<p>Do you want to be right or have your son play? That is the question my wife just asked me as we discussed another disappointing experience with youth baseball. In this case it was my son’s 12U Cooperstown team which is now over. She was of the opinion that the coaches that run these teams find it threatening that you video tape and bring a level of knowledge which is equal if not superior to their own. I remember the words of a past high school baseball coach who ran a Little League program tell me “parents just need to stay the hell out of the way of their children learning baseball and leave it to people like him and his coaches to instruct these kids”. The reality seems to be that if you speak up and question their techniques no matter how diplomatically you express it, you will just piss them off and your child will sit the bench or receive little playing time at best. So my wife has expressed that I should just shut up, pay my money and not interact with the coaching staff because this is what they want. With my son now ready to enter modified baseball she is deeply concerned that someone like myself who has coached youth baseball for years now will be unable to take a hands off approach. Perhaps she’s right but I find it difficult to just sit back while belief based individuals take a crack at screwing up my child’s mechanics or worst yet setting him up for an injury! So, as my wife says, do you want to be right or have your son not play? What do you say?</p>
First of all …they are volunteers…not real coaches. Where is their pitching certification and biomechanics knowledge?
Being politically correct is for another discussion.
I certainly would not sit back and let them mess up your kid when you know what they are doing is not in his best interest. Thus why youth baseball today is a mess and being run by plumbers, car salesman, business men, bankers but few that can call themselves coaches. They mean well but calling themselves coaches is a huge stretch.
If anyone considers themselves a real coach then they must posses deep knowledge in coaching psychology as well as skills…not heresay. Are we seeing that today in all sports? No we are not.
But for us parents, our job is to protect our kid’s best interest…even from volunteer coaches.
And it may go beyond just youth baseball. I have stories.
<p>I feel for you Charlie. Been there, robed the liquor store.</p> <p>Dick’s right. You simply can’t turn your kid over to these people. I wouldn’t turn my kid over to a D1 coach let alone some plumber who thinks he knows it all.</p> <p>I’m fortunate I suppose. My son, David, just turned 15 and has been clocked at 85 mph. He has also hits the ball 390 ft. So when he tries out for a team that wants him, I say “So, you want my son to pitch and hit for you?”. “Yes, Sir!”, they reply. “Good then leave his pitching and hitting mechanics alone. If you don’t, we’ll go some where else”. I’ve never had a problem.</p> <p>I guess what I’m saying is get his skills to the point where you can dictate the terms and conditions. I’ve been the stick and I’ve been the pinata. I much prefer to be the stick.</p> <p> </p>
<div>So, let us then have a discussion about the proper way to handle the following situation. Your 13 year old child just moved up to his schools modified baseball team. After practice one evening he informs you at the dinner table that Coach Smith had all the pitchers practicing the towel drill. He then expressed that tomorrow, they would all be throwing with weighted balls to better strengthen their arms. </div> <div> </div> <div> I cannot tell you how many people have counseled me to tread lightly here because coaches in positions such as these don’t like parents meddling in their affairs. The logical side of me would schedule a meeting with him and present the scientific data that backs up the fact that these drills and techniques have no benefit and could potentially be harmful. </div> <div> </div> <div>But readers, this is the grey line everyone is counseling me about! Is Coach Smith going to change his ways? Probably not. Is he going to be annoyed that he has again inherited one of “those” parents and in some manner modify your child’s participation on the team? Possibly yes, and your son would be devastated if he felt the coach was modifying his play because of something you did no mater how well intentioned. And seeing this, you would probably get upset and just get further and further into more hot water.</div> <div> </div> <div> I understand the strategy previously mentioned that if your son is has exceptional skills that the coach wants on his team, it gives you a certain degree of bargaining on how he is handled. But, there is nothing in the play book that says that the coach needs to play along. And it is my opinion that if you screw up your child’s chances to play on his school baseball team you will never hear the end of it no matter how good your intentions!</div> <div> </div> <div> So please, let us have a robust discussion on this because we all need to to have some sort of basic strategy for dealing with this! </div> <div> </div>
