Short-term success or long-term success, that is the question!
There is an old proverb that goes, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
So when we teach a hitter a shortcut that offers short-term success we are in essence giving them a fish. There are many different things that a hitter can do that are fundamentally flawed that can lead to short-term success. I have seen kids told no stride, flat swing, arms extended, barrels starts parallel to the ground, flat footed and on and on the list goes of things that work in one setting that probably will never work as the player advances.
We have a young player in coach pitch or rec league or any entry level of the game and they start off struggling to make contact. Of course, we want the kids to make contact so we teach them all kinds of crazy things that allow them to clear that initial hurdle of making contact but in the process teach habits that will fail them when they move up in the level of competition.
If we really want to teach our hitters “to fish” then we need to take a different path or understand the impact of what we are doing. Let’s work harder to teach the young players good fundamentals, teach them the things that will work for the long haul, let’s work hard to build up the hitter’s confidence with drills and small victories as they gain confidence in their ability to hit. Let’s pat them on the back and encourage them to keep working, even through some frustration.
Or, we need to understand that the short-term success is going to be followed by a much more frustrating and challenging battle to unlearn the bad habits that the shortcut have created.
Why is this such an important question?
Breaking the bad habits learned from shortcuts when a player is young are that much harder to break later on. the more time they spend shortcutting the longer the road back to the skills they will need to compete at a higher level. And then they are breaking those habits against a much higher level of competition.
Teach them to fish!