Why Can’t I Pitch like ______?

The minute that you start a sentence with “I want to pitch like (name any great pitcher)”, you decrease your odds of success.

This past weekend one of our great parents sent me a side-by-side photo comparison of his daughter and another of our exciting pitchers. He wanted to know why there were differences in the sequencing. Another parent sent me an article about a pitcher trying to emulate her hero.

Be very, very careful about doing this. You cannot compare every movement with another great pitcher. There may be commonality, true. There are also distinct inherent differences. Let’s try to do this in language that everyone will understand. Start by watching the way you both walk, then run, then squat, or jump. Your body will attempt to perform in its most efficient fashion. Your brain will take into account things like hip flexibility, ankle mobility, knee valgus, muscle structure, and simple things related to the length of certain bones that are involved in those athletic moves.

Even among identical twins, we see differences that emulate from small experiences, slightly different self-concepts, or environmental factors. This completely surprised me at first, but we are all unique in some ways.

If you try to compare movements with someone you admire, it can be frustrating, at best. It can also increase injury risk. Let me put it this way. If I were to have you both in a room for a few minutes and get to know you, if you were dressed exactly the same, and I turned my back while you walked away from me…could I turn around and identify each of you simply by the way you move? Would there be differences when you run or jump? Obviously, the answer is usually yes.

There are times when we want to help a student make her movements more efficient, but often this requires changing her strength and flexibility by working with a very qualified professional. Other times we need to focus on activation, again not as simple as it sounds. Just as often, we see slight differences, such as the natural movement within her hips, and we get very excited about having her use them in a slightly different way. To have her move exactly like her favorite pitcher would be to keep her from being as good as she could be.

Learn to admire, appreciate, and emulate the qualities of a great pitcher. Her competitiveness, resolve, and self-discipline can change the game for you. Just be careful about taking it beyond that. Celebrate you, and the gifts within your own body. Find someone who can help you maximize those, build upon them, and your chances of success will usually be far higher.

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