You Can Prove Anything With Video

Occasionally a parent sends a video and has great concern about something that is a non-issue. Other times people will see a well-known pitcher do something and want their daughter to look like that. We love video, we use a ton of it, but it can also create problems if you don’t know what you are seeing. Three different people will look at the same video and see three different causes and effects.
Let me give you an example. Watch a javelin thrower. What part of the body is dominant? Research shows they use a process called “blocking”, the planting of the front foot and specific placement of the body to force all of the energy through the upper body and into the “spear”.
The arm and shoulder have to support the action, but they are not the keys. Properly engaging the core is crucial. In fact, if a javelin thrower were to stand flat-footed and throw, you would see a far different result. It takes a certain amount of training to know what you are seeing, where the energy originates, and what barriers hinder the result you want. Most inexperienced people would look at the arm first. They could spend hours talking about release point, finger pressure, or arm speed and never get to the real cause and effect.
The same is true in every sport and every position. Someone sees an action, especially in slow motion, and focuses on the wrong body part. Much of the time they are looking at the results of certain actions, not the cause. A parent complains that a pitcher’s arm is too slow. We might say, “No, the body and legs are inhibiting her arm speed greatly.” If she uses a very inefficient and weak takeoff while trying to keep the arm at full speed, some strange things are going to happen. The arm is not the issue.
Recently two different men from distant states sent me video of their daughters to analyze. Both made some great observations. However, they were focused on the end result, trying to find answers too late in the pitch sequence. The damage had already been done earlier in the movement. Once the kid loses control of the glove side or starts with a weak takeoff, the rest is lost. If the back foot is plowing into the ground it has nothing to do with the back foot. You can work on that all you want, but the causes are in far different parts of the body.
I quizzed one parent about his daughter’s takeoff. He named a particular pitcher they were emulating. Okay, but they missed two things. The pitcher they were emulating is way over 6-feet tall and incredibly athletic. She can get away with a few things due to her amazing strength, and her body is going to work in a slightly different way from a kid 5’5”. Plus, this pitcher was doing a signature move in her pre-motion, but then she came to the perfect position for her actual start. The dad had missed that part. He was too confused by the pre-motion.
Another dad compared his daughter to one of the all-time greats. He was trying hard to help his daughter have such dominant hips and a powerful stride. I suggested he look at her shoulder position. Wow! He had never recognized the link between the shoulders and hips. The body seeks symmetry. It is amazing how one part dramatically affects another part, though they seem unconnected on the surface. Cross symmetry is particularly significant. If the left hip collapses, the right shoulder will try to come up and over at release, which is not only inefficient but is also a major cause of injury to the lower back. Yes, different parts of the body are intricately connected. Point A affects Point F which hurts point Z. An amateur studying the video will get so caught up in the shoulder that he never sees the real issues and the real risks.
Don’t get me wrong. We love video! But I can find video to support anything that I truly want to believe. We all carry influences into the study of video that affect our ability to accurately interpret it. And, just because a single pitcher or hitter is successful does not suggest that I want to adopt the same movement pattern for my daughter’s body type.
I want her to feel the movements, to develop body awareness so she can make adjustments, and occasionally use video to assess things we might miss. Just like any tool, it is limited by the knowledge and proven track record of the person using it.
*Note: Make plans to join Denny for events this fall in the areas of northern Virginia, Charlotte, New York, northern Delaware, and Atlanta. Email us for more information.

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