Baseball Magazine

The Importance of Repeating Yourself

By Meachrm @BaseballBTYard

The importance of repeating yourself

White Sox pitcher Chris Sale
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/
Getty Images)

The other day I am watching the MLB Network (surprise!) and they are doing an analysis of the Chicago White Sox during their 30 Teams in 30 Days Tour.  They spent a bit of time on a young pitcher named Chris Sale who was drafted in last year’s MLB Draft and is already in the Major Leagues.  They showed him throwing a bullpen session and doing all the things the other pitchers were doing.  Something struck me immediately as I watched him throw.  Although the announcers did not mention it, I guarantee what I saw is a big factor in his success.  The mechanics and rhythm of every pitch he threw was exactly the same.  For pitchers, that is called “repeating your delivery.”  
It sounds simple.  Just learn a good set of throwing mechanics and repeat it over and over every time you pitch.  Like most everything else in baseball, that is easier said than done.  Most pitchers, from the Little League level all the way up to the Major Leagues, struggle with this at some point – some more than others.  It is why a Little League game can last so long.  The pitcher throws a good strike and then cannot find the zone on the next ten pitches.  It is also why a Major League starter can cruise for four innings and then completely fall apart in the fifth, losing all his command, and be taken out.  The ability to repeat your delivery is so important in pitching and takes (usually) many, many focused reps to master.  Many never get there.  
Repeating your delivery over and over has a couple benefits.  First, it helps with accuracy.  If a pitcher can repeat his mechanically sound delivery when he throws a strike, it makes sense that he will throw strike after strike because everything is the same.  Second, it also helps as the game procedes and the pitcher starts to tire.  Although his velocity may drop a little as he gets tired, if he can repeat his delivery, he usually can continue his success for a bit longer.  When most pitchers get tired, they unintentionally alter their mechanics by dropping their elbow or not using their lower half enough.  Not surprisingly, many lose their command along with their mechanics.

The importance of repeating yourself

Consistency as a hitter depends
on repeating good swings.

It is important to note that all this does not just apply to pitchers.  An infielder who repeats the same good footwork develops consistency on all types of ground balls.  The hitter that repeats one good swing over and over is more likely to be consistent over time as well regardless of the pitch thrown or who is throwing it.  Hitting is hard enough.  Trying to hit with a different swing on every pitch is a recipe for failure.
A baseball player's goal should be to develop consistency with all his mechanics.  Many players who underperform or do not play as much as they would like do not lack ability.  What they lack is consistency.  Chris Sale got to the Major Leagues in part because of his ability to consistently repeat his delivery.  Whether he stays will depend on his ability to continue to do so.

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