She Does Not Need to Be Fixed…

She needs to be understood. The chances of a great 12U pitcher still going strong in college are almost zero. The chances of a great 18U pitcher being the number-1 pitcher at a good D1 school are very small.

Four or five pitchers almost always watch one or two pitchers do all of the work.

A couple of weeks ago, we announced the first comprehensive study of youth softball pitching injuries with the top name in sports medicine and research, the Andrews Institute. A few people have worked around the edges of this topic in the past, but this will be the very first complete research project ever conducted, studying large numbers of participants and accumulating enough data to be recognized by the medical community. Since that study was announced, I have received numerous calls and emails from parents we have never met. Each has the same story. Their daughter was dominant, but suddenly in her junior or senior year, pain or other problems caused big setbacks.

First of all, understand that the way she starts has little to do with her long-term achievement.
Not long ago, we met a wonderful kid with very significant ADHD. A shift in our teaching made all of the difference in the world, and not just in her pitching. The parents said it changed her outlook and behavior in every aspect of her life, as she understood advantages of her “gift” and how to exploit them. We did not need to fix that kid, but to release the greatness within her.

Recently we worked with a kid who had serious shoulder problems. Repeated therapy offered no relief. It took a few minutes to diagnose and correct the real physical problem, lower in the body, and the pain instantly disappeared. The doctor and therapists did all they could to fix her shoulder, but nobody had taken the time to understand her underlying cause. Now, we will put her through a proper strength assessment, then build a body that can support these stronger movements.

The clock was ticking on another kid, who had a college scholarship but she could not pitch for pain. She came to see if we could help. When we described the issue, she refused to believe it until we showed her the video in super slow motion. Finally, someone took the time to understand and explain exactly what was happening, so she could not wait to get to work.

An incredibly successful college pitcher was frustrated that she had lost a lot of speed. A quick check revealed terrible hip flexibility and mobility, meaning that she felt like she was wearing concrete sliding shorts on the mound. As we explained the issue and the adjustments, she beamed because finally someone understood and validated the things she was feeling, so this was a solution she could embrace.

One of our Instructors explained a career-ending injury and I asked if her college did a lot of bench press and overhead work. Yes, they wanted her to be strong, but nobody had done a complete assessment to understand the base upon which they were building. This kind of “strong” was wrong for her. A lifetime of dreams was over in an instant.

From being bullied to suffering the loss of a pet, we want to know what is happening in her life. Sometimes it is as simple as understanding how she processes. I ask a lot of my kids to write reports on their lessons, including goals, objectives, and timetables, just to see how clearly we understand one another and how we can better work with her.

She may be pitching well now, but sometimes we spot things that are keeping her from being incredible. Just because she “has it” does not mean that she will “keep it”. The story of most pitchers does not have just a “beginning and an end”, but contains a whole lot of “middle” with many bumps and curves in the road. Working to understand those things and to better understand her during each phase could be the most important thing you can do to help.

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