Throughout these videos and articles, we will cover a lot of different pitching topics. The plan moving forward will be to incorporate as much video content as I can. Hopefully you find them to be helpful. In this article, we will cover the importance of two things that are fully within everyone’s control and play a major role in pitchers getting the most out of their career, having very little to do with the arm. As pitchers and as coaches, we tend to focus on the throwing arm and everything we need to do to make it stronger. And rightfully so. Arm care, catch play, long toss, bullpens, pitch design and the list goes on and on. These are all important to the development of a pitcher, but they will amount to nothing if you do not focus and plan out the two things that will be covered in this article: Goals and Recovery. As a coach, you have to keep these in the forefront of the pitcher’s mind. As a pitcher, you need to do the same. These two things tend to get neglected by most pitchers and coaches way too often. I am guilty of this as both a player and coach. Hopefully this article gives you some insight as to how and why they are so important to the development of a pitcher.
There have been numerous studies that have proven that simply writing down your goals and reading them over on a daily basis will increase your chances of achieving them by > 40%. Writing down your plan to achieve those goals and discussing them with friends will add another 30% or more to achieving them (https://www.newtechnorthwest.com/thepsychology-of-writing-down-goals/). Most people will tell you to only write down obtainable goals, which I would agree. But only you know what is obtainable. Do not let someone else tell you what is obtainable for you and what isn’t. You are the one that has to put in the work, so think of what you are willing to work for and get started. Everyone needs to be motivated and reading your goals will help to give you the motivation you need. Also, setting a deadline to your goals will make you take them more seriously. Goals that are not written down and planned out are simply dreams. Don’t be a dreamer, be an achiever! Think of the most disgusting thing you’ve ever eaten or drank. And if I told you that you had to consume this one thing every day and it will improve your chances of making it to the big leagues by 40-50%, would you eat/drink it? I’m assuming the answer is yes. So, if you would be willing to eat/drink that disgusting thing, I hope you are willing to take a few minutes to think of your goals that you are willing to work towards, make a plan, write them down and read them daily. An acronym that Ben Freakley (Head of Mental Performance / Toronto Blue Jays) taught me is G.R.I.P. This is something that I use and you can as well moving forward when it comes to planning and analyzing your goals.
Goals – write them down and read them daily
Reflection – are they going well or not
Input – from others and how they think you can do better
Plan – post reflection and make changes if needed
No, I do not mean arm care, running, theragun’s, sauna or anything else you like to use for “recovery” of the arm. What I’m talking about is much simpler than that. There are three things that you can control on a daily basis that will help your body recover more than any type of exercise or piece of equipment will ever do. Sleep, Hydration and Nutrition.
Sleep is essential to your health. Getting the amount needed (7 - 9 hours a night) will allow your body to fully recover from your daily activities. Remember that an exhausted body will weaken your immune system. A weakened immune system is more susceptible to sickness and injury. Set a plan for your sleep and stick to it. The same as you do for other aspects of training.
Hydration is important to keep your joints lubricated, to give nutrients to cells and it also improves your sleep quality. The rule of thumb is to consume half your body weight in ounces. Meaning if you weigh 150 lbs., you should consume 75 ounces a day. This of course can increase on a day that you are more active. You should not wait until you see your urine darken to hydrate. Staying hydrated should be a daily discipline.
Nutrition is probably the toughest of the three because it takes the most planning and it’s the easiest to make excuses for. “I didn’t have time to make lunch”, “wasn’t anywhere else to grab food”, etc. If becoming an elite pitcher is what you are striving to become, then you will make the time to plan out your meals. If you are training pitchers to become elite pitchers, then you will take the time to educate them on the importance of nutrition and how they can improve on it. It’s as simple as that. How bad do you want it? Getting on a good nutritional plan can be accomplished by having a conversation with your strength coach, school nutritionist or family physician.
These may all seem simple, and maybe they are for some. But I think we can all agree that they are very important in the development of a pitcher. “How you do anything is how you do everything.” – T. Harv Eker
Associate Head Baseball Coach
James Madison University
Jimmy Jackson is heading into his sixth season with the Dukes as pitching coach, and his second as associate head coach. He had previously served as assistant coach the last four years. Before heading to Harrisonburg, Jackson spent four seasons as the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator at Fordham, putting together some of the Atlantic 10’s best pitching staffs along the way and three years at Siena, the last two as the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator. Prior to Siena, Jackson spent three years as the varsity pitching coach at Archbishop Spalding High School in Severn, Maryland. In that time, Archbishop Spalding had 17 players who advanced to play in college, including 10 pitchers. Originally from Glen Burnie, Md., and a graduate of Old Mill High School, Jackson played two years ('04 & '05) of independent professional baseball in the Frontier and Atlantic Leagues after a standout collegiate career that ended in 2004 at Division II Shepherd University in West Virginia, where he earned his bachelor’s degree. He was a two-way player as an infielder and pitcher at Shepherd, earning First Team All-Conference, All-Region and Preseason All-American honors as a pitcher. He still holds multiple pitching records at Shepherd.
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