The key to being a very good pitcher is consistent delivery mechanics and body language.
Successful pitchers have the ability to repeat their motion every time, in both fastballs and off-speed pitches. The great ones take the mental approach of task at hand each pitch, from the bullpen to a game situation.
The Game Inside the Game
Preparing yourself mentally is vital when stretching before throwing a bullpen, focusing on mechanics, location, minimizing pitches and getting ahead of each batter. Then you can translate your confidence into your bullpen and then in a game.
You can work on your mental approach in practice, then in a bullpen before a game and maintain your body language throughout the game.
Importance of Body Language
What is body language when pitching? To me it's how you display yourself, your emotions and your response to the game, balls/strikes. Never let the other team see any emotion.
If you walk or jog out to the mound before/after an inning, consistently do the same each inning. Never argue balls/strike; in fact before the game shake hands with the homeplate umpire, as you want him on your side.
Fine-Tuning Your Delivery
Here are some consistent delivery mechanics to repeat:
1) Stand upright and tall on the rubber, slow down your breathing, be relaxed and confident. Always start on the same spot on the rubber, be it left, middle or right.
2) Have glove in a comfortable position to begin windup. Be on the balls of your feet and not on your heels, when starting your step, turn and delivery.
3) Repeat your rocker step, whether behind or to the side. The distance should be very minimal and you should be able to maintain balance.
4) Have your lift leg relaxed, with toe pointing downward if possible and no tension in your calf or thigh. Lift your knee to above belt height, with leg forming 90-degree angle under knee.
5) As you turn, point glove shoulder toward your catcher. Hand breaks from the glove as knee bend has reached the maximum heights. Take the ball out of your glove, thumb down and the back half of the baseball is being shown to the 1st baseman.
6) Sit your weight back on your back leg, this will cause slight upper-body backward tilt and often bend the knee at 25-degree angle. As stride leg is coming down out of bend, glide foot above the clay approx. six inches in height and stride to maximum distance. Make sure chin, chest and belt are in alignment and form 90-degree to mound.
7) Once your stride toe lands pointing at target, it should be in the middle of your drive foot and will form a "T" if you were to draw lines. Point your glove at your target and as your momentum takes you toward home, it tucks in by your side.
8) Lower portion of body (hips and thighs) rotate first and deliver the upper half of your body, out of the coiled position into the transition/delivery. Your elbows are now equal angle and inside your shoulders. Your throwing arm then moves into your slot, with the head staying in the center of the body and maintaining 90-degree to mound.
9) Chest then rotates square to your target and both eyes are on the mitt. Your body uncoils and delivers the pitch to the catcher and drives the back hip and legs into a follow-thru position.
10) Your chest is parallel to the ground and glove is ready to field.
If you're having trouble with release point and the pitches are high or in the dirt, try repeating the above tips.There is not a substitute for work ethic, dedication and desire to be the best.
Robert Lyons was a Little League President from 1999-2007 and was an assistant coach for Paintsville High School.