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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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 February 5, 2010, in Coaching, Pitching. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Rick Cartwright

    Nope, I am sticking to my guns. No kitty until she can throw it at 57 – the softball not the kitty. She did walk away Wednesday feeling good about the velocity increase and her pitching in general, and is determined to reach that goal.

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  2. Ken,I coach a very young 12U team. I feel we have a very long way to go moving up from 10U last fall & getting a taste of the tough competition we can expect in the spring.I have been strictly business at practices up until last night. Before practice, my daughter told me practices are getting to be no fun. I believe she spoke for the team as I remember some of the faces from the previous session…Somber to say the least.So, I scrapped part of my plan for practice and did about 45min of drills and then we had an indoor scrimmage the last 45 min. I pitched to both teams & they had a blast! We use a somewhat small gym for practice so we had to make playground rules about playing the ball off the wall, etc. I used Softies, but they still hit the ball hard. What really impressed me is that many soon figured a bunt was the best way to get on & the kids were laying down some nice ones towards the end of hte game. Once in a while you have to remember these are just kids and they need to have fun…

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  3. Good for you Rick! Make her earn it! 🙂 She is awfully close. All she needs is a good day — or a little tailwind.

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  4. Bryan, that is one of those things we forget sometimes. We as adults are so focused on getting the girls prepared to play that sometimes we forget to, well, let them play. Sounds like you had a great practice. Nice that they figured out the bunting thing. I’m guessing they bunted toward you, figuring you’d be too old and/or slow to get it!

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  5. Rick Cartwright

    Bryan,Wiith our practices, I use Tuesdays to introduce techniques and concepts, drils to work through them. Sundays I try to find game like drills that focus on those techniques but allow the girls to play in competition. It “makes up” for the drills and the girls enjoy the practice much more. Be creative, you can make a game out of almost anything. Just like the scrimmage, they will learn what they need to do to win.

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