The Act of Pitching

The Act of Pitching

Christy Mathewson

An act is an action and the act of pitching starts with a decision, requires a risk and offers a result. It is also an enacted drama and as a drama, the act of pitching involves preparation and performance.

Like an actor preparing for the stage, a pitcher’s performance is only a small part of his effort. Every pitch thrown in competition is representative of ten thousand thrown in practice.
His craft must be so developed that every move is buried deep in his muscle memory. Come game time, the mechanics of his craft is the responsibility of his body; when this happens fully, his mind can lift him to that next level, to that zone where true competitors engage in contest and true artists engage in the act of creation.
Even his game face must be practiced with diligence.

When the pitcher takes the mound, he is no longer the clubhouse cut-up, the nice guy, the teddy-bear, or for that matter the psycho or wild-man. As with the professional actor, his first step onto the stage completes his transformation. By his mere presence, he must let those who stand behind him as well as those who stand before him know that he is the overlord on his field of dreams.
He makes the mound his own.
When he connects with his catcher and places his foot on the rubber, there can be no mercy in his eyes, no anger, just fire, in his heart. His gaze is strong and sure and beyond the touch of insult or intimidation. He fixes his grip in the privacy of his glove, not allowing the batter to focus on the ball, but only on the language of his body which speaks of strength, power and purpose.

The Building of Tension
His persona introduced, his character developed, he begins his story with the wind-up.
As he lifts his arms, he engages with the very laws that govern the universe.
He is an instrument now of physics. To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction, so he loads his body in perfect balance, every movement storing energy in his torso, his legs, his hips.
His hands break and he reaches back to store even more potential energy in his body.

The Act
Energy is further gathered with the continuation of the arm through the pitching circle, as the lower half of the body begins to prepare for the reaction. The stored energy is held, with the hips and the shoulder still closed. The hand breaking away goes to low-cock first and then high-cock.
The lead shoulder, the lead hip, the chin are all focused on the plate. The glove is continually positioned to conceal the ball from the hitter, who experiences an eternity’s worth of waiting contained in but a fraction of a second.

The Climax
The pitchers foot sets down and the story explodes to its climax. The ball of the lead foot touches first and with it all the forces unite. The feet pivot; the rear leg drives forward; the hips and shoulder snap open. The elbow of the off-arm thrusts back. The throwing arm travels from high-cock and up over the top of the pitching circle.
The elbow of the throwing arm drives to the batter like the head of a spear.
All energy unites to accelerate the arm. With regard to speed, the math is simple: the ball moves as fast as the arm.
The perfect pitch requires the ideal arm angle with each and every release, 3/4+ is the best angle for power.
Bending his torso over the wall, the pitcher must imagine the release point beyond where it truly occurs in order to place maximum energy and control on the pitch. It’s a trick one has to play on the brain everytime a ball is thrown. Perhaps this is a mechanism to teach us to follow-through, as the pitchers arm will not survive such violence for long, if we do not properly decelerate it.

In a drama it is the resolution that follows the story’s climax. With pitching it is the follow-through. Every pitch has got to have an ending and it must be finished with the same focus with which it was started.
The lead shoulder is buried, the pitching hand swings around to the side. The back leg lifts up and comes forward. Balance is maintained; it is never gained nor lost. In harmony with the demands and capacities of his body, the pitcher never attempts a violation of the laws of physics. His root stays connected through the balls of his feet. His thoughts are not clouded by doubt.
He leaves the mound as he entered, still a competitor no matter the turn of events. He has survived to leave on his own accord and if he is to return, he must maintain him self mentally through the course of the next half-inning, so that if it is possible, he will face the next three batters with even greater resolution that those he just faced.

The Act of Pitching – By: Dr. John Bagonz

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