Short-term failure v. long-term success

On my way home from teaching lessons tonight I was thinking about how hard many pitchers work on different pitches. Yet when it comes to games, often they (or their coaches) are reluctant to use them. They find it’s easier to be successful win if they stick with fastballs rather than taking a chance on throwing changeups or movement pitches they’ve spent the off-season learning.

That’s the wrong attitude, though. For a pitcher to develop so she can compete at a higher level, she needs to use all her pitches in game situations, even if it causes her to struggle a bit for a while.

Yes, I know, it’s easy for me to say. I’m not the one watching her struggle, or watching my team lose a game while the pitcher tries to develop. But I have been. In fact, I used that very strategy with my own daughter, while coaching my own team. By her first year in 14U she had developed a drop, curve, and screw to go with her fastball and change. Before the season we made a commitment to limit the use of the fastball, and instead focus on the other pitches. It was tough for a while — the control was a little off, and the movement was less than ideal. She got knocked around a bit, but as the season wore on she got better. Today, changes and movement pitches are the core of her game.

I will admit during that season we did wind up using more fastballs than the original plan. It was a worthwhile compromise that helped the team win more games. But we still relied primarily on the movement pitches.

It can be tough sometimes to lose games you might otherwise win. But especially at the younger ages it’s important to sacrifice a few wins now for more wins later. Use those new pitches and let the pitcher develop. It’s the key to long-term success.

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