Grip-it-and-Rip-it

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Nov 5, 2011

If you had a son what would you teach first: velocity or control?

Most people say control.

“That’s the wrong way to go,” said Brent Strom, a professional scout for the St. Louis Cardinals.

He would know. A former big leaguer, Strom has made a living in professional baseball since 1972.

Strom is in town this weekend for his instructional clinic at The Dome and one of the things he plans to talk to the kids about is the grip-it-and-rip-it theory.

“I always tell this story: Arnold Palmer was an 8-year-old playing in a golf tournament in Pennsylvania and his dad came up to him before he was going to tee off and told little Arnie to hit the crap out of the ball.

“If you Google Arnold Palmer’s golf swing it wasn’t a thing of beauty; it was aggressive, there was conviction, a I’m-going-to-hit-the-crap-out-of-this-ball swing. And needless to say he didn’t win the 8-year-old tournament. He didn’t win the 9-year-old tournament. He didn’t win the 10-year-old tournament.

“But by the time he was 12 he was smoking the ball 50 yards past his competitors and the rest is history. His father was smart. Don’t try to hit it down the middle. Try to hit the crap out of it.”

Strom and Jeff Albert, a professional hitting coach with the Cardinals who is also here for the clinic, both borrow similar principles and apply them to their strategy.

It’s all about developing a movement pattern that is going to serve each player well.

“That’s what Jeff and I do in terms of teaching swings, running, pitching or throwing,” Strom said. "You try to draw pictures for the kids. You use video as much as you can. You try to get them to understand that failure is a learning situation and to not be afraid of failure, and if you look big picture, don't look at the immediate results that are going on right now. That's what we try to do."