Jennie Finch Interviewed By Gary Leland
I have traveled all over the country interviewing great fastpitch softball players, and coaches for The Fastpitch TV Show. These videos have been viewed thousands of times by players, coaches, and fans. I am adding the interviews to The Fastpitch Blog for people who may have a problem finding time to watch a video, and just prefer to read. I hope you enjoy.
Gary: Well Jennie, thanks for joining me again. I'm in a yearly thing here. This is our third year in a row and I really appreciate you coming in. Anything exciting you want to tell us? Anything exciting happening or any camp that's coming up soon you want to tell us about before we get into this?
Jennie Finch: Yeah, lots and lots on the horizon. We are excited for a big 2014. Our camps aren't all posted out yet but look out for those on my website Jenniefinch.com for our next year's camp and just raising my 3 beautiful children and a lot of speaking engagements, camps and clinics, just a lot of opportunity to hopefully get out there and inspire and encourage others.
Gary: You are a pretty busy girl and you are busy this weekend for sure and I appreciate you taking this time to come and see me. Now, what I've done is I've got all my Facebook followers and I said, “Send me your questions and I pick the top 10. We did this last year and we had a lot of good questions that I wouldn't come up with. So are you ready? Here's the first one. This is from Amanda. How many pitches and what ones that you have as a freshman in high school?
Jennie Finch: You know, it's so hard to put a definitive answer on that. I think for me, I like to have pitchers start out early with pitches. If they're throwing them the safe way and with emphasis on that, make sure they are throwing it safely and correctly and if they are so then you can teach them all of those pitches and get them started early just so they can start building that muscle membrane obviously they are not going to have drop ball that breaks and falls off the table but they're just starting to train their body and their mind and just implanting that in their heads and getting them to focus on those things and I think hitting spots at a young age is really important but as a freshman, I always go back, change *** so important – baseball, softball. You want to keep your head off balance so change of to mixing up speeds and you don't have to have the best pitches but a lot of times just hitting those low locations spots but it's always great to have a drop ball and just don't do a drop ball. Make sure you're throwing inside or outside drop ball so then that adds another factor in there. You want to make it as fast as you can on that hitter and a rise ball of course and then just always changing eye level of the hitter definitely messing with their timing is always important as a pitcher.
Gary: Now I've heard of question you want to think this is caught by a guy or girl as a freshman high school. I heard pros and cons as to what age a kid should start working on a drop ball. Are you having some thoughts on that?
Jennie Finch: Well, I teach the peel drop so that's the safe way to throw the drop. When that elbow gets away from your body, there's 30% added pressure on that elbow and so that puts a lot of pressure on that elbow and if you're throwing that turnover drop at a young age, that can be unsafe and cause issues down the line and so the peel drop though is perfectly safe. That elbows stays nice and tight and we teach girls right away your fastball with super spin becomes your drop ball and then that's your peel drop ball. You focus on spinning the balls off those first 2 fingers and you always want that 12 o'clock, 6 o'clock rotation.
Gary: Cool! The next one here is she didn't include her name but “When does it makes sense for a girl to play up in age? I don't think it is smart until close to 14 under. What's your thought?
Jennie Finch: You know it's so hard again. There are so many factors that go into it. I don't think I can say a certain age but I think it's so important for kids to succeed and if you’re constantly trying to play catch up and hang with the big dogs, you're failing a lot. Our sports is a game of failure already so my dad always says to parents who he is a pitching coach and he's been my pitching coach since I was 11 years old is if they can be the best kid on the team, let them experience that and then obviously the challenge has to come later on but you don't get that opportunity very often and confidence is such a huge part of this game and in life in general. So I think it's good if you are succeeding and at the same time you have to be challenged and if you're surrounded by great athletes, you are going to become better as well.
Gary: I agree with you 100% on the getting the play. My daughter, for instance, because of her birth date, she was always the youngest kid on the team and back in maybe 2000, if somebody has say change the age, she went to be an oldest kid. What a difference it makes? Got all the playing time she wanted. Why do you want to put yourself the situation and fail a lot more?
