Because injury research and recovery is a huge part of my personal mission, it is not surprising when someone brings a new pitcher who is hurting. What surprises me is to have the pitcher, herself, contact me,
especially when the young lady has done her own research, asks great questions, and wants specific answers.
Savannah is one of those kids. She had a significant injury and her career was in doubt, but this kid from the Scranton, Pennsylvania area caught my attention. She was in her sophomore year of high school when we began virtual lessons this spring. It was the only way to begin the work during shutdowns.
The first couple of sessions were a bit bumpy. I told her that, although the injury was in the elbow, the problems started elsewhere. We had to change the entire sequence. She had so much to learn, our language was different, the activation drills I demanded were different, and the things she believed about creating power were all tossed aside. We were doing all of this from 389-miles apart on little computer screens due to the shutdowns.
I could not be more excited with the progression. Not only is she completely healthy, but the speed is jumping and the moving pitches are dynamic. Still, I remained skeptical. Kids in this situation are fragile. After bringing back over 2,000 of them I know that there are logical reasons that many of them fell into injury. Those are hard to change. A lot of these kids have little body awareness, poor work habits, they were taught things that went against everything natural in athletic movements, some have weak mental games, and many of them have little idea how to overcome bad habits. They continually fall back into old mechanics in the heat of the game. Where would Savannah fit into this? I really wanted to believe this one was special.
Then came the text. She had a very bad day. Honestly, it took the wind out of my sails. After a great warmup, her game performance was very lacking. I waited for the excuses. Perhaps she will find someone or something else to blame. Many kids in this situation look to me for a magic solution.
She went on to explain that she was not trusting the movements, that her natural instinct was to fall back into old habits. Then I saw a very distinct difference with this kid. She had already formulated a plan. Before revealing it, she wanted to know my thoughts. I was a little tough on her, explaining how much I believe that she can be special, and demanding that she turn off her brain and let her body execute the sequences we have practiced.
She was far ahead of me. She had already identified the breakdowns. She had come up with specific steps to help her to confidently face live batters. Before I could say anything she went on to say that she was already lining up a bunch of friends get in the box and take their cuts this week. She would continue this for as long as it takes. This would close the gap between executing in the bullpen and in the game itself.
I just stood there reading it. Duh, well, yeah, um….holy cow….this kid is gonna be special! This may seem like a small thing to you, but this kid had just finished a tough game, figured out the problem, did not wait for me or the parents to solve it, but began mapping a strategy. It is not the big things in life that make you incredible. It is the little things like being injured and refusing to quit, finding people who can help you, pushing them to push you, and finding your own answers to questions.
I have helped a few hundred kids achieve their college dreams. What are the common denominators? I notice speed and movement and strength…but just a little bit. None of those mean much. I search for that heart, that determination, and a kid and who sees every obstacle as an opportunity to reveal any weakness, to celebrate that discovery, and then set about growing past it.