Two is Better Than One February 05, 2016 20:15
We sometimes hear people say when they first see the HeadCoach Throw Trainer, why does wearing this weird looking contraption help a kid throw better? Two reasons: cognitive awareness and tactile feedback. Baseball is such a traditional sport, it can be hard to change sometimes. We are fully aware of how "weird" our tool looks. Hopefully I can help clear up some of the confusion about The HeadCoach.
The concept and design of the HeadCoach was specifically intended to correct a flaw in throwing mechanics that is profound, extremely common, and really frustrating for players, parents and coaches. I know, because the impetus for the HeadCoach was my own son's struggle to correct the flaw that was really holding him back from throwing to his true potential. The problem has many names: short arming, aiming, chicken winging, folding, or the worst of them all (because it is misleading and unfairly sexist) throwing "like a girl".
You see it on youth baseball and softball fields all over the country: kids who force their hand next to their ear, drop their elbow, square their shoulders to the target, and push the ball to the target. They throw with no extension, with their hand under the ball, no rotation of hips, trunk, or shoulders, and little or no follow through. The result is poor accuracy and diminished velocity and force. Our tool is simple, but it is highly effective, and that’s because The HeadCoach attacks the problem in two ways, through cognitive awareness and instant tactile feedback.
Have you ever tripped on a stair in the dark, a stair you didn’t know was there until it was too late? The next time you approach that step, you take it with a lot more caution because you are aware of the danger. You lift your foot extra high, to make certain you clear the obstacle. That’s cognitive awareness. The minute a player attaches the plastic arm extension (the VIA) to the headband and fits the tool around their head they have cognitive awareness. The player is immediately aware of the VIA extending off the side of their hat. When they look out of the corner of their eye, they know it is there, so the impediment is in their mind, they are aware that something is there, and they should avoid it.
Tactile feedback is like a little slap on the wrist. If the player’s hand passes too close to the head on the way to release point, the player will hit the VIA. Our VIAs are an impediment that provides instant tactile feedback if an adjustment needs to be made. A little slap on the wrist. It doesn’t hurt, but you definitely feel it, and it guides you up and outside the tip of the VIA, putting your arm in the optimal throwing angle.
People sometimes ask me, “What if the player drops under the VIA?” Good question, but the answer is even better. The HeadCoach is self correcting. When a player drops their hand under the VIA, their throwing gets considerably worse. It feels worse, it looks worse, and the result makes them eager to change something right away. The tool guides players into the optimal throwing angle, and the residual effects are truly amazing. Players get on top of the ball, they find a more consistent release point, they start to rotate and use their bodies more efficiently. Their confidence soars, and they start throwing in a way they never could before.
Using The HeadCoach is as easy as putting it on and throwing. Players now have a choice. If they hit the VIA, they can either do nothing and continue to throw poorly, they can drop below the VIA, which feels even worse and hurts you throwing even more, or they can get their hand outside the VIA, their elbow up, reach full extension at release point and feel the difference of how it is to really throw the ball. Sounds simple, right? Well, it is. The HeadCoach is simple and effective, and the impact we are having improving the way young players throw the baseball or softball is something we are really proud of.
We are helping boys and girls all over this country throw better, and with the season rapidly approaching, now is the time to give The HeadCoach a try. Challenge your team to throw better than any other team in their league. It is a simple goal, but it may mean the difference between a winning and losing record, going deep in the playoffs, or perhaps even taking a league or district title.