From the Practice Field to the Playing Field

JDfromfla has a quote on the bottom of all his postings that has such merit to it, that it can be sometimes passed over as just that … a quote and nothing more. And that’s unfortunate. And here it is:
“A pitcher doesn’t learn anything when everything goes exactly right” Greg Maddux

So many youngsters that could have made it over and above their static level of talent… did not because they didn’t take what they did on the practice field … on to … the playing field. And this is primarily due to a lack of confidence and not willing to take risk of failing AT THAT MOMENT.

Case in point – I had a very talented player who was absolutely dynamic during bullpen sessions and other practice times. But get him on the bump and expect the same… not gonna happen. We’d sit and review every 16MM, every notebook entry, every body posture … and so on, but to no avail. In fact, his picture was on the cover of a league magazine once with the caption of … “prospect of the month.” It’s just a shame it wasn’t taken on the field instead of the bullpen.

I had another player, when I was coaching 16-18 ball years ago, who had the power to hit anywhere in the universe… man was he good. The only problem was he would bat zero when using wood. His learing to hit his way to the professional game was stopped dead in its tracks because of this low level of skill. In fact, I put two bats with identical size and weight in his hands… while he was blind folded and asked to which was which. He couldn’t tell. But, get him up to the plate with wood – zero. Our problem finally came to a head when I asked him to level with me. His entire approach was that of winning … not learning. He could win with a metal bat… but he couldn’t learn with wood. And at 6’ 8" with all the other tools to make it this sport… he forced himself in a corner just for the experience of the moment … not the future.

The point to be made here is this — when you practice your trying to teach and retain certain ability(s) that work in real time (game time). The problem is … some of you start off nervous, unsure of your self, and you reach back into your old style and habits and fail to practice what you’ve learned. By the way this is common. And it’s all too common for the majority of up and coming pitchers in youth ball.

BUT!!! For those of you willing to fail during live time (game time) by working on your skill level and applying what you’ve learned, you’ll only improve your chances of going on to bigger and better things.

There’s a saying that I use all the time when coaching— USE OR LOSE IT. And in that regard, no one who has any reasonability in this sport expects you to take the field and perform 100%. Nobody! So don’t expect it from yourself.

Use 10-12 ball to prepare you for 12-14 ball. Use summer ball to prepare you for fall ball. Use fall ball to prepare you for off-season skills study. Use off-season skills study to prepare you for high school pre-season and so forth. Every day of your playing career should a page in a notebook.
Make notes, take snap-shots, record video… keep at IT to the game and USE IT. Your learning time… each and every time will get better and better.

Failure and uncertainty is along the path of your growth as a pitcher. Don’t ever let anyone tell you differently.

Coach B.

[quote=“Coach Baker”]JDfromfla has a quote on the bottom of all his postings that has such merit to it, that it can be sometimes passed over as just that … a quote and nothing more. And that’s unfortunate. And here it is:
“A pitcher doesn’t learn anything when everything goes exactly right” Greg Maddux[/quote]

Great post, coach. I printed it and handed it to my son.

Hose

I’d add that coaches need to allow players to fail - especially at practice. I used to be the pitching coach for a travel team that had some other coaches who wanted perfection at practice. Instead of pushing the kids to expand the envelope and allow them to make mistakes, they would demand perfection. This caused the kids to play conservatively for fear of getting yelled at. And it created a lot of pressure at game time. This actually stifled the development of some of the kids. And it definitely didn’t help keep things fun.

So, it’s gotta’ start with the coaches.

I practice with wood but I don’t use it in games… I guess it’s because I know I’ll hit well with aluminum, but i’d rather be comfortable with wood in practice before I take it to games, and no matter what you say performance in a game still counts, especially if you’re trying to get yourself noticed and I’d rather be a consistent hitter who can hit a double a game then going 1 for 3 with wood and nobody looks at me. At least that’s my take on it.

and no matter what you say performance in a game still counts, especially if you’re trying to get yourself noticed and I’d rather be a consistent hitter who can hit a double a game then going 1 for 3 with wood and nobody looks at me. At least that’s my take on it.

I can appreciate your feelings and interest on that one… and it’s the norm for every single youngster that plays ball… goes home … hangs up the spikes and then starts a job and a career in life… but not baseball.

Here’s the thing… I, like everyone else in the scouting and recruiting game, doesn’t really take the level of play that your currently at… at 100% of the evaluation of your performance. We use a scale that projects into the future how well you’d do at our level of ball. And on that note… there is a mental block somehow on trying new things from the practice field onto the playing field. Using a wooden bat is just a small sample of the population of skills enhancement that YOU MUST grind out regardless of how much BETTER or COMFROTABLE you feel doing otherwise. And it’s only reasonable to thnik that if your not comfrotable with trying to enhance your dynamics with a challenge like using a wooden bat, you’ll do the same with anything… ANYTHING mind you, else.

"…I’d rather be a consistent hitter who can hit a double a game then going 1 for 3 with wood and nobody looks at me. "

Believe me, it isn’t that cut and dry if you want to make it in the upper crust of this sport. Force yourself to get over this mindset if you want any chance of standing out in the crowd. Spend time… lots of it… sacrafice other things to be as dedicated and skillfull in the art form.

Your age and “hey, look at me” go hand-in-hand. Take the risk of being aggressive in you skill enhancement… and let those who someday WILL LOOK AT YOU … see something worth looking at.

I spent 8 years on the road watching young men with the same approach as yourself… then their was that one guy that step’d into the box… put the ash on his shoulder and knockd a frozen rope to short… and it was one to two to six to three… and it’s over. For that one moment… but it would catch my eye and my attention… big time. And although I was looking at pitching stock… I’d make a note to pass on to my boss the young man that was swinging ash that day… “check him out!”

I’m being very truthful with you here. Beleive me, the willingness to concentrate on anything that’s difficult… that’s brouht from the practice field, should be the test of your comprehension of that practice. If your not confident enough in yourself to DO IT… nobody else will. NOBDOY.

Coach B.

Folks, that’s some great wisdom Coach B laid down in this thread. Ya’ll need to pay attention to this. Use it to your advantage!

:applause:

Coach Baker,

What a great thread!

I wish you lived in my neighborhood, I’d really enjoy talking ball with you in person over some BBQ.

I would guess that you often hear from many of your past players and that a fair number of them turn into friends…