Welcome to the House of Pitching Newsletter.
I’m going to give you all a break from my shameless commercials of videos and products in my store, and forego the announcements that I generally make in the first few paragraphs, except to say I hope the new website will be up and running in the near future.
I am no different than any other pitching coach, we all have the same problems. We all have all 3 kinds of parents of our students: #1. the overbearing helicopter parent who describes every pitch from Suzie’s last game, #2. The kind who would rather read a book than listen to the pitching instruction, and #3. the kind that is just right, like the last bowl of porridge that Goldilocks ate. They are involved but not disruptive. Want to learn to help their daughter but also timid to ask questions that will either embarrass Sally or interrupt things.
Like all other pitching coaches, we have to deal with other coaches. There used to be a few types of these coaches: 1. Knows nothing about pitching and doesn’t try to change things. 2. Knows enough to be dangerous and tries with a good heart to help but, honestly does more harm than good. And #3. coaches that were pitchers in their day and know how it feels in that circle with the weight of world seemingly on her shoulders.
But lately, there’s a 4th kind that’s begun to rear it’s ugly head more and more: the kind that refuses a kid pitching time because he/she doesn’t understand this “new style” of pitching being done. Some kids and parents are devastated to hear their kid will get limited to zero innings unless they change how they pitch because this coach doesn’t understand how the body actually works and its not 1950 anymore: we have technology to show what pitchers of world class fame actually DO, not what we THOUGHT they did. The same goes for hitting, technology and software on cameras have changed how many people teach their craft. It’s not that I (or others) have reinvented pitching, it’s just that how it’s taught has changed for the BETTER. But these Taliban like coaches who like to oppress young pitcher’s development and choose to live without the benefits of modern life just won’t see the forest through all those damn trees.
Parents are faced with a dilemma: “Do I follow what the coach wants or continue on the path we’ve chosen?” This, of course, means changing pitching coaches again. What an awful position to be put in, especially for the kid. What should they do? Well, here’s my advice… stay the course. Odds are that Taliban coach is the #2 model from above and has no real clue about it. Most likely, his daughter is one of the other pitchers and this is an excellent way to rid competition for her. Sound cynical? Ask yourself why there are SOOOOOO many girls softball teams! In some cases it has to do with overflow of kids. In MANY other cases it has to do with a parent not liking how a coach used their kid (or didn’t use her) during the season so, the next year they form their own team.
Learning how to pitch is hard. It takes a lifetime. And it’s even harder when a pitching coach teaches girls to do “hello elbow” method of pitching, despite nobody actually pitching that way… then they have to change to an entirely different style. This “new style” is intimidating to a coach who thought they knew it all. And they wait like a snake in the grass for that kid to have a bad inning or bad game, then they pounce about how this pitching style isn’t going to work. Pitchers become who we are through time and bad games/innings. You cannot judge a book by it’s cover but you CAN by it’s first few chapters, and certainly by it’s last. I’m not ashamed to say I think there’s right and wrong in terms of our bio-mechanics and kinetics. It certainly explains why all great pitchers get into the same positions when they pitch, even if it contradicts what they teach at clinics.
One of the most classic TV quotes ever comes to mind: “I could tell you how to win a marathon but you’re assuming it’s a 26.2 mile race. It’s not. It’s a 6.2 mile race that begins at mile 20.” That is what its like when you get your kid pitching correctly NOW. Otherwise, there’s a risk of injury, stale progress, and worst of all (and probably the worst thing in the world) wasted potential.
Believe in your pitching coach not by how many times he/she has been on the National team but by how much sense their teaching makes compared to what you see them doing. And through the process of mathematics, it’s a foregone conclusion that with enough students over time EVERY coach will have one that becomes admired. But again, this is where our ideas of what does it actually mean to have a successful student? Varsity pitcher as a freshman? School strikeout record? Recruited to a D1 school? Or maybe something even more memorable than that. Success is in the eye of the beholder.
So it looks like I have a new battlefield to fight against, the Taliban coaches. I’m not sure if they are worse than the Pitching coach mafia or not, but both can unleash terrible consequences on a young pitcher and parent who simply doesn’t do their homework. It’s beholden on everyone who reads this to spread the word about these 2 arch enemies of ours.
Whatever kind of pitching coach you think I am, as far as you think I’m willing to go to protect, defend and teach what I hold dear and believe in about pitching, you can’t possibly fathom how deep that well of mine truly goes.