Regardless if your rookie just starting out or a veteran of varsity and beyond - this is sold stuff worth reading. It’s as factual as it gets and you can thank Dusty Delso for this recent post. It’s going GOLDEN.
Posted: Jan 29, 2009
By Dusty Delso
try this again.
i have a ph.d in educational research and a published author in effective teaching practice. here is how the best minds in the world (not mine) do research and evaluate theories. first, find every piece of reputable knowledge you can find related to what you are studying, in this case pitching. you will find information by mills, nyman, ellis, house, koufax, mazzone and marshall just to mention a few of the big hitters and popular gurus mentioned on this site quite often. flesh out their theories and put them into as simple and terse (brief and to the point) language you can. a red flag is if the theory is complex and difficult to understand. most great ideas related to things that have been around for a long time (like pitching) are simple, like e=(mc)2.
now look at which theories are accepted and used by experts. in our case, professional baseball and hall of famers are the state of the art. these guys make small fortunes teaching and throwing baseballs and getting people out. if something was earth shattering or getting unusually good results, pro ball would do it. especially as valuable as pitching is right now. .500 pitchers are worth a million dollars.
now, guys who have been around a long time and teach a radical concept or theory that has not been accepted are eliminated. this is where marshall is eliminated.
now you take what is left, all the rest, and see if they fit with state of the art practices (why not just use the experts like koufax, mazzone or those who pattern their programs and mechanics after hall of fame pitchers like ellis, wolforth, nyman, and house. these are pretty safe bets.
now here is where the problem comes in because you have to make a decision. if one of the theories that fit works for you, stick with it and use it. follow it to the letter because it has worked for someone (like the weighted ball programs). if someone gets objective, measurable, and repeatable results, it’s hard to turn away from them. wolforth clearly gets these results. there is no arguing that he has helped and trained a number of very good amateur pitchers. (i’m not getting anything from wolforth but maybe i should). his program stands on it’s own merits and passes the learned research test.
the other option you have is to look at the fundamental comonalities in the successful programs, and see if you can identify these things. what do all the theories and methods have in common. first, though they may argue about doing it differently, all the above mentioned programs select pitchers who exhibit some level of talent (usually a pretty good fastball or arm strength), and they work them at levels only the most elite and fanatical pitchers will endure to get better. i have used portions of wolforth, nyman, koufax, mazzone, mills and ellis and the workloads are enormous in these programs. there are no shortcuts or easy way (magic bullet) to get this done. they all require large amounts of old fashioned hard work. now comes the difference between the elite, world class players, and those who are just good or average. in my mind there are only two kinds of pitchers, the great ones and all the rest. you can have all the rest.
there is a theory developed by two guys, colvin and gladwell, called directed practice and the theory of 10,000 hours. in every case involving world class anythings (athletes, musicians, business people, doctors), they all engaged in directed practice for a period of at least 10,000 hours (usually 7 to 10 years). without exception, world class performers put in 10,000 hours of tough directed practice. directed practice is a different type of practice than most of us consider practice. i’ll give some examples.
greg maddux would get a ball and his glove, and he would go out by himself, and throw the ball against a brick wall at 1/2 to 70% for hours. he would pick out a particular brick and push himself to hit that brick consistently and almost automatically. he did this alone, which is a hallmark of the greats. they do most of their work alone.
the other characteristic of their practice is, it is “directed”. the greats practice at the edge of their capabilities where they are failing about half the time, and they work and fight through this until they can consistently succeed and perform at the level they could only achieve about half the time. when they achieve this, they raise the bar and go through the process again. this is not particularly fun unless you know what you will accomplish in the end, but the greats will do this. they are almost obsessed with seeing how good they can become.
an example from colvin’s book “talent is overrated”, he describes how amateur singers enjoy voice lessons and look forward to them. professional singers are exhausted after voice lessons and many actually dread the lessons but know they are necessary to excel. that’s just the way it is.
what’s the moral of this story. if you want to be great. really, really want to be great. you have to work. and you will have to make some major sacrifices. it is very common for those who work at world class levels to go into a shell and many of their relationships outside of their immediate family and those they train with are abandoned. my son just lost his girlfriend (and she is gorgeous), because he spends too much time training and playing baseball (an average of 25 hours per week). add that up and include high school coursework. it doesn’t leave much time. there are some down sides to attempting to become world class. but the one thing you will take away from it is an enormous work ethic for something you become interested in. this is a common characteristic of world class performers. more important than talent when you reach the elite levels of performance.
this is why there are so few world class performers. the vast majority of players simply will not go through this often painful type of training to become just that little bit better than those who also have lots of talent. these people are obsessed with what they do, they find expert help, and when you run into them, most of the time they will bury you. and most rookies or wanna-bes will say they are just lucky or get all the breaks. this things usually come after putting in the enormous workloads that are focused sharply on getting that little bit better every time out.
it’s kind of like holding a magnifying glass up to a sheet of paper in the sun as dorfman says in his great book the mental game of baseball. when you focus it just right, it has great power, if it is scattered it doesn’t do much. water at 211 degrees isn’t all that powerful. one more degree and you get steam. when you harness that steam, you are set up with something powerful.
good luck and get ready to work. and no promises the work will pay off. but you can sure walk away knowing you did something very few people will do. and there is no banned or illegal substance you can put in your body to get that high. if you’re a ballplayer.