Perception and Performance
I have talked with many pitchers over the years who admit they always try to be perfect on the mound. By that, I mean they want every pitch to be located with precision, every play to be made behind them, every call to go for them. That’s a wonderful fantasy to have but the reality is, in the history of Major League Baseball, which has been around 140 years and 200,000 games played, there have only been 23 pitchers who have ever been “perfect”; no runs, no walks, no hits, no errors. TWENTY- THREE!!
So, it’s fair to say, a pitcher no matter, starter or reliever, will face some sort of challenge during the game. These challenges should be expected and could come in the form of a hit, a walk, an error, a bad call and who knows, all of these could happen in the same inning. Without doubt, they will happen. The perception of these situations is the key to overcoming them.
As a young pitcher, I became anxious pitching with men in scoring position. I viewed these situations as threats and my body responded accordingly. I would get anxious, tense, and fearful of giving up a run. I needed to find a better way, mentally, to face these situations. So I changed my perspective about them. Instead of viewing every situation with men on base as a threat, I started to view them as challenges and more importantly, challenges I knew I was going to have. As a starting pitcher looking to go seven innings, I figured I was going to have 3 situations to overcome, so I numbered them. For example, say the lead-off hitter in the second inning doubles. The next guy gets on with an infield single. I’m faced with first and third no outs so I would say, “OK, here is situation #1. I knew this was coming so let’s deal with it. What I need here is a ground ball. Since it’s the second inning, I’ll take 2 outs in exchange for the run.” In turn, my focus became more on the task (get a ground ball by throwing a good low pitch) than the fear of “I don’t want to give up any runs.”
Changing my perception of the situation from a threat to a challenge, altered my body and mind response to them. Instead of pitching with fear, I was pitching with focus. I was relaxed and in control. And as we all know, the ability to pitch out of these inevitable situations can have a significant impact on your outing.
“On our way back to IL from ATL we listened to 90%. I saw Will pull out his phone and start taking notes. He then began to hit the pause button to finish his note as not to miss anything that was to come. I asked him what were some things that he got from his first run with this book. He said the “Little Man”, the “Stop Sign”, “Breathe”, and “Anchor Statements; specifically the Boat & Anchor analogy”. Mr. Tewks is doing incredible work and I saw it with my son Will. It has been the single best development piece of Will’s 14U season.”
“Tewks talked about different things as far as the mental side of the game, and building that relationship with him I had a trust where I could go and bounce things off of him. He’s a no BS guy. I knew he wouldn’t pussyfoot around with me. I knew if I asked him a question, he would give me an honest answer, both on the pitching side and on the mental side. I knew I would get that from him.”
“He tells you what he sees, and he calls you out on things. He makes you better as a player as you go along. The biggest thing I’ve found is that if a player continues to seek advice, seek help, there are people who can help that player get the most out of his potential on the baseball field.”
“He’s got more instant credibility and more to offer if a player or staff is so inclined to engage with him because of his long career in baseball. As we know, pitching is the loneliest thing you can do.”
“What Bob brings to the table, Bob did it. He was there. He had his career,” Ravizza says. “When Bob talks about the mental game, I listen, because he’s walked the walk. I really have so much respect for him.”
“I’ve worked with other people, but the stuff we put in place in Boston is what I’m still using today,” Miller says. “It’s a very important part of my success, or turnaround. It’s something I take very seriously and I think it’s had a big impact on my pitching.”
“Having worked with Tewks as a player as well as a coach, I’ve been lucky enough to see firsthand how much he can impact individuals and teams. He has been invaluable to me personally throughout my career, as well as our baseball team at Boston College.”