The Power of Language
There is a Japanese proverb which says the tongue is 3 inches long, but can take down a man 6 feet tall. Our words, spoken and unspoken, are incredibly powerful.
One of my pet peeves when it comes to the language pitchers use is how they respond to the question, “when are you pitching?” The majority of pitchers at any level, will respond by saying, “I am throwing” tomorrow. It’s a common reply with its meaning assumed: that throwing means pitching. It drives me crazy! Why? Because I have not seen many pitchers who throw in a game pitch well. Pitchers have success when they PITCH in games. I remind pitchers all the time who respond to my question using the word “throwing” And after a while, they start to catch on. You PITCH when you get ahead in the count, you hit your spots, change speeds, pitch inside, throw something off-speed behind in the count. You THROW when consistently fall behind in the count, you don’t command a fastball, you don’t throw an off-speed pitch behind in the count.
I remember a couple of years ago, I was in the hotel elevator with a veteran pitcher upon arriving at a visiting city and asked him when he was pitching. He said, he was “throwing tomorrow” – to which I replied, I hope you don’t throw, but pitch. There is a difference. He thought about it for a minute and said, you’re right. The next night, he pitched 7 strong innings and when he saw me after the game he made a point to tell me that “I pitched tonight”.
Our language internally produced by our thoughts and externally displayed through our body language are both very powerful and can affect your performance
That internal language comes from the “little man” – this little man is that internal voice that’s always there in the background. Ready to plant a seed of doubt or bash your confidence using words like you suck, you better not mess this up, you’re going to fail, don’t let this happen. You can learn to control this voice, so it doesn’t control you.
Another form of language is non-verbal and that is OUR body language. Body language, after all, is an external expression of an internal thought. Stated another way, our body language governs how we think and feel about ourselves. Research has shown that our body language and posture affect our hormone levels. For example, having a dominant posture like standing tall, or sitting up straight in a chair or body language like walking with your head up and shoulders back they are making themselves big and that increases testosterone (the dominance hormone) and decreases the stress hormone Cortisol. Conversely, when people are hunched over or slouched in a chair or walk with their head down and shoulders rounded (they are getting small) that increases cortisol and decreases testosterone.
So think about when you have pitched well and are feeling good. What is your body language like? I bet you have a strut, chest up, head up. I bet you felt confident, assertive and didn’t think twice about throwing a 3-2 change-up. Now, think when things weren’t going so well. What was you body language then? You “get small”, shoulders rounded, head down, small strides. I bet you were less confident, less assertive and I’ll bet you were afraid to throw that 3-2 change-up.
Researcher Dr. Amy Cuddy states there is one activity you can do prior to increase your testosterone levels is called power posing. Power posing is taking a 2 min in front of a mirror and power posing. Getting big, stand tall, roll the shoulders back, feel dominant. See yourself succeeding. Give that a try before your next game and continue to be aware of your body language on the mound. Power pose out there, get big and let hitters know you mean business.
“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.”