<p>From experience, I’ve had it out with coaches. My rule is don’t touch his mechanics and he gets to do his pre-game stretch/warmup and post stretching. I’ve had the volunteer engineer/pitching coach that walked on at an NAIA school 15yrs ago types seem to want to put their stamp on my kid. (ego). Even when their own kid cannot properly throw a baseball let alone pitch. After trying to be diplomatic I had to put the hammer down and told him not so nicely. Even on a team that they make them static stretch before games and practice my son will just act like he’s doing it, not to cause any kind of fuss.</p> <p>Most all his teams except one have complied and this year I had him on a team that the coach a former AA catcher, he loves my kid and as Dick says his fastball did the talking…. His school team does the same thing… and say whatever you’re doing is working. I’ve already asked the coaches where he’ll go to high school next year and has had state championship teams, do you mess with the mechanics and they replied, if a kid throws hard and throws strikes, we don’t touch him. Make their job easier.</p> <p>I’ve found the volunteer coaches that may have pitched in high school or something are the worst, though lots of them love the towel drill. I did see a coach give one of my kids team-mates a weighted ball. I had to walk away because it was almost too funny. That would be like a basketball player shooting jump shots with a medicine ball to practice 3 pointers. My kid was even laughing as he pointed it out to me.</p> <p>Anyhow, protect your kid, no matter what… may be the difference between a scholarship or not, a draft pick or digging ditches…</p> <p>Ray Petric</p> <p>Elwood, IL</p>
<p> </p> <div>Earlier, I suggested that when a coach engages in teaching drills or activities which we know is potentially harmful, perhaps we could request a meeting and provide the coach with the literature supporting our position. I’m not suggesting getting into some long debate because as we all know, that could be potentially detrimental. If this coach then continues with the behavior at least you know it was not out of ignorance.</div> <div> </div> <div>Has anyone tried this approach and if so what type of reaction did you get? After all, we cannot expect them to be up on the literature the way Coach Mills is. Doesn’t this seem like the most logical approach? Maybe they would appreciate it and reconsider their methods and or philosophy? Or am I just dreaming?</div> <div> </div> <div>Your thoughts please!</div>
<p>What is a “modified school team”? Is that his Summer team made up of some school kids and some outside kids? I would meet with the coach and explain that your son has been on a pitching program for years and has a professional pitching coach helping you guys out, which you do. And that the towel drill, weighted balls, etc. are not on his conditioning, mechanical or development program. If he says no way, then say see ya. Find another team.</p> <p> </p> <p>Knowing what I know now, I’d rather David not play at all than play for a bone head that’s going to lead him to injury. I think that answers your original question.</p>
<p> </p> <div> </div> <div>In our community, kids entering 7th and 8th grade are given the chance to join their schools “modified” baseball team. It’s one level below Junior Varsity. And to those kids who play baseball, it’s obviously a big deal!</div> <div> </div> <div>One of the key themes of this discussion is trying to walk that fine line between doing what we know is right and not creating a chain of negative effects. I can give a perfect example with a conversation I had yesterday.</div> <div> </div> <div>For two years now, my son has played travel ball which ended in tournament play in Cooperstown. Imagine my surprise when my email to to reserve a tryout spot for this teams 2014 13U travel team was rejected. Rather than getting upset, I contacted the owner/coach of the training facility and requested a meeting to better understand why he could reject my son participating in a tryout? Without predigest, my son was a top shelf player on this team so this response surprised me very much. </div> <div> </div> <div>During our meeting last night, he raised the following concerns. While he acknowledged the exceptional talents of my son and all the work I have done with him, he felt that our path differed from theirs. What do I mean by that? I mean early on it was clear that with regards to say …batting, the coaches who where running the team taught more of a linear vs rotational approach. When I realized this, I spoke to him and he gave me assurances that this wouldn’t be a problem (me working with his batting skills vs them) but in reality it was. </div> <div> </div> <div>Why? Because my child didn’t participate in some of the teaching drills they wanted him to because it was contrary to his rotational approach. They also felt like they couldn’t make suggestions without worrying what I might think or feel. In a nutshell, he was different and I was coaching him not them! Now, I used a batting example here but it could have easily been pitching!</div> <div> </div> <div>This same theme of being different carried over into his warm up routine. The other kids would arrive at the facility and immediately start throwing or begin doing their static stretches. My son would arrive and go through a feet to finger tip dynamic warm up ending with his band exercises developed in the First Pitch Strike and Recovery Program. Coaches, parents, and even players noticed that and again, I think it made the coaching staff feel uncomfortable. And once again, my son was recognized as being different which was the very reason why this meeting was taking place.