Most game day routines for successful pitchers seem to mix elements of superstition with wisdom.
Whether it’s arriving at the ballpark at a certain time.
Or eating the same pre-game meal.
Or wearing the same pair of socks.
Or whatever you do that helps you focus and produce excellent results.
My point is, all these things can be a part of what pitchers do to feel ready, relaxed and prepared for competition.
I’ll admit, I was superstitious…
I used to polish my shoes all black the night before a game, and wouldn’t talk to anybody on game day. I also would never shake anyone’s hand with my right hand (ever!).
Here’s what other youth pitchers shared with me on Facebook that they do:
There are definitely some good pre-game strategies and routines on that list!
It seems anything to make a pitcher feel prepared mentally and emotionally can only contribute to feelings of familiarity and comfort.
And that’s a good thing.
But preparing the body to pitch is another story, and can largely influence the outcome of your performance.
That’s why it’s so important to have a consistent pre-game routine that you can follow no matter what to dial it in and be ready to throw strikes and set the tone right from the first inning.
Here are 8 elements of my pregame warm up routine that might be helpful for you:
- Pitchers should go through an adequate time of “core temperature elevation” before ever throwing a baseball. This usually includes a handful of “poles” run at a slow-speed, and are designed to increase blood-flow and oxygen throughout the body.
- Pitchers following my TUFFCUFF Jr training program are taught several exercises to help properly warm-up the body, joint by joint, from head to toe. These “dynamic flexibility” routines are different than traditional “stretches” and prepare the body to move laterally and rotationally. In short, taking the body in the directions it will use while on the mound will help to maximize performance and reduce injury.
- On the field throwing programs typically come next, and the pitcher should be warming up by performing pitcher-specific drills and light throwing to loosen up the arm.
- A small amount of “long-toss” can come next, and a couple of important details should be mentioned:
- Long toss does not build arm strength but arm endurance.
- Long toss should only be as long as the thrower can throw with perfect mechanics.
- Anytime the pitcher changes his posture to deliver the baseball, injury precursors are more prevalent.
- Intensity of throwing needs to be monitored, especially for younger throwers. Many young pitchers try to go from “zero to 100” in just a few throws which can dramatically hinder performance for that game.
- Actual bullpen sessions, on the mound, should only be approximately 30-35 pitches with only the last 5-6 thrown at game-speed. Throwing too hard, too early, can ultimately limit a pitcher’s endurance, velocity and command for that outing.
- Pitchers should be sure to work on all pitches, while never throwing more than 3 breaking balls or change-ups in a row.
- Starting pitchers should typically start throwing in the bullpen approximately 15-20 minutes before game time. This will allow for a relaxed session but won’t cool down the pitcher too much before the umpire starts the game.