The first newsletter of 2007. The wierd part is, it’s only Jan 16th and it already feels like the holidays were a long time ago. Yet, it will seem like no time until the holidays are back upon us. Funny how that works huh? With that said, I hope everyone had a great holiday season. Apologies to those who have been waiting with baited breath for the monthly newsletter. Between holidays, clinic/travel schedules and the purchase of a new home, I haven’t had much time for this. I didn’t get my Christmas wish of moving to a warm weather climate. I had wanted to move to Arizona or Texas and my wife wanted to stay here in town. Guess who won the dispute?
With the new calender on the wall comes the anticipation of another softball season. Days go by fast yet, it seems like the opening game is a while away. It’s another one of those contradictions like the holidays coming fast and leaving quickly.
It’s always at this time of year where I’m slammed with emails and clinic requests. Some people view the high school softball season like they do any high school class… they blow off studying as long as possible, then cram for the finals. Unfortunately, pulling an “all nighter” of pitching won’t get someone prepared for the season. But, that kind of goes back to a previous months article about the multisport athletes. They want to play every sport offered by the school district and then cannot understand why the pitching has not drastically improved.
Often when I do clinics, I’m confronted by those who are confounded by what they see and hear by me. It’s one thing to have a person tell you something about pitching, and it’s another to see them demonstrate it. This ability has really helped me with a lot of people. Yet, I still run across the types who think there is a wrong time for their daughter to do things differently. Even after witnessing a full demonstration and completely changing what they know about pitching, the concern is always the same that it’s just too close to the season to change now.
The spirit of their argument is valid. Nobody wants to go into the season unprepared. But the reality is, every time they pitch doing things incorrectly, it’s reinforcing muscle memory in their bodies. And it’s a losing argument for me to explain that if they choose to stay on that course, improvement is impossible. It’s impossible to build velocity to it’s potential and make the ball rotations to be correct when the mechanics are wrong. And I haven’t even mentioned accuracy yet. Because whether you fall into the trap of believing that either speed or accuracy comes first, the reality is.. you can’t have the maximum of either without correct mechancis. So, they should be doing both together. Otherwise, it’s entirely possible that they will have to unlearn something they did in an effort to gain the speed or accuracy, whichever they were learning first.
Bottomline, the word “change” puts the fear of God into people. They hear that word and it’s effect is immediately negative. But, I don’t want people to think of it as change. I want them to think “add and subtract”. We are going to subtract the things that are impeeding our development and add things that will help it. It’s a much more positive way to think of new things in pitching.
I currently have a pitching student in Ohio who is, without question, the most talented pitcher I’ve ever seen. Having JUST turned 15, she has a career in front of her that is without limit. I’m not kidding when I say that every major college in the country will hear about her and be recruiting her. She is simply that gifted. I’ve never seen anything like it. But, there is one fatal flaw in her… she is living in the NOW of her career. What I mean is, without much effort, she can throw no hitters and strike out 15 per game. But the real problem is, I am unable to convince her of what her potential. She sees the success she has against far inferior teams/players and has not grasped the concept of what it’s needed to be ELITE, not just very good. Because there is a huge difference in the 2. Throwing 6 mediocre pitches wins games now, but not later. And it’s hard to make her see this. Softball is her love, I believe she wants to be the best she can be. But, it’s hard to make her see that her current success is not an automatic pass to the next level. There is a major difference between striking out (insert name here) and Crystal Bustos. To fullfill her potential and become a household name pitcher, she needs to SUBTRACT the stuff that will not help her against elite hitters (pitches not moving vertically) and ADD pitches that do. And every time she practices a ‘screwball’, each pitch she throws is another that she could be using to perfect her riseball.
So, whether we’re talking about about pitch development or general mechanics, doing things correctly NOW will benefit her now AND later. There really isn’t a wrong time to add and subtract good and bad in her pitching. Afterall, if something is broken and you know it to be broken, is it not best to fix it immediately? Adding and subtracting is never easy. But it’s crazy to do something over and over incorrectly and expect a different result. Just ask George W. Bush.