When it comes to pitching command, there are many elements that factor into truly acquiring the skill. Before I get into some of those factors, I want to address a few things. Some of the most challenging things I’m seeing now days are the massive misinterpretations of what command really is. The word command is thrown around very often, and most times, many are using it in relation to control. Why is that not ok? For one, there’s a difference. Two, there are pitchers who actually command at a high level. And three, it takes away from the significance of what pitchers should be truly striving for, and how they interpret the differences in result and action. If you command, you execute a higher rate. What does it mean to execute? Executing a pitch is locating a pitch to its intended target. If you are a pitcher who commands, you are able to execute at higher rate, keeping the ball inside a smaller radius of the intended target. Typically intended targets of pitchers who can command are in quality areas of the strike zone (i.e. bottom edges, zone bottom, down out of zone, up out of zone.)
Pitchers who have control are pitchers can execute within the boundaries of the strike zone. Control is the ability to put your pitches inside the strike zone. Although this is a good thing, and it is important to throw strikes, these pitches are typically not quality location. Other attributes such as movement or velocity of the pitch may aid a pitches ability to be successful if those attributes are adept, but poor location of these pitches can still alter the consistency of a pitchers outing. Many times I will refer to a pitcher as being wild in the zone. Once they are in, they can’t get out, and it turns into batting practice. Commanding is also expanding the zone when you need to. In essence, locating pitches where you need to in sequence; true pitchers are constantly executing patterns.
What was the point of giving a brief rant on command and control? To define the two correctly, help the reader realize what they are truly capable of, and what they really want. Perhaps even evaluate your “command” ability with more focus and scrutiny.
My E-Guide on command contains the most technical pieces of what an aspiring commanding pitcher needs, however I feel there are some general tips that can potentially help get you started.
1.Play catch with a purpose, a purpose to execute your target. If you are an aspiring commander, WHENEVER you pick up a ball and play catch, it’s time to execute. Partner not giving you a target? Either tell him to, or hone in on the center of his chest. Yes, you should take your time getting loose, that doesn’t mean you can’t hit your target in the process. You become how you practice, focus to execute always. Don’t waste a rep.
2. Keep your head steady, still, and level through the process of your pitch. Especially through your finish. If you’re a sidearm, level may be tricky, therefore keeping your head steady will suffice.
3. Move your target. Playing catch, or flat ground setting. Center your catch partner. Either have him lay his hat down as home plate or just use a home plate; have him stand or crouch on either side of home plate liberally away from the plate alternating pitches. Why so far away from home? This helps you feel drastic changes in release points based on where he is set up, and what you are doing in order to hit your target; be aware of your release points here. There should not be large mechanical shifts or adjustments here, mainly changes in release point to execute. The goal is to feel those points in the process and what you are doing to go back and forth.
4. Slow down – to start. Effective pitching is locating pitches. Effective dart throwing is locating darts, if you were learning to throw darts for the first time, do you think it makes sense to zing them at the intended target as hard as you can? You don’t get extra points for burying the dart in the cork. If you truly want to command, this is a vital step in the process. This process takes significant self discipline to repeat at less than optimal levels. Remember, this just starts the process.
5. Buy in. You WILL NOT command if you don’t believe location is the most important pitching asset to success. Command requires intelligence in understanding how effectively locating pitches changes timing, and it is your job to disrupt timing. Commanding multiple pitch types is the ultimate goal in timing disruption. Without command you are just competing. With Command you are competing intelligently, with a plan, strategy, and approach. Buy in or don’t command.
These tips are just scraping the surface of process of how an aspiring commander should be training to acquire the skill. If you are serious about changing your performance, I highly recommend you invest in my E-Guide, “Lokation Nation’s Guide to Commanding Locations“. Being a successful pitcher, who performs at a high level is extremely reliant on your ability to execute locations in and out of the strike zone. It’s unfortunate baseball culture doesn’t display as many resources who are focusing on the immense importance of this skill, as it is the most important tool any pitcher may possess, in terms of successful pitching. For all the advocates out there, great stuff. Now lets continue to spread the mission of Lokation Nation.