The Way It Ought To Be

The other night when I got out to my fastpitch softball lessons I had a pleasant surprise waiting for me. My first lesson was with a high school senior pitcher, and her high school coach was there to observe.

I couldn’t have been more pleased! All too often it seems the relationship between private coaches and team coaches – either in high school or travel ball – is contentious. I’m not sure why but it’s not uncommon. Fastpitch pitching

It’s much smarter for there to be a sense of cooperation. Private coaches work with players on an individual basis far more than a team coach ever will have the time for. They teach specific skills and learn what cues trigger performance and success for those players.

If the player (or her parents) have chosen wisely, that player comes onto the team with an advanced skillset built over many hours of practice. At the same time, there will be players who have put little effort into learning their skills. That is where the team coach can make a difference. Focusing their limited time on raising the skill levels of those players will pay the best dividends. Because, of course, the chain will only be as strong as its weakest links.

In this particular case, I invited the coach into the cage with us so he could hear the instruction and ask questions if he had any. He brought his iPad in with him and shot video as we went along. I periodically asked if he had any questions, and he had the opportunity to see how I interacted with my student/his player.

It was a very pleasant half hour. I left the coach with an open invitation to come back any time. Kudos to the pitcher’s parents for setting it up, incidentally.

Of course, it’s easy for me to take this position as a private coach. But I have also experienced it from the other side. While I wasn’t able to attend an actual lesson, when I was a team coach and had pitchers who were not my students, I would contact their pitching coaches to learn what to look out for, what cues they used and what they were teaching those pitchers. It may not have been what I taught, but that’s ok. I wanted to work with what they had learned and what they were supposed to be doing rather than trying to re-make according to what I teach.

Presumably, everyone – team coach, private coach, parents and the player – want the same thing. They want the pitcher to be successful. Working together is far more likely to make that happen than constant territorial battles.

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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 December 22, 2014, in Coaching, Instruction, Pitching and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. “the chain will only be as strong as its weakest links.”

    There are always going to be players who put in 140% and then those that only give 75%. But a team only works when everyone is on the same page. A good coach knows how to pull up those other players so everyone is working for the same goal. Not every girl can afford a private coach, and plenty that can don’t put their heart into it.

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  2. Very true. The trick is knowing which players are which.

    The kids who want it but can’t afford a private coach are where the team coach can make a huge difference. In my mind, that’s where he/she should be focusing his/her efforts. Unfortunately, too many want to work with the kids on the high end of the scale, who got there because they’re already working hard at specific things, while ignoring those who could really benefit from a little extra attention from the team coach.

    No one is going to do much with the kids who don’t put their hearts into it. Not the team coach, and not a private instructor. You can’t force players to make meaningful changes in their games. They have to want it. Otherwise they’ll do what they need to in order to get by (or not get yelled at) and then slip back into their old habits.

    One of the toughest things to learn as a coach is you can’t save everyone from themselves, so you have to help the kids who want to be helped. And hope the rest don’t come up in critical situations (although it seems they always do).

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