The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield is an incredible book about the different forms of resistance we face on a daily basis.
There are many take-home messages from this book and ways we can apply the principles described from the book into our daily lives.
Pressfield talks about what is urgent and what is important and we must do what is important first.
This really hit me hard and made me think about how we are teaching throwing patterns to our players. It is important that we focus on skill development, not the urgency of winning.
But that’s not it..
Pressfield also talks about how we must do work for it’s own sake, not for fortune, not for attention and not for applause.
This also hit me really hard and made me think of why I even started researching and teaching throwing patterns in the first place.
To me, it has never about attention, applause or even fortune. It has always been about changing the landscape of how we teach skill sets, specifically throwing a softball.
It has been to create the BEST opportunities for players to maximize a skill that was so important in the game of softball, that quite frankly, gets overlooked on a daily basis.
I believe Pressfield’s principle of resistance can be applied to how some Softball Coaches are still resistant to change.
How some of us are still resistant to teaching new drills and patterning approaches because it’s not what was once taught years ago.
If we continue to resist, we are only disrupting and delaying the player’s development…
Think about that..
The Top 3 Drills You Should Probably Just Stop Doing
With that being said, let’s focus on some of the common throwing drill mistakes that are still being performed today. The drills that some coaches are just so resistant on changing. If you’re resistant to change, you will continue teaching the same concepts. If you’re open to change, you’re contributing to the work for it’s own sake..
1. Wrist Flicks
One of the most recognized drills is the Wrist Flick. This drill argues to teach proper “backspin” on the ball.
However, you can teach proper backspin coupled with arm pathway training without having to do the Wrist Flick drill. Pure wrist flexion doesn’t even occur in a throw, whether you throw a ball, a rock or a shoe! So why train pure wrist flexion?
Pronation of the forearm occurs through ball release to protect the elbow joint. You can train pronation using better methods and better drills than the Wrist Flick drill. You’re outta there!
The L-Drill teaches a position, not a movement THROUGH a position. That is the biggest flaw with this drill.
Most athletes are visual or kinesthetic learners so showing them or putting them into this L position, they most likely will be able to repeat that fairly efficiently. But now you taught a position, instead of movement THROUGH a position. And now athletes are getting really awesome at this positional throw that does not create efficient movement through ball release.
Even if you have an athlete who is an auditory learner, telling them to elevate the elbow above the shoulder, point the ball away and pause at the top with a 90º elbow angle, will certainly give them enough information to interpret those task into this inefficient, positional set up drill. You’re outta there!
3. Robotic Pauses & Cues
Robotic pauses and cues make athletes, well, robotic. It teaches them positional points rather than how to move THROUGH positions.
Using the terms “get here” describes a point in which the athlete needs to get to, either with the arm or the body, but that really isn’t the goal, is it?
The goal is to release the ball efficiently, with velocity, proper timing and with no pain, in order to make a play. So HOW one is initiating movement with their arm or body and HOW one is moving THROUGH positions to get to ball release is truly the goal. You’re outta there!
What To Do Instead?
1. Better Warm-Ups
Coaches need to implement better pre-throwing warm ups for their athletes. This includes Scapular Upward Rotation Drills, J-Band Series Exercises, High Level Throwing Pattern progressions and Long Toss!
2. Arm Behind Variations & Progressions
The Arm Behind Variation drills and progressions teach scapular upward rotation, pronation through ball release, Enhances the Hip to Trunk Relationship while strengthening the arm THROUGH coordination and movements.
3. Let Kids Be Athletic
Let your athletes try things. Quality movement is everything and creating drills that allows athletes to be free and not worry about “mechanical cueing” makes for some interesting patterning.
The “Straight Up” Throws or the “Arm Behind Variation” Throws or “Competition Throws” creates movement that help their throwing patterns without them even knowing it!
They are using their body differently and to the best of their ability. They are using weight shift, creating angles and most of all, having intent behind each throw. Allow time in practice for athletes to be free, compete and have intent. Some of your athletes will surprise you.
We Must Do Work for It’s Own Sake
We must do work for it’s own sake. We must do work for the athlete’s sake and for the health of all future softball player’s sake. It needs to be done for the sake of softball.
Creating High Level Throwing Patterns was never about attention, applause or fortune. It was about changing the landscape of how we teach throwing patterns to softball players who love the game!