Daily Archives: February 17, 2009

You just never know

We live in a society that expects instant results. Often there is very little patience or willingness to hang in there while players find themselves.

I’ve certainly seen that with teaching pitching and hitting. Some kids (and/or their parents) will take a couple of lessons and expect that somehow, magically, the player will instantly become better. Well, it doesn’t work that way. Improvement comes in increments. Some learn faster than others, just like some learn math or a foreign language faster than others. But it’s not instant.

And sometimes it can take a long time. I have had pitching students who just couldn’t seem to get the feeling of attacking the pitch. They’d go through the motions, but without that intent to throw hard. Then one day, the lightbulb comes on and bang! They get a significant speed jump.

What is interesting to me in those cases is the parents who see it and DO have the patience to wait until their child comes out of the gate. It can’t be easy. You’re paying for lessons, and while there is some general improvement it’s not really the kind of results you’d hope for. But rather than giving up, they stick with it, and their patience is rewarded.

Now, if the kid really doesn’t want to be there it’s never going to happen. I’ve had a couple of those, but fortunately only a couple. In those cases I do try to tell the parents it’s not working. But if the player is enthused about the lessons, I’ll keep going as long as she wants to because I know what we’re doing will work when the time is right.

Quite frankly, as a coach I wish every kid could get things instantly. It would be easier on everyone. But that’s not the case. As the song (and the Bible verse on which it’s based) says, there is a time to every purpose under Heaven. Sometimes that time isn’t right away. But if what you’re doing is the right way to go about it, and you put in the effort, sooner or later it will take hold.

I am probably proudest of the students for whom it didn’t come easy — the ones who hung in there until the lightbulb came on. Because when it does, it’s a bigger deal than it was for the kids who were able to do it right away. I’m also confident that they have acquired a skill that will serve them well their entire lives — the skill of persistence.

It’s easy to think if it doesn’t happen right away that it never will. But you just never know. And remember — it doesn’t matter where you start the race. Only where you finish it.

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