While figuring out what pitch to call is much more of an art than a science, avoiding these common pitch-calling mistakes makes it much easier for your pitchers to stay ahead and be successful.
No matter who calls pitches, you or your catcher, doing so is a tough job. It involves thoroughly knowing as much as you can about each one of your pitchers, all of their hitters and the umpire. While we’ll soon be releasing a pitch calling eClinic that will go into detail about all the things you should know in order to call the right pitches, right now I want to focus on the most common pitch-calling mistakes.
I’m aware that some teams have their catcher’s call pitches, but for some reason the biggest mistakes I see made seem to occur when coaches are calling the pitches. The next time you’re calling pitches try to avoid the following:
- Random Reasoning – Basically, this means there’s no sound reason for calling the particular pitch – the reason is just random. I know this sounds nuts, but I see coaches do this all the time. Sometimes coaches will randomly call a pitch because they “like” the pitch. It’s the wrong pitch at the wrong time from a pitcher that doesn’t really have the pitch, but the coach likes the pitch so they call it anyway. Random reasoning isn’t really reasoning at all and it sure doesn’t help put your pitcher in a position of dominance.
- Haven’t Thrown It In A While – This one’s a lot like Random Reasoning as it doesn’t really follow a solid line of thinking. Simply calling a pitch because you haven’t thrown it in a while is no reason to call a pitch. Pitches need to have a specific reason they’re being called – either they’re attacking a hitter’s weakness, they’re the best way for the pitcher to get a strike, they help set up another pitch, or they help the hitter hit into the strength of the defense…whatever the reason there needs to be one that’s far more specific than we haven’t throwing it in a while.
- Simply Liking a Pitch – Coaches seem to “like” certain pitches and tend to call that pitch all the time. Again, no specific reason for calling the pitch other than they “like it”. The screwball is the current pitch that coaches seem to love as it’s called way too often for the very average way that most pitchers tend to throw it.
- Calling a Pitch This Pitcher Doesn’t Have – This one always amazes me. How can anyone call a pitch that they know the pitcher doesn’t even have, and yet you’d be amazed at how often it happens! Anyone calling pitches should know the pitches that every one of their pitcher’s have, and the order of control for each of them. Simply having this list in front of you when you call pitches will make sure you’re only calling pitches that each pitcher has.
- Calling a Pitch in a Location This Pitcher Doesn’t Have – Another way coaches can hurt their pitchers by the pitches they call is a little more subtle, but still results in putting the pitcher in a position to fail – which means it’s harder for her to get ahead of the hitter. Coaches often call a pitch that the pitcher has in a location she can’t throw it successfully. The curveball is a great example of this. Many pitchers have decent curveballs on the outside corner but then the coach signals them to throw it on the inside corner (sometimes called a “backdoor curve”). This is a much more difficult pitch that when thrown well can result in jamming a good hitter. But, when a pitcher throws an inside curveball and she isn’t ready to throw it there, the result is usually a hit batter if the pitch doesn’t break, or a meatball if the ball breaks too much. Both of these result in the pitcher getting in trouble when really it was the person calling the pitch that made the mistake.
Calling pitches is a challenge that requires a lot of knowledge, study and adjustment. The main goal of everyone calling pitches should be to put your pitcher in a position of dominance over the hitter and keep her there. To help make that possible do your best to avoid these 5 common pitch calling mistakes!
For more help with this topic check out the following:
And watch out for our brand new soon-to-be-released eClinic titled: THE ART OF CALLING PITCHES: All the Things You Need to Know to Call a Great Game