confidence in the long run.
Tactics you can use to grow your pitching confidence:
- Find small successes to celebrate.
- Fake it ‘til you make it.
- Turn “hope” into “know.”
Balls and strikes aren’t the only measures of success in baseball, even if they may seem like it. No matter how old you get or the level you reach, there will always be something you can work on. You need to find small successes to celebrate. What may seem like the smallest positive change in your performance is still a success! Remember to reward yourself for the small successes. Keep a ball from a good outing. Spend time doing something else you enjoy. Eat your favorite food! These rewards help condition yourself to be positive and keep working hard.
Another method is faking it ‘til you make it. Faking confidence can trick your mind into being genuinely confident in the future. Act like you’re confident. Pick a player that seems to have it all together and copy their body language. Your brain will be tricked into legitimately feeling that confidence.
Similarly, turning “hope” into “know” is another way to train your brain to be more self-assured. You may start out hoping you will throw a strike. With training and gaining confidence in your skills, you will instead feel that you know you will throw a strike. Standing on the mound, you will no longer merely hope that your pitch will be successful. You know it will be. That confidence in your skills comes from diligent practice and believing in your mechanics.
Conclusion: Trust Your Training
Confidence is about mentality, but your physical preparation will help your confidence feel more legitimate. Mental preparation goes hand-in-hand with the physical portion. Working up your arm strength and honing your throwing mechanics will give you the ability to trust your skills.
If this article only provides you one takeaway, it should be this: never stop trying to build your confidence. You grow confidence over time, and it’s not linear; it ebbs and flows. Just like how you constantly practice your pitching skills, you train yourself to be confident. There isn’t a finish line for confidence. You carry it with you on and off the field.