From the Mailbag

The most heartbreaking part of my job is hearing from so many parents who are confused, frustrated, and realizing that their daughters are not getting better. They are going through this for the first time and not sure what is right and wrong. Let me give you an example through some emails we recently received.

See if anything sounds familiar to you.

It starts with a guy in an area we don’t serve. He has two daughters. Both are injured, both frustrated, and video shows me that both injuries were bought on by illogical things they were taught. We are trying to find a way to help, but it should never have gotten this far.

We have a half dozen emails from parents who seem to sense that their daughters are not getting better, but they add that “we just love our pitching coach”. They include a video that makes us cringe. I feel sorry for these parents because they want to believe they are on the right course, but the results may not verify it. Sometimes they have waited far too long to realize it.

One parent called to see if I could help his younger daughter. The older one had to quit pitching due to a severe shoulder injury. As he explained the injury, I knew it could not be caused by pitching, so I asked about weight training. She did a lot of things we would never allow a pitcher to do. Her trainer had no college degree and no certifications. The thing he said would make her better was the thing that ended her career.
We know this is the first time for many of you. Let’s give you a few simple rules that can help.

1-Be careful who you ask for advice. If your daughter is 10, you feel that you can trust the parent of a 12-year-old because she looks so big and strong by comparison. The trouble is that only 1-in-250 twelve-year-olds will make it to the D1 level. A huge percentage will quit by age 15. The odds are not good that you are getting good advice.

2-Do not accept the first opinion you get. Even among D1 programs, there is a huge difference in opinions. You cannot believe the difference in weight training from college to college. When it comes to actual pitching, one pitching coach believes in one type of approach, another is completely different. The injury rate among pitchers on the D1 level is epidemic, with nearly half suffering significant lost-time injuries each year. Not everyone is doing everything right.

3-If other parents are insistent on sharing unsolicited advice, it probably isn’t worth your time to listen. Most just want affirmation that they are doing an amazing job with their daughter.
4-When choosing someone to work with your daughter, if a pitching coach has all of the answers before taking time to learn everything possible about your daughter, shy away from that person. I hear people say “I teach the ____ method”. Back away and look for someone who asks you a hundred questions about your pitcher, from injury history, to frustrations, to learning challenges, to her background, to strength/balance issues that can negatively affect her. Answers before questions usually mean this person has no idea what questions to ask. It is based on an assumption that all kids are the same in talent, size, strength, and learning patterns. If they try to apply their one-size-fits all solution to her pre-existing conditions, so you can very easily get the Darwin effect.

5-Doubt all claims. Most everyone enhances things. (A nice way of saying they offer little exaggerations…and sometimes really big exaggerations) A thousand 13-year-olds have come to us for the first time claiming speeds of 62-miles per hour and five moving pitches. If that were true, they would not be looking for help. Rarely do they reach speeds over 55 and movement turns out to be angles or location. The parents are inexperienced, and puzzled as to why she cannot win in games.

We get hundreds of emails every month, we hear the frustrations, and we meet thousands of new kids every year. Sadly, there are four comments we hear far too often:

-I wish we had trusted our instincts and asked more questions.
-I wish we had not waited so long to make a change.
-She has been telling me that something was not right for a long time.
-We trusted the wrong people.

Follow rules 1-5 and you will be far less likely to make one of the four statements we just listed.