Ken Grall is one of the very best Coaches (and people) involved in our Athletic Revolution franchise of Youth Training Centers nationwide.
One of Ken’s young athletes (a 13 year old pitcher) has a Softball Coach who is rather… how shall I say this… INTENSE about what he thinks he knows to be true and right about all matters pertaining to strength and conditioning.
He and Ken recently had a disagreement about what was ‘best’ for the 13-year-old in question. With Ken’s permission, I’ve posted the return email “Mr. Softball Coach” sent declaring himself to be 100% RIGHT on all counts below:
I can assure you in my 40 years of youth training in women’s and girls’ fast-pitch softball and sports, coaching pitching for the Women’s Olympic teams from the USA, Russia, and Greece and too many D-1 colleges to mention, I have worked with trainers of all skill and degree, levels and ambitions.
In my time I have placed literally hundreds of female athletes with college programs across the country and consulted for many national championship programs.
So let’s leave it at that. Nothing personal but we don’t need “kid sport” or female athlete moralizing in this case, we need positive results and we need them quickly.
Only a fool wouldn’t realize that we are dealing with a maturing body and “mind”. But seeking to become and elite athlete by its nature will demand that that athlete work beyond the norm.
Competition demands it!!
The real world situation here is simple. Time is running out for her If (13 year old athlete) wants to successfully compete for a college scholarship.
To get one with real bucks she must be ready to compete at an elite level this year starting with her high school season.
Don’t forget, she is competing with every other youth pitcher between 12 and 16 years old in the United States for that opportunity to play D-1 ball and believe me there are hundreds at these ages ready and able to compete right now across the land.
Major college programs are already demanding verbal commitments from 14 year olds. Whether you or I like this is irrelevant… it’s a fact.
In real youth sports today, if you are not on track and being actively scouted by collegiate recruiters by 15-16 years old than it’s extremely unlikely you’ll ever have a chance for the next level. She has had just enough resources to consider this competition to this point, but needs to accelerate big time this year.
Her training issues in every day terms appear to be: coordination, maintaining balance in motion, rhythm, timing all combining to a level that her elapse times from initial move to completion are too long re most efficient pitching mechanics.
She uses and losses too much energy moving that big body. All results in a reduction in performance. She must increase her ball and ball rotation speeds for quicker movement. She labors and cannot maintain a strong energy level through a full 7 inning or more contest. This adds to the reduction of ball speed and rotation resulting in a big decrease in performance.
The real question here is if your training will lead to “measurable” improvement over the next 6 months with regards to these sport specific issues???? We don’t have the luxury to dwell upon “The still-developing bodies of kids her age” procrastination excuse, if she is to achieve her goals !!
POST COMMENTARY FROM BRIAN…
I will refrain from adding my opinion. You likely know it by now.
I would like to add that in one earlier email, “Mr. Softball Coach” suggested that walking as an exercise was necessary because weight training of any kind would only serve to decrease the speed of this already slow child (due to the added bulk that would result).
Secondly, as a means to ‘drop weight’, “Mr. Softball Coach” suggested Weight Watchers.
I’m not the least bit kidding.
For the record and in case you missed it, the young athlete in question…
Is 13 years old.
Interested in Becoming Part of the Solution to End This Craziness?
Click Here —> https://iyca.org/fitspecialist1/
That was scary but not atypical, unfortunately. Your comments aftewards about his views about strength training and Weight Watchers are particularly disturbing. Basically, the coach has no clue. He’s confusing his success with coaching/placing kids in college programs with an appropriate strength and conditioning program.
This is one of the biggest reasons why youths drop out of sports at such high rates. I think he’s too thick headed and wants to serve his reputation alone.
Over the top, and exaggerated facts are what strike me from the coach’s email.
I coach high school track in one of the most competitive sports states in the Northeast.
Yes, the college recruitment process is extremely competitive. 14 year olds making verbal comittments??? That would be freshman year for most athletes. The NCAA prohibits communication until they are in their junior year. So how does that happen?
How many schools would risk sanctions for a non-revenue producing sport like softball?
