The start of spring training signifies the beginning of a new baseball season is upon us. Pitchers and catchers of all ages, and levels, are starting to “dust off the cobwebs” so to speak, from months of not competing.
If there was ever a group of American soldiers who would seem fated to suffer lifelong post-traumatic stress, it was the band of 566 Vietnam veterans who endured brutal mental and physical torment during the Vietnam War in the late 60’s and early 70’s.
As we turn the attention towards the field, there are a couple of focuses that can be applied to pitching…
In the summer of 1940, one year after the United Kingdom officially entered WWII, German commanders hatched a plot to break the will of the British people. The plan was strategic and simple; every night for 57 consecutive evenings, hundreds of Nazi planes would shower their bombs over London with ultimate goal of a British surrender. While the Nazi bombing ruined the city of London, their plan did nothing to impact the psyche of the people living there. How could this be?
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 drives me crazy.
I have talked with many pitchers over the years who admit to me 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.
Sometimes the greatest enemy we compete against during competition is not our opponent, but the thoughts bouncing around in our own mind. I would dare say that when you look back at your best performances and your worst performances, the biggest difference between the two was the variation in the way you talked to yourself.
How often do you find yourself in the midst of an activity, no matter what it is, only to find your mind wandering away from the present moment? Perhaps you’re on the mound pitching, but your mind is thinking about something else. Maybe you are with your wife, or girlfriend, watching a movie, but you are thinking about your next start. Our minds do wander from time to time, it happens to us all.