The “big dog” system of measurement for aggressiveness

Tonight I was working with a pitcher, and while what she was doing was technically fine it just wasn’t very aggressive. I tried to get her to attack the pitch more but she wasn’t quite getting what I meant. So I came up with a new way of explaining it that had the advantage of being both fun and effective.

The new method is what I’m calling the “Big dog system of measurement” for aggressiveness. Essentially, you take how aggressive the pitcher (or hitter for that matter) is being and compare it to a dog. You then try to move her up the scale.

For example, with Alyssa I told her she was currently at Labrador. I have a Lab, and they are loving, happy dogs. They can get aggressive when pushed or angered, but it’s generally short-lived. By nature they’re sweet. When I told her she was at Lab level she understood what I meant. I then asked her to step it up to German Shepherd. Shepherds also tend to be nice dogs, but they are more aggressive than Labs, which is why they’re used in police work. She went for it, and darned if her pitches didn’t pick up a bit and start smacking her dad’s glove harder.

At this point, here is what I have on the scale: Basset Hound (you’re practically comatose), Lab, German Shepherd, German Shorthair (I had a girlfriend who had one of those and it scared the heck out of me), Doberman Pinscher, Rottweiler and Pit Bull.

As you might guess, the dogs are ranked from least aggressive to most. Since it’s the “big dog” scale I didn’t include Jack Russell Terriers, Dachshunds (which can be very aggressive on your ankles) and other small breeds. The object, of course, is to make it up to Pit Bull. That’s a competitor!

I am looking for additional suggestions to help round out the scale. They have to be well-known breeds so the players can relate; they’ll have no idea if an exotic dog is aggressive or not. And for you dog lovers out there, please don’t bother defending a particular breed. I know the really aggressive dogs are usually that way as a result of their owners. But in this case I’m going with the popular perception to get the point across.

Again, the beauty of the big dog system is it provides context for what you’re asking. At least it did for the pitchers tonight. Anytime you can be more specific you’re going to be more effective too.

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About Ken Krause

Ken Krause has been coaching girls fastpitch softball for nearly 20 years. Some may know him as a contributing columnist to Softball Magazine, where he writes Krause's Korner -- a regular column sponsored by Louisville Slugger. Ken is also the Administrator of the Discuss Fastpitch Forum, the most popular fastpitch discussion forum on the Internet. He is currently a Three Star Master Coach with the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA), and is certified by both the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) and American Sports Education Program (ASEP). Ken is a private instructor specializing in pitchers, hitters, and catchers. He teaches at North Shore Baseball Academy in Libertyville, IL and Pro-Player Consultants in McHenry, IL.

Posted on November 12, 2009, in Coaching, Hitting, Pitching. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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