Guest post by Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog
There’s No ONE Answer for How To Execute Skills
Most of us come to resources such as the Discuss Fastpitch Forum because we’re looking to improve our understanding of the skills and strategies of the game.
One thing you’ll find along your journey, though, is some people are extremely, uh, passionate about what they think is the best way to hit, throw and catch a softball. Not only will they make statements about techniques as if they are facts instead of opinions, they will dismiss any contrary opinions as if they are the work of heretics. It can get mighty uncomfortable to read at times as vastly differing ideas go head to head.
What you need to keep in mind is either side could be right – or wrong. The only fact in the debate is that we don’t really know the absolute optimum way to execute any given skill. No one does. A lot of people think they do, but not a one would bet their house on it. And for good reason.
You can watch all the video you want. You can read all the books you want. You can take all the swings or throw all the pitches you want. You’re still taking your best guess, no matter who you are.
The reason is there is no reliable way to test varying theories against each other. To test something scientifically, you have to be able to restrict the variables to one. But you can’t do that with human beings. Regardless of whether a technique is good or bad, an athlete will tend to execute something she knows better than something she doesn’t know. So if you have the same person do two different things, she’s going to be better at one than the other. It doesn’t mean it’s the better thing to do, just that she’s better at it.
No, we really won’t be able to know for sure what the best technique is until androids are developed – the human-like robots, not the mobile phones.
With an android you can program in the exact technique you want and test it against any other technique. Since you’re using the same android, and since it’s indifferent to what its programming is, you will have narrowed the variables down to one – the technique.
Until then, it’s anybody’s guess. It’s why two different people can look at the same video and come to two different conclusions.
Speaking of video, it doesn’t tell all either. Whenever people look at clips, they look at the great hits and make pronouncements about the technique. Yet they rarely will pull in a swing and miss, or a popup, or a weak ground ball and discuss whether that player used the same technique to do that as to hit the home run. Odds are they did.
So why did one work and one not? Because it’s not an exact science. In addition, there are plenty of folks with ugly technique that seem to get the job done. So saying “look at what the best in the world do” is not the be-all and end-all either. Because sometimes the best in the world do things you wouldn’t want your average-talent daughter or players doing. There’s a reason those players got to where they are, and it’s not necessarily because they have such great technique.
Ultimately, you have to take the ideas you find here or anywhere else, figure out the ones that make the most sense to you, and then try them in the field. Keep the ones that work and get rid of the ones that don’t. And always keep your mind open to new ideas. You never know when some new innovation will come along.
It’s the best you can do until the androids can give us the answer.
Anyway, that’s the way I see it.