How a Pitcher Can Create Deception
As a follow up to the pitch grip post I wanted to touch on the subject of deception and how a pitcher can maximize his effectiveness. Hitting is all about timing and a pitcher can disrupt a hitter’s timing by changing speeds and locations. Deception comes in to play when a pitcher restricts the hitter’s ability to recognize these changes.
As mentioned in the previous post about pitch grips it is very important that a pitcher throws every pitch as hard as he can. I want all of my pitchers to throw every pitch as if it were a fastball and allow the grip to do all of the work. By maintaining the same body language and tempo through delivery, we eliminate the hitter’s first chance to recognize a change in velocity and location.
Release Point and Trajectory
Another key to creating deception as a pitcher is matching the same release point and trajectory of every pitch he throws. A pitcher can maximize the effectiveness of his pitches by maintaining identical release points and initial trajectory of every pitch he throws. By allowing the grip to do the work, the pitcher only needs to focus on starting every pitch on the same trajectory of his fastball. It is much easier to control where an off-speed pitch starts than control where it ends. If every pitch looks like a fastball until the last 20 feet it travels the pitcher has almost eliminated any chance the hitter had of detecting a change in speed and location.
Once a pitcher establishes the same trajectory for all of his pitches he can work on manipulating location. I tell all of my pitchers that we never want to start pitches higher or lower to manipulate location. Starting a pitch higher can be disastrous if the pitch “hangs”. Instead, I tell my pitchers to visualize throwing the ball farther or shorter to control the break. This may seem simple and really it is. Many pitchers can become comfortable with this approach in just a few pitches. To understand this approach, imagine playing a game of catch. As your partner moves back you can still hit him in the chest without having to measure the new distance. By just allowing your eyes to gather information your brain makes all the physical adjustments necessary. We can use this same technique while pitching if we just imagine throwing the ball slightly farther or shorter.
Maximizing Pitch Effectiveness
The biggest factor in a pitcher having success is the effectiveness of his pitches. We can maximize effectiveness by creating as much deception as possible. Even if a pitcher has the nastiest breaking ball or the hardest fastball; a good hitting team will find a way to beat him if there is no deception to any of his pitches.