I want to stay on the theme of athleticism and explosiveness and address what is killing many athletes' ability to become athletic. It often boils down to the fact that too many coaches are "over coaching" their players. This is something that has been happened in baseball for many years now.
Coaches are breaking pitching and hitting mechanics into many tiny parts and teaching each of these micro positions individually hoping the athlete can piece them together to create an athletic, explosive 90 mph fastball or a screaming 400 foot line drive. This is not the right way to go about producing it.
I've heard Ron Wolforth say so many times, "What happens between the dots is far more important than the dots themselves." It is so true. A player may look picture perfect, identical to a Hall of Fame big league guy, at 3 or 4 points, such as at the top of his leg lift, or at a particular point with his arm action, or even at release point, but why is it that this same kid is throwing 15 miles per hour slower. It's because of what happened between these points in time that the big league guy separated himself.
A lot of the blame has to go to technology, where we can break down a pitcher's mechanics in the blink of an eye with a camcorder or high speed camera. We are getting too caught up in the minute movements and not the over all big picture. Our athletes need to feel athletic. They want to be explosive, not worried about where their arm is at foot strike, or how their balance is. Baseball instruction has to be one of the best examples of taking athleticism out of players and "over coaching." In 2009 28% of MLB players were born outside of the United States. Even scarier, 48% of minor league players were born outside the United States. This has to tell us something about our instruction. The majority of these players from outside of the U.S. are emanating from Caribbean nations whose populations are minuscule compared to ours. These are poor 3rd world countries where instruction is nearly non-existent. Latin-American athletes have never had a coach tell them to reach a "balance point" or that they are "rushing." They are teaching themselves how to connect the dots in the most explosive way they can which produces the best results.
Think about it, do any two pitchers throw exactly alike? Any two hitters hit exactly alike? Then why do so many of us try and teach every guy the exact same delivery or starting position? Picture a jazz musician who is moving with the rhythm of the song. This musician is loose, free, full of energy, exactly how our players should feel while playing. Sports are a performance based, results driven world and in the end all that matters is a players' performance. All that is important is the moment the ball is released and at contact. In other words, how the ball comes out of the hand and off the bat.
I challenge coaches to let your guys be free and athletic. Provide them with drills where they can be explosive and dynamic while still having a specific goal in mind. Try and get them to be as free and loose as they can, not paused in a certain awkward position throwing 10 pitches in a row from it. You will see it is far more comfortable for athletes when you stop teaching little movements and start teaching the big ones. It would be better to just roll a ball to each of your guys and tell them nothing more than to throw the heck out of it (if you want velocity) or to hit specific targets (if its a command day) then to confuse their mind and bodies while sucking the athleticism out of them by having them pause at certain "important positions."
As for athletes, don't let somebody talk you into having a robotic, generic delivery. You are your own athlete, different than any other on this Earth and in the end your performance is on your own shoulders, not your coaches.
Brian Oates
Check out www.chaintraining.com for my blog on functional strength for athletes!
twitter: @oatesspecialty

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