Coaching amateur pitchers that have the talent to go beyond recreational baseball has many challenges. Some of those challenges can go below the radar of the coach’s control. The most obvious being once the trainee leaves the coaching environment and returns to his normal, every day habits. Things like diet and nutrition management, proper sleep management, workout conditioning and so on are just some of things left to the self-disciple of the individual. Considering the heretofore mentioned with the amateur’s immaturity, living conditions, social and ethnic persuasions only complicates the coaching process.
There is however one aspect of control not mentioned above that often gives a false impulse to observing, grading and evaluating amateur pitchers. That false impulse has to do with the resiliency of a youthful body, and that body’s ability to shift loads of stress proportionally to other parts of the body.
Here’s how this works. An amateur of say, 16 years of age, who can deliver a pitch at 85 miles per hour, may seem very gifted, athletically. In fact, game after game, an impressive track record starts to emerge and reputations are initiated.
However, in the short run, a pitching coach must be alter to the amateur’s impulse to push himself harder and harder and possibly imprint a signature of incorrect muscle memory, that’ll be almost impossible to break later on. Youthful muscles and the personal will and determination to endure, regardless of the short run consequences, is a false impulse that a physically gifted and endowed amateur athlete must be monitored for.
Some amateurs can be rather inventive hiding these false impulses. And since every body type and physique has different characteristics and reasons for posture performance, avoid stamping every amateur with a one-size-fits-all during the training process.
Repetitive Imprint Analysis
One of the best methods of reviewing an amateur pitcher is with repetitive imprint analysis. Simply put, this is where pitch after pitch is photographed or videoed then paused in segments for still motion, and placed side by side looking for any variances in the correct progression. Without fail, as the amateur goes through his routine(s), subtle changes in his stride, pelvic positioning, torso movement or lack thereof, shoulder positioning, and even head and release attitudes will highlight reasons for a discussion.
I’ve found this method very useful in discussing sprains and muscle issues from prior appearances that went unnoticed heretofore. Another benefit and less direct, are picking up missing workouts schedules and even evading diet and sleep management directives – pictures can be very telling. Sloppy performances during scheduled practice sessions can be very awkward to explain when nothing else points to a lack of self-discipline. Very awkward.