They say baseball is a game of failure…

And tough to argue with that. There’s a great expression in baseball cirlces:

“There’s two kinds of ballplayers: Those who have been humbled by the game… and those who are about to be.”

Yep, ‘taint all cupcakes and rainbows… But is that such a bad thing?

Here’s a little ditty I came across the other day from a fella by the name of Epictetus (one of the good ol’ stoics who lived about 2,000 years ago):

 

“What do you think would have become of Hercules if there had been no Lion, Hydra, Stag, or Boar…

And no savage criminals to rid the world of?

What would he have done in the absence of such challenges?

Obviously he would have just rolled over in bed and gone back to sleep.

So by snoring his life away in luxury and comfort he never would have developed into The Mighty Hercules.

And even if he had… what good would it have done him?

What would have been the use of those arms, that physique, and that noble soul…

Without crises or conditions to stir him into action?”

– Epictetus

 

In baseball and life, you’re gonna have obstacles. There’s no avoiding it.

But what if we choose to see them as a gift?

They force us to grow… they create opportunities, allow us to RISE to the occasion.

Here’s something I hear parents say a lot about their kids:

“I just want them to be happy and healthy.”

(And as a parent of two little ones, I certainly echo that!)

But sometimes that can lead to getting over-protective… we don’t want them to get hurt!

But does “happiness” come from avoiding failure?

Or is there something to be gained by putting yourself out there… RISKING something, pouring your heart into a worthy pursuit.

I think so.

Sure, you might fail…

On the flip side, you could play it “safe”.

Sit it out, hide in the corner.

And you won’t get hurt…

But you also won’t GROW.

And you sure as heck won’t be “happy”…

I heard it once said:

“Happiness is making progress towards a meaningful goal.”

I agree.

Becoming the best pitcher you can be takes courage.

Yup, you bet.

You might not be fighting Lions and Boars… But you’re putting yourself out there, all eyes on you.

In that sense, it’s “risky.”

But if you pour your heart into it, and face the challenges that come your way, there’s nothing more rewarding (aside from maybe being a parent and coach – my humble opinion).

Embrace the process… How good can you be?

That’s all for now. Until next time…

Keep Learning.

Keep Growing.

Get Better.

Phil

Okay, so mixing it up a little with today’s post. I get asked a lot about pitching mechanics…

“Where should the front foot land in relation to the back foot?”

“What’s the right way to break your hands?”

Drop and Drive or Tall and Fall?”

“What about the back foot?”Pitchers-Drag-line

That last one can be a little tricky… As I’ve written before, people often make too big a deal about the back foot lifting early (before ball release). That said, it CAN be very telling.

It can tell you if a guy is “jumping” instead of driving down the mound…

Whether he’s blocking himself off and not getting his hips open (a nasty little breakdown that compounds as it moves up the chain).

Or whether getting out over his skis or stuck back on his heels…

And you can tell a LOT by a pitcher’s drag line… That line in the dirt created when the back foot leaves the rubber. You can often tell the same thing by looking at a pitchers spikes after a game… Where is the toe getting scuffed – more over the big toe, or off to the side of the foot by the pinkie?

And here’s where it would be easy to get bogged down in technical jargon… Rather than go down that path, I thought it might be helpful to show some examples of guys with pretty good track records…

See any similarities?

Different pitchers with different styles… But some important things you see with all of them.

Oh, and be sure read to the end…

I’ve got a surprise in store for the FIRST person who can correctly name these big league pitchers:

 

Mystery Pitcher #1 (his nickname wasn’t “spaceship”)

Clemens-Back-Foot

Pitcher #2 (no hints, you should be getting to know this guy by now)

Arrieta Back Foot

Pitcher #3 (the lanky lefty slinger)

Sales-Back-Foot

Pitcher #4 (not Kong)

Felix

Pitcher #5 (I hear he’s a mean golfer)

Smoltz

Pitcher #6 (POWER… ’nuff said)

Synd-Back-Foot

 

Okay, that’s all for now. In a future post I’ll plan on diving in a little deeper… Specifically on your drag line and what that can tell you about whether you’re leaking power. Hint you see some of it in this high school pitcher below…

Back-Foot-Spin-Out

In the meantime, enjoy the pitching clips (props once again to @PitchingNinja for a couple of these). Soak them in… A good visual (mental blueprint) can go a long way towards developing a more powerful pitching delivery.

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