Daily Archives: February 5, 2010

A feelgood week

I think every coach goes through this now and then — those days where you wonder if you’re actually doing anybody any good. You start to wonder whether everyone’s time might be better spent apart rather than together.

Then there are weeks like this one. Two significant events occured this week, both on the pitching side, that made it a real feelgood week for me.

The first was Wednesday night. I was continuing to do radar gun checks of students I hadn’t seen yet. I like to do it periodically just to get some empirical data around what I’m observing. Most kids don’t like being gunned, and in a lot of cases the results tend to be a little lower than they thought, leading to disappointment. I have no doubt that anxiety over being clocked causes them to tighten up, making disappointing results a self-fulfilling prophecy.

So it was nice when one of my students got excited to see the radar gun come out. Of course, she had her own motivation. Her dad Rick, who is a reader and contributor here, apparently had promised her a kitty if she hit 57 mph. She was psyched up to give it a go.

She came ever so close — very consistently at 55, plus one 56, but couldn’t quite get that little extra on it. Still, she had fun trying, and like all daughters she assured me that she’ll be getting said kitty anyway. Rick didn’t look so sure, and maybe he can comment on it. But we’ll probably try again in a couple of weeks. In any case, it was nice to have someone actually want to do it. And by the way, she’d gained several mph since the last time I clocked her last year so it was good all around.

Then last night my first lesson was with a girl I started with last fall. She is a sophomore who never had a pitching lesson in her life. She’d just sort of gone out there and done it. She and/or her mom decided it was time for lessons, and they knew it would be a long, tough road. The girl didn’t throw too hard or too accurately back in September, primarily due to some serious mechnical issues.

Last night, though, she was rocking the ball. Her mom told me she’d had to purchase a catcher’s mitt because her old fielder’s glove from her playing days was no longer doing the job. Her hand was getting bruised and she needed the added padding. Accuracy also was excellent — no more throwing behind the batter.

The real fun part, though, was moving to the changeup. She threw three excellent changes and I told her let’s move on, I can only screw you up from here. That got a big smile!

Both of these girls work hard, listen intently, and try their best to do what I ask them to do. They are willing to make changes in their approach, and even more importantly they are learning to correct themselves. They are aware when they’re doing something they shouldn’t, and will say something even before I can. That, to me, is the best news of all.

And that’s the beauty of coaching. They both put in the effort, and I get to enjoy it along with them. Not a bad way to spend a couple of winter nights!

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