The Definition of Insanity

There is a good chance that every one of my students can finish this sentence, “The definition of insanity is…….” (You got it) “…doing the same thing over and over again, in the same way, and expecting a different result.”

Every week we receive way too many calls from pitchers we have never met, wondering if we can help them get to the next level.

When a parent calls about his 16-year-old daughter who has not improved since she was 12, we wonder what took them so long to realize the old approach was going nowhere.

Then there was the call about a kid whose back has hurt for a “couple of years” but they were told that was normal for pitchers. In another case it was chronic pain in the shoulder.
Here is the problem with waiting too long to address form issues. Recent research reveals that the things a kid does at age 10 can lead to injuries at age 17. The constant wear and tear of any poor movement will constantly erode the weakest link in the chain. It may be a lower back, shoulder, between the shoulder blades, the forearm, elbow, or any part or the body that she is placing under repeated stress due to bad mechanics. If you wait until the kid has hit a plateau or feels pain, you have waited too long. The chances of her reaching her potential are greatly diminished.

This happens for different reasons. Let’s say a kid’s glove is flying out to the side, causing her to twist her body. You need to put everything else on hold until you solve this, and it must be done now. The core controls everything in the body. Remember, for our purposes, the core is the part of the body that produces power in all sports, from the top of the knees to the armpits. Too many people think the core is the 6-pack, or the abs.
If the glove is flying out to the side, the core will change its muscle structure in order to accommodate the bad move. In other words, muscles that should not have been involved in the pitch are suddenly forced into action. Those become dominant. The wrong muscles are doing the work, which is never good news.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the core will also develop an unnatural muscle firing sequence in an effort to restore some sort of balance. In other words, the core develops a “pathway” to overcome a poor movement pattern that should never have been allowed in the first place. Here is a good illustration. A couple of years ago we had two feet of snow in our part of Virginia. Our driveway runs through the pasture and curves around to our house. One day the temperatures rose. The packed snow became slushy. Returning home, my truck cut a deep rut in the slush. That night the temperatures dropped and that rut became frozen. I had carved a pathway that we could not avoid even if we wanted to take the left turn to the barn.

This is exactly what happens with poor movements. The body actually carves pathways, physically and mentally. If they remain for years, we can change them, but it is like breaking out of the icy ruts.

The easier part is the mental side. She understands what needs to change and she desperately wants to leave the rut, but when she tries to do so the body is stuck with muscles that were trained and strengthened to fire in inefficient ways. It will take intensive work and sometimes it requires a lot of time with a qualified strength trainer to build the right muscles and train new muscle firing sequences.

This is a tedious process. It should never have gotten this far. You do not get “do overs” in pitcher development.

Pitching is confusing. Parents want to do the right thing, but sometimes they give too much control to others. This is your daughter. Get involved. Follow your instincts. Be impatient. Ask tough questions now. Make sure she is carving the correct pathways from the beginning.