TUNNELING PITCHES AND READING HITTERS
By: Seth Simmons
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What is Tunneling? It is the ability to make all your pitches look the same when the leave the hand. We have all seen the overlays they do on tv of a pitcher’s arsenal at release, halfway point, and at the plate. Why is tunneling a necessary tool for a pitcher? The more you can make all of your pitches look the same the more you turn the hitter into a guess hitter.
Being able to tunnel pitches is not something that just happens. As a pitcher, you have to work on your sequencing of pitches and of course your delivery. The obvious answer to making sure you are tunneling your pitches with your delivery, is to have a repeatable one. The in depth answer is get data readings on a Rapsodo or Trackman and look at your tilt/spin direction. Also look at your release height and extension. The more you can get all your pitches to mirror your fastball the better at tunneling them you will be. Sequencing your pitches is the other way to help you better tunnel your pitches. Throwing certain pitches to certain spots helps them blend and look the same to a hitter. For example a high fourseam fastball in the zone accompanied by a down breaking ball on the plate. These two pitches should look identical out of the hand, depending on pitch properties.
Having the ability to read a hitter will also help you with tunneling your pitches and what sequences to go with. Reading swings is not always the easiest things to do so look for subtle adjustments. Is the hitter up in the box? If so, he’s probably looking to take break out of a certain pitch. How does the hitter swing at or even take your fastball can tell you a lot about what sequence to use to help you get him out. The biggest aspect to tunneling and sequencing your pitches to get a hitter out is, if its not broke do not try and fix it. The hitter will tell you all you need to know on making adjustments.