Tonight I had a very interesting discussion with one of my students. She was my last lesson of the night and we had a little time to chat before her mom came back to pick her up. We spoke of many things, but then we got into the idea of players being willing to change what they're doing to get better. I thenÂ mentioned that my teaching had changed somewhat since the days when my sons had played baseball. Thatâ€™s when Jenna asked an interesting question: If you found better mechanics than what you're currently doing, would you make your students change? I paused for only a moment and then said yes. She seemed a little surprised at first, but then I asked her "If I discovered something that could add five mph to your pitches wouldn't you want me to share that with you, even if it's different?" It didn't take her long to nod her head yes. This is something coaches need to be willing to do â€” give up what they believe when something better comes along. That might seem self-evident but it's really not.
Certainly anyone who hangs around the forum long enough sees posters who like to defend an indefensible position, or will split hairs on a technique in an attempt to prove they're right. Yet it's not about being right; it's about finding the best way to do (or teach) a particular skill. Changing what you're teaching doesn't necessarily mean you were teaching the skill incorrectly before. It just means you didn't have as much information then as you do now. Former UCLA coach Sue Enquist is famous for many things, but one of my favorites is her answer to a coaching clinic attendee who was not happy that she was contradicting what he had learned from one of her old tapes with the information she was presenting at the clinic. When the coach asked her why she was changing, she replied "Because I didn't know then what I know now" or words to that effect.
It's not easy to decide to change what you're teaching. Some worry that their credibility will be questioned â€” after all, if you changed once you might change again. Yet parents and players should appreciate the fact that you are constantly working to improve your own knowledge in order to make your players the best you can be. Here's a good rule of thumb: if you ever think you finally know THE way to teach hitting, pitching, throwing or any other skill, it's probably time for you to do some soul searching. Because that knowledge level doesn't exist. If there was only ONE way that worked, everyone would be doing it that way. Again, a look around the Discuss Fastpitch Forum shows that's not the case.
Do the best you can with the information you have, but always be on the lookout for something better. Sure, it can be painful to admit you didn't know it all, and that you don't now. But in the long run you, your players and everyone else around you will be the better for it.
Anyway, that's the way I see it.