It’s now Day 14 in the 21 Days to Building a Better Ballplayer challenge. Today’s task is to pick your teammate’s brain.
Pitchers, have you ever talked to a hitter about what makes him uncomfortable in the batter’s box? Maybe what pitch he can’t wait to see? What count he loves to hit in?
Hitters, have you ever asked a pitcher what his approach is on the mound? When does he prefer to throw his slider? Does he like to throw inside when he’s behind in the count?
Take a Look from another Angle
When I played in the Frontier League in 2007, I remember speaking to a number of our hitters about what they considered the toughest pitch to hit. Was it a fastball inside? A hard cutter with late break? What pitch did they just absolutely hate to see and why? I figured if they had a tough time with a certain pitch, then the same must be true of hitters on opposing teams. Getting that little glimpse into a hitter’s mindset helped me tremendously, and for the rest of the season I started mixing a few more change-ups into my outings.
No matter what side of the ball you are on, you can learn a great deal about the game just by talking to other players about it. We know that a great deal can be learned from coaches and from watching the game itself. But, having conversations and asking questions like those above can give you a whole different perspective and really open up a world of knowledge that can help you become a better pitcher, hitter, or all-around ballplayer. Try it. You’ll be surprised by how open and honest your teammates (and sometimes opponents) can be. You can start to get a feel for what’s going through the other guy’s head. If you can understand your opponent’s approach, then you can set up a plan of attack to beat him.
Pitchers, you can do just what I did and talk to a hitter about his approach during an at-bat. Or, find another pitcher that paints the inside corner better than you and ask him how he does it. Hitters, do the same and talk to a pitcher about how he would try to get a hitter like you out. Or, if you are struggling to take that outside pitch to the opposite field, ask your teammate who seems to do it so effortlessly how he does it. There is really no limit to where you can lead the conversation.
Think about where your game needs to improve. Start talking to teammates who can help you. Ask questions. Receive feedback. And then, implement what you’ve learned.