I have been reading a lot of comments from other pitching instructors about avoiding certain drills. They give a variety of reasons for this. Some argue that drills focus on certain points instead of the entire delivery. Others argue that drills are static and that they are not a representation of actual pitching.
The truth is, I agree with both of those statements. Drills DO focus on certain points within the delivery and since it is a drill, it is different than the entire delivery put together. The fact is those who argue against drills do not understand how a person learns and processes new information.
In education, we use a technique called scaffolding. Scaffolding is built upon the idea that in order to learn new information, you must establish a base with the basic information first. Once a skill or a concept is mastered, then the student is ready to build upon the previous information and they are ready to learn a new concept. This is the basis for why drills are important. The pitching delivery is too complex for most pitchers to put together while working on new techniques or while processing a new concept. Drills help isolate parts of the delivery so the pitcher can focus only on one or two specific points in the delivery. Scaffolding works in the classroom and it works when teaching pitchers new skills, especially young pitchers who are working on building their entire delivery.
The other concept that is important to remember when teaching pitching is differentiation. Differentiation is the ability to teach the same concept in different ways to different pitchers. Each pitcher learns differently. Some pitchers have the ability to process new information and implement it right into their delivery. Other pitchers learn differently and they need the concept to be broken down so they can "see" how it works. Either way, coaches need to be able to adjust their teaching style based on the player. To say that "drills are bad" may work for some pitchers who have the ability to make adjustments easily, but for others who need more individual attention, pitching drills help them learn the new skill or concept, and that benefits everyone.
Coach Mike Grady
Coach Grady has 10 years experience working with pitchers of all ages through private and group instruction, including 6 years experience as a college pitching coach. This blog is dedicating to helping pitchers of all ages improve their game.
7530 Tim Ave NW Unit A
North Canton, OH 44720
What others have to say:
"My son is in Grady's VIP program and this was his first time focusing on training to be a pitcher. The program is exactly what you want, there is a movement screening, data driven approach to pitch design, mechanics, velocity , and command, along with strength training. My son has improved his velocity, command, movement and off-speed pitches but most importantly he has improved how he thinks as a pitcher and how to actually pitch, not just throw.
My biggest takeaway from the program is that Mike and his coaches care about helping my son reach his goals and support him. My advice to any parent is to sign your son up for the VIP program and make sure he follows it, you will not be sorry!" - Mike Hampu
"My first and lasting impression of Grady's Pitching School is the enthusiasm Mike and his instructors bring to EVERY lesson. They genuinely interested in your players growth and improvement. Mike isn't trying to make every pitcher throw the same way. He analyzes and experiments with each pitcher, e.g. different release points, different grips, etc. to try and maximize their individual skills. Mike's understanding of pitching and pitch design coupled with the technology is second to none. Mike truly uses the technology to enhance the players' training experience. A lot of young players don't understand or possess the self-awareness to make adjustments. The technology and Mike's analysis with your player allows them to not only see what they are doing, but to see how the adjustments immediately impact the results." -Ian Schechterman