Welcome to the Philippines supplemental newsletter! I’m writing this from Manila where I’m training the pitchers of the Philippine Women’s National team as they prepare for the World Asian softball tournament.
Now, working with the National team (female) here was much different than I had thought. First, the players are much more athletic and skilled than I anticipated. Which was a pleasant surprise and it got me thinking about a theory I have regarding female players today. There are some young girls playing here that would do EXCEPTIONAL in US colleges. If only the US based schools had scouts in countries like this!
I’m amazed when I go to different countries how much the skill level varies. I guess there is a lot of reasons why some countries develop skilled players and some don’t. From where I’ve stood, I’ve traced it back to one common denominator: Baseball on TV.
While baseball and softball are often described as apples and oranges because of the differences, we have to remember that both apples and oranges are fruit that come from trees. Therefore, they aren’t as different as we think. I’m not talking about game strategies; it’s obvious of those differences. I’m just talking about your basic skills of throwing, catching, and fielding.
When talking with my wife, whom I met while doing pitching clinics in Denmark several years ago, it really occurred to me that baseball has to be the common denominator in world softball development. In Europe, there is not much baseball on TV for people to watch and hardly any to play. Soccer and other local sports dominate the TV sport shows there. Evidence of this theory can be found in the recruitment of players in places like Denmark. Often times, girls are encouraged to join a club for the first time at 19 years old, or later, and don’t even know which hand the glove goes on. When they say they’re right handed, they try putting the glove on the right hand which is backwards.
Kids in those countries don’t have the luxury of watching how Omar Vizquel fields at shortstop or how Randy Johnson throws a ball. And it shows when you get them onto a softball field for the first time. But, here in places where baseball is a dominant sport like Philippines, the players have a head start from watching TV. Naturally, they still have to learn the proper techniques of throwing, catching, fielding, but, they are light years ahead of newcomers to the game in some countries.
And, to take this one step further, have you ever noticed how the players today seem much stronger, faster and learn much quicker than yesteryear? Again, I think this all goes back to what’s on TV in our country. When I grew up, we had the ABC Network game of the week on Saturdays (which usually had that Yankees on, much to my dismay). Today, kids can flip on TV virtually any day and see up to 6 games at a time. And with satellite TV, they can see EVERY game.
People in the media blame what’s on TV for crime and violent behavior among kids. All I’m doing is applying that same theory towards why so many players in the USA today are twice as good as we were at their ages. If what they watch on TV effects their behavior, why can’t it give them a head start on what’s good and bad mechanics of a swing or throw? Just think of the little league softball games this past year; I’m guessing that 50% or more of the girls playing had listed a MLB player as their “hero” when they showed the team Bios.
Now, let me say that I’m not taking ANYTHING away from the coaching of today! Obviously, coaching and training has improved 10 fold. There are some great coaches out there with new strategies and training techniques which have revolutionized the game. There’s no question about it. What I am saying is if we took a 10 year old today compared to a 10 year old from 1980, the difference would be immense in skill level.
Well, that’s all for this edition.