The school I’m at happens to perennially have one of the top girls basketball teams in the state, and is often top 20 nationally. 4 of this years’ seniors are going D1. None of them statred talking to any colleges until last year. College coaches may notice an exceptional sophmore, but their precious recruiting time and resource is focused on juniors and early year seniors-those they can actually secure for their program.
As for the young athlete in the email, it sounds like the coach has an eye for what she needs to improve on, and not the slightest clue as to how to help her. he makes up for that , however, with rock headed dogmatism and no willingness to learn the athletic development side of the equation for youth athletes.
In my experience as a sports performance coach outside of Track & Field, I find that very few coaches , even highly successful ones, know much of anything about overall athletic development(developing the bio-motors, etc.) To be a competent or good coach in track, or swimming for example, you have to by default be good at athletic development. In the “game” sports, most coaches hope an athlete shows up that they can use their sport specific skills to coach.
Unfortunately many coaches regardless of sport are looking for short term sport development as compared to long term athletic development.
I’ve witnessed this in soccer and hockey with many coaches. By the time male and female soccer players reach the age of 14 or 15 they are burned out from playing only one sport!
Brian, do we have Ken’s or your response to this e-mail?
Coaches and trainers:
Issues aside for a moment. This is a teaching moment for all of us. Think on this conflict and think hard about what the best way to respond to this might be…
The best interest of this young girl are at stake.
What would you do?
How would you respond?
How do you educate this coach, this young athlete and the athletes parents?
Food for thought….
Just as time off, and rest are the last things a coach wants to hear as a solution to an athlete’s problem, patience and development is the last thing a parent wants to hear as the solution to their child/athlete’s problem. The parents feed the egos of these psychos like Mr. Softball Coach, and then the psychos tell you about the one kid out of a thousand that actually did get that college scholarship. Then they get more parents to buy into their B.S. It is a downward spiral, and we can only save the ones willing to be saved.
Unfortunately this coach’s attitude is a very common one in so many schools. This coach has to validate himself by talking about all the athletes he has “coached” to prior success. I’m sure however there are many more he has left in his wake who no longer participate in sports. I’m sure that this coach will not ever give another thought to this kid if she doesn’t perform up to his expectations. Lost in his lust for his own glory is that his primary job is to look out for this kids overall well beng. does this kid even want to play Division 1 softball? Wonder if he ever asked her?
After reading his above claims, it’s evident Mr. Softball is prepared to coach softball players to compete at the highest levels. But at what cost? At 13? Suggestions to significantly challenge a child’s physical and mental maturity and learning abilities at 13 not only defeats many possible coaching opportunities, but will also affect the individuals ability to really be confident and/or passionate about other events that life has to offer. Stressful coaching for young athletes leads in one way or the other to poor quality of performance–weather it be in sport or personal life and a person’s abilities to deal with real life situations/stress.
I think it’s easy to get the carriage in front of the horse from Mr. Softball’s perspective considering his success with softball players at elite levels.
I do believe an athlete–if self driven to do so–can compete above the norm, and may also train above the norm. That being said, it does not and should not suggest “more” of something, but “better” of something is the goal. This is often enough just what a young athlete needs to really experience better results–even if the results are to prove value in a short amount of time, they can be long term opportunities for development. The better rather than more approach serves to meet the demands of Mr. Softball (or any real demanding coach), and helps the young athlete set pace to long term athletic development by executing fewer things, better. Which I am sure is where Ken has added much value to the young athlete’s training.
As coaches, regardless of the discipline/sport, we’re often expected to make greatness out of a person/program in a short amount of time. There’s no doubt that Ken experiences these situations regularly. Like Dave said, “the best interest of this young girl are at stake”. The way we respond to the coach and parents who are likely paying both entities for a specific purpose, needs to be to level the field. Listen and take into account what the REAL wishes of the parents are by letting them communicate to both coaching parties. Are the thoughts and intense coaching motives of Mr. Softball a result of his own intentions to train at apparent levels to request large short term results, or are they motives of the parents which as a result Mr. Softball feels the need to communicate such paths of physical training demand to our Youth Specialist, Ken, to which Ken is supposed to succumb to the above email and fast forward the kids maturity from 13 to 20?