This one is coming from Caesar. He wants to know as I Christian, what helped deal with failures and not giving up?
Jennie Finch: As a believer, I know that Jesus Christ has a plan and it's not going to be my plan. It's not always succeeding and looking back it's amazing looking back to see how God works in mysterious ways, not always good ways, rough ways but those rough times, those rough patches, and those swamps and all those things that I went through are looking back, were such an incredible life lessons for me not only to shape and build me as an athlete but most importantly, my character as a person. So I think he allows failure. He allows struggle and He doesn't promise us no struggles and no failures but he always promises to be there with us and to carry us through those rough times and we always have hope. I started reciting Philippians 4:13 in my head before every single pitch and that was in college and it was from me just saying, “Okay God I've done everything in my power. Now it's your will. And ultimately, as people we could do is give our best and ultimately what's going to happen is going to happen but if you can look yourself in the mirror at night and smile knowing you gave everything you had and that's all that you can ask of yourself and anybody else can ask of you as well.
Gary: Everything that has happening in my life, my 60 years that I thought was so bad at that time, that down the road I'm going, “Man, that might be the best thing that ever happened to me.” Even though when it happened, I thought it was the end of everything so yeah you're right. You don't know when it happens what the reason is but later you'll find out.
Jennie Finch: Right. One of those big moments I think, going back my sophomore year, I was excited. I was working hard. Freshman year, I was kind of just getting my feet with the college softball in Arizona and understanding and being on my own for the first time. My sophomore year, I wanted to earn that ball in my hand when we got to the college series. I wanted to coach. I wanted my teammates to want the ball in my hand when I got there and that was my mission. We had it down to ASU and Coach Kendra is like, “Finch, you got the ball.” I was pumped because I knew this was the beginning. This is a big game in State Rover against ASU. I came up short, gave up a home run on the 7th game and we lost it. It was a 38 game winning streak I think we had against ASU. We didn't lose the ASU. We were the University of Arizona Softball. We won. I was devastated. I was crashed. I let the tradition of this program down, Coach Kendra, all the Arizona fans and the state. I lost that big record in tradition of Arizona softball against ASU. I'm buried in my head in my dad's chest before I got on a bus real quick and I said, “Dad, I never want to feel this feeling again. I never want to lose again. It was like eight years ago, college has already passed and he was like, “Hey Jen, do you remember that lose to ASU?” And I'm like, “Yeah dad why are you bringing that up?” He said, “Did you know that that was the beginning of your 60-game consecutive winning streak in college?” And I had no idea and looking back, that was probably my lowest point of my career. So far that point was losing to ASU but yet the next game was the beginning of a streak that still stands today.
Gary: Now, that's pretty good.
Jennie Finch: You never knew what the next game is going to bring and I would say that's the best thing about this game. You can go over 40 but you know you get to that championship game and you get that winning hit. One swing, one pitch, you can changed it.
Gary: Exactly. That's great. This is from Kathy. When you are playing and there are a lot of people watching, what do you do to stay focused on your mechanics?
Jennie Finch: When I'm in the game, it's not so much mechanics. It's more of just trusting my teammates, trusting myself, trusting my preparation that we've put in to get there. When you're in the game, it's go-mode. There's going to be times when you're tweaking things but when you're in that game mode, you just want to think about that one next pitch so for me, I know it takes a lot of pressure off myself, talking with my teammates and “Hey, here we are together, talking about my third base, been talking about my first base and not overlooking that next pitch so one pitch at a time. And if there are mechanical issues, you think about that and it's deep breath. I like to visualize before each pitch as well. A lot of things too is just on feeling and it's all about repetition. This game is a game of repetition and it's like magic when it clicks. When you tell yourself to do something and you do it. And then you lose it like that and then the game in life humbles you and you keep working and it goes back and for me, it's taking one pitch at a time and having a goal and a purpose with every single pitch that I threw.
