Developing Your Pitcher's Practice Plan
Bill Mooney Owner and lead instructor at the BioForce Baseball Academy in Beaverton, Oregon, Bill Mooney has authored and developed several books and DVDs on pitching. Here’s what a former major league pitcher and pitching coach has to say about Bill Mooney and BioForce Baseball: “As a former major league pitcher, pitching coach and coordinator of pitching, I am always searching for information and instruction that can help me improve. Most would guess that the best, most informative teachings come out of the professional game, but it has been my experience that the instructors who have dealt with hundreds of kids from all ages really have seen what works and doesn’t work. Such is the case for Bill Mooney and BioForce Baseball Academy. Having watched him interact and teach what we know today to be right, I would not hesitate to allow him to work with our pitchers. To place that trust in someone is the highest compliment I can pay to a fellow pitching coach. Without question, Bill Mooney is an outstanding coach and one worth learning from and training with.” - Brent Strom (Click to close.)
In another article on WebBall, Bill Mooney talks about how to become more consistent with your pitching delivery, and outlines an approach for you to build a better and more consistent delivery. But the first step, always, is to train with a purpose...
Where do I start?
Let’s start with the elements of a great practice plan. Yes a plan….I know, you are probably thinking that I just want to go to the park and play some catch, throw the ball around a little. That’s all well and good and can be fun. You should do that occasionally. I’m all for fun. But at some point, you need to work on getting better, that’s where the plan comes in.
First off, what is your warm up routine? Tug on your arm a few times, do three arm circles and then start throwing the ball? Not a great idea for the serious pitcher. Instead...
1 Start by getting the blood flowing a little.
A quick jog, a stationary bike, treadmill, riding your bike to the park…are a few ideas. Get your body moving, breathing faster and work up a little sweat.
2 Work on waking up your balance ability.
How? Here’s one idea. Some short one-hop, one-leg drills is a great place to start. Start by balancing on one leg and then take a short hop forward and stick the landing. Try not to bunny hop when you land. Go as far as you can and still be able to stick the landing. Do that 10 to 15 times and then switch feet. Try it forward, backward, and sideways.
3 Work on your flexibility and range of motion.
Some people do a short band routine, but you can effectively use your own body weight with a few exercises to get the shoulders going, the legs, and of course the core. (More on all this in future articles.)
After you’ve properly warmed up to throw, and not thrown to warm up, you can begin your warm up tosses. I suggest getting to know how many throws it takes you to feel totally warmed up and feeling loose. Ask yourself and write down how far you typically throw, at what effort? At the very least, how long does it take you to getting completely loose?
Now That I’m Completely Warm, Now What?
You should know what you are planning on working on today. And throwing a bullpen is not a great answer in my book.
What’s your purpose? Are you working on building endurance today? How about improving your timing? Working on a consistent tempo. Developing more consistency with your off-speed pitches? Improving arm speed and velocity is another great focus. And of course, working on your control specifically is a great focus. The pitchers we train focus on all of these at different times.
The types of situations you should practice... Tough Ones!
There are also times we work on situational pitching as well. Working on situations and how to get hitters out can be a fun and productive. How would you pitch a left-handed hitter with a runner on third, bottom of the ninth, and one out? Oh yeah, the game is tied and your opponent is home team? Tough situation. Don’t want a slow grounder to the right side of the infield huh? Not a deep fly ball. You need a grounder to the left side, a strike out maybe? Can you execute these pitches? Just food for thought. Those are the types of situations you should practice. Tough ones. Then when you get into the game and face it, you should know what you need to do....it’s another thing to be able to execute. But for the sake of improving your consistency, I would focus on each of the disciplines I’ve mentioned separately during the course of at least three weeks and then repeat them…and repeat them.
Now that doesn’t mean you need to get up on the mound and throw bullpens several days a week. You can take any one of these disciplines and work on them with the drills you may use during your training. We have a whole slew of drills, or teaches that help the pitcher develop a feel for a certain movement. The thing to remember about drills, don’t get too hung up on the drill or program itself. The drill is only a drill or a teach. It may help you, and it may not help you. Focus on your throwing principles, or fundamentals as some people call it.
If You Want To Get Better At Something Measure Your Results
The last thing in your plan for building consistency is to track your progress. It’s the best way to know if you are getting better. How many pitches or drills did I do today? What was my ball-to-strike ratio with all my drills? How was my velocity on the drills (if you have a way to track it)? Not the most fun thing to do, but it can be if you are showing progress. Next time, let’s talk more about what part your body plays into the whole consistency equation. Those weaknesses with get you every time. Train like a champion today!
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