Dirk Hayhurst: An Unconventional Note Taker

PORTLAND, OR-- To continue our series on the notes and preparation players take, reliever Dirk Hayhurst went under the microscope for his thoughts on the subject.

Do you keep a notebook on hitters?

Dirk Hayhurst: I do not keep a notebook on hitters. I keep a notebook on feel.

For example, I throw four pitches and not everyday does the ball feel the same in my hand. But one day you'll have a changeup that's just, ‘oh my gosh, if I had that everyday, wow, it'd be like a Jedi mind trick out there.' So, I'll write down how it felt that day and I'll use as much description as I can and be like ‘you tried this and you were thinking that and you threw this and this is the result you got, let's try it again tomorrow and see if we can reproduce it.' Or ‘you had this mindset when you were out there, you were thinking breathe slowly, keep your pace down, don't rush, don't worry.'

Those kind of things I'll write them down and it worked, repeat these mantras. I really do believe how you talk to yourself, how you mentally condition yourself before you take the mound plays a large role in how you're going to perform out there. If you're telling yourself you're going to fail or you're in trouble or you have to make this happen or you're going to blow this or if you strike this guy out there's [a scout] in the stands, you can be in the big leagues tomorrow. If you think that way it's going to derail you. I'll capture things that I know keep me cool, keep me focused, and keep me consistent, and I'll try and write those things down and I know it sounds hokey.

Some people are like ‘I got notes on a hitter, I'm going to get him out with this,' but I think this part of it is very important too because even if I know how to get that hitter out if I'm not the same guy, if I can't rely on myself to bring to the table the same stuff that got him out the last time. I'm letting one side of the equation disappear while keeping the other.

Do you consult these notes often?

Dirk Hayhurst: I do. If I have a bad outing, it's very easy after you fail to want to change yourself, to want to go in and [say] I want to change my mechanics or I got to get another pitch, ‘I can't get anybody out with the ones I have, I better figure out something better.'

You'll throw away all the success you've had in that brief moment of insecurity after failure. I have stuff I've written down on the backs of letters or scraps of paper, and I'll flip through them and I'll remember, ‘Oh that's right, I didn't do this,' and that will kind of bring me back to square one, right back to that point of control again.

I do go back and I do read [them]. Sometimes I go back and I can't believe I wrote that down, how dumb is that.

It's a process of tinkering, collecting some information on stuff that I thought would make an impact. I go back and look at some, I don't go back and look at others/ I started taking notes on something I thought would help and have never referred to it, some things that I should have [written] but never did, I really wish I would've. It's a trial and error process, but the fact of the matter is that you're trying and it can help you.

Is this something you started doing or were you influenced by another pitcher?

Dirk Hayhurst: I just started doing it myself. There are so many little sound bytes from coaches, prospects, and older guys that you work with that you hear throughout your career. And some of the stuff, if you took it individually, it would be the kind of stuff they put in books.

We have access to all this information, we have access to it everyday. I can talk to Shawn Wooten who's been up there and been around the game for a long time. I can talk to [Glenn] Abbott, the pitching coach, if I wanted to. They're going to give you some good information and on some day they might give it to you and you may not give a crap about it because you're mad, you're frustrated, you don't want to hear it. On some day they may give it to you and it's perfectly timed, it couldn't be better, and it changes your whole career.

I just thought, you know what, there's all this information floating around, I should probably write some of this down because it's valuable. This is stuff in the offseason people pay me to give them lessons about and here I am not taking some of the best chances I could. I just thought it would be an awful waste if I didn't try to collect some of it. It may help me now, it may help somebody else later, it may help one of my kids, my own, someday, who knows? So I thought I have access to a wealth of knowledge, I might as well start saving some of it.

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