Coaching Tips: Mind Games Between The Pitcher And The Hitter!
- Updated: October 5, 2011
As you advance to older levels of play, you will find that many baseball hitters will play certain mind games with the pitcher and pitchers will do the same with hitters. Personally, I would not recommend getting involved in any mind games until the high school level of play or higher whether you are the pitcher or the hitter. One of the better baseball coaching tips to always remember is that playing good baseball requires clever use of the mind and not just the body.
Hitters will ask for a time out when you are getting ready to make the pitch to annoy you. This is not to say every time a baseball hitter does this he’s playing a mind game but sometimes he is. They will wander away from the batter’s box while you are kept waiting, hoping to annoy you.
If you are well aware beforehand that these things are definitely going to happen, it should be easier for you as a pitcher to deal with them. You know batters are going to do it so why let them accomplish what they want to do and let it bother you? If you do, it’s a victory for the batter, isn’t it?
As a baseball pitcher, you too can play a few mind games with the batter. It is pretty much a proven fact that working quickly on the mound is beneficial to a pitcher because his fielders have to “stay on their toes.” There simply isn’t any time for their minds to wander. An added plus is that the pitcher is also sending an indirect message to the hitters that he is extremely confident and can’t wait to throw the next pitch to them.
There are times however, when it just might be the right time to slow things down a little! When a very aggressive and anxious batter gets to the plate and it appears that he can’t wait to hit, it may be a very good time to step off the mound and rub up the baseball. Hey, if the hitter likes things to happen fast, make sure you slow things down which is the exact opposite of what the hitter wants.
It may be the perfect time to talk something over with your catcher. You may want to motion for your catcher to come out to the mound for a chat. Tell your catcher that you simply are “fussing” with the batter and want to simply talk for a minute. Anything to keep the over anxious hitter waiting impatiently.
When I pitched, if a runner was on first base and a real good anxious hitter was up, I would make sure I came to the set position and would pause there for two or three seconds and then lob the ball to first base. I might do it a second or even a third time also.
I may pause in the set position on the rubber for three or four seconds and then step off the rubber. I could literally see the look of anger on the faces of some of these hitters. Many times these mind games will make the batter angry or very impatient at the plate and swing at pitches out of the strike zone!
Obviously, I would much rather have a hitter thinking about how annoyed he is with me instead of focusing strictly on his baseball hitting. That’s a victory for me as a pitcher. Disrupting the batter’s thinking means that I’ve won half the battle before it has even begun!
If you are involved in baseball coaching, just remember that mind games should not be played with younger players, who are just starting to learn the game of baseball.