Gary: One pitch at a time, one day at a time, whatever it takes to make it through. This is a great question here from Sassy. I like to ask Jennie if she ever struggling as a pitcher and if she ever cried and if she did, how did she stop getting down and out.
Jennie Finch: Well Sassy, there's been several struggles and several several tears that have been shed throughout my career. But like I said, it has helped build and shape who I am today and all those were life lessons, tough times dealing with mean teammates or mean parents or bad coaches. I always tell young athletes I sometimes learn the most. Looking back, I've learned the most from the bad coaches, really, how not to act, how not to coach, how not to treat people. So I always say no matter what situations you're faced with, how bad it is, you can always walk away and learn. You can always rise above it. This game, like what I said, it will humble you pretty quick. It's a game of failure. Everybody would play, that was easy and everyone's not playing because it is so tough. But it's a matter of keep plugging away, keep working hard, believing in yourself and it is a team sport and there is nothing better than being out there, having a ball in your hand, playing the game that you love and ultimately that's what it comes down is having fun and enjoying it.
Gary: That's number 1 because like you said a game of failure. Batting 300 is great. You got out 7 times out of 10. Okay. My name is Shelby and I've always wondered how do you keep your hair so pretty while you work so hard on the field?
Jennie Finch: Well, I'm usually wearing a glitter headband of mine that says, Dream Believe on the back.
Gary: And they can buy those on your website.
Jennie Finch: Yes they can. And for me it didn't slip off my head. It kept my bangs right where I wanted them to and then hairspray and ultimately, it is what it is. I think, headband and hairspray are the two.
Gary: I guess you can tell. A lot of these are coming from kids.
Jennie Finch: It's funny. They always ask about the important stuff, the hair and all of this other things.
Gary: What is the good way to determining amount of pitches I should throw during a 3-day tournament?
Jennie Finch: I've never been one on pitch count. I think if you are throwing with safe mechanics, you have to go kind of by feeling and obviously by what the output is and how you're body is feeling, how your arms are feeling. And if you are out of gas, you are out of gas. I think it is so important to take days off because you need that rest and recovery time. There's a lot of stress intention put on your muscles and those muscle fibers need to strengthen back up after you use them and especially on a long 3-day weekend. I don't think there's a limit. I think I can look at a pitcher and say if I would want her to throw a couple of games or cut her off immediately because of her unsafe mechanics so I think safety is the key. Make sure they're throwing properly in the right and safe way when they go out there and take the field because we're hearing of biceps being torn, Tommy John surgeries, rotator cups with my dad having the finch windmill shoulder exercise. It's incredible what we're seeing now, injuries in our game because of young pitchers and not throwing safely out there.
Gary: I did 10 shows two weeks ago at Dr. Warner and one of her shows, she wanted to do the most popular questions she has asked. She wants to make shows so she can send people there. Go to this page and watch what I had to say a lot and that's so much the exact thing. You've got to take time off. You can't do it every day. You got to watch your muscles heal.
Jennie Finch: Right and so many times pitchers say, “I throw every day, every day, every day, every day. Eventually it's going to get weak and someone's going to break and so it is so important. On a national team they call it R and R which we didn't hear very often but when we heard our strength coach say R and R, that was all that rest and recovery. That means we don't have to do too much for the next couple of hours or half day or whatever it was that we did get off. It's crucial and Dr. Warner played a huge role in my career and I think keeping me safe and showing me how to throw and how to throw efficiently and I credit a lot to her and I'm so grateful for her because it's not just the theories that I teach or my dad teaches. It's medically proven and scientist who that's Dr. Warner's reasons and stresses of why we throw the way we throw and why we pitch and why we throw different pitches like we do.
Gary: She is so smart.
Jennie Finch: She is brilliant. She's done over 300 studies in the underhand windmill pitch. I think last we looked the last person in line had done 8 so as far as research and the database that she has, it's unmatchable.
