Theory vs Reality
So I drop in to see what's being said about my site on this message board (some good, some bad) but then find myself in the midst of this debate between Charley Lau and Jack Mankin and, it seems, everyone else under the sun.
I first heard from, exchanged notes with, and eventually included some of Jack's early thinking on WebBall - how long is it now, Jack, 3 years ago? And since then I have been in email/phone correspondance with Charley. Plus as some may know, WebBall also has other hitting pages by other contributors. (That's not a pitch for WebBall, just a background perspective on what I'm about to say.)
THROW AWAY THE COOKIE CUTTERS and let's get real.
Ballplayers are as different in phyiological make-up as the coaches who teach them are in mental make-up. There frankly is no one way to analyze / correct / teach / learn that fits all. Some coaches and players will appreciate Jack's analytical approach. Others will benefit as much, or more, or just differently, from how Charley teaches.
(And as a side note I agree with Charley, can we all please get past this Jr. stuff? Charley Sr. deserves our respect and appreciation as a groundbreaker in hitting instruction. But so does the next generation. Charley has more than advanced his father's teachings, he has proven its worth and also proven that his new approach is equally valuable with a whole new generation of hitters including some household names.)
I get 'ask the coach' questions all the time at WebBall - and sometimes I might suggest something out of the Charley approach, or the Jack theories, or Wilkinson, or even my own original thoughts (yes I have them) - and when I hear back that something worked, then I know that the real key to good coaching is understanding the player's problem and fixing it - not trying to fit the hitter into a predetermined mold.
So please everyone, tone down the rhetoric and get rid of the cookie cutters. Let Jack and Charley and the rest do what they do best which is work from their strengths and let us as coaches put our kids ahead of the debate on what may be right or wrong. Think about each hitter as an individual and teach in a way that helps that player change for the better. And remember before you get hung up on the arcane issues that there are still coaches out there - and players as well - who think the solution to their hitting problems is to get the back elbow up. Sad but true.
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