Confusion is just one aspect of the problem. Another is resistance—defiance—unwillingness to do what the coach says simply because the kid feels it’s all wrong. For example, there’s Professeur Je-sais-tout, a veritable know-it-all with one idea: “My way or the highway”. Usually that one idea is that there’s just one way to pitch, and that’s straight over-the-top. This is regardless of whether this way is the right one. Now, you have a kid, 13 or 14, whose natural delivery is not straight over the top—it may be a very serviceable 3/4 or sidearm—and who’s doing all right with it. But the professor thinks otherwise and sets about trying to change the kid’s arm slot, get him to throw over the top. And now there’s the standoff. The coach says it’s his way or the highway, while the kid resists, defies said coach and insists that this is not the right way to do it, not unless you want to screw up his arm. The coach doesn’t care, and so it gets to the point where he yells at the kid, "Hit the road, Jack, and don’t you come back no more!"
Question: who’s right and who’s wrong?
This is one of those situations Eddie Lopat spoke of that made him seriously consider writing a book called “How Not To Coach.” Lopat had one basic premise: that every pitcher has his/her natural motion, and that was what he would work with. One of the first things he would do was check out the pitcher’s arm angle, arm slot, whatever you’d call it, and question the kid about it, how did it feel? Here we have something that a lot of coaches nowadays are thinking about and trying to implement: the concept of “feel”—and Steady Eddie knew all about that a long time ago. If the kid questioned how it felt, that indicated that the arm slot might not be the right one, and so he and the kid would experiment to find the right one, the delivery with which the latter would feel comfortable. My natural motion was sidearm; I always threw that way, and Lopat noticed it when he was showing me how to throw a good slider. He never tried to change my motion; he expanded it by teaching me the short-arm version, which gave me twice as many pitches as I already had. He also helped me refine the crossfire—a beautiful and lethal move that works only with the sidearm delivery—thus giving me 3X the number of pitches. He saw what was working for me and helped me with it.
And that was how one would coach. Or should. If more coaches would get their heads out of the sand and focus on what would work for the kids, rather than against them, the problem of uncoachability would fade into the sunset. :baseballpitcher:
And did you notice that the animated emoticon referred to here is a true sidearmer?