Seeing the light bulb go on
Last night I got another reminder of the real reason I enjoy coaching so much. It’s the challenge of finding the right way to teach a skill and thrill of seeing it take hold.
I’ve been struggling with finding a way to get one of my pitching students to relax her throwing shoulder so she can use her whole body instead of just her arm to throw. She is a bigger kid for her age, so she’s always been able to throw hard just muscling up on the ball. She would get into an open position ok, but then she’d tilt her head forward, tighten her shoulder, and just fling the ball forward. Not the smooth, relaxed, powerful movement we’re looking for. I’ve tried a half dozen cues or more over the last few months but nothing seemed to really stick.
Then last night I had her hang her arms down like an ape, and said the magic words: get your shoulders out over your toes. This is a cue I’ve used before with various pitchers (and hitters) to explain how to get into the athletic position, and may have even said it to this girl. But last night the light bulb came on. It suddenly seemed to make sense to her.
She started out throwing rather slowly, just to get the feel. She was worried about the loss of speed but I told her not to be concerned — we’ll recapture the speed (and more) later. As the lesson went on she started getting more comfortable with it, and adding speed to it. There were some wild pitches due to a lack of comfort/confidence in the movement, but overall she started to show some consistency. I was elated.
We’ll see for sure how well it took next week. But I have a good feeling about this one. If I’m right, a whole new world of fastpitch pitching just opened up for this very nice young lady. Oh what a feeling!