Bryce Harper-  Thank You

I wrote an article last season as to why I didn’t believe Bryce Harper would have the projected success at the major league level with the hitting mechanics he had.  It was my opinion based on what I have seen and see from the best hitters, past and present ones. Bryce Harper had some actions that I did not see from the greats, specifically, his fast action loading of the bat and a rear elbow that pushes above shoulder level with that load. Once again, just my opinion, but those Bryce Harper moves are difficult to overcome against major league pitching. I am not sure his recent changes have addressed those, but my point is that even the stars have to make adjustments.

Looking for new ways to help ballplayers is an ongoing process, and it also helps when they are ready to do their part in helping themselves. Sometimes, doing their part means looking reality in the face, as Bryce Harper apparently did. After the all-star break, Washington National’s young star, Bryce Harper, made a major overhaul of his hitting style. What makes Bryce Harper the man is that he was willing to change. A risk comes with moving away from the things that got one to the big leagues, and mid-season changes are not easy. The admirable point is that making changes from what had always worked takes guts and determination, two traits ballplayers need, and a sign of maturation.

Hitting student statement – “Why should I change, I’m the best hitter on the team.”

My reply – “ You are right, you are the best hitter, now, but there will come time for inevitable change, and the longer you wait, the harder that the change will be.”

I have had that conversation often with youth players or their parents. Change and the willingness to change is difficult, especially when having success, but it is always important to keep the big picture in mind. Success is fleeting, constant improvement necessary and the fundamentals are that for a reason – they are essential.

It helps now to be able to use Bryce Harper’s willingness to change as an example and reason for youth ballplayers to change. When players of the highest levels of baseball recognize change is necessary, it helps convince youth players that they should be willing to make adjustments, too. Of course, it takes good coaches to guide players with the change, as well as making it clear why alterations are necessary because change for its own sake is a waste.

Many Baseball Lessons for Youth from Bryce Harper Actions:

  1. Nobody gets away with incorrect mechanics as they move up the baseball ladder. Talent  takes one only so far, and the mechanics are always a requirement for a chance at success.
  2. Even with good mechanics, adjustments and improvement are mandatory as the competition increases. What works in little league becomes more difficult in pony league and what works in the minor leagues may not work in the major leagues. Adapting to meet the competition is what separates the successful from the mediocre.  Pitchers adjusting to batters makes it necessary for hitters to do the same in return, creating a never ending pitcher hitter battle that makes hitting success so darn challenging.
  3. Muscle memory change is often as hard as the mental hurdle of being willing to alter their ways, so a tremendous amount of repetitions are necessary.
  4. Along those lines, the longer players wait to change to better fundamentals, the harder it is to implement them. Significant changes are usually best saved for the offseason, but when struggles are bad enough, there may be little to lose by immediate change.
  5. (My personal favorite) No rule that says you have to do things the same way from season to season, game to game, or from at-bat to at-bat. Players of all levels are stubborn to change or wait too long to  make them. At least occasionally, trying different methods may prove beneficial.

Thank you, Bryce Harper, you have made my job a little easier. Hopefully, players, who were hesitant to make improvements,  or believe they do not need to change will do it now that one of the potential all time greats has done it.

Finally, coaches should look out for stories as these because youth tend to respond when the best do things that baseball coaches can use as examples.

 

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