This entry is short and sweet. One thing we don’t often think about is making sure we have a good grip on the ball. Some pitchers don’t truly realize just how important this little part is. We have a tendency to rush at times in a number of ways. Whether we’re trying to keep a good tempo, our mind is spiraling out of control, we’re thinking about too many things at once, worrying about the runners, and the list goes on. No matter what’s going on, we have to make sure of one thing that could be considered the most important; having a good grip on the ball so we don’t even think about it.
How many times have you seen a pitcher make a bad pitch and his response is either, “I didn’t have a good grip” or “It slipped out of my hand”? I know have heard it many times before. Heck, I even did it myself on multiple occasions. The point is this; if you’re fumbling around with your grip and you’ve already started your motion to home, then you’re not completely focused on the task at hand. What’s the task? Picking up your target and focusing your energy to throw it to the catcher’s glove.
Why is it such a big deal? Simple. If you’re not confident in your grip, you can’t be confident in the pitch you’re about to throw. You create a feeling of being rushed because you’re trying desperately to get a good grip in a matter of seconds. Now you release the pitch and you throw a ball. Hey, throwing a ball happens. But what if that ball you’ve just thrown could’ve been avoided? Maybe it would’ve been a strike, or an out, or ended the inning. Maybe it took the count from 1-1 to 2-1 and now you’ve landed yourself in a hitter’s count at a crucial point in the game. Now if only you took an extra couple seconds to make sure the grip you had on the ball was the right one and now your focus is solely on throwing to the glove, maybe you would’ve thrown a strike.
Remember, our goal on the mound is to simplify the game. Pitching is hard enough without us getting in our own way. Not having a good grip on the ball is something that can be easily avoided but for some reason happens far too often. You are the one in control of the game when you’re on the mound. You have the ability to step off the rubber if you don’t feel comfortable with your grip, reset, and get back on the rubber. If you find yourself in this position, slow the game down, step off the rubber, reengage, and get a grip.