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It’s Not the Arrow, It’s the Archer

Ken Krause

May 7, 2008
Mundelein, IL
adult archery beautiful beauty

The title of this week’s post is a phrase I use often, especially when I get asked about an equipment recommendation. But it can apply to a lot of things.

It seems like everyone is looking for the “magic bullet” – the bat, or gadget/device, or drill or technique or whatever that will, with no additional effort on their part, create a sudden and dramatic improvement in performance. In my experience, and the experience of many other coaches I’ve spoken with over the years, that magic bullet doesn’t exist.

Take bats, for example. Sure some bats have a better trampoline effect or are “hotter” than others (within the limitations set forth by the various sanctioning bodies) and thus with all else equal will provide an edge. But all else is rarely equal.

First of all, for all that bat technology to work you still have to hit the ball at the right time, and in the right location. If you’re not doing that now a new bat isn’t going to help.

It will look nicer in your bag, and people will be duly impressed when you take it out. But if you have a $500 bat and 5 cent swing they won’t stay impressed for long. It’s not the arrow, it’s the archer.

Since speed is such an important component in pitching, everyone is always looking for the magic drill that will help them gain 8 mph in one or two sessions. An entire industry of DVD sales and online courses has been built by that particular desire.

man wearing hoodie forming chakra wallpaper

You might, however, want to avoid taking lessons from this guy.

But again, if such a drill exists I’ve never found it. Neither has Rich Balswick, who is one of the best and most accomplished pitching coaches in the world.

I know, because I’ve talked to him about it. For all he has done he is still looking for that magical drill that can instantly turn a pitcher with average speed into a burner.

In fact, he told me if I ever discover it to pass it along to him. So far I have not been able to do so, and he hasn’t shared one either so I presume he’s still on the hunt as well.

Devices and gadgets are another area where people hope for miracles. Some are valuable teaching tools, like the Queen of the Hill or the Pocket Radar, and others are just fancier ways to lose money than flushing it down your toilet.

None, however, can instantly make you better just by purchasing them, or using them once or twice. Because it’s not the arrow, it’s the archer that makes the difference.

Then there are those who claim to have solved the mysteries of the Sphinx in terms of the techniques they teach. These same people tend to keep exactly what it is shrouded in mystery, as though if they told you (without you paying them huge sums of money) they would have to kill you.

sand desert statue pyramid

This is the same facial expression many coaches have when you miss a sign.

While there is certainly plenty of bad teaching going on in the softball world in all aspects of the game, it’s not like the optimal techniques are known only to a select, privileged few. The information is out there if you are willing to invest some time looking for it. (I like to think a lot of it is here, by the way, so feel free to poke around some more after you finish with this post.)

Of course, that’s the issue – investing some time. Most of us would much rather buy a “product” that promises instant, guaranteed results than recognize that learning athletic skills is a process that requires a lot of work, a lot of boring repetition, and paying a lot of attention to a lot of little details that can have a large impact on performance.

The first way sounds easier, doesn’t it? Too bad it doesn’t work.

The value of any piece of equipment, drill, gadget or technique lies with the person who is using it.

Put that $500 bat in the hands of a player with a 5 cent swing and it’s going to look like a waste of money. Put that same bat in the hands of a player who has invested the time to develop her swing, her eye at the plate and her mental approach and that same bat is going to look like the smartest thing you’ve ever spent money on.

Remember, it’s not the arrow that produces the results. It’s the archer. Invest your time and money in improving the archer and she’ll be successful no matter what arrow you give her. Spend all your time and money on the arrow and you’ll be forever disappointed.

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Archer photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Creepy magician photo by Nizam Abdul Latheef on Pexels.com

Sphinx photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Oct 2, 2018
The best advice is most of the time free however we usually pay several people, buy several gadgets, endless clinics, and round trips around the country to make the full circle of understanding. Understanding that hard work, breaking down your own movements comparing it to high level movers, allowing yourself to experiment, learning to be your own coach and your own best motivator, reading forums like this for free, watching what is free, knowing there is no magic drills but there are fundamental drills, becoming a master of fundamentals every session, knowing your genetic limits, teaching others helps you become a better student, and most importantly have a set schedule of pitching days, rest days, workout day and free days to stick to every week. Please work with an experienced coach in the beginning of your pitching journey and along the way, but never become dependent on someone to fix you every single week. So the best advice can be free but we often have to pay 100 times just to hear it. Fundamentals, Fundamentals and mental training
Jan 13, 2020
Took a knee with eight girls under age of 10 at their 1st pitching practice. Never had the pleasure of working with kids so young so I asked them, “Have you ever got the feeling that you were out of control and did not know how to fix a situation? Maybe your heart was beating faster, your breathing seemed faster and maybe the world seemed to be going faster?”

Did not know if they would know what I was saying but to my shock they all started shaking their heads yes and started explaining their situation to one another.

Told them “Welcome to pitching. You are going to get into situations like that out on the field and you will have to learn to get out of them by yourself. The two things needed to get this done is learning to breathe and listening to your body”.

They attacked the practices with that in mind and exceeded all of my expectations. So very proud of them.

Ken Krause

May 7, 2008
Mundelein, IL
13 year old pitcher on our team came to the dugout and said, look she has a new Ghost and never took it off her shoulder. Then followed it up with but it wouldn't have mattered anyway.
Back when RocketTechs were the hot bat, I had a guest player from another team in our organization sit in for a game. Her first at bat she went to the plate and immediately took two strikes. I called to her from the third base coach's box "Hey Leslie! Those RocketTechs work better when you swing them." She got the message.
Jan 13, 2020
A Yogi Berra quote about the equipment. I never blame myself when I’m not hitting. I just blame the bat and if it keeps up, I change bats. After all, if I know it isn’t my fault that I’m not hitting, how can I get mad at myself? "

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