Success requires patience

I’ve talked before how we live in an “instant results” type of world. If we want popcorn we toss a bag in the microwave and three minutes later there it is. If we want to see our favorite TV show or movie we just hit the On Demand button and there it is. And so forth.

Yet it never fails to surprise me when a player or student lacks the patience to learn something new. Last night I was working with a pitcher, second lesson for her with me. Her mom brought her to me because she felt she was stalled where she was. After we worked basic mechanics and locations, I asked what other pitches she threw. She told me a changeup, so I said let’s see it.

After watching a couple I asked what type of change she was throwing. (I always ask in case what I see isn’t what they’re supposed to be doing.) She told me a handshake change. Not my favorite, personally, because to make it work I find most pitchers slow down as they go to release. So I asked if she was willing to try something different. (Normally I don’t ask, but with HS tryouts around the corner I figured I should check.) She said sure — what else was she going to say — so I showed her the backhand change.

After trying it two or three times, and having it work better each time (although not great) she said she was getting frustrated. I was shocked. I mean, how good do you think it will be throwing it three times ever? But apparently she just figured it was like instant cocoa — add a little water and you’re all set.

We continued to work at it and she got better. But I wonder how much she’s going to continue to work on it. Work being the operative word.

Learning to do anything well — pitch, hit, play an instrument, ride a bike, perform brain surgery — takes time. If you’re not willing to put in the time, you’re going to have a tough time competing. Accept getting a little better each day, as Bobby Simpson likes to say, and you’ll find yourself happier and better in the long run.

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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 23, 2011, in Coaching, Pitching. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. My daughter has been taught the backhand change from the beginning. It seems to be a little harder to learn and she has had some push back from coaches who want the quick result. From my understanding it is a better change up, especially when they get older. My daughter has struggled with it but works hard and when she does get the pitch where she wants she is proud of herself. Pitching is anything but easy.

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  2. Robert, I’ve heard that too, that the backhand change is harder to learn than others. I guess it depends on how you teach it. With a high school age pitcher, and sometimes a little younger, I can teach them the basics in a half hour — to the point where they can throw it fairly reliably. The hard part is getting them to let go of their desire to control it, and instead just let it happen. Most of the time when it doesn’t work it’s because the pitcher didn’t trust the pitch and tried to do something extra to it. It’s definitely the better changeup, though, because you can maintain arm speed instead of slowing down at the end like a lot of the others require. In fact, you have to throw it hard to make it work, and the harder you throw it the slower it goes. But it takes practice to get to the point where you trust it to be that way. Your daughter should be proud when she gets it where she wants it. You are right — pitching is anything but easy. Given the glory pitchers get, if it was easy everyone would do it. A lot of girls try it; few stick with it for that very reason. Good luck, and I wish your daughter well.

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