Sunday, July 6, 2008

If it works, leave it alone

SI's Tom Verducci has a terrific piece on the pitching mechanics of the SF Giants' Tim Lincecum.

Here's how one MLB general manager describes Lincecum's pitching style:

"It looks like his head is going to snap off and his arm is going to fly off."

It might look funny, but Lincecum's pitching style works for him.  He's honed it over years of work with his father.

According to Lincecum:

"My dad would notice itty-bitty things with my mechanics and make it second nature for me. Now I'm making adjustments quicker. It's nice to have him there, but I don't need him there to tell me what's going on. I can make those adjustments pitch to pitch now as opposed to game to game."

And Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti doesn't mess with it.  

And that's a wise move, in my opinion, because it works for Lincecum.   I'm a believer that once a guy hits a certain age, skill level (e.g., MLB or NBA), and success level, it's best to just leave him alone and work on reps instead.

Of course, it's different if it's a high school kid or young college player.  Tweaking their mechanics -- whether they're a QB, shooting guard, or pitcher -- can have an immediate impact on their effectiveness.

But once their mechanics are (as Lincecum says) "second nature," and it's working for them (i.e., they're effective), quit messing with them and focus on other parts of their game.

As a side note, I really liked a quote from Lincecum's father from the SI piece:

"You know, I'm built almost identical to Timmy. He's kind of like my soul mate. I pray for only one thing, and it's for my sons, and it's not about the most wins or getting rich. It's one little prayer. I pray my kids are safe and healthy."