Country Music fans everywhere have heard a different version of this title. The ultimate statement of our lack of enthusiasm for our job was sung very well by the legend Johnny Paycheck. All of us that have ever had a job we hated have said this, at least under our breath, at some point in time.
What does this have to do with fastpitch, you ask?
Coaches often ask players to do things that are good for the team and its success that might not be good for the player’s individual success.
What the team needs and what a player needs and wants are sometimes on completely opposite ends of the spectrum.
What’s the most clear-cut example of this is our game?
The Take Sign!!
We need a base runner, so we tell a hitter to take a pitch, or many pitches. Just to be clear, because we learned in my “What the Hell is He Talking About” blog that many players don’t know what the take sign means. The take sign means DO NOT SWING! This might lead to a walk, thus giving us the baserunner we need.
What it really means is:
DO NOT SWING AT A PITCH YOU CAN CRUSH!
As a player moves up the fastpitch food chain, the pitching keeps getting better. For young players, where the pitching is sometimes inconsistent, walks are often a big part of any offensive game plan. When you cross the Rubicon of pitching consistency, this strategy stops working. Good and great pitchers rarely walk hitters, and almost never walk enough that it costs them a run, let alone a game.
What great pitchers will do, however, is usually give you one pitch to hit in every at bat. Which pitch it will be is part of the mystery of playing the game. What I don’t want to do is handcuff my hitter and tell her she can’t swing when I might be telling her not to hit that one pitch.
The take sign often takes away our one chance for success in an at bat.
Coaches, let them swing!! If you want them to hit, they need to get their hacks! Period!