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Learning v. relearning a pitch

Ken Krause

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May 7, 2008
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Mundelein, IL
Here's a phenomenon I've seen more than a few times since I started teaching lessons. Sometimes it takes longer for a pitcher to re-learn a pitch that has gone away than it did to learn the pitch originally.

Last year I had a couple of pitchers suddenly lose their curveballs. For no apparent reason they couldn't couldn't get the spin, couldn't get the movement, couldn't throw the pitch. We went back over all the steps, lesson after lesson, breaking it down. But the result was still the same -- very little improvement. It probably took four times as long to get it back as it did to acquire it originally.

Tonight the same thing happened with a pitcher and her changeup. I first taught it to her during a tryout for my team, actually. It took her about five minutes to pick up the basics then. Tonight I was giving her a tune-up and she just couldn't get it for the longest time. I tried all my usual tricks but they just didn't seem to work. She finally did get it back, but it was a struggle.

I'm not sure why that happens. Perhaps when it's new a pitcher is more open to change. But when it goes away, it goes away because the mechanics have deteriorated over time. At that point the "wrong" mechanics have become more ingrained (since she's been using them) and thus they are tougher to overcome. Even moreso if she's been successful in spite of the pitch not working at its optimum level, i.e. a changeup that's too fast or a curveball that is angling in the right direction but not really breaking.

Whatever the reason, it's probably a good indication of how important it is to be pristine in your practicing or games, lest you take yourself out of a pitch. 'Cause once you lose the feel, it can be a long, tough road back.

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