Many of you already know that I think Mr. Miyagi of Karate Kid fame is one of the greatest coaches of our lifetime. Many of the things that Daniel learns from Mr. Miyagi can be applied directly to the game of fastpitch softball. Most of the kids I have worked with over the years have heard at least a couple analogies drawn straight from the wisdom of Mr. Miyagi.
So why the Karate Kid references now, you ask. Well I am getting ready to watch the fourth season of Cobra Kai and that means there have been several opportunities to see the original Karate Kid which is one of the most rewatch able movies ever. Grown up Daniel and Johnny are trying to carry on the legendary teaching of Mr. Miyagi with some success which gives me some confidence in my ability to do the same.
Lessons from the Karate Kid that apply to our game:
- Balance. Everything starts with balance. A player with balance when they are trying to perform will do everything in this game better.
- Muscle memory. Whether it is “wax on/wax off” or “sand the floor” or “paint the fence” there is a lot to be said for a player having the muscle memory to repeat very fundamental skills without thinking about them. Creating these good habits are crucial.
- Power of whole body into one inch. Understanding that hitting is taking all the power that your body can create and funneling it into a very small area where the bat meets the ball. Driving the hip and getting your whole body involved carries a lot of weight in becoming a better hitter.
- You defense, points will come. If you can play great defense you will always give yourself a chance to win.
- Focus. Mental game skills are an important part of any great players training. When you can focus your mind your body can follow.
- Leave boy alone to train! Distractions are a bad thing for any player. In the movie the distraction is the Cobra Kai guys trying ti kick his butt. In the softball world, distractions can come from any number of places but the more a player can get away from those distractions the faster they can improve.
Whether Mr. Miyagi knew he was sharing universal messages that all coaches can use or not is probably up for discussion. What I can say is that if you pay attention to the lessons we discussed earlier you will see tremendous gains. If you need a refresher course you can see the Karate Kid in a lot of places and you can’t go wrong. Now, for a little comic relief, jump on Netflix and watch Cobra Kai Season 4. Binge a little of the series and I promise you will see some additional lessons from a more modern version of Mr. Miyagi’s gems of coaching knowledge.
Comments? Questions? Suggestions?