Daily Archives: February 28, 2007

Why I love this (coaching) job

Last night I had one of those moments that makes it all worthwhile. A couple of weeks ago I had a new student start. Her dad brought her to me for a sample lesson after she’d been with another pitching coach for three years. He said in that time he hadn’t seen her progress.

I had her throw a few pitches and said I could see why. The mechanics she’d been taught were not really in line with what we know now. It looked like it was the theories of 10+ years ago — particularly how she was working so hard to “close the door.” Most of her pitches were in the dirt and inside off the plate, and so-called movement pitches all had a basic 12-6 spin. I told them what I would do if she came to me and explained why. The next day they set up some regular lessons.

But it wasn’t an automatic. At first, as I worked with her to stay open and drive straight in instead of closing the door I could see she was skeptical. That’s ok — what I said totally contradicted what she’d been told for three years, and while she may not have been particularly effective with it she was comfortable with it. But she dutifully complied. After the second lesson I pointed out to her that while she was working on doing what I said in order to comply (rather than totally buying in) her control troubles had gone away.

Still, she wasn’t quite convinced yet. Her dad e-mailed me asking if I could point to some clips she could watch so she could understand what I wanted better. That may have been the reason, or it could’ve been that they wanted to see if my statement that what I teach is what the top-level do was really true or whether I was just feeding them a line. I sent a link to some online clips and told them who to watch and what to look for.

Last night this girl came in for her lesson and she was spot-on with what I wanted her to do. Well, every now and then she went back to the old ways but I’d say 97% were the right mechanics. That effort was rewarded with excellent control and speed. We worked on her changeup, improving that, and got her going on a true screwball — one that spins in toward a hitter rather than 12-6 as she’d been throwing before. She was quite thrilled with the progress and now totally enthused with what we’re doing.

I have to say it made my night. This girl has some talent, and with a lot of work and some proper instruction she should do well. It’s fun when it all comes together.

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