When I was a young baseball player, my dad taught me how to hit, pitch and field. In the 70's, there was no thought about private training for baseball. My dad played baseball in college, so he was more knowledgeable that most dads. Still, he was not a technically sound instructor.
Kids of today, those filled with real potential and not, are turning to private instruction to get ahead or to simply keep up.
Jayson Stark, one of my favorite sports writers wrote a great piece on ESPN called The Age of the Pitcher - I found this section of the long post about the increase in number of hard-throwing pitchers most interesting.
In 2007, 11 pitchers averaged 95 miles per hour, in 2011, that number tripled to 35. How did this happen?
Jayson and baseball experts have the following theory.
Think about that for a moment. Can that really be true -- that the number of smokeballers blowing 95 mph and up has in five years? Even other pitchers have a hard time comprehending that phenomenon.
"I've never seen as many hard throwers on every single team as I do now," says Derek Lowe. "It seems like every team has three or four guys coming out of that bullpen throwing 95 miles an hour."
"When I first started doing this 25 years ago, if you saw a kid touch 90 (mph) at 17 years old, you were like, 'Oh my God,'" says the Indians' vice president of scouting operations, John Mirabelli. "That guy became an automatic prospect. Now, just about every guy (on a scouting director's radar) throws 90, and most of them throw 92. And you never saw amateur guys throwing in the upper 90s. Now you see it all the time. It's unbelievable."
But this word of caution: We can't be totally sure if those numbers are accurate. They might tell us more about how we measure velocity now than about the pitchers we're measuring. So we went about this another way: We asked scouting directors what they see when they show up at high school and college games.
Other scouting directors spun the same tales, over and over. And that tells us something: This is NOT a mirage.
So where is that velocity coming from? The theories go like this:The Main Point
- More long-tossing to build up arm strength.
- More and more kids seeking out personal pitching coaches, most of whom once played professional baseball, who are passing along advancements in throwing programs and better mechanics.
- An explosion in the use of personal trainers, even by teenagers.
- Less abuse of young arms by coaches, thanks to new rules, pitch counts and workload limits.
When you combine talent, desire and proper instruction good results will follow no matter what you are doing, but it does not necessarily mean that your kid will advance. Spend your money on private lessons wisely and go into it with the proper perspective because chances of playing in college or the pros is remote at best.
To me private lessons teach my kids one thing - if you want to advance at anything, be it sports or school or business, don't be afraid to ask experts for guidance.