Short-term failure v. long-term success
On my way home from teaching lessons tonight I was thinking about how hard many pitchers work on different pitches. Yet when it comes to games, often they (or their coaches) are reluctant to use them. They find it’s easier to
be successful win if they stick with fastballs rather than taking a chance on throwing changeups or movement pitches they’ve spent the off-season learning.
That’s the wrong attitude, though. For a pitcher to develop so she can compete at a higher level, she needs to use all her pitches in game situations, even if it causes her to struggle a bit for a while.
Yes, I know, it’s easy for me to say. I’m not the one watching her struggle, or watching my team lose a game while the pitcher tries to develop. But I have been. In fact, I used that very strategy with my own daughter, while coaching my own team. By her first year in 14U she had developed a drop, curve, and screw to go with her fastball and change. Before the season we made a commitment to limit the use of the fastball, and instead focus on the other pitches. It was tough for a while — the control was a little off, and the movement was less than ideal. She got knocked around a bit, but as the season wore on she got better. Today, changes and movement pitches are the core of her game.
I will admit during that season we did wind up using more fastballs than the original plan. It was a worthwhile compromise that helped the team win more games. But we still relied primarily on the movement pitches.
It can be tough sometimes to lose games you might otherwise win. But especially at the younger ages it’s important to sacrifice a few wins now for more wins later. Use those new pitches and let the pitcher develop. It’s the key to long-term success.
I don’t know how many folks may back check these columns but I thought I would add something.I can vouch for Ken’s coaching philosophy here. Not only in that he uses the philosophy but that it pays off. This philosophy was not reserved for just his daughter either. There have been many players from our team through the years that may not have been the best at particular parts of the game at the beggining but brought great work ethic and showed enthusiasm in their efforts to become better. Those players were given continual game opportunities and progressed from what would originally may have been considered a liability to solid contributors. My own daughter’s hitting is another great example. As late as her first year at 14U ball she hit something like .170 for the summer. If Ken had decided that she just couldn’t hit and started to DH for her or PH all the time for her she would have been sunk. She kept working hard in the off season and Ken stuck with her and by last summer (1st year 16U) her hitting had come around to the point where Ken hit her in the 3 hole for Nationals.This type of approach may cost you some games up front but it really is a win win for everyone. First and foremost it allows kids the chance to learn that if they work hard the can overcome obstacles and secondly it will ultimately pay off for the coach.