By Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja)
“It is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” –Abraham Maslow
Too often, coaches can tend to be one dimensional, focusing on one aspect of pitching as the key to success. To some, almost all problems can be solved by one particular cue or mechanical adjustment or letting the pitcher rest or whatever they were taught years ago, depending on their own mindset and biases. In short, for many coaches and pitchers, the only tool they have is their personal “hammer,” so everything they see is a nail.
One area I believe that is often overlooked is mechanics at the youth/little league level. Let me first say mechanics are crucial at any age and any issues should be corrected immediately. That being said, I believe coaches have a tendency with youth pitchers to either make too many changes or none at all. This can allow pitchers to develop bad habits that become harder to break as the pitcher ages or the pitcher becomes too robotical in his delivery due to over overcoaching.
I believe both of these issues can be fixed in a very simple and easy way: Focusing On The Fundamentals. Many of you coaches may remember legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden. If you know anything about Coach Wooden’s philosophy it was that he emphasized fundamentals every single day. He believed if a player mastered the fundamentals, s/he would be abound with confidence. I agree 110% with Coach Wooden. If pitchers are taught early on in their careers the very basic actions of the pitching delivery (hip drive, arm action, rotation, follow-through) then the pitcher can become much more confident in his ability, he can establish a “FEEL” for his mechanics so he can adjust when something is wrong, and he can keep his arm healthy.
Much has been made of recent Japanese imports to Major League Baseball, and for good reason. A vast majority sport a mid-high 90’s fastball with impeccable command. While some of these pitchers haven’t worked out (Kei Igawa immediately springs to mind), others have had amazing success but most share one common theme: Health. Japanese pitchers have had an astonishing track record of durability and longevity over the years (maybe there’s something to the 7 day rotation, but that’s an article for another time). With American-born pitchers struggling to maintain arm health, many coaches, scientists/researchers, and “professionals” have been in search of a solution. My response? Head East. Far East.
By Baseball Brains
Coaching pitchers can be very hard, and very time consuming. To add to the challenge, most of the guys we work with are not full time commits to our brilliant systems. They have school to attend, video games to play, girls to see, and couches to sit on. Hard to believe they would choose those things over working with us old guys, but somehow they consistently find a
way. This is why it’s so critical that pitching coaches keep it simple and focus on things that have the biggest bang for their buck. We’re looking for one thing we can teach a kid that will have a positive impact on all that other stuff. For me there are a few things that meet
1: Intent and goals
2: Mental approach and strategy
3: Strength and conditioning
By Eric Peterson, Drury University Pitching Coach
As coaches we are always looking for or to recruit great athletes. Players who have the ability to perform at a high level while having the ability to play multiple positions on the field are the proverbial “gold mine” of all sports. Add in the ability to make an impact on the mound as a pitcher, you are now living the good life as a coach! But how does an athlete become successful at being a two-way player? Do we lose two-way players early in their career because of misguidance? How realistic is it to put those expectations on that player? How are they physically able to meet the demands of not just one position but two? Why are there not more of these guys out there? Is there enough time for a full time high school or college student-athlete to get the repetitions he so vitally needs?