Daily Archives: November 14, 2008

Half-day college clinics

With winter break fast approaching for the schools, I have started receiving the e-mails offering skills clinics at various local colleges. It’s always interesting to see what they have to say.

First of all, let me say those clinics are a great way to expose your daughter to college coaches, especially if she already knows where she wants to go to school. Attend a few and the coaches will get to know her, and if they think she can help them they’ll give her a good look. They’re also good for getting a “second opinion.” You or a private coach may thing your daughter is on the right track, but a good college coach might differ, or at least offer some suggestions on ways to improve. Of course, if the coach (assuming he/she is there) says you’re looking good, that’s great validation too.

Now on to the real topic. I received a notice recently that included a pitching/catching clinic. Maybe it was just worded poorly, but it said at the pitching clinic you will receive basic instruction on skill development and work on specific pitch development including the drop, rise, screw and curve. To me, that’s a pretty tall order.

I don’t see where much of any of that will really be accomplished in that or any three-hour clinic. I don’t know, but I doubt they’re really looking for raw beginners. They might be able to tweak someone who is already taking lessons or learning to pitch on a regular basis, but they’re not going to “teach” anyone to pitch. Likewise, I question whether they can teach anyone a new pitch in that amount of time. My guess is they don’t think they can either; the best they can do is take something and make it better.

For example, you think you have a curve because you have a “curve ball grip” but it doesn’t spin in the right direction. They can probably help you get the right spin, and maybe start actually seeing a break in the ball.

That’s probably not what people are going to read, though. They may very well assume that sending their daughter to this college clinic means she will learn to throw those pitches from scratch — maybe one of them, maybe even all. I’ve had parents of nine year olds tell me how impressed they were that their daughter was shown how to throw all these different pitches at a HS clinic. No she wasn’t. She was shown there are different pitches, but she didn’t learn a damned thing. Especially when her primary challenge was getting the ball over the plate without any fancy movement.

The truth is pitching is an iterative skill. It takes lots of repetition and tweaking to get any of it right, much less all of it. Even big-time pitchers struggle with it day to day.

So when you see one of those announcements, know what you’re getting into. Go for the right reasons. But don’t expect miracles. If it were really that easy, they’d be charging a lot more than $75 for it. I know I would.

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