The “one pitch at a time” Mentality
Throughout my college career I struggled with command. I had issues throwing strikes. Now part of that was mechanics but the other part of it was my pitching mentality. I had the ability but didn’t have the right mentality.
I heard the phrase “one pitch at a time” quite a bit going through my career but I never fully understood it. I don’t even really believe I fully understood it until my 3rd year of professional baseball. My pitching coach in High-A was a big fan of Leo Mazzone and his philosophies. Leo Mazzone was the pitching coach during the 1990’s when the Braves pitching staff was dominate. In fact, he knew Leo so I got to hear many great stories. Some of which I cannot share! But I remember him telling me a particular story one day out in the outfield during batting practice. He told me that the only thing Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux tried to do when he pitched was execute each pitch, and that was it. He didn’t worry about the last pitch or the next pitch, his only focus was the pitch he was about to throw and trying to execute it to the best of his ability. There is no point in worrying about what has already happened because it is done. To the same argument, there is no reason to worry about what is going to happen. As a pitcher, the only thing you should be focused on is the pitch you are about to throw and executing it.
In my last two years of college I had a BB/9 of 4.97 in 157 innings of work. During my last 3 years of professional baseball I had BB/9 of 2.67 in 300 innings of work. You could make the argument that I was starting to figure out how to pitch. But I believe it was because my only focus my last 3 years was just executing each pitch to the best of my ability.
Everyone is a little bit different. Some figure out far sooner than others. Some figure it out a little later than others. That conversation that I had with my pitching coach during batting practice changed my career. For the first time in my career I understood what working “one pitch at a time” really was. It made things simple for me. And I have always believed that simple is better.