Less Is More
I recently spent some time in Maryland and Oklahoma, training around 50 catchers over 7 days ranging from 8 all the way up to 16 years old. As I travel the country and train catchers I see a consistent theme amongst amateur catchers: a desire to rush.
This is a problem that goes beyond catching. I see it in lots of kids that I train, whether it be hitting, catching, throwing, or even running. Their minds are going at the speed of light but their bodies are not able to move the way they think they are moving or the way they desire to move.
During the camp in Maryland we were working on footwork as a group and I noticed the kids were looking a little sloppy by falling off balance, having a lack of direction, doing more than they were asked to do, and really struggling to get the simple movements down. This I completely attribute to their desire to want to go "fast", even though what they felt was "fast" was actually not fast at all because of the lack of direction and balance. They first needed the tools that would allow them to go fast before they could actually go fast. I stopped them all and gave them an analogy to help them understand, and if you are having the same issues this may help you as well.
Think about a manual drive Ferrari that has the ability to go 200 MPH. Now, think about a manual drive Honda Civic with the ability to go 120 MPH. From what I have heard about Ferraris, they can be difficult to learn how to drive if you are not experienced in driving manual transmission cars. On the other hand, a stick shift Honda Civic is fairly easy to drive, even for a beginner. Lets imagine for a moment that we put a beginner driver into the seat of a Ferrari with 200MPH on the speedometer. There is very little chance that beginner will be able to get the Ferrari to touch 200MPH (this is not a challenge so please do not attempt this), but, if we put that same driver into a Honda Civic, he will probably be able to get it up to 120MPH, even with very little experience. However, if Jeff Gordon were to get behind the wheel of a Ferrari he would definitely be able to max out that vehicle since he is a professional driver and has been trained to drive high performance vehicles at extremely high speeds. Just because the beginner couldn't get the Ferrari to go 200MPH doesn't mean the Ferrari does not have the ability to go that fast, rather, the beginner driver doesn't know how to properly shift gears in that type of high performance car in order to maximize its ability, nor do they have the experience of driving around a race track like Jeff Gordon.
How does this apply to baseball? The way I explained this to the group is to tell them that their bodies may be that Ferrari, and they may have all kinds of speed inside of them, but if they do not know how to use their speed properly then they will never reach that potential. By trying to max out on their speed every single time they tried to do their footwork they caused themselves to have poor mechanics. So I told them if they first learned how to move their feet properly, and do it slowly, then they can increase the speed as they go. Similar to learning how to shift gears in a Ferrari. Once a driver learns how to drive that machine they can maximize its ability.
After this analogy the kids decided to try out moving slowly in order to better learn the movements, which is truly the best way to learn a movement anyway. After five reps we increased the speed then again and again until they were going as fast as they could, and to their surprise, they were moving at full speed with proper mechanics.
If you are having trouble getting a youngster to learn a baseball movement, whether that be a swing, footwork, or throwing, be sure to slow everything down, help them slow down, and get them to do the proper movements before adding speed to the movement. You will see dramatic improvements in the quality of their mechanics and you will see a jump in their confidence as they start to better understand how to move, getting good results. Please do not apply this to your driving, just your baseball!