It’s likely the parents sought out Mr. Softball for his ability to help/coach many athletes to high levels of performance–thus they wish for the same from their daughter? Maybe not. Maybe the parents just want their daughter to work hard, have fun and whatever success comes about from the labour–relish in it.
I think to truly answer the situation most effectively we’d have to hear from parents and get their thoughts on what really they expect out of signing up their daughter for sport or for important youth athletic development training such as Ken offers. The thoughts of the parents are hopefully not swayed by Mr. Softball, and all parties get a chance to communicate their speciality and what the true focus of their training might be for the athlete–likely Ken’s will be more elaborate and conducive to the long haul for the young athlete. Then the parents can really decide what they are attempting to accomplish when they signed their young athlete up for a FUN game to play and train for.
It’s possible parents need more coaching than kids.
I’ve had to deal with an un-ruling parent in the strength room who have seemed to have a better way to coach a young wrestler on how to perform the deadlift safely and effectively because back in the day “dad” was a self proclaimed good powerlifter–why the parent made it in to the platform after is another questions.
Keep fighting the good fight Ken. Thanks Brian for the opportunity to challenge our minds as well to be better at what we do.
This would almost be funny if it wasn’t a real situation. Unfortunately I have seen quite a bit of this myself and in my experience, kids who are pushed like this by either coaches or parents (usually both) not only don’t get recruited, but often never finish their high school careers due to burn out or injury. The ones who do go on to college sports do so in spite of these coaches, not because of them. The good thing is that there is more attention being paid to proper youth training due to the growing influence of the IYCA and the coaches who are part of it. It takes time to turn a big ship, but it is turning.
I think instead of shock as to the response, the correct thing is how do you deal with coaches and parents that are this way, or take this approach, because this is not the exception, this is the norm.
Parents and coaches have very little patience, and they have less patience for what they determine to be incorrect.
Tell them what they want to hear (without sacrificing your convictions) give them what they need. Everyone will be happy.
I am sure that Ken is doing just this, and most coaches are not as rude, or self aggrandizing as the super softball coach in this email, but this is what you deal with on a daily basis.
Like Dave said what can we learn from this and how can we get better from lessons like this one?
Wow… with all the information out there, it is ridiculous to believe that coaches still think weight training results in added bulk and slowing you down. Absolutely ridiculous.
My questions is what does the 13 year old want? Has that even been addressed yet. Perhaps she doesn’t want to play D1 and jsut wants to play. As far as the coaches go, it is a matter of staying within your scope of practcice or expertise…..coach softball and leave the S&C to the professional. And, vice versa.
Walking? Weight watchers? How about movement that applies to her sport and high quality food choices? Any chance of pulling her out of high school coaching and signing her up for a quality sports training program? I’m disgusted that coaches aren’t learning how to address their sport more effectively. The information is there so get out of the cave and learn it.
Brian, I’ll opt for no comment only because I’m rendered speechless by the antics of Mr Softball Coach. Unfortunately he’s not the only one of his kind out there doing the same thing to another promising young athlete. Thanks for sharing this.
I am a 12U girls fastpitch softball Coach. Have Coached boys and girls for 12 years. The comments by “Mr. Softball Coach” are absurd. My daughter is a pitcher. She is recognized as a very good pitcher. However, she plays other sports at our encouragement so she won’t get burned out on softball. The High School Softball program in our area is very good. They win State and often Regionals on a regular basis. The High School Coach does NOT look at girls until 8th grade. I agree with the others making comments about Division 1 Recruiters. Most of them do not look at pitchers for example until their Junior year in High School. My daughters pitching Coach has been doing this for 21 years. He is a Nationally recognized pitching Coach with 12 girls pitching TODAY in Division 1 schools. He agrees with me that pushing these girls too hard too early will just end up burning them out. “Mr. Softball Coach” does NOT know what he is talking about. I can say this with confidence since my 12 years of coaching and my daughters pitching Coaches 21 years of Coaching are “REAL WORLD’, live, today and now experiences. What a shame that “Mr. Softball Coach” can’t use encouragement and positive re enforcement to get his results.
Dye Hawley, Crash 12U Coach