Why It So Hard To Make Changes?

You are wired like a toaster. But, let’s say you want to become a blender. Think about that for a moment. Both appliances have a lot of common components. But if you are going to turn a toaster into a blender you must do three things.

You need to re-wire it, add some new parts, and re-utilize the hardware that is already in place in new ways.
This is exactly the process when a kid comes to us with issues, such as is hurting in the lower back, pain in the shoulder, has a huge crowhop, or who is trying to finish with a brutal wrist snap. Side note: Please don’t think I am talking about the crowhop because it is illegal. It should be immoral. If you truly understood what it does to a female, you would never accept it for a moment.
Back to our point. If we catch a kid at an early age, we can turn the toaster into a blender, but I would much prefer to build a blender in the beginning. One of my D1 pitchers sent me the greatest text this past week. Read carefully: “So I learned something really interesting in physiology class today and thought of you. You may already know what I’m about to tell you, but anyway.. So “muscle memory” in a sport or playing the piano isn’t really a thing. The more you perform a task the more myelinated the nerve axons in your brain get, so your brain understands the task better the more you do it. And the more myelination of these neurons allows you to throw a softball more efficiently and quickly because the more myelinated the neuron is the faster the impulse travels; therefore, it looks like we’re training muscles but we’re really training the neurons in our brain. Just thought it was really interesting.”
To summarize her text, when you do an activity repeatedly, you build two pathways. Your brain becomes hard-wired to do it a certain way. And, you build muscle strength to perform the task as understood. So, a kid with a crowhop or the poor movement patterns which cause lower back injuries, has built this neurological pathway so strongly that by the time she is 15-16, it is going to take a huge amount of effort to overcome. The new pathway must be established and repeated thousands of times before this size of these new “wires” becomes bigger than the old ones, and those old ones fade from her memory.
The second issue is that, just like converting a toaster to a blender, you need some new parts. The body of a pitcher with a lot of bad habits has built very strong muscles in very wrong directions in order to perform those bad habits. It is much more taxing on the body to do something incorrectly, and in an unnatural way, so she has built some very strong muscles in order to perform it poorly. We have to build new muscles in the right places while the changes are taking place, which is why we focus on proper strength training in the Softball Performance Network. (see our website) Build proper muscles while building proper form. Just doing one, without the other, is a bad approach.
Finally, and most importantly, kids who are not in tune with their bodies will develop some pretty frightening and inefficient habits, allowing certain muscles to carry loads they were not designed to carry. Another benefit of a great strength training program is that it awakens dormant muscles and teaches efficiency. A kid must learn to feel the issues caused by a crowhop, or the glove flying outward, or the back leg sticking behind her. If not, there is little chance we are going to build an All-American. There are two exceptions. I have changed college pitchers who performed beautifully, one taking her team to the College World Series after a total re-build. Why was she an exception? Her will to win, and her determination to change, were off the charts. The other exception is when we get these kids young enough, before the pathways are firmly established.

Turning a toaster into a blender is a tough job, but we celebrate those occasions when we do it. Even more we celebrate when we build a blender in the beginning. The odds of a good 10-U pitcher still being dominant at 16-U are about 1-in-50. With the growth of our organization, right now we have an unbelievable, simply dominant group of kids around the country, 10th grade and below, and our Instructors have destroyed those odds. We get calls every week from people, sometimes parents and other times colleges, wanting to know what in the world makes these kids special. It’s pretty simple. We got them early, we focused on development, she did not spend a lot of time building bad habits, she developed body awareness, and she did not wait until it was almost too late and come running to us in a panic, hoping we could turn a toaster into a blender.