Gary: More fitting at a show every week right now and putting on you guys, you can go to fastpitchchat.com. You can watch all our shows and I just want to get that in there because they're all in there for people to watch. The next one is which is more important in making a good pitcher, a location or the number of rotations on a ball?
Jennie Finch: Location, speed, spin, I think all 3 become a factor. I think it's so important to be able to try to throw as hard as you can and maximizing the spin on the ball. I just want to say at a young age, you never want to slow down to throw because I feel that eventually there's going to be a Hugo passing you up so you always want to push your body to the max and then make yourself being able to spin it at that speed and that's where it all comes from preparation and one thing you'll hear me say over and over at my camps or clinics, speaking engagements, whatever it is, it's practice like it's competition and then you compete like it's practice. I think that when young players really see their game rise that next level, it's when practices are like competition and there's no separation there. Of course, there are adrenaline and the butterflies; you don’t have that so much in practice. You want to fake yourself out and try to get them there because you want to be as close to that game mentality as you can when you step on that field every single day whether it's practice or in your backyard or down the street with your dad. Whatever it is you want to make sure you're practicing 100% and then when you get on the field, you've done it every single day. You're not out practicing at 80% and try to go a 100% when the game goes because your muscle memory, your timing, everything will be off.
Gary: The next one, what is the best advice you could provide if I really want to play in a college level?
Jennie Finch: Best advice, I think, find your gifts and run with it. Know your strengths and know your weaknesses. One of my idols growing up choice said that; make your weaknesses your strengths. I think that is so true. Try to be well-rounded, be as diverse as you can, play as many positions as you can. The more you know about the game, the better off you'll be as a player out there and have a greater chance to play at that college level vs. just playing one position. You never know what window of opportunity is going to be there and what position that will be but I think it's all about practice and hard work and I think so many young girls they had that dream of going to this one school and if that doesn't go through then they get all bummed and they end up quitting. It's like there's so many places to play out there and I do camps and clinics all over the country and we have junior college coaches come out to division 3, 2,1. There are so many different levels. If you want it bad enough, there's a place for you to play. You may have to travel far, you may have to go to a different program or work hard contacting those coaches but there's so much opportunity to play up the next level you want it bad enough and if you're willing but it's all about hard work and pushing yourself and going for that goal and going for that dream.
Gary: If you really want to play, you can play because I've seen girls that I didn't think had a shot. Talent wise, they ended up on infamous in college. If you want to play, there is a spot for you somewhere. It may not be but your number 1 pick but you can play college ball.
Jennie Finch: Yeah. For the most part, if there's always going to be…
Gary: Well, they didn’t really want to that they weren't able to make it..
Jennie Finch: There's a place of you want it bad enough.
Gary: This is the last one. This one is, “Is there any way you would consider playing in the Olympics if softball is reinstated? Page, your biggest fan, number 27 wants to know.
Jennie Finch: Well Page, I don't think you would want me to represent our country if we were to get back in because I would be quite old and not in the best shape that I could be that's for sure. So there's going to be some young stars behind me that will be carrying that torch and hopefully playing back in the Olympics. Fingers crossed that will get reinstated for 2020 and I'll be there someway somehow whether it's some thrown BP. I told Julie with USA softball, if you need a batting practice pitcher, I'll be there. Whatever you need, I know what it's like to be there and I love to get back and hopefully our sport will be back to where it belongs and I'll be the biggest cheerleader there cheering for our sport and the amazing women that will represent us.
Gary: I'll be there with you hopefully. I think I can speak your ad with Fast Pitch TV now. I could even get press passes. I appreciate you taking the time to come on here. I always do and I know you had a busy schedule so thanks a lot. Those of you, I'm sure you'll go to Jenniefinch.com and check out her gear and you got a lot of new gear on there, too.
Jennie Finch: Yeah, lots of fun softball stuff, headbands, necklaces, bracelets, t-shirts.
Gary: They