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Re: Re: Re: The Pro Example

Posted by: HoffmanLa () on Thu Nov 23 19:06:15 2000

> > >
> > > I don't beleive that we should be using professional baseball players as models for our teaching methods. Here are my reasons.
> > >
> > > Pros are the most gifted athelets in the game. They are the biggest, strongest and quickest people playing the game. They are in the 99% percentile in reflexes and have instincts for the game. They can do things most people can't do no matter how much they practice.
> > >
> > > They master the basics of the swing. And make no mistake they master them. Then, they start to adjust the swing to compensate for personel quirks and in some cases physical particulars.
> > >
> > > For example, for some reason a player is fast with his swing and pulls the ball foul. To compenstate he holds the bat over his head with his hands near his ears. This adds to the time it takes to get the bat into a launch position and "cures" his fast bat. Most people could never do this. But with the strength and speed a pro can.
> > >
> > > Another example, a player finds that the eye nearest the pitchers may be weak or have some problem. So, the player pulls his front foot back a foot or a foot and a half back to allow himself a full face, both eyes, look at the pitch. Again becuse of strength and quickness he can do it.
> > >
> > > Neither of these players would teach someone else to do the things they do. They can get away with using mechanics that are not the best.
> > >
> > > The pros are not the best models. The ones I know would not even make good teachers.
> > >
> > > Joe A. joe a......i wish to commend you on a very thoughtful and reasoned analysis.....having said that, though, i respectfully take exception to your overall premise which seems to be that pros made it to the bigtime because they are gifted & the other 99 % are not.....while i will agree that some have more natural talent than others, all that means is that some may have to work harder than others to make it to the pros.....good examples would be pete rose & maury wills.....to make it to the pros as a position player, you need 2 of the 3 following tools: exceptional speed, exceptional arm strength & exceptional hitting.....some or all of these tools can be further subdivided into other tools, but those are the basics.....this site focuses on hitting & i respectfully & modestly cite my extensive knowledge of hitting as qualification for pointing out that HITTING CAN BE LEARNED......some of the greatest athletes are football players but they can not hit......michael jordan was one of the all-time athletes & he could run, but he could not learn how to hit......teams have tried teaching track stars how to hot & were miserably unsucessful......bottom line is this: hitting can be learned, but the earlier age the better the chances of success.....take any olympic athlete or any tennis star.....they started practicing their sport at age 3......once again, while i truely admire the time & thought you put into your post, i have grave concerns that a young kid with big dreams might read your post, conclude that he is not one of the top 1 % of the top "gifted" athletes & not persue his dream........to that young kid out there, i beseech you, DO NOT GIVE UP THE DREAM!!!!!!.......if you do not have particularly exceptional "natural" gifts such as speed & arm strength, DO NOT LET THAT DETER YOU!!!!!........you can increase your arm strength & even your running speed.......pay lots of attention to defensive skills....and when it comes to hitting, LEARN THE CIRCULAR HAND PATH & do lots of practice, practice, practice!!!!!!!.........you may only be in the top 50 % right now, but with the proper amount & method of practice YOU CAN BE AMONG THE TOP 1 %!!!!!!!!!!.....respectfully, grc........
> GRC,
> You have taken the complete oppsite view of the point I am trying to make.
> The fact that most people do not have the skills of pro atheletes demands that they learn and use sound fundemenatals. A player can inhance limited skills by employing the best fundementals.
> This leads me to my major point. Because pros have exceptional abilities and apply those abilities more often they take the fundementals and customize them to their individual phsycal idiosyncrasies. Because of thier superior size, strength and other athletetic skills they can make the changes to the basics work.
> As a result when we look at pros we are seeing a swing that is tailored to that individual. It is not a fundementally sound swing for anyone but the pro who is using it. To try and transfer this to young players is a mistake.
> The pros mastered the fundementals then changed it for their own needs. Your looking at the "changed" swing and trying to learn something to teach someone else.
> Don't worry so much about if a kid is going to be discouraged because he can't do what pros do. This question should never come up if someone didn't use pros as a model.
> Joe A.
>Hello all

I believe that the premise in the original thread of this post is extreme reductionism.

