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Stop Fixating on ‘Perfect’ and Embrace the Kinetic Chain

By: Laura McDonald

We spend far too much time in softball skill instruction focused on the end of the swing, pitch, throw; wanting players to “feel” the goal: barreling up the ball, spin direction, release point, etc. Not only is this a problem for how the brain and body communicate about the kinetic chain, it also forces the upper body to work on its own. Rather than providing information about the movement from start to finish, the emphasis is on what is “supposed” to happen by pitch delivery, ball contact, throw release. Here’s the problem: only focusing on what the end of the movement “should” look like creates a hyperfocused point of adaption that can lead to dysfunctional and inefficient movement patterns.

When the end is already determined, the body will find ways to achieve it. At best, those movement patterns might degrade under fatigue or leave the player with a limited tool set from which to draw. At worst, those movement patterns can lead to injury. Controlling the end of the movement and drilling (pun intended) what it “should” look like, rather than what emerges from the player’s kinetic chain in the swing, pitch, throw limits the solutions the body will seek. Once it finds a solution that works, then reinforced through the volume and intensity of lessons, practice, and games, there’s little opportunity to challenge and evolve those patterns.

It’s no secret that our approach to training at OGX doesn’t look like the traditional lesson model. It’s not because we strive to be different just to be different or have created a problem and then sell a solution. Our training model is rooted in adaptation. The kinetic chain is information. A sequence of movements relies on information created and transferred through the various feedback mechanisms in the body. Productive adaption of movement patterns requires giving the player the opportunity to solve “problems” using the entire movement. Are you asking your players to adapt their pitching, hitting, throwing problem-solving or are they seeking the perfect solution to the prescribed end result placed upon them?