Welcome to the House of Pitching Newsletter.
Well, High School season is upon us here in the NorthEastern USA. Despite the often miserable conditions of spring time, the high school teams are out in full force now. One day, I’d like someone to explain to me why the softball season isn’t switched the fall in this part of the country. There’s better weather and everyone is already in shape from the summer season.
One thing amazes me about this time of year is the amount of pitchers who inquire about pitching lessons and clinics. The interest in lessons/clinics increases about a month before the season begins. This seems to happen every year here in the NE part of the country. I can almost set my clock and calender by the emails I get about lessons. It’s amazing.
I know there are other things in most people’s lives other than just softball. Many kids are playing multiple sports and busy with other things all winter long. Quite often, for whatever reason in this area of the country, the high school coaches are very non-cooperative with each other when it comes to sharing an athlete. Especially a very good athlete! The Track & Field coach doesn’t want his star runner going to softball practice if it means missing his practice. There have even been documented cases where the coaches discourage multiple sports even when there is NOT a conflict! Of course, this puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the athlete to decide which sport to play. While I understand a coach seeing potential in an athlete and wanting with all his heart to see that kid perform at his/her best level, it’s incredibly unfair to put them in those “choosing” positions. Lord knows, I’ve seen my share of pitchers who could’ve been OUTSTANDING. But, their first love is basketball, volleyball, track, or something other than softball.
We live in a society that doesn’t like to wait. We have cable television “on demand”. Movies on demand. TV dinners done in 3 minutes, etc. It’s a different world from when I was younger, and I’m only 33. That just goes to show you how quickly the world has changed.
But, this “right now” mentality has crept into every part of our lives, especially in younger people. They come to softball practice, without having thrown a ball all winter, and want to be ready to throw shut outs when the season starts. It doesn’t really occur to many of them that softball pitching is a skill, and requires years of practice. There are very few people who can walk out on the field without practicing much and perform at levels many of us could only dream about. Those people are freaks of nature and most of them don’t even realize their God given talent. If they did realize it, they would spend more time enhancing it and cultivating it.
Unapologetically, softball pitching is definitely one of those things that you’re only going to get out whatever you put in. And I don’t care if their first love is basketball or any other sport, that’s fine. But, don’t get frustrated at the results of the pitching if she chooses that sport over softball. It’s that simple. As a pitching coach, my role in this is very limited. I usually get a pitcher for 1 hour per week and that’s it. Beyond that 1 hour, it’s up to them to practice and work on the things I’ve assigned them to do over the next week. But I can’t MAKE them do it. They either want it or they don’t.
One of the natural advantages I have over many other pitching coaches is my own experience in the game. I use this ability and experience I have in every lesson to physically demonstrate the things I’m teaching. This is a huge factor because it helps the pitcher visualize what I’m saying and gives them something to imitate. Plus, when many of them say “I can’t do that” or “That’s impossible”, by showing them that I can do it shows that it CAN be done. One constant that I hear from parents, coaches and pitchers when I demonstrate things is: “You make it look so easy!” And my response is always the same: It looks that way because I’ve literally spent YEARS doing it. And I go on to explain that I didn’t just roll out of bed and have the ability to throw the ball, I was once in the exact same position they are in. And I worked my tail off to get where I am and to be able to do what I am doing now. With that same dedication, they can have that same success too. Practice makes permanent, not perfect.
“They are only going to get out of pitching whatever they put into it.” Find a way to make them understand that. There is no more important lesson in pitching than that. When they understand that message, they will understand this one: The only place SUCCESS comes before WORK is the dictionary!