First, it is impossible to categorize the native talents and genetic material of pro baseball players; are they superior? Probably. Are there equally gifted people walking around downtown Omaha working as bank tellers, or in Bobmbay in accounting offices? For sure. That is a zero sum game, though. We have no method of positively comparing and contrasting that. Is the worst major league hitter more gifted than the best semi-pro fella playing in the best beer league in Miami? You see the point. It is essentially meaningless to the hitting student.

Now, what is meaningful to the hitting student? I would argue that it is this: that all of the best hitters exhibit common mechanical gestures. And all of those hitters who use certain mechanics are great hitters; and everyone who fails to use those mechanics is not so great of a hitter.

Would any person with the best intentions in mind for a pupil suggest that the pupil should avoid what is proven to work? We don't hear basketball coaches telling people to avoid at all costs the shooting mechanics of the purest NBA jump shooters. We don't hear golf instructors telling students to ignore the putting stroke of Ben Crenshaw. Why so with baseball?

Now surely, we must admit, Ben Crenshaw can do more with a golf round than Joe Slicer, and that Al Belle will attack the game differently than an 11-year-old Little Leaguer. But there is no reason that their gestures, their mechanics, the angles and arcs that they create, cannot be the same. These are easily described athletic movements. Learning them may not be so easy for everyone, but if they can be described, certainly they can be comprehended, and with that, we must admit that they can be learned. The less gifted cannot expect the same results as the superior, but they can get within range.

We have identified a very simple divide here among the body of athletic instructors and enthusiasts: there are those who believe that the best performers are great because they marry talent AND exceptional mechanics. And there are those who believe that that the great are great because their talent ALLOWS them to create superior mechanics.

However, the weakness of that last argument is this: Barry Bonds is not a great hitter because of his eyesight, quickness and reflexes. If that were the case, how can we explain Sammy Sosa, Lou Gerhig and Dick Allen? They have the same hitting habits; do they have the same genetic gifts? The "talent alone crowd" would say yes; I say, we cannot know. But we can know, thanks to high speed video analysis, that the have the same swings. We can't their teach eyesight, speed and relfex. But we can teach torque, rotation and swing plane. I guess I would choose to teach that which is within my control to teach.

And it is incorrect to say that the best major league hitters use tailor-made mechanics good for that man and that man alone. That is not true. The best players all do the same things. They torque the bat, rotate beneath a stationary axis, swing slightly up, etc. etc. Anyone making this claim has not spent a lot of time in front of a VCR drawing planes and angles on the screen and plotting the sequences frame-by-frame. They may look different to the naked eye at full speed, but then again, Scottie Pippen and Jerry West look different on a basketball court. But they shot, rebounded and dribbled with the same sound technique. The differences that strike the eye are due to variations in stature, bodily proportions, etc. It is the same with hitters.

How can know who is really great if mechanics are not the clue? That is, every bad hitter looks far different from every great hitter. So answer this: if genetics are the key, are you willing to bet that every great hitter would win every sprint, reflex test, strength contest and eyesight exam when pitted against his major league peers that do not hit so well? Why doesn't every major league hitter just rip the cover off? They are all supremely gifted. What separates them then?

I say it is mechanics. It is all we can see. For proof, look at the professional batting records of Danny Ainge, Michael Jordan, Deion Sanders and countless other first-round phenoms that impressed scouts with their "hand and foot speed" but who could not survive between the white lines.

If talent alone were the key to great hitting, if technique were invented on a case-by-case basis, surely big league teams would know this and respond in a rational manner. That is, they would simply employ sufficient economic incentive to harvest the greatest number of naturally gifted athletes from scouting camps and NFL-style combines and specially designed camps that teach and measure only reflex, fast-twitch muscle ability, speed, coordination and eyesight. I think the Kansas City Royals tried that a few decades, at an enormous expense, and harvested maybe one or two big leaguers.

But teams don't do that. They make folks play ballgames, and then pay them accordingly. And the ones with the good mechanics make lots of money, regardless of their genetic gifts, and the others make less, regardless of theirs.




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