</div> <div> </div> <div>Thankfully, my son understands what we are doing and why. He realizes that starting to warm up by throwing a ball is improper and he gets the fact that we warm up the body to throw and not the other way around. He understands that his routine mirrors that of the MLB players and that one day, his warm up technique will be the norm and not the other way around.</div> <div> </div> <div>I could give other examples but basically my son was being rejected from trying out for the 2014 travel team because they felt they could not work with my son due to the fact that we had these “special” programs in effect. He admitted that he felt we were just on a different path. </div> <div> </div> <div>As for pitching instruction, all I can say here is that this facility had multiple professional pitching instructors and none of them video taped their lessons! So imagine me, a father, video taping my son’s pitching mechanics after the formal team practice was over and the looks I received. We were different and that made them uncomfortable. And what do people do when they feel uncomfortable especially coaches? Readers, if this situation can happen here it can happen anywhere.</div> <div> </div> <div>The bottom line was this coach applauded my efforts but felt that I was way to hands on! Both himself and others on the coaching staff felt uncomfortable making suggestions even though they knew full well they could. Just for the record, my son and I were always polite and respectful and he even acknowledged that fact! </div> <div> </div> <div>For those reading, we truly had a nice conversation and everything ended well. But he passed along what he said was some parting words of wisdom. He expressed most if not all baseball coaches don’t want parents meddling in their affairs. And if you do so, no matter how well your intentions, you could potentially effect your son’s participation on the team. Opinions formed on the part of the coaching staff at the modified level could easily be carried into both the JV and Varsity levels as well so beware.</div> <div> </div> <div>Nobody wants their child to be looked upon unfavorably especially when they are doing everything right!And that is just what happened above and nobody said “boo” to me on the part of the coaching staff until my son was invited NOT to participate in this facilities 2014 13U travel team tryouts. </div> <div> </div> <div>So, let us all take this seriously and have a thoughtful discussion on this matter for the sake of these wonderful and talented ballplayers we are raising!</div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div>
<p>How is raising your 13 year old kid “meddling” in their affairs? That’s where the train leaves the tracks for me. Honestly, if it were me, I’d bolt and go elsewhere. That’s exactly what I did 2 years ago. I took my son out of a school system that was run by morons and put him in a place where he would be appreciated and left alone with his skills development.</p> <p> </p> <p>It’s your call, but these people are self-absorbed morons.</p>
<p>To those readers responding I would like to thank you for your input. However, for both myself and possibly other parents out there, moving your child to a different school district and/or approaching the coaching staff with a take it or leave it proposition regarding the playing of your child seems to omit any middle ground if any exists.</p> <div> </div> <div>I would like to revisit my earlier suggestion of parents being in a position to make available to the coaching staff the scientific literature supporting our position on matters like long toss, throwing weighted balls, etc. As mentioned, can we really assume they have the ability to keep up with all the data out there? Perhaps when shown the evidence that these activities have no merit or that they could be potentially harmful, they might rethink their actions? </div> <div> </div> <div>Perhaps thats all we parents can do if other options seem unattractive or disrupting. I would appreciate any comments on providing scientific literature to coaches as a way of modifying their behavior. Has anyone tried this and if so what happened?</div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div>
<p>My experience is there are some good “people” trying to do the best they can, but have no clue what they are doing…dangerous. There are those that don’t care about the kids…dangerous. And I’m sure some teams with a guy like Coach Mills whose son is on the team and you get quality advice from him…rare.</p> <p>I live in a small town, and told the coaches, don’t touch my kids pitching mechanics…at all. I understand the difficulty with that. But I am not there to make friends with a guy that either has no clue what he is doing, or doesn’t care about my kid, or both.</p> <p>Last year I pulled my older son from a travel team for all the usual reasons: manager was over-pitching the kids, didn’t video tape and this may surprise you…all the daily practices interfered with our fall bullpens. This year, he is working very hard with proper conditioning and bullpens, and suggestions both Coach’s Mills made this summer to his mechanics and his velocity has just jumped. I am in the YOU know what’s best for your kids camp.</p> <p>I found a team that will allow him to join them a “few” times this fall to get some feedback on his changeup by facing batters. Following Mills’ suggestions of pitchers are made in the fall. I’ve never seen my kid pitch like he did Saturday. He threw fastballs by good hitters at will and his changeup was really effective. They couldn’t touch him. I have put too much time into my sons (and learned too much) to not be the main coach for my boys.</p> <p>To all reading this string…go back and read Randy’s comment above. To Randy..I still appreciate your comments to my curveball post earlier this year, if you read this far you know we worked on his changeup.</p> <p> </p>
