Daily Archives: November 23, 2007

How legends get formed

Heard this one the other day and I just had to share. My friend and fellow coach Rich was talking to someone he knows the other day, and that person was telling him about their top pitcher. He was talking about how well she is doing, and in particular how she is throwing 63 mph.

Rich found that amusing as did I, because the pitcher being referred to is one of my students, and I had just gunned her with my Jugs gun around 54-56 consistently. She hit 57 once if I recall correctly. I’ve done this long enough to know that pitchers don’t increase speed by seven mph in a week, no matter how pumped up they are.

I actually spoke to the girl and her dad about it and found out where the 63 mph figure came from. It was off a Glove Radar. I think those are great little devices — I used to own one before the part that holds the lacing in place broke — if used properly. They’re good for getting approximate readings, and for comparing against itself. But you can’t take it for gospel.

It’s very easy to get a false reading, especially if you move the glove toward the ball as it comes in. Like any Doppler radar, it depends on sending out a signal, having the signal bounce back, and comparing the times. If you move the glove toward the ball you close the distance the ball has to travel and change the timing.

The dad and the girl laughed when they heard the story. They hadn’t put much stock in the reading at the time, and still don’t. But obviously others do.

Rich theorizes that people like to have their kids associated with top-level players, so saying your daughter plays on a team with a pitcher throwing 63 mph certainly fits that bill. There’s nothing nasty about it. It’s more a case of being willing to believe in something you want to believe. But the more these things get repeated, the more they become legend.

Hopefully it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. She certainly has the ability and the desire to get there. But she’s not quite there yet. Still, it’s funny to see how legends get started.

Making the curve ball work

This one applies to the “cut underneath the ball” type of curve. It’s a little cue that has been helping my pitching students learn the pitch faster. It seems to be the key to success.

We’ve been putting a lot of emphasis on leading the elbow, and getting it in front of the hip. It’s that getting it in front of the hip thing that has been the key.

When the elbow gets in front, it sets up the proper angle to cut not only under the ball but across the body from right to left. It helps get better side spin on the ball.

When the elbow stays on the side, or behind the hip, it tends to make the ball go straight. You may get the correct spin on the ball, but it won’t get the right to left angle that will help it break.

When you get in front of the hip, though, and get the hand underneath the ball of course, you can get the nice, tight side spin that leads to great ball movement. It’s a thing of beauty.

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