Monday, April 16, 2012

Pitching Practice

Post by Jenny

For baseball players young and old, spring is in full swing. My sons are dusting off their gear and getting started, and the major leaguers are a couple of weeks into the season—though they’ve been prepping for much longer. Because the position is so demanding, major league pitchers report early--in February--for spring training. (Catchers, too, because it’s hard to be a pitcher without one.) To avoid injury, they start slow and increase their pitch counts until they are ready for the regular season.

Still, with all the prep, pitching performances this time of year can and do vary widely. In the National League so far this season, pitchers’ earned run averages range from .60 to 10.61. (If you don’t follow baseball, lower is better.) Some guys are in their grooves. Some guys aren’t. Pitching isn’t easy—and never is this more apparent than when a regular Joe throws out the ceremonial first pitch and bounces the ball twelve feet in front of home plate.

Pitching isn’t easy for writers either. I honestly don’t know why we get so worked up about it, because agents and editors are usually professional, encouraging, and friendly. Chalk it up to nerves, I guess. It’s our version of baseball’s save situation, where the game is on the line. And even though other games will come along, you always want to win the one you’re in.

Even though I didn’t have an official pitch session at the recent NCW conference, it became apparent to me in casual conversations that my pitch is rusty. In fact, I seem to have forgotten how to talk about my work--because I haven’t practiced. I haven’t put myself through the writer’s version of spring training. I haven’t availed myself of a pitching coach: anyone with ears who could hear my pitch and give me feedback. And I haven’t worked on my repertoire. Just as any baseball pitcher worth his salt has different pitches for different situations, writers should too.

I’m not sure I believe that practice makes perfect, but practice builds confidence, and that’s an excellent place to start. So, tell me—if you’ve signed up to pitch at an upcoming conference, do you feel ready? And if you pitched recently, how did it go? Was it a strike, or did you throw one in the dirt?

3 comments:

Stacy Jensen said...

Great reminder. I'm attending Pikes Peak Writers Conference this weekend. While I'm not formally pitching, I need to be able to answer the "So, what are you writing?" question.

Dean K Miller said...

I managed a decent "elevator" pitch at the NCW conference when I was asked by an author/presentor what I was writing. A good "bull pen" warm up for me, but I didn't make the call to pitch in the big game that weekend.

Still I didn't strike out and I didn't balk at the chance when asked. The home run comes next year at NCW's conference...no wait if I'm pitching I don't want that, it'll be a shutout...maybe even a perfect game.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I'm convinced the only way to grow comfortable doing pitches is to do lots of them, and to treat them like "getting to know you" conversations. My first pitch, which I call the pitch from hell, was humiliating. Now they're always fun, even if they're not successful.

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