The New Pitch Clocks Will Help Pitchers Dominate. One word – Rhythm.
Pitch clocks will be introduced this year in professional baseball at the Double A and Triple A levels. The purpose of the clocks are obvious, to speed up the game. How will this added feature impact the game other than getting it over with sooner? I think that pitchers will likely benefit from the pitch clocks in place. Here’s why…
As pitchers, one of the most important things to learn is how to establish rhythm. On days where pitchers are having success and in “the zone”, they are most likely following a consistent rhythm in a repeated pattern. On days where they are struggling it is likely that they have no rhythm or consistency throughout their performance. A good pitching rhythm helps both mechanically and mentally. Let’s take a look at the mechanical benefits first.
When it comes to pitching, balance is key. Balance at the start, balance throughout and balance at the end. If a pitcher can maintain balance throughout his delivery, he is likely going to be able to repeat the delivery. The pace at which the pitcher goes through his delivery is one half of having rhythm. The pace between pitches is the second half of pitching rhythm. If these two components stay consistent, the pitcher is likely to fall into a good tempo and stay “in the zone” The consistent pace will help the pitcher stay balanced throughout his delivery, and again, balance is key. Think about how important balance and rhythm are for someone walking a tightrope. The rhythm of their steps help with their balance and it’s just a matter of repeating. The new pitch clocks can help pitchers set that rhythm early and with a consistent time set between pitches, it will help them maintain rhythm.
Now let’s look at the mental benefits of the clock. For pitchers to make it to the triple A and double A levels, they have to pitch with a bulldog attitude. Sometimes that bulldog competitive spirit can get rattled when umpires aren’t calling strikes or if the game is not going their desired way. Instead of meddling over a blown call or fuming over a mammoth yack they just gave up. The pitch clock is going to force them to forget faster and move on. Pitchers will be more focused on the next pitch rather than the last pitch.
One drill that I frequently do with my pitchers is similar to how the pitch clock can benefit. I have them throw four fastballs from either the windup or the stretch. As soon as they start their delivery on pitch number one I start my stopwatch. I then stop the time when pitch number four hits the target. I make note of whatever that time is, for now let’s say it’s :42 seconds. I then have them throw four more fastballs from the same delivery and challenge them to do it in :35 seconds. Please understand, the actual time is not the focus but what it does is set the tone for the next four pitches. Pitchers immediately get the significance of rhythm and focusing on the next pitch. Plus, they don’t have time nor do they care to stop and catastrophize a bad pitch. In most cases, they shave down their time (NOT important) but more importantly they are much more consistent with mechanics and command.
It will be interesting to see how the pitch clocks impact the games in 2015. I think that it will be a slight adjustment early in the season for everyone but most players at that level already have an internal clock that they rely on to maintain their rhythm.