This is an outstanding question.
I’m gong to respond to your question as it relates to baseball – pitching specifically.
Pitchers are usually into baseball for the short-haul or for the long-haul. And sometimes a little of both, whether they realize it or not. A youngster playing in an age group of say, 10-12 baseball may be simply in it because his/her family wants him/her to, his/her friends are with it, or some other reason. As youngsters get older, they find comparing themselves to others in the sport that their involved with, a social group, or even admiring the looks and actions of another person, are unavoidable. And let’s not leave adults out the picture. In fact, certain industries like the cosmetic, fashion, diet and fiscal fitness thrive on the notion that a lot people want to look and act like somebody else.
Ok, how does this relate to baseball and pitching?
To begin with, professional coaches in both the amateur and professional ranks understand the human condition as stated above better than the general public would give them credit for. In fact, this understanding of human nature can be a major starting point for most coaches and how they deal with their charges. For example, I know that most pitchers that I’ve coached, more than likely started to lift weights at around the age of fourteen (14). And this wasn’t due to any health kick .. but it was to improve their looks and strength … in that order. Basically, they wanted to be more attractive .. in their eyes, for “looks sake”, and being cool around their contemporaries (friends) and the other gender. However, what was lacking more often than not was a diet, sleep, and a time management program to compliment the “weights”. Oh, sometimes milkshakes, power bars, and some sort of wiz bang super supplement would be taken .. and these things got old real quick .. simply because the expected results weren’t quick enough. Ahhhhh, there’s a key phrase… “expected results weren’t quick enough”.
Some pitchers have a certain “signature” to them that brings this “quick fix” attitude with them. And since human beings are creatures of habit, it isn’t long before their true self floats to the top and their body just can keep pace with the demands of play combined with supplements. Eating disorders, irregular class attendance, mood swings, and a host of other things start to creep into the picture.
Now let’s add the competitive mindset … specifically, keeping up with the level of talent and getting an edge. Competition at just about every level of ball has a supporting cast of training facilities, coaches, recruitment and turnover. For all intense purposes, every program has a norm with these things. In other words a water mark that’s set as the program’s minimum for position players as well as the club overall. And as would be expected, most coaches are mirror images of the programs they administer. Hence, you’d expect to find a perennial championship club with championship facilities and a coaching staff to match. You’d also expect to find a player pool that has the discipline, willpower, internal fortitude to compliment all of the above.
Unfortunately, some players fill these rosters with personal qualities that fail to meet the water mark. Their mental view of themselves is not very flattering, and for one reason or other finding a quick and easy solution to overcome the .. “expected results that weren’t quick enough”, seems to be the only way OUT . For those players in baseball for only the short-haul, like high school Frosh, JV and Varsity ball … and not beyond, the potential damage to the growth cycles, the body’s immune system, electrolyte balance, metabolism, and so forth can have negative effects that last well into adulthood. Complicating this same subject is the condition of taken medication in the later stages of life and trying to regulate a serious health issue.
Your body is an amazing status of ever changing, consuming, repairing, and self regulating itself based on the environment surrounding it and influences upon it. For example, when you’re thirsty your body is telling you to drink … not what to drink… but drink. This is a solicited response request that your body is asking your for. If you chose to consume soda pop as a constant diet you’re responding to your body’s senses in a negative way with false food to simply satisfy the body’s solicited request for liquid.
However, an unsolicited response for chemical enhancements based on what you “perceive” to be needed … without the body’s natural senses asking for it… is just as false as living on soda pop.
Basically, any talent .. like pitching, takes time to develop and nurture. You won’t get results by tossing a few in the backyard once a week. Good pitching takes skill assessment over time and monitoring yourself with the help of others. As you progress you find abilities that you never knew you had … and tolerance levels you never knew you had. But, at least you have the opportunity to SENSE knowing when and why. With chemical enhancements… your body can become INSENSITIVE to knowing when and why. And if you have any kind of talent in this sport, and your looking for the long-haul career wise … in college or professionally, go the long-haul with your own ability … diet discipline, sleep discipline, time management discipline have proven track records.