This is a period of time in which technology can be both very exciting and very frustrating. Yes, we are able to get lots of different metrics with new gizmos and gadgets, but those metrics aren’t always accurate (and the tech doesn’t always work!). Yes, we are able to get a lot of information about pitching, hitting or “other” simply by doing a Google search, but that information isn’t always accurate. In fact, sometimes it can be downright harmful.
Here’s a little help with the tech side of things:
-Try to use the same device for metrics if you are looking to see improvement. Different radar guns read ALL different speeds, but most decent guns are relatively accurate to themselves. What gets athletes really frustrated is if they go to one camp and read 3 miles an hour lower (or higher) than they have been reading consistently. This typically doesn’t have to do with a sudden drop in speed or a sudden burst in speed. It usually just means that the gun at that camp was different than the one she is used to being read on. Also, radar guns are their most accurate when they are held directly behind where the ball is being caught (at the same height of the ball). The only time this is not the case is if you use something like a RevFire where the chip is in the ball. If that is the case, know that pitches that are offline or bouncing in the dirt typically do not read accurately.
-Do metrics often but don’t go overboard. If you are doing metrics once a year, it isn’t frequently enough, but every week can be overkill.
-You can use technology for research purposes, but then verify your research with a professional. I mean, I think that we are all guilty of using WebMD a little too much at times, but hopefully, no one is acting on that information without consulting a doctor. Think about the research you do about pitching in the same way. Remember that ANYONE can call themselves a coach and put information out there. You need to make sure that the right information is getting used by your player or daughter.
-Use online programs, but don’t substitute them for live lessons. I have an online program that took me years to develop and I am so very proud of it. Out of the first 5 girls to do the program, 2 have gone on to become Division I scholarship athletes. I also made sure that athletes in the program could post video EVERY SINGLE DAY so that I could give constructive feedback. I couldn’t be happier with the results. I also know another pitching coach who put together a stunning online program. That having been said, NOTHING is going to replace going to a lesson and having someone move your body into ideal position. Additionally, athletes have so many different styles of learning. Online learning, even at its best, only addresses two different learning styles (auditory and visual). Definitely do an online program if the instructor is amazing and not close to you, but then you need to get in to see her for a live lesson eventually (even if you have to drive a long way).
-Finally, use amazing groups like “Coaching Softball” similar to the way you would use the online programs. If you post a video for constructive feedback, there are always wonderful people who are nice enough to give you free information BUT these wonderful coaches can’t possibly know everything there is to know about an athlete from a short video clip. If someone from out-of-state does a video evaluation with me, I have them send multiple clips from multiple angles (that I then watch obsessively over and over) and then even ask for some follow-up if I don’t feel like I have enough information. So think of feedback on one short video clip as a great brainstorm from some really caring people about some of the things that COULD help. Don’t turn it into a laundry list of 100 things you MUST try in order to get better.
Yes, tech can be great, but let’s use it in a way that benefits everyone! Remember that it is never a replacement for that live interaction. After all, sports are LIVE interaction, we don’t do sports on the computer 🙂
If you are interested in attending a live event focused exclusively on pitching with two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and ESPN analyst Michele Smith (who will be focusing on the development of speed), I highly recommend The Elite Pitching Intensive.
I hope this was helpful, and, as always, if you want great info every week, sign up for the newsletter at