With the Lokator System a pitcher's command can be graded, pitch sequences and selection taught, then practiced and put into competition with tools provided by the Academy. It is a big accomplishment to learn and execute in the bullpen, but games will offer many more variables for pitchers to recognize and react to. Our goal for this blog is to identify and defend against the variables that make pitching in games so much harder than throwing a bullpen in practice.
Here at Lokator HQ we see pitchers hitting a higher percentage of Lokations in practice sessions than in game situations. Each blog post will consider a different variable pitchers will have to contend with during a game that is not there in bullpens. Without game success it doesn't matter how well you throw in practice!
Throwing a bullpen in practice is similar to a hitter taking batting practice on the field. Both are controlled environments where far fewer variables come into play. Both BP and bullpen work can benefit muscle memory and confidence, but you must understand the different variables between practice and the game to be a successful pitcher.
Its common for a pitcher to command multiple pitches and Lokations during bullpens, then struggle with those exact same pitches and Lokations in games. In bullpens pitchers only have to think about themselves and the catcher's target. This makes it easier to repeat mechanics, keep good rhythm, and stay focused on the current pitch only. Confidence builds in the bullpen and when game variables are introduced pitch command isn't as good.
Its also common for a slumping batter to hit multiple line drives and even home runs during BP before the game and then continue to struggle during the game. In BP hitters are seeing pitches at the same speed, movement, and Lokation on every pitch. This allows hitter's timing and mechanics to be consistent on every swing. Confidence builds during BP and in the game when pitch command, sequencing, and selection are introduced its back to the slump.
The first step is to recognize the difference between the bullpen and the game. It is easier adjusting to game variables once pitchers understand what to look for. Experience then becomes the teacher and the same mistakes are not repeated.