Pitching by Sandy Koufax

Here’s an excerpt from a great article I read about Hall of Famer, Sandy Koufax.

“During spring training in 1961, Norm Sherry, sitting with Koufax on a bus filled with reserves heading out of Vero Beach to an exhibition game, had suggested to Koufax that he ease up a bit — the harder he threw, the wilder he became. Koufax would then tense his massive muscles, and thus his fastball would lose life and his control would erode further. Joe Becker stated, “He needs a loose wrist to get snap in the ball at the position of release, not more muscular tension than he was already creating.”46 Sherry said, “Why not have some fun out there, Sandy? Don’t try to throw so hard and use more curveballs and changeups.”

Heeding this suggestion was truly the turning point in Koufax’s career. He economized effort, retained velocity, and gained better control of both his pitches and himself. In other words, he went from thrower to pitcher. The mental dimension of his game was prominent.

At times Koufax put on an act to fool batters into looking for a different pitch. He did not like to shake off signs in a regular manner; he believed it was a tip-off. So he would purposely shake off a series of signs only to come back to where he wanted to be.

Koufax would not think of the other team’s lineup before warming up. He believed that thinking about the hitters that late forced him to concentrate upon them completely.

He focused on retiring the average hitters, rather than getting out the best opposing batter. His philosophy was that allowing the star(s) to reach base three or four times in a game did not matter if no one else preceded or followed with a hit.

To be at his best, on the two days before a start Koufax abstained from any activity that might interfere with his performance.

Of interest, however, Koufax believed that luck had a lot to do with success on the mound — particularly line shots hit right at an infielder. Some other noteworthy points include these:

When Koufax wasn’t pitching, he liked to hold a ball with his fastball and curveball grips to strengthen his muscles and tendons.

He could never throw a slider — it hurt his arm.

For leverage and push, Koufax pitched from atop the rubber rather than in front of it.

He believed it necessary to establish the outer half of the plate with a fastball and not get beaten in a close game by throwing a strike on the inner half.

Koufax never blamed any single play or player for costing him a game, because that same player got him out of trouble in another game.”

The entire article can be found here:
https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/e463317c

Enjoy your ready!

Coach Corral

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