Some of our pitchers are incredible. We are always surprised at how a select group of them “brings it” every single pitch, regardless of how they feel.
A few weeks ago we made a list of all of our current D1 college pitchers and younger ones who have received scholarships. The list was three pages long, single spaced. I was surprised at the numbers, so I began studying that list to see what sets them apart.
Among the majority of those, one thing jumped off the pages. They search for awesome every pitch. Every pitch is purposeful and dynamic. Recently we were at an event and one of our great ones, committed to one of the nation’s very top college teams, was pitching. She was impressive. After a couple of sessions I thought the kid would be exhausted, but one the great catchers in college history wanted to catch a few pitches. It went on and on. The catcher was excited. The kid would have stayed all night if we hadn’t stopped them. Every pitch was better than the one before.
Over a year ago another of our kids, who is committed to a top SEC school, sent a text to ask a question. It was one day after an incredible performance in her national tournament. I pushed back, saying she should take off a week and do something fun. She responded, “Practicing pitching is fun!” It was hard to convince her to take a break, but I finally prevailed. Later that afternoon she texted me a pic of her on the river holding a fish. Mission accomplished.
I never, ever see these two kids that they aren’t better than the last time. They may not feel well, but I would never know. They are in their element. Every single pitch you can see a determination to make the next one better. As long as it is healthy, if I see them smiling and excited, great. To them, awesome is always a moving target. Even if she throws a truly great pitch, the bar moves a little higher for the next pitch.
Not every kid has the same goals, so we adjust to meet them. We just want the lesson to meet the standards a kid has set for herself. If the bar is super high, I will push super hard. I want her to search for awesome every single pitch. Every pitch is establishing the bar for the next pitch.
Sometimes a new kid arrives with injury, totally out of sync, or just frustrated. Within a few pitches I may get excited and can’t wait to start because, deep inside, I see that heart, that drive, the desire to reach heights that she had begun to doubt. A fire ignites when she begins to believe that it can still be achieved. By the second lesson, the kid has blown past anything we expected but she is not satisfied. She has caught a glimpse of what lies ahead so I don’t have to push her. The parents do not have to prod. Now it becomes a matter of management. My job is to help her create a plan for development that will draw her ever closer to awesome, knowing she will never be satisfied, but a plan that will create an immense sense of satisfaction with every step along the way.