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by Mark Ritchhart
This is the second half of this two-part blog post, where Coach Ritchhart discusses the importance of the timing in our communications and corrections. In this second half of the blog post, Coach Ritchhart explains the specific issues that he encountered when his daughter received some poorly timed instruction.
In my last article, I discussed the importance of having an awareness of when we should correct our players. One of the guiding principles of coaching is understanding timing. As author Joshua Harris wrote,
In other words, even though we might have the correct information, we have to make sure that we give that information at a time when it will be heard, received, applied, and beneficial. Otherwise it's going to be counterproductive.
Heading into the playoffs, the toughest part of your schedule, isn't typically the best time to completely change a pitcher's mechanics (especially if what they are doing is working)!
Thankfully, we were able to recover, and even go on to win a state championship that year. But we went through some major bumps that could have been avoided with better-timed instruction.
So at this point you may be wondering, what exactly did we do to help her get back on track?
While we go more into the nuts and bolts of skills, technique, and drills inside the membership site for softball coaches, I am going to give a brief overview here:
As I mentioned in part 1 of this post, we were beaten up very badly during the weekend tournament after Leah was given the information that wasn't presented at a good time. The very next day we went back to work.
I assured her that her new collected information was good stuff, but we could put it into practice after season on the much needed break before travel ball... and that's what we did.
First, she was off balance from the get-go. So, we fixed her feet to be placed on the mound closer together so when she started to come forward towards the plate, she would be centered over just one leg.
Secondly, the path of her arm circle had changed. Probably from being off balance from the very beginning of her motion.
Finally, her front stride foot had veered well off line. Again, most likely due to her initial balance starting off-kilter.
When I was growing up, one thing that I needed as a student, and all coaches and teachers need to remember is to...
We should try our best to break it down which helps student/player comprehension. In this case for Leah, it really worked.
The word right to remind her to balance herself solely on her right foot (as a right hander) on the mound as she is coming off her negative movement preparing to load her leg and drive towards the plate.
The word tight to remember to keep her throwing arm tight to her body in a perfect circle, brushing her ear with her biceps and staying close (tight) to the hip at release.
The world line was all about stepping on a straight line, with the ball of her front foot, to the center of the plate.
With these three words she repeated aloud, Leah threw straight fast balls right down the middle of the plate to get the form back. It worked!
It worked so well, that we were able tweak the way she throws outside and inside pitches. She shifted her beginning motionless stance to pretend that every pitch began with the thought of down-the-middle.
I placed another home plate on the outside of the main plate so she could line up and use the Right-Tight-Line method to throw a perfectly straight pitch. Within the next two weeks we used the same technique for her change up and soon she was throwing even better with more K’s and less BB’s.
It's important to view set-backs as a temporary challenge, not the overall outcome. Without facing the difficulty of Leah’s form being changed in midseason, she may have never discovered that in a short time, she could actually be pitching better than ever, all from three simple steps she rehearsed over and over in her mind: Right-Tight-Line.
Here is a short video filmed with my iPhone camera with one of my current players demonstrating some of these techniques and concepts.
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by Mark Ritchhart
by Tim Covey
by Tim Covey