The Season of Miracles
To most of the world, the Season of Miracles occurs in December, when Christmas, Channukah, Qwanzaa, and other offshoots of the Winter Solstice come together to fill all us with peace on earth, goodwill toward men (and women), too much turkey, and an overwhelming desire to save an extra 5% by waking up at 4:30 for an early bird sale.
In the softball world, though, we are currently in the midst of the Season of Miracles. It’s that time when players (and their parents) realize they haven’t touched a ball since last July or August and suddenly seek out private lessons in the hopes that three weeks of instruction will make up for all those nights spent IMing friends and watching One Tree Hill reruns.
The official start of the Season of Miracles is late February, just before high school tryouts. It generally lasts through mid-May, by which time pretty much all decisions about playing levels and time have been made and the season is pretty much a done deal. Even the ones that haven’t started yet.
I have said this before and will say it again: no coach has any magic pills that will suddenly make a player better. None that I know of can simply perform a “laying of the hands on your head” and drive vast improvement (although I’ve known a few who thought they could). The truth is learning any skill takes hard work and time. The more you use of the former, the less you will need of the latter. But it’s rare that an athlete can take several months off and then make vast improvements in three weeks. Instead, what actually happens is that the athlete is working hard and 90% of the way there already, and just needs a little redirection to maximize what she is doing.
I always say I wish I could impart all the knowledge a pitcher or hitter needs in one lesson. If I could, I would charge $1,000 or more a lesson and there would be a mile long line down the street waiting to see me. Unfortunately, such is not the case.
If you’re looking for a sudden miracle, my recommendation is to head out to Lourdes, France, where allegedly such things occur (although I have yet to hear of a fastball going from 50 to 60 mph as the result of a visit there; I don’t think the Virgin Mary fancies herself a softball coach). If you really want to get good, start making your plans now to get into lessons beginning in the fall. You’ll be amazed at what a difference a year makes.