In baseball, mechanics are everything. I often compare our mechanics as baseball players to that of a dancer's choreography. They must be refined day in and day out if we want to be able to perform at our peak. This goes for all aspects of the game from our fielding mechanics, to pitching mechanics, to hitting mechanics, and especially our mental mechanics. We never reach a peak of perfect mechanics; all we can ever do is continue to immerse ourselves in the process of Getting Better EVEryday.
What are mirror drills?
Mirror drills, specifically for pitchers, are drills that we can do in order to improve our pitching mechanics as well as improve our ability to visualize game situations. I teach my pitchers to practice mirror drills in order to visualize themselves being on the mound in a pressure situation, so that when they are actually presented with this pressure packed situation, they have already been there...hundreds, if not thousands, of times. Even more specifically, I tell them to visualize the scenario of "bases loaded, full count, two outs, bottom of the ninth, world series, game seven, facing (insert best hitter's name here...I usually say Mike Trout because I absolutely love that dude!). This practice get us in the zone without actually being there. For those serious players who know where they want to be one day, ie: playing in college or in the MLB, this visualization technique will set them apart.
Mirror Drills, simplified for the younger guys
I find that so many of the young players I work with (sometimes even up to the age of 12!) have a difficulty of understanding what it is to have a pitching routine. I notice that they don't even take a sign from the catcher and/or come set the same way every time. It boggles my mind to know that their coaches aren't pointing this out. I will literally spend 10-20 minutes in a lesson sometimes simply going over the process of taking a sign, coming set, and getting into a set position. This is one drill that I especially teach the younger kids. So first, they position themselves in front facing in the mirror, as if they would be pitching into the mirror. First, they in the "stretch position" taking their sign. Then, they are "coming set" which is the action of having taken the sign and then moving into the "set position." Lastly, they are in the "set position" and they are aware of the alignment of their feet placement as well as their shoulders and hands. Too many kids "come set" differently every pitch, causing them to have a lot of inconsistency, and in my opinion a higher chance of lacked confidence in themselves.
Practicing your wind-up in front of the mirror
Once we have come to the set position, we need to then go through the windup and bring our knee up with balance. I teach my pitchers to do this over and over again so they can get consistent with bringing up their knee to at least hip height and then setting their foot down. Once they've mastered this, they move into driving towards the mirror and landing, again in a balanced and controlled position.
It's important that my pitchers realize where their foot lands and also where their body is relative to the landing--this really helps their timing tremendously.
Once I teach them to do this, it is very obvious in the next lesson if they have worked on it or not. It really only takes a few times of doing these mirror drills with focus before they start to get it. From there, we work on mastering our mechanics with repetition. From there, we visualize looking at the hitters back as he walks back to the dugout after we just struck him out!
Get Better EVEryday,
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