Input On Building A Better Pitcher

If your daughter begins showing promise as a pitcher, everyone will have advice. That can be good, but much of the time it creates confusion.
Softball pitching can be the most technical position on the field, yet people who are least qualified want to offer the most suggestions.

Their intentions are good, but their experience is often limited to having once watched a pitching video, gone to a clinic, or having a daughter who pitched a little rec ball.
Sometimes the person offering advice is fairly authoritative, but the things being offered just do not seem right for your daughter. For example, a college coach at a recruiting camp may want to alter things in directions that go against your daughter’s strengths.
How do you deal with these inputs? If it is a college coach, be extremely respectful and listen. You may not like the ideas, but give them a chance. They want to see if you are coachable. After the camp you can decide if the changes work for you. The camp is not the place to debate or resist ideas. It also gives you a chance to see what this coaching staff would do with your mechanics. Some of our students have fallen in love with a school because they loved the coaches’ philosophy, or perhaps the coaching staff did not try to change them significantly, instead choosing to listen and learn how to best help the pitcher enhance her strengths. Sometimes the coaches added little things that helped. In other cases, their philosophy was so different that the kid lost interest in the school. You will only know these things if you are receptive and let them work freely with you.
What if your school or travel ball coach wants to force changes, but you are convinced they do not have the necessary knowledge and experience to make these decisions? Once again, be respectful. Set up a time away from practice to sit down and discuss your concerns in a non-threatening way. Always be open-minded and listen. They may actually be able to point you toward people who can help. You will never know unless you hear their point of view. A huge number of new kids come to us through coaches who simply want the best for their kids.
If your coach tries to make unwanted changes you may have to stand your ground and accept the consequences. Again, be completely respectful. Do not try to debate or make them look bad.
The best solution is to become such a great pitcher that nobody wants to change anything. If you win games, they tend to move on to the kids that need help.
Most pitching instructors will be happy to talk about the directions you are taking with your coach so that he or she can be involved. Do not ask the instructor to call the coach. See if the coach would like to come to one of your lessons. This happens all of the time and we love it. We often become very good friends with these coaches and work as a team to help the pitcher develop.
So, what if random people come up and start offering your pitcher advice? Then I, as parent or instructor, will politely step between that person and my pitcher, and continue with the session without them. This, again, is not a place to debate. If they are insistent, I let them know we are working on some other priorities right now, but I may chat with them about their ideas after practice.
If a school or travel coach wants to do too much with your daughter, she may let them know that she is going to practice with you later, but right now wants to stay involved in the team practice so she can build her other skills. Most reasonable coaches are happy with that for lots of reasons.
Mature coaches like to work within the skills you bring, and on all levels they are reluctant to make major changes. Mature people do not jump into your workout and begin offering unsolicited advice. This is what I do for a living, but if I happen by a practice and see a kid doing something terribly wrong, I may cringe, but I don’t know the situation, what has been done to this point, and her instructor’s philosophy. It is best to let it be.
You will receive unsolicited advice as long as she pitches. Sometimes it is actually worthwhile. Listen carefully, show respect, and stay on course. The worst things you can do are to stubbornly refuse any input and let her stagnate… or to accept every bit of advice and keep her confused. Finding that perfect middle ground is the key.

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