December 2011-Tip of the Month

The Value of "Instant Replay"

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One of the questions I get asked most from catchers, coaches and parents around the country is how to improve the effectiveness of offseason training. The intent of the specific drill is incredibly important, but progress resulting from that drill will be non-existent if the drills are done incorrectly. The best way to ensure that a drill is being done correctly or whether the expected result of the drill is actually taking place is seeing it being done on video.

Video is an incredibly powerful tool for us to use to evaluate the progress of our offseason (and in-season) work. The ability to immediately receive accurate feedback based on what we just did is very often what allows us to fix a problem we may have and didn't know it.

The first clinic we ran outside of the Northeast was at the Pinkman Baseball Academy in Dulles, VA many years ago. It was the first time I had been exposed to high-level video analysis and the first time I had ever seen myself throw from multiple angles. What I was shown was truly enlightening.

You see, just a few months prior, I was forced to shut down my professional aspirations following my first spring training because of a relatively significant shoulder injury. There was so much wear and tear inside my shoulder that it all just gave out on one simple toss back to the pitcher during a bullpen session. I had a lot of trouble understanding why it happened, only that I would probably never get my arm back to a level which allowed me to continue the pursuit of my dream. My intro to high-quality, slow-motion video gave me an insight into my own mechanics that cleared up everything for me. I could finally see why the throwing mechanics I'd been using for years had such a negative impact on my shoulder's health. I remember thinking to myself, "why didn't someone show me this years ago?".

Since then, video has continued to shift the way we teach the mechanics of every skill a catcher needs to perform. It is something I try to implement into every lesson I run around the country because it provides a non-biased perspective of what is actually happening during a particular drill.

I truly believe if more catchers saw what they look like going through the drills that we teach, they would be able to recognize the problems quicker, thus giving themselves the ability to make the required adjustment in a more meticulous manner.

 It all goes back to a phrase my father used almost every day. "Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect." If we have the ability to pin-point the flaws in our mechanics quicker, it can only help us make the changes needed to continue to build proper mechanics.

In this day in age, where virtually everyone's cell phone has a high-quality video camera inside of it, there really is no excuse. If we are trying to make the biggest impact with the work we do on our own, we should take advantage of video and the focused changes it allows us to make.

Thanks for reading!

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From behind the mask,