Often I get asked by about clinics or lessons by people who have a HUGE desire to get some help with their daughter or the team’s pitcher but, are worried about the timing of such things. Basically, they are afraid of changing too many things just before the start of the High School, college, or travel ball season. It’s really hard to know what to say to people who have this concern. It is a valid worry! Sometimes coaches can literally make someone start from scratch and try to “unlearn” all that they already know.
My most common response when someone asks me about doing a clinic or lessons but, a worry about changing too many things is: “It’s never too early or late to learn things the right way.” Having said that, there’s a fine line between knowing how to enhance someone’s pitching and making radical changes. Obviously there are certain times in the year that it’s better to make “changes”. And there are times when it’s better to make “tweaks” in the mechanics. Not everything has to be a complete overhaul in mechanics but, there’s nothing wrong with correcting things that will make the pitcher much much better in the long run.
As I said, the hardest part is knowing which changes to make and when. Sometimes, it only takes a small change to make a HUGE difference. For many people out there, that is the case. Sure, there are some that need drastic changes to ever reach their potential but, like anything… it will take time with those pitchers. Pitching doesn’t come overnight for anyone. The important thing is to know what changes to make and when.
It is sometimes very frustrating watching pitchers who don’t take full advantage of their potential. I saw several during the college world series on TV that would be USA National material with some tweaks and changes. The one that stands out the most for me is Stanford’s pitcher. While I can’t remember her name, I can see her pitching in my head. I really believe that a simple correction in her mechanics could’ve been all the difference in the world for her. She had a tendency to step in an indirect line. Rather than striding right out towards the catcher, her foot was shooting too far off to the side, which opened her shoulders. I think that took a lot away from her power and movement. While an argument can me made.: ”She went to Stanford and made it to the World Series, she must be doing something right!” I would have to agree with that! However, having said that, there is always a way to improve. It’s hard to believe that a Division 1 program like Stanford wouldn’t have corrected such an obvious mechanical flaw, especially considering the head coach is a USA Olympic assistant! Yes, she did a good job and obviously had a fine season. But, this is what I mean when I say how I want pitchers who work with me to have loftier goals! I want them to be the best. Not just the best on the team or in the league, the best ANYWHERE.
On a more personal note, and I’m just venting a little here, it should be noted that the USA women are having quite an extensive build up to the Olympics. This includes a tour of virtually the entire country, a trip to Europe, and all the other amenities of being on Team USA. Conversely, if I told you what the USA Men’s team received as preparation for the ISF World Championship held in New Zealand during February of this year you may be in shock. While men’s softball is not an Olympic sport and never will be, the discrepancy between the 2 genders is hard to believe!
It’s a catch 22. USOC funds our National teams based off of performance. If the Men’s team had won the world tournament, the funding may have been increased. But, without the funding… how is it possible to get a chance to win, such as the women are doing??? Incidentally, the USA men failed to finish in the top 3 for the first time in… forever.
So, to recap… the USA women who are playing the Olympics DURING the US summer season continue to get a blank check for preparations but, the men’s team, who are having to play during the dead of winter receive next to nothing in way of pre tournament build up. While I do think the women should get more funding due to the Olympics, I think the discrepancy in the 2 funding is horrible shame. It’s almost a Title 9 in reverse.
Now is the time to start planning clinics and lessons for the fall and winter. It’s never too early to book them. I travel anywhere to do them and very little is needed to run such an event, while the return given to the participants is invaluable. I hope to hear from more people in new areas that would like to book something soon. Feel free to do so through my website, www.houseofpitching.com.