Baseball Pitcher Warm-Up and Stretching
by: Mike Schim
Pitching a baseball game begins long before you even step onto the pitching mound. It is important to prepare both physically and mentally for pitching in a game. Below are some mental and physical steps you can do to prepare for pitching on the day of the big baseball game.
When you wake up in the morning, begin mentally visualizing your pitching experience. Start imagining how your pitching will be that day. While taking your morning shower, think about how you want your pitching strategy to be. Do you want to throw many fastballs? Do you want to vary your pitching a lot in the game? Do you want to try and strike every batter out? Or would you want to pitch each batter in such a way as to try to get them to ground out to the infielders on the first pitch? All of this mental preparation can help visualize how you want to win.
During the day, conserve your energy and keep thinking about how you are going to pitch the best game ever. Your positive attitude will help you win. All of the positive thoughts will get you very excited about pitching in the game.
When you are getting dressed for the game, keep a clear head and positive attitude. If you pitching coach gave you advice on pitching strategy, repeat key concepts in your head. Consider the strategies for each batter. If you did research on the other team's players, remind yourself of which batters to pitch fastballs to, and which batters to throw curveballs to. You don't need to quiz yourself, but simply review the concepts in your head.
Before going into the pitching bullpen, gently jog around the field. Get the blood flowing. Gently stretch, and then jog a little more. It's important to loosen up your arms and your legs. Your entire body is needed for baseball pitching, so be sure to warm-up your entire body.
Once you've returned to the bullpen, go to a grassy spot away from other players and gently stretch your arms and arm joints. Focus on your shoulders, forearms, wrists, and elbow.
After stretching for about 5 or 10 minutes, find a teammate to have a simple catch with. Stand about 20 feet apart and simply throw the ball to each other. There's no need to throw any pitches at this point. Just throw the ball. Catching and throwing the ball will actually help you stretch some more before you even throw a single pitch. After a minute or two, extend the distance to about 50 feet apart. After a few more minutes of having a casual game of catch with your teammate, you should start casually going through the pitching motion. Use your legs in throwing the ball. Do a casual wind-up and lift your leg a little bit in the pitch.
Now that you've warmed up, you can start your pitching activities. Have a teammate, preferably a catcher; assume the catching position while you throw some practice pitches. Start with a very slow pitch and practice the pitching motions. Don't worry about speed. Pay attention to your pitching mechanics. The web site www.2PlayBall.com has books and videos that discuss the mechanics of baseball pitching. Besides reading and watching videos, you can also watch other pitchers and study how they pitch the ball.
Once you've thrown about 15 simple pitches while focusing on the delivery, start to warm-up your pitching aim. Focus on inside and outside pitching corners. Practice your aim with each of your pitches. Throw a fastball, curve, change-up, slider, and other pitches.
Ask your warm-up catcher and another teammate to go to home plate and practice with you while you stand on the pitcher's mound. Your practice catcher should assume the catching position, and your other teammate should stand in the batters box with a baseball bat in hand. The practice batter should not hit your practice pitches, but simply stand in the hitting stance and occasionally swing very lightly at the pitches. All of this will help you visually prepare for real game pitching.
If you have not already done so, go see your pitching coach and say hello. Ask any questions that you may have. If you don't have any questions, review with your pitching coach any pitching strategies for the game.
Before you enter the game, be sure to go to the bullpen and throw some more warm-up pitches. Also, throw just a few pitches at full speed. Don't throw too many, but throw maybe 3 or 4 full speed pitches.
If you are not the starting pitcher, be sure to keep your body warm and loose. And remember to keep warm and loose in-between innings even when you are the active pitcher.
And of course, enjoy your pitching experience! After all, that's why you play baseball...to have fun!
About The Author
Mike Schim has been a baseball fan for nearly 30 years. As a child he enjoyed playing catch with very old, well worn baseball gloves. He now plays ball with friends and teaches his family and kids how to play ball. You can read more of his articles at http://www.2PlayBall.com and he also writes for http://www.TeachMeSports.com. Mike hopes that his passion for writing about baseball will help everyone more thoroughly enjoy the game.