edu180atl: todd wass 10.4.12
As I sit waiting patiently for one of my pitchers to show up for his off-season workout, I am struck by the complexity of what “off-season workouts” truly mean to a high school athlete. I think about where this will fit in to his day. Still months away from try-outs, and yet his focus is on balancing school while preparing for the perfect first pitch of the season; such is the life of the student athlete.
During the pitching session, we worked on throwing a change-up; a wickedly fun pitch to throw, but frustratingly difficult to master the touch, pressure, and proper pronation of the hand during release. After several attempts at throwing conventional change-ups with various grips with little success –missing his target by some twenty feet each time –I decided to go rogue: to go against conventional baseball ideology and teach a different kind of change-up to this pitcher. Simple in its origin, I asked this pitcher to simply throw a two-seam fastball but just before releasing the ball I asked him to throw the ball with forty percent effort.
While skeptical upon hearing my advice, upon the first attempt at the new change-up, he threw a magnificent pitch –slower than his fastball and with all the movement of the traditional change-up. However, that success was just a small piece of the larger surreal moment; this success made him giddy with a large smile and a boyish laugh ending with exclaiming, “that’s so cool!” He could not control his excitement.
I know that this moment is permanently etched in his brain and mine because for this struggling pitcher the game of baseball became fun again, and for the teacher and coach, I learned that there are times to throw convention to the wind.
About the author: Todd Wass (@toddw42) teaches 7th grade Global Studies at The Lovett School. He is a reader, coach, lifelong learner, devoted husband, and avid outdoorsman.