Coaching Youth Softball – Working with the Body, Not Against It

They say that…

..the day you stop learning you die.

..coaches who stop going to clinics and courses and always seeking better ways of doing things should retire.

…all the most successful people in society are lifelong learners and never stop learning.

Well, since I am not anywhere close to dying or retiring and that I want to be successful, I decided to spend the weekend learning more about softball hitting and pitching with some of the greatest minds of our sport.

I am currently attending the NFCA Coaches College 402 Course on advanced hitting and pitching in Portland, Oregon.

The instructors are Kirk Walker, Head Coach at Oregon State, Margie Wright, Head Coach at Fresno State, and Don Slaught, former MLB catcher, world-renowned hitting instructor, and owner of RighViewPro, the innovative hitting and pitching analysis software used extensively at the college level.

Today, they talked about numerous principles, concepts and techniques.

However, what struck me most was that both Kirk Walker and Don Slaught have a teaching philosophy similar to mine.

I am not talking about their hitting or pitching philosophy but rather how they like to instruct it.

They are both big believers in working with the body. What I mean by that is that they are believers in helping the athlete “feel” what they do rather than tell them flat out what to do.

They believe in not saying too much (overloading athletes with technical information and breaking things down to the smallest details for no reason) but rather use only a few cues and drills that will help the athlete figure out how to do it and use corrective instruction and drills when it is required.

They believe in helping the body optimize what it does well naturally.

You see, the body naturally wants to use the most natural and efficient way of doing things.

If what you want to do is to generate a lot of explosive power to throw something, most of the time, the body, after trying it out for a bit, will figure out naturally the best and most efficient way to do it.

The problem today is that we put a lot of focus on very detailed and small technical elements that we somehow create robots who don’t look that smooth and natural in their execution.

Too much information can actually be counter productive. We have to be less “mechanical” and focus more on becoming more “natural”.

It should feel effortless. It should be flowing. It should be smooth and graceful.

So, do you work with your body or against it by working with too much technical information?

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