Baseball is such an incredible sport. The amount of skill that the players display on the diamond is jaw dropping. But there is one position in particular that I always admired: Pitcher. A pitcher has a lot of responsibility. Not only does the pitcher have to throw the ball over the plate, but also throw various pitches, and locate pitches as well.
Growing up, I was fortunate enough to watch the Detroit Tigers play at historic Tiger Stadium. It had always been a dream of mine to be a pitcher, and not only has that dream come true, but Tiger Stadium has played a large role in my quest to become a pitcher.
Approaching the mound, I had a rush of excitement that jolted through my body. So many great players pitched on the mound at Tiger Stadium: Mickey Lolich, Roger Clemens, Mariano Rivera, etc. Looking back now, it’s incredible that I get to play on the same field with the likes of those talented pitchers.
Learning how to pitch is hard, and I was terrible at it. I’m going to break down how I did it, and how you can use the following method to acquire any skill you want to learn.
So how did I learn how to pitch? Enter Tim Ferriss. What I’m about to share is his method for learning, and it is very effective. Here it is: DSS.
Deconstruction- What are the minimal learnable units, the LEGO blocks, I should be starting with?
Selection-Which 20% of the blocks should I focus on for 80% or more of the outcome I want?
Sequencing-In what order should I learn the blocks?
Stakes-How do I set up stakes to create real consequences and guarantee I follow the program?
This is a simple process to follow, and here is how I used it for pitching:
Deconstruction-The first thing I did was pick a pitcher who I wanted to pitch like. Being a Detroit Tiger fan, it wasn’t hard to choose Justin Verlander. I watched Justin Verlander’s mechanics on YouTube, and studied them extensively. Another thing I did was order the book “The Art & Science of Pitching” from Amazon. That book helped me understand the fundamentals of pitching.
Selection-For this step, I focused on pitching mechanics, and the types of pitches I would be throwing. Leg movement, arm action, and speed all went into account. As for pitch types, I focused on the basics: two seam fastball, four seam fastball, curveball, changeup, and slider(slightly advanced), but I like a challenge.
Sequencing-The great thing about pitching is that you can’t be out of sequence. You can learn all the pitch types you want, but if your pitching mechanics are poor, you won’t get very far. Learning the mechanics helped me pitch with proper form, and when I started to learn various pitches—everything fell into place.
Stakes-To guarantee I committed myself to pitching, I pitched at Tiger Stadium every Saturday. At first, it was hard. I didn’t know what I was doing, my pitches didn’t make it across the plate, and as they say in baseball: I got rocked (I gave up many big hits), but repetition and persistence kept me coming back for more.
With bases loaded, two outs, and a full count: I released the pitch, and former Detroit Tiger, John Wockenfuss, grounded out to first. It was a great thrill for me, and after I got him out, he came up to me and said “Great pitching, kid.” If I can learn how to pitch using this method, then you can learn any skill you desire. Choose a skill you want to learn, get started, and happy practicing.