Everyone is unique in their approach to sports and as coaches we must identify the special qualities of individuals. Pitching instruction is what I have dedicated myself to for over three decades and I continue to search for more effective ways to help young pitchers understand baseball and what it truly takes to be great. There is nothing more satisfying in my mind than to watch a pitcher improve and achieve success.
The name “Pitching Easy” was literally the first idea that popped into my head years ago when thinking about a name for my lesson business. I wanted my program to make pitching less stressful both physically and mentally and what simpler title than “Pitching Easy”? Over the years this approach has helped develop the brand of teaching that I believe in and intend to continue to pass on to all of the pitchers I have the pleasure of meeting.
That being said and in an effort to “keep with the times” I am addressing the trend toward velocity as the ticket for pitchers to become noticed and turn into “prospects” at all levels of play. My friend, colleague and former MLB pitcher Jared Bayliss is a pitching instructor in Western Massachusetts and a contributor to the New England Baseball Journal. In a recent article he brilliantly illustrates the velocity conversation in his article, 3 Things Coaches are Afraid to Say. First is, “throwing hard helps”. Jonah plainly tells us that superior velocity is indeed a plus and many youth and high school coaches focus solely on “getting the ball over the plate” for their pitchers.
Throwing strikes is certainly step one for a young pitchers development but as I always like to tell pitchers, ” If you can throw strikes let’s start trying to throw harder!” It is a natural progression for all pitchers. A hard thrower has more room for error and is generally more difficult to hit. In my own teaching I have developed an effective approach which will help pitchers gain power while improving their skills – Personal Pitching Power.
The positive feedback from the Personal Pitching Power program reinforce my belief that each player can attain the elusive fastball they have always wanted. For those of you who may have read some of the posts for the program and want to know more here is a simple explanation of the concept:
1. It is PERSONAL – Every body type and size has untapped potential. I enjoy the process of helping find the special qualities within each person. Baseball is a game where you do not have to strive to be the biggest, strongest, or fastest in the group. My advice and teaching is to strive to be the best baseball player you can be and that means understanding what strengths you bring to the game and how we can improve together on your strengths while improving on areas that need extra work.
2. It is always about PITCHING – In a previous blog post I stated that pitching is taking the gift of throwing a ball and adding some strategy to it. This program will not lose sight that pitching is a craft that involves mind and body. I continue to learn as I teach and often tell parents and coaches that many of the tools, drills, and instructional advice I pass to pitchers comes more from the thousands of interactions with pitchers and learning out of necessity to help than my own pitching experiences. Years of pitching lessons have helped create a stable of tips and methods to help pitchers improve upon their natural abilities. In this program the throwing and pitching portion is simply “target practice”. “Power practice” is in step 3 below.
3. It is about building POWER – Many pitchers have a good arm. Often I state that the arm is the last thing I need to focus on. Power, and eventually velocity, comes from the rest of the body and the program is about teaching the head, legs, hands, feet, hips, shoulders, and core to become better at pitching. Developing velocity is creating a balance of strength throughout the body. The true “power” of this program and the desired increase in velocity will come more from the various exercises, designed specifically for pitchers, than any actual throwing.
It is important that each young pitcher can understand their own body and what get them to peak performance. This will vary from person to person and in this program the process of finding what works best will be special bonus on top of the power. Pitching is a long term proposition if you want it to be and the Personal Pitching Power program has proven to be a teaching tool for those who want to better understand the game and give themselves the resources to help themselves for years to come.