Why is it that the 1st and the 5th Innings are the Toughest on a Major League Pitcher?
Ever notice that? Many of the teams score in the first inning; the then the game gets a little out of hand in the fifth?
If not, watch for the trend this year.
Why does it happen
I have my theory. I believe it’s part mental, and part physical. I don’t think it’s a mechanical phenomenon.
Today, I’m going to talk a little on the mental aspect.
I received a great email from a concerned dad the other day and it’s a timely one as most of us are beginning our season very soon, if it hasn’t already begun.
“What do you recommend to help my 15 year old with first inning jitters (ie confidence)?”
John, the first inning jitters is certainly not a new phenomenon. If you look at the scores of Major League baseball (MLB), you’ll see a trend. A lot of runs scored in the 1st inning, and the 5th inning. Why? Probably a million reasons. But the few that I observe are jitters, fatigue and complacency.
Just about every pitcher I know gets jitters in the 1st inning. It’s natural. But what causes it? What about the higher scores in the 5th inning? I think it’s because the pitcher is closing in on an official game, if he can only get through this inning with the lead, I’ll get a win. I imagine there is some mental and partial physical fatigue too as well as the pitcher possibly not adjusting to the hitters, but I suspect most of it is mental.
But what about those 1st inning jitters? Why does it affect some pitchers more than others?
Simply, I think it has to do with the pitcher accepting the uncertainty of what’s about to happen, or not accepting the uncertainty.
In our book by Christy Mathewson, Pitching in a Pinch, Mathewson talks about the pressures pitchers face in becoming a major league player. Why some don’t make it…because they don’t learn to Pitch in a Pinch.
A lot of us don’t accept the uncertainty of an upcoming event. And, we talk ourselves out of success. Players sabotage their own performance a lot of times. The amazing thing is that a lot of pitchers will do that before they even step on the battlefield.
Our self-talk kills us. “Will I get shelled in the first inning? I hope I don’t walk a lot of guys. Boy, that’s a pretty good team I’m facing.”
What’s the affect on us not accepting that uncertainty and the negative self-talk? We become very anxious. We worry about the outcome…..we don’t want to fail. And what do we do? Focus on what we don’t want.
Simply put, anxiety is the distress or uneasiness of the mind caused by fear. In this case, the fear of not succeeding. The fear of what I don’t want to happen just might happen. Apprehension. I don’t think anyone can compete at a high level consistently if they play with apprehension.
Do you or your pitcher focus way too much on what you don’t want to happen?
What’s the fix if you do?
Here’s my opinion. Focus on what you want. Wonder about the great outcomes that can happen. Focus on what you want to happen. Your anxiety can turn into wonder. The uncertainty turns into something better.
Wonder is the acceptance of the uncertainty ahead. I certainly would like to operate in a state of wonder as opposed to anxiety.
The first step is to become aware of what you are thinking. Write down your thoughts during the game when you get home. Pick up your writings the next day or two and it should help to better understand what you have been thinking about and then make the decision to not go there.
Even hoping for a hit at bat is a bit negative. When you hope to get a hit, the message you send to yourself is a bit of a band-aid. You are trying to mask the real belief that you don’t have confidence you will get a hit.
Focus on what you want. Be specific too. “I want to hit this 0-2 pitch on the outside of the plate over the 2nd baseman’s head.” And you’ll know how to react to the inside pitch. That’s a little more specific than, “I hope I get a hit.” When you are more specific, I think it will take your mind off what you don’t want.
Give this a try and let me know how it’s working for you. Your BioForce Family would love to hear the success stories.
I’ll tell you, I’ve been working behind the scenes lately on a couple of new baseball instruction products to be pre-released very soon….first to you, our BioForce Baseball online family.
The first is a book on pitching principles. Been in the works for some time now. And it’s not the same ‘ol science book, and dry text book kind of stuff. I guarantee you the title won’t be “The Science of…” It will be a more interesting read, and I’ve been working real hard to make it a simple read too. Just like the old saying K.I.S.S. I’m keeping it simple.
Simple because that’s what we need to do with baseball and mechanics, keep it simple.
My other project? It will be the ability for you to upload video clips to me, and we can provide an analysis of your pitching and/or hitting.
I’ll be like your cyber pitching coach, or hitting coach.
I’m looking forward to that very soon. I hope you will be too. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these two projects.
Until next time….
Train Like a Champion Today!