Guest post by Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog
Fastpitch Drills Work Better When You Know Why You’re Doing Them
Yet another story from the fastpitch front, i.e. lessons. Tonight I was doing a pitching lesson where the pitcher brought her own catcher. The catcher happens to be a girl named Lindsay, a former player of mine and a personal favorite.
As the pitcher was working, she occasionally threw a ball into the ground. My expectation was that Lindsay would drop and block the ball, or at least catch it competently. But instead, she was just sort of swatting at it, which looked very odd.
After the pitching lesson I asked her what gives, and that’s when she told me she’d just come from a team workout (not sure if it was HS or travel ball) where the coach was bouncing balls into the catchers, who were only wearing masks. I asked her what the purpose/point of the drill was, and she said she didn’t know. None of the catchers did, apparently.
To me, that’s a problem. Forget that the drill itself is downright idiotic. Catchers need to learn to block the ball, and bouncing the ball in to them with no equipment on is no way to make that happen. It’s counter-productive and pretty much guarantees runs will score that shouldn’t.
For me, the problem is none of the girls executing it had any idea why they were doing it — or bothered to ask. If that’s the case, how do you know whether you’re doing it right or wrong, or getting out of it what you’re supposed to?
In my opinion there are good drills and not-so-good drills. But even the not-so-good drills can serve a purpose in the right hands.
The reverse is also true — good drills can go bad if no one understands the point. As a player, it’s critical that you understand what you’re supposed to get out of a particular drill. Without that knowledge you’re just wasting your time.
As a coach, it’s critical that you explain the drill and what it’s supposed to do. Merely asking players to execute drills with no understanding of the underlying reasons is just asking for trouble.
Even if they get it right they won’t know why, and thus whatever you’re trying to accomplish is not going to be accomplished; the players will just fall back on what they usually do as soon as the drill is done.
Many teams wear t-shirts that say “Practice with a purpose.” Apparently some need to read those t-shirts and apply the lesson it contains.
Know what you’re doing and why. If you’re a player and you don’t know, ask the question so you can understand it and either get the most out of it or ask someone more qualified if it makes sense. If you’re a coach, be sure you understand it rather than simply copying something you saw at a clinic or someone else’s practice on in a book or DVD. Because the more you know, the more likely you are to be doing something that will bring your team closer to success.
Anyway, that’s the way I see it.