<p>Thanks, James. He’s breaking batter’s ankles, huh? :)</p> <p> </p> <p>And to Coach Carlile, I apologize if my previous post was harsh. It certainly wasn’t directed at you. When I read your first post, it brought back bad memories of “coaches” I’ve encountered here in my part of the world. I know the kind you’re talking about. So, you go into their office with the most honest of best intentions. You lay down Dick’s bible of pitching, the Art and Science of Pitching, hundreds of studies as to why their way is wrong and yours is right.</p> <p> </p> <p>The problem, in the coach’s eyes, is that you never played in college or the bigs. How could you possibly know anything let alone more about pitching than him? You start out with 3 strikes against you before you ever open your mouth. And all that fancy shmacy science stuff?? Well, that just wont fly because now your attacking his intelligence. He’s telling you in no uncertain terms to “Go away. I don’t want you here. You’re a pain in the ass just like all the other parents who think their 13 year old kid is the 2nd coming of Nolan Ryan”. Just like James said, you have the worst of the worst possibilities.</p> <p> </p> <p>I’ve been teaching my son, David, Dick’s methods for 6 years now and I know it works 100% without a doubt. I no longer give unsolicited advice to others. I’ve found its not appreciated and I understand why. I wish you the very best with your situation. I know it will work out. Don’t give up on your son.</p>
<P>I wanted to share my experiences with my sons coaches. It started in 11 year old All-Stars, he first year pitching. Even though I knew the coaches well (even helped with All-Star practice) they started another kid in game 2. They said it was because they could not help my son during the game. They knew I was upset so they put him in to pitch in the second inning with us down 8-1, 2 on and no outs. I know they were trying to show me that against good hitters my son would struggle. Only thing was…he didn’t. Didn’t give up a hit or a run for 3 innings when they took him out.</P> <P>I ended up taking a Little League team that next year. I taught the basics of Momentum pitching to 3 other kids and we won our league. Funny too because people were complaining that we had so many good pitchers. After I left the dads changed the mechanics of their kids because others thought it looked “funny”. None of those other kids are even playing baseball anymore.</P> <P>Going into HS (my son hurt his knee and missed almost 2 years of baseball) and playing for the school’s “travel team” for incoming freshmen my son was by far the best pitcher. Everyone knew it. They made him a pitcher only and then wanted him to work with this “great” pitching coach. Problem was this coach was a frustrated 26 year old trying to catch on as a pitcher with any team he could…independent ball, minors, anything. He did not like that he didn’t understand Momentum Pitching. He did not like that there was nothing he could do to “help” my son. (He did ruin two other kids arms by switching them to throwing side arm). When he did try to change anything my son would ask “why” or just nod and go back to doing what we had always done. Finally, the coach wanted to do the towel drill because the other pitchers weren’t extending properly. I asked “does Samuel not extend properly?”. He said “no, he is okay but this will help anyway”. I gave him the link to Dick’s article regarding the harmful effects of the towel drill and other “drills”. I received the nastiest email! How dare I question him??? This is a recognized drill that all major colleges do!!! If Samuel were to refuse to do the drill or question them in college he would be kicked off the team!!!</P> <P>That year Samuel threw 3 complete games of the 17 played, and they only won when he pitched.</P> <P>As a sophomore they stuck him on JV (they were loaded with upper classmen pitchers) and the same coach came back. He tried so hard to make one of his sidearm guys the #1 starter, but it was obvious that Samuel was much better. I really think the coach became jealous of Samuel because he was throwing harder and had better stuff than any of his “favorites”. When he tried to get Samuel to change Samuel just nodded and went back to doing what we always did. The coach seemed to be trying to get Samuel to fail…to make the others look better. The others would start against lesser teams and lose. Samuel would start against the better teams and win. They even went so far as to take him out of a perfect game (thru 4 complete innings he had 6k’s, and had only thrown 38 pitches). The first batter facing the relief pitcher got a hit and we lost the game.