Rushing the Process

Are there times when we keep a student from taking it to the max? Actually, yes. That may surprise you, but there is a good reason.

My total focus is on development designed specifically for her. If an 11-year-old tries to throw as fast as a varsity player, but her body has not developed sufficiently, injury can quickly occur. For instance, the growth plates have not closed. Different muscles and tendons are growing faster than others, so there are a lot of issues with everything being in balance. If there is dominance in one area over another, we try to discover those limitations and work within them while we also correct the strength/flexibility issue. Way too many people try to muscle through those things. The result is that we get a new student at age 16 who is going backwards or hurting all over.
Research shows that most injuries that occur at 17 actually began at age 11 or 12. Look at it this way. Imagine a water balloon. If you rub it very lightly with a fine grade of sandpaper every day, nothing occurs at first. As you slightly wear down the membrane, one day it completely bursts. Many injuries are what I call “stack injuries”. The action of doing something in a slightly improper way does not affect the kid at first, but eventually the problems begin to compound. Stresses occur until the body can no longer handle them and one day the problems surface. The balloon bursts.
Development is a process. Let me explain it this way. I always enjoyed working with fruit trees. When you come home from a nursery, you don’t throw a tree in the ground and expect it to grow apples. It takes proper care, exposure to sun, and good soil. You control growth to allow maximum productivity in a process called pruning. Allowing it to grow out of control results in less production and increased chances of branches breaking when too many apples are present or when ice, snow, or wind put too much load on them.
Helping a pitcher develop takes patience and vision. We want speed, and our kids are pretty amazing in that way, but there are times when I actually hold them back, slightly, until their bodies can support the power we want. If she does not have the stability in the core to create a proper foundation, too much load is placed on the extremities. She may develop serious muscle imbalances or flexibility issues and soon the body is unable to create and transfer energy efficiently. She hits a plateau or goes backward in her productivity. We focus specifically on having hips and core that can handle the load before asking her to “push harder”. These factors are just as important when trying to synchronize the body for specific moving pitches.
Pitching is a process. We look for people who want to think long-term toward development. Far too many people try to rush things, grab the latest videos off the internet, and hope for a magic pill. They want to be the fastest kid on the block right now. In many cases the poor kid has to pay the price for that lack of vision.
A sense of urgency is always important, but urgency in planning and preparation is the key, not just seeking immediate results. It takes a combination of patience and impatience. Development is the process of “slowing down to do it right so you can hurry up and get there”.