By Chad Rhoades
Mechanics will not get you there.
We can all agree that efficient mechanics and a consistent delivery are essential in reaching ones peak performance and eventual level of success, but is it the most important thing?
With a quick glance of all the MLB pitchers, we can see their own style shine through. They all look significantly different with their deliveries, yet so similar. Teaching and coaching mechanics has been a monotonous journey for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love adapting each pitchers own unique individualistic style to pitching, but it is still limited. Just like MLB pitchers that look so different, if you break it down to the fundamentals, they all get to certain points in their mechanics that every pitcher has to get to in order to be efficient with their body. Blah, blah, biometric blah. What makes a man, much less a pitcher, is his thoughts.
You can’t change the way you act, because how you act is based on how you feel. You can’t change the way you feel because how you feel is related to how you think. You can however, change how you think. Therefore allowing you to change how you feel and, in turn, changing how you act.
Now these are mechanics I love to work with. There is an elemental style that all pitchers deliver their pitches with. The following is a rudimentary foundation of where I like to start guys off of that I work with. I call this Character Creation.
Disclaimer: Everybody is different and puts their own importance on the mental game. That being said, I did not write all this down expecting you to believe in everything I say wholeheartedly and never question it yourself. Some will not think twice and that is fine, but for those who find it useful; keep digging, searching and exploring the depths to what separates you from other people.
Introduction to the idea of your Character:
The basic premise of what I will be talking about is about being perceived the way you want to be perceived on the mound. All of us have been to the movies at one time or another, we have paid money to be entertained for a couple of hours. We wanted to watch actors portray characters that envision power, strength, bravery, courage…whatever it may be. The point is that you do not know the actor personally and believe him to be the character he is playing. Fans that come to a game are doing the same thing. They are paying money to be entertained for a couple of hours. They, like you when you go to the movies, do not know you (the actor) they only know the character you are playing on the field. You will be perceived by how you carry yourself on the field in competition. Just like the fans, the other team doesn’t know you either, and will draw their conclusions about you by how you act on the mound. Picture in your head the epitome of a hero. What does the best of the best look like in your mind? Not just the athletic guy, I am talking about that guy in the movies or books. Think about what size your guy is. Is he always the biggest and baddest dude in the room? Or is it just an aura that he radiates? Is it one of those characters that no matter how big or experienced the enemy that stands against him is, still has no shot, everyone already knows not to mess with your character or you will end up spitting out teeth. Get a grasp on the type of look he has. Is he a gladiator, samurai, navy seal, knight? That character doesn’t have to be real, it can be a dragon, the Predator, or a superhero.
Understand that each of us have our own unique thoughts of what a hero looks like. We can agree that others ideas are cool too, but when it comes down to deciding who we are going into battle, the image you have is the character you want leading you on the frontline. Detail your character out, uniform, facial expressions and his strengths. Is he fast? Strong? Smart? Resilient? Persistent? It can be whatever you want it to be! Know that the talents and strengths your character has are qualities that you have hidden within yourself. You cannot conjure up inside yourself ideas that you are not capable of. Explore those strengths and know what you are made of. Your character is not the same as my character, your strengths aren’t my strengths. Do you know who he is? He is who you want the fans to picture and the other team to fear.
Welcome to your new mechanics.