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Mental Baseball Drills - Pitch Like A Kung Fu Master

By Nate Barnett

What do Kung Fu and pitching have in common? Quite a lot actually. However, before you drop a few hundred bucks per month on some serious Kung Fu lessons, allow me to shed some light on this subject for you so that you may incorporate it into some of your baseball drills and pitching workouts.

Kung Fu was founded on a few philosophies: Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. Without boring you with an Eastern philosophy session, here are some principles Kung Fu has adopted from the above philosophies:

1. Focus on education

2. Do not react with force

3. Be natural

4. Discipline of the mind

First and foremost, all pitchers (not to be confused with throwers, that is, those who do opposite of this advice) need to have the skill of working at their craft with intentional, focused preparation. This necessary and core fundamental will determine how long you stick with pitching. It is possible to cruise through junior high school on athleticism; however, the move to high school baseball requires some background knowledge and some consistent baseball drill work if you're looking to keep the ball in the park on a regular basis.

Secondly, all smart pitchers having figured out (usually through the strain from getting their ego smashed on the mound) that tense and bound up energy in no way produces good, ever! Quite the contrary, pitching must be approached with a mental strengthening process that allows the athlete to react to negatives efficiently, without becoming forceful or emotionally non Kung Fu-like. While this "conditioning process" may be addressed in other articles, this article is written to simply bring about awareness. Check back frequently for more on the mental game of baseball and some bonus baseball drills.

Closely tied into the idea to the above principle is the art of remaining natural. I was having this conversation the other day with another coach I work with. He passed on to me one of the best things an athlete can do to help his chances of playing at a high level is to play natural. That is, too many athletes look like they have been produced from the assembly line. They reek of a mechanized attitude. And while most move the correct way, many are just are lacking flare, excitement, and raw aggression for playing the game. When the pressure of the game hits, robotic drone "athletes", who have spent thousands of dollars on mechanics alone, self destruct and can't manage themselves. Work on your relaxation during your baseball drills, it will pay off in the end.

Lastly, as the guy largely in charge of setting the pace and tempo of the game, you the pitcher is expected to not puke himself (figuratively of course) out on the bump. What does this mean? Simply put, you can't be a mental moron in your preparation process. It takes a super-sized order of mental discipline to throw consistently in the off-season, work on your arm strength, run, do plyometric exercises, run some more, and so forth. Most guys can't cut it. But then again, most guys can't be consistent for any length of time. You want the Kung Fu secret? BE CONSISTENT! Nothing fancy about it.


About the Author

Nate Barnett is owner of BMI Baseball and is based out of Washington State. His expertise is in the area of hitting, pitching, and mental training. Coach Barnett's passion is working with youth in helping expand their vision for their baseball future. After finishing a professional career in the Seattle Mariners Organization, Nate pursued his coaching and motivational training career. His instructional blog is located at

His new FREE ebook, Toxic Baseball: Are you polluting your game? can be found on the main BMI Baseball website.

Hitting 101, an ebook on complete hitting mechanics will be released by June 1st, 2008. Features include numerous illustrations, video clips, and a special offer to discuss your hitting questions over live on the phone strategy sessions.


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