How Do I Hit the Curveball – Part 1 of 3

A LESSON IN LEADERSHIP FROM MY KIDS AND BASEBALL

Sports has long been considered a foundry in which many of life’s principles of competition, courage, and overcoming hardship under pressure are forged.  Likewise, children have been credited by many parents as teaching them, the parents, lessons when they, the children, were the intended pupils.  Almost twenty-five years ago, I found sports… baseball to be more specific…to be the subject matter through which my two sons taught me one of the most valuable leadership lessons I have ever learned.  The lesson has impacted both my life and career immeasurably.

My father, who was an avid baseball player, coach, and fan, transferred his love for the national pastime to me.  I, likewise, began a similar indoctrination of my sons at the earliest age possible.  Their desire to improve their skills was insatiable, so much so that I built for them a completely enclosed batting cage from fishnet to prevent baseballs hit during batting practice from escaping our small back yard.  Almost every afternoon found us in the cage, me pitching and them taking turns hitting.  Their skills and confidence grew rapidly.  The practice helped in this growth.  The conditions and environment also added to their advancement.

The conditions included pitching that was at a fairly consistent speed and with location that permitted them to develop a similar swing pattern at every pitch.  Consequently, they could hammer most every ball I threw.

This development continued for a number of years.  Then one day, having noticed that the pitchers in their league were beginning to throw curve balls, I introduced these pitches into our batting practice regimen.  Those readers who have experienced hitting, or hitting at, a curve ball know well what happened.  A curve ball looks to the batter like it is going to a certain location.  The batter begins to swing and like magic the ball’s trajectory changes, thus eluding the bat.  A curve ball also comes at the batter slower than its cousin, the fastball.  Different speed and different trajectory mean consternation to the batter uninitiated to the deceptiveness of the demon curve.  Those who have never swung at a pitch of this ilk can rest assured that the theory that a curve is simply an optical illusion is a lie of the greatest magnitude.

Continued in the Part 2

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