One of the many things we like to do at Hardball Academy is help educate parents. There are many misconceptions on training, show case camps, teams, mechanics, pitching and hitting in general, and what players should be doing at a certain age. Here is one example of what has happened many times over the years: About 4 months ago a gentlemen came to me and said that his 15 year old had been taking pitching lessons with a former ex professional pitcher and several other instructors over the past 5 years…… but has not really seen much improvement. I first asked if he was a motivated player and did drills/training on his own and wanted to get better. After that, I asked what had he and his instructor worked on? What were his faults (inefficiencies) and fixes? Did they work on understanding cause and effect? Did they do any work on making in game fixes? Did they work on any type of mental/emotional training to enhance or build those skills? What type of measurement/goal setting was done? The answer to all these were no/none……about all he could tell me was the instructor threw around the same old buzz words (that are ambiguous/or need more detail) that are used by 99% of coaches (stay closed, your opening up, get out front, yada, yada, yada). The father asked me “if I could help him and if I would be honest about his son’s abilities……….if he had what it took to pitch at the high school level? He asked “what made our program any different than the others”? I could tell that there was a sense of despair and desperation in his voice. I told the gentleman that I would give him honest feedback if I felt his son had the aptitude to pitch at the next level….and I told him If he was motived to work and learn that I could help him make improvements……….to what level and to what degree I can’t tell you that. I told him here are the 5 things that separate our program from others: 1. We help players measure and set goals on their mechanics, flexibility, strength levels, athleticism, and with pitching concepts 2. We teach pitchers about cause and effect and how mechanical efficiency effects the force (velocity) and direction (control) of the baseball. 3. We teach players to understand themselves better …….what mistakes do they make? How do they fix them? How do they do this in games? 4. We help give them that mechanical tool box but also the mental/emotional tool box……..how to handle adversity, create a pre-pitch plan/routine, maintaining confidence, etc. 5. Build an arm care, recovery, and treatment plan for all pitchers.
I am proud to say after about 4 months of work we saw this player add 5 mph to his fastball and increase his strike percentage from 55% to %67. For the first time the player had complete knowledge, awareness, and understanding! The player is really a bright kid that just needed some detail and correct understanding of how his body should be working to maximize his throwing efficiency. On a another note; the player had told me that he would get pain in the back of his shoulder from time to time when he threw. He said that he rarely feels anymore pain and sometimes it doesn’t even feel like he is throwing that hard. As I explained to him……..he has become more efficient and his workload had been decreased on his arm………he is getting more output with less input……..that equals more velocity, more strikes, and less likely hood of arm injury…..all good things. With the results the player is even more motivated to train and take his game to the next level. With his progress, understanding and work ethic I have no doubt he will pitch at the varsity level within the next 2 years.
** Detail is very important if pitchers are going to learn themselves……many cue terms lack detail and/or ambiguous that do not lead to complete knowledge and too many gaps for the player to fill in.
* Also when teaching mechanics it is important to understand the kinetics of human movement (the kinetic chain), how muscles load/unload, stretch reflex response, and how players can create and maximize momentum. Many conventional teaches are actually putting pitchers at greater risk and reduce the efficiency of performance (velocity, control, movement).
Advanced Pitching Instructor