It’s Not the Arrow, It’s the Archer
The title of this week’s post is a phrase I use often, especially when I get asked about an equipment recommendation. But it can apply to a lot of things.
It seems like everyone is looking for the “magic bullet” – the bat, or gadget/device, or drill or technique or whatever that will, with no additional effort on their part, create a sudden and dramatic improvement in performance. In my experience, and the experience of many other coaches I’ve spoken with over the years, that magic bullet doesn’t exist.
Take bats, for example. Sure some bats have a better trampoline effect or are “hotter” than others (within the limitations set forth by the various sanctioning bodies) and thus with all else equal will provide an edge. But all else is rarely equal.
First of all, for all that bat technology to work you still have to hit the ball at the right time, and in the right location. If you’re not doing that now a new bat isn’t going to help.
It will look nicer in your bag, and people will be duly impressed when you take it out. But if you have a $500 bat and 5 cent swing they won’t stay impressed for long. It’s not the arrow, it’s the archer.
Since speed is such an important component in pitching, everyone is always looking for the magic drill that will help them gain 8 mph in one or two sessions. An entire industry of DVD sales and online courses has been built by that particular desire.
But again, if such a drill exists I’ve never found it. Neither has Rich Balswick, who is one of the best and most accomplished pitching coaches in the world.
I know, because I’ve talked to him about it. For all he has done he is still looking for that magical drill that can instantly turn a pitcher with average speed into a burner.
In fact, he told me if I ever discover it to pass it along to him. So far I have not been able to do so, and he hasn’t shared one either so I presume he’s still on the hunt as well.
Devices and gadgets are another area where people hope for miracles. Some are valuable teaching tools, like the Queen of the Hill or the Pocket Radar, and others are just fancier ways to lose money than flushing it down your toilet.
None, however, can instantly make you better just by purchasing them, or using them once or twice. Because it’s not the arrow, it’s the archer that makes the difference.
Then there are those who claim to have solved the mysteries of the Sphinx in terms of the techniques they teach. These same people tend to keep exactly what it is shrouded in mystery, as though if they told you (without you paying them huge sums of money) they would have to kill you.
While there is certainly plenty of bad teaching going on in the softball world in all aspects of the game, it’s not like the optimal techniques are known only to a select, privileged few. The information is out there if you are willing to invest some time looking for it. (I like to think a lot of it is here, by the way, so feel free to poke around some more after you finish with this post.)
Of course, that’s the issue – investing some time. Most of us would much rather buy a “product” that promises instant, guaranteed results than recognize that learning athletic skills is a process that requires a lot of work, a lot of boring repetition, and paying a lot of attention to a lot of little details that can have a large impact on performance.
The first way sounds easier, doesn’t it? Too bad it doesn’t work.
The value of any piece of equipment, drill, gadget or technique lies with the person who is using it.
Put that $500 bat in the hands of a player with a 5 cent swing and it’s going to look like a waste of money. Put that same bat in the hands of a player who has invested the time to develop her swing, her eye at the plate and her mental approach and that same bat is going to look like the smartest thing you’ve ever spent money on.
Remember, it’s not the arrow that produces the results. It’s the archer. Invest your time and money in improving the archer and she’ll be successful no matter what arrow you give her. Spend all your time and money on the arrow and you’ll be forever disappointed.
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