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Red Sox Pitcher Jon Lester Compares Pitching and Hunting


Editor’s Note: Mossy Oak is more than a camouflage, hunting, wildlife management and rural properties company. Mossy Oak is made up of some of the best people in the world. This week you’ll meet 29-year old Jon Lester from Washington State, who was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in 2002 at only age 18, and who spent 4 years in the minor leagues and then went to the big leagues in 2006. Lester is currently one of the best left-handed pitchers in the sport of baseball, is starting for the Boston Red Sox and has the best record in baseball for 2013. Lester, a Mossy Oak Pro Staffer, also is a hunter, a cancer survivor and a family man. 

The routine I go through to make the perfect pitch is almost identical to the routine I go through when I’m trying to make the perfect bow shot. There are certain check points that I use to make sure that my body is lined-up, I am aiming at the catcher’s glove, and I have the perfect follow-through. I use a similar technique when I’m taking a shot with my PSE Dream Season bow. Let me explain what I mean. As a pitcher, I have certain check points that I use to make the ball go where I want it to go, with the type of delivery I want it to have. When I am in the windup to make my pitch, I look at my leg to make sure I get a good turn and don’t overturn when I kick out and start to throw. I want to make a good turn with my lower body, so my lower body stays square with my shoulders. If I’m struggling with my pitches, I tell myself, “Get a good turn over the rubber.” If I feel like I’m underneath the ball and pushing it up in the strike zone, I tell myself, “Make sure you get the right tilt with your shoulders, so you can aim the pitch with your elbow.” I want to make sure, when I make the turn, just before I deliver the pitch, that my elbow is my front sight to help aim the pitch, just like the pin sight gives the bowhunter a reference point to aim the shot. I want my right elbow, since I’m a left-handed pitcher, to be aimed straight toward the catcher’s mitt. When I windup and start to make the pitch, I should be able to see the tip of my elbow aimed at the catcher’s mitt. 

I use these same types of mental reminders when I’m shooting my bow. I want to make sure my body is in correct position to make the prefect shot. As I begin my draw, I want to be certain that my thumb is touching my ear, and my lips are touching the kisser button on the string as my anchor point. I need to know that every one of those check points is right, before I release the arrow. If you put a fletching in the corner of your mouth, this lets you know you are anchored correctly. To me, this is a check point to make sure you have a solid anchor, your bow is in the right position, and you are ready to make the shot. 

Lester4_llI get nervous just like all pitchers do when they’re pitching, and just like all hunters do when they see bucks they want to take, and those bucks are coming toward them. I feel like the experience that I’ve had as a starting pitcher has helped me control my emotions, my nerves and my environment. When I am bowhunting, I want to go through the same type check point reinforcements that I use when I’m pitching to execute the best shot that I can shoot. Having said this, let me explain that I have missed quite a few deer, just like most everyone does. Just because you have the right shot sequence when you release the arrow doesn’t guarantee that you’ll take the deer. If I go through my checkpoints, and I know that I have done everything right when I release the ball, I still can’t guarantee that I will throw a strike or cause the batter to swing and miss or have a pop up. But I do know that I’ve done everything in my control to throw the best pitch possible or shoot the best arrow I possibly can shoot. I always try and put myself in the best position to succeed when I’m pitching or bowhunting. 

The same was true when I rifle hunted.  I made sure I took a deep breath, before I took the shot. Mentally, I was certain I squeezed the trigger and didn’t jerk it. Then I knew when I released the ball or the arrow that I’d done all the things I could do to throw the perfect pitch or shoot an arrow. When the ball leaves my hand, or the arrow leaves my bow, whatever happens, happens, and I have no control over the final outcome. Whether I’m practicing with my bow or throwing the baseball, I try and complete both those tasks the very best I can. So, on game day or when I have a big buck in front of me, I have the confidence that my body will do on game day what it’s done in practice. 

For more information on Jon Lester, CLICK HERE.

Day 3: The Boston Red Sox’s Jon Lester - the Moment of Truth and the Perfect Game 

Tomorrow: The Boston Red Sox’s Jon Lester - Hunting For Me Is More Than Taking Game

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