Do What Works For YOU

Recently I was having a discussion with Jimmy Jackson, the PC at JMU. He made a comment to me that I was a bit surprised by. He said he never hands a folder to his pitchers and says, “here’s the JMU pitching program, get to work.” Instead he sits down with each individual player and tries to figure out what has made each of his players successful in the past. Obviously, something had to be done right by the players to be playing at a quality D1 program. I know Eric Peterson, the now HC at Benedictine College, has his “U” Program that he hands each of his pitchers, which is a very loose template designed to allow his players to find their best process to prepare themselves to perform. Now are all coaches as awesome as this? Absolutely not.

So, what’s my point? YOU need to find what works best for YOU! At the end of the day, it’s your career. You get one shot, as Ben Brewster of Tread Athletics explained in some quality tweets

Will you have coaches that force you into a throwing program? Absolutely. But that can all be (mostly) negated if you’ve educated yourself enough to outdo whatever damage may be done. Or, better yet, if you present your ideas in the right way, your coaches may allow it. I see it all the time and have seen college coaches complain about it all the time. Way too many players head off to college or pro ball and have ZERO idea what it was that made them successful. They either lucked into knowing the right coach or trainer who wrote a great program, or the kid was gifted enough it didn’t matter. These athletes have no clue as to why they’ve had success in an extremely difficult game and, eventually, that will come back to haunt you.

Now does this mean you should try every single program or play the mix-and-match game of different programs? Or that you should stubbornly stick to one program and never seek new information to improve? Heck no. I’m suggesting you educate yourself as best as you can on what the leaders in the industry are doing and apply it to your development. Be open to ideas and improving, but not everything. As with just about everything in life, it’s about moderation. I’m a major believer in weighted balls, but do I think every athlete should use them extensively in their program? Heck no. Max Scherzer has 3 (and counting) Cy Young Awards and, according to Eric Cressey, his trainer, Max has never touched a weighted ball. Numerous HOF players have never utilized a weighted ball program or even lifted heavy weights and several All-Stars of today do. Not every program will work for you and no single program will work for every person. Take notes on what was successful and what failed. Track EVERYTHING you can think of to see what really works (e.g. velocity, command, health, etc.) and what does not. If you’re a HS player looking at college programs, don’t be afraid to ask potential college coaches and their current players if you’ll be allowed to continue what you do that has made you successful.

Even if it doesn’t work, you know. Your mindset as a player shouldn’t be to “play in the big leagues” or “be a HOFer.” It should be to develop yourself into the best version possible. For some, the above is reasonable. For others, it’s not. Keep in mind a guy as talented as Casey Weathers never made it. But even if you don’t make it, you’ll know you did everything you could and maximized your ability. Don’t let someone else dictate YOUR career.

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