</P> <P>Now he is going into his Junior year. The other pitching coach is gone, gone, gone! The varsity pitching coach is only concerned with winning. As long as Samuel throws strikes and gets outs he doesn’t care what he does. He does make suggestions but they are only suggestions. They do have a dedicated “long toss day” for the pitchers so we’ll see if he reacts any better to the information we will give him. If he insists on long toss for Samuel we have already decided that he will lob the ball and let it hop/roll to the other side.</P> <P>Wow! didn’t mean to get that detailed. I would sum it up by saying that HS coaches have egos (big egos) and I would not expect them to listen to reason. Just stick to your guns. If your son is good enough they will still let him pitch and if you don’t make your questioning public they will let it drop. Most travel/showcase coaches are better about leaving your son alone. That is where they get scouted now a days anyway (at least in SoCal).</P>
<p> </p> <div> </div> <div>Dear dslegg97,</div> <div> </div> <div>I wanted to thank you for sharing what was obviously an upsetting experience. How is your son doing now and where is he in his pitching career?</div> <div> </div> <div>I am amazed by reading these letters, that the suggestion of showing these coaches scientific literature/evidence from well respected research facilities does not seem to be influencing them to rethink their approach. </div> <div> </div> <div>In my own line of work, that’s one of the reasons why continuing education is so important. How can these coaches be so negative when all you are trying to do is enhance their understanding on a particular subject matter? If there was the slightest chance that a particular drill or technique could have negative consequences, wouldn’t you think they would want to investigate its merits a bit further? I simply cannot get my mind around the arrogance of it all!</div> <div> </div> <div>I guess it’s just like school in the sense that you’ve got good and even exceptional teachers and then you have the “others”. If a coach is open to reviewing the literature suggesting that a particular training technique has been shown to not transfer well then that’s a start. Irregardless of how he takes the information, you have done your job and at least he knows you have science backing up your position to abstain you child from one of these drills.</div> <div> </div> <div>In the end, we parents are entrusted with looking after the well being of our children and that deserves their respect. As such, we should feel free to share information with any coach about a drill or technique that science has now shown to be detrimental. If that information can be shared in a private or confidential way all the better. We must also take the time to educate our children on these matters because we will not always be there to protect them. We must teach our children to be respectful and diplomatic should they decide not to participate or just “fake it”. Most of all, we must teach them to continually work on perfecting their skills because pitchers who can win games by locating their pitches typically won’t get messed with. As coach Mills say’s ” let your fastball do the talking”.</div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <p> </p>
<p>Y’all,</p> <p>I’ve got some sad, sad news for you. It doesn’t get better at college.</p> <p>My son got almost a full ride at D1 between athletics and academics. We loved the pitching coach while we were being recruited. Did almost everything in alignment with Dick but unfortunately, both of his parents fell ill and moved into full time care so he left to be close to them. His replacement is trying to do the same things but he just doesn’t get it.</p> <p>They videotape a lot but don’t review with the players. The coaches do some internal analysis but it isn’t shared. I went down for parents weekend and videotaped and found a couple of serious problems that had crept back in and we’re working to address. He’s got an ipad with the Coach’s Eye program and he’ll be taping his next few pens (if pitching coach allows)</p> <p>My son missed the first two weeks of fall practice because he couldn’t run fast enough. Team rule is that everyone must be able to run 2 miles in 14 minutes, no exceptions. I have to think several MLB pitchers would fail that test, but my son dug down and got into running shape. In the end, it got him much more serious about conditioning so I’m not going to complain.</p> <p>Thankfully, they’re not long toss crazy. They’ll do interval throwing on flat ground and stretch out longer than I think wise but nobody (except a couple upper classmen) are distance fiends.</p> <p>Thank God their conditioning program is almost 100% in alignment with Dick. The current guy just took the old coach’s program and ran with it. Would like a bit more lateral motion exercises in the program but my son knows how to work them in.</p> <p>To use an analogy, the roller coaster is still climbing up that first big hill. The exciting part will be coming soon. I’m trying to load a picture of my son’s dorm with Dick’s “Big Game Pitcher” poster over his bed but can’t get the web page SW to accommodate.</p> <p>Cal</p> <p> </p>
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