June 2022 eNewsletter: “Oh My God, It’s Happening!”

The pandemic was an awful time in all of our lives. Staying indoors caused a lot of issues, some that we’re just starting to realize will have long-term implications, especially for our children.

If there was any silver lining I tried to grasp out of that period, it was the time I took to binge on shows that I’d been putting off. I got through the entire series of Breaking Bad, and I began watching Parks and Recreation, Ozark, and what is now my all-time favorite show EVER—The Office.

I’ve officially become an Office junkie, including watching the entire nine seasons three times and going into my fourth go around. I can quote lines, and my wife and I always find that right moment to say, “That’s what she said.” Plus, I’ve bought at least three different books written about the show.  

In one of my top five shows, somewhere in either season two or three, Dwight (the safety manager) doesn’t think his colleagues are taking safety seriously, so he starts a fire on the Dunder Mifflin floor. Amid the chaos and realization that they’re trapped inside, Steve Carrell’s character yells, “Oh my God, it’s happening!” 

I’ve found this “Oh my God, it’s happening” attitude directly effects how coaches are treating their players during the summer months. Let me explain.

The summer months should be about working on the weaknesses of a player’s game. For our pitchers, that can be working at gaining velocity or improving secondary pitches. For many pitchers in general, it’s about getting healthy after a long fall, winter, and spring season. For coaches to continue playing games throughout the week is just pure insanity and serves no purposes in improving a player’s skill set.

I had one poor dad planning to have his son train at Throwzone during the summer to gain velocity and strength only to have the coaches shoot him down, saying it was important to play a summer schedule with their team in order to evaluate where his son fit in their program.  

I’m telling you, it is happening.  

High school coaches wield too much control on a player’s future by telling the player he needs to be evaluated when the real reason is that high school programs need pitchers to throw in games. It has nothing to do with evaluation and everything to do with needing multiple arms pitching in meaningless summer games.

And to be fair, I’m also a high school coach. However, I don’t really participate in summer games because I think they’re completely unfair to players who will already be around these same players and coaches for over ten months out of the year. We, as coaches, have the entire beginning of the school year in fall and winter to figure out who we’re going to have on the team in spring.

Summer travel ball coaches are also putting players in precariously dangerous situations by having them play weeklong games in June in Arizona in 110 degree temperatures, asking pitchers to pitch back-to-back games as well as throw complete games, all for the purpose of putting the team in the winner’s bracket of a meaningless game. In addition to injury and fatigue, there’s the danger of heat stroke and sunburn lurking like a thief in the night.

What I will tell you is that as parents of elite athletes, it’s important to choose the best path for your son and his training instead of coaches telling you what to do.

Get a load of this: The cost to go to tournaments is astronomical. I estimated that for a player to go to Arizona at the end of June for what is described as a Junior Olympic event (marketing at its finest) for at least four to five nights amounts to $250 per night. The cost to drive there will be at least $300 for gas, food average around $500 in all likelihood, plus there’s entertainment, like movies, costing another $200. The grand total is roughly $2000 for a player to pitch maybe 5–8 innings max, or as I like to say, $250–400 per inning. And this doesn’t even include the coaching fee for the week.  

Is this scenario really going to improve a player’s performance?

I don’t look at this as being the bearer of bad news, but I want to share the reality of what is really going on at tournaments and with the coaches putting these teams together. In order to go from good to great, a player needs to improve their skill skill set by training over and over. This means getting stronger at the gym and working on explosive throwing techniques to gain velocity. Most people think just the opposite, but I can tell you from my own experience, with a son that played D1 baseball and having coached several MLB players, none of them did any of what is being hailed as crucial to get in front of coaches and dropping thousands of dollars. I know for a fact that playing in games over and over is just a pure waste of time. Training and development is what is getting athletes to the highest levels.

We must do better in listening to our gut when it comes to playing so many games. Training and development is where it’s at, and that’s something we do very well here at Throwzone Academy. There’s a reason why we’ve had multiple players in the MiLB, hundreds have gone on to play in college, and thousand play on high school teams. Training at Throwzone did wonders for their development and skills.

Let us help you reach your goals and be part of your son’s training and development. Allow us to help you sort through the nonsense and get your player moving in the right direction. We have years of experience, and I believe we’ve helped many in reaching their goals.

I look forward to serving you!

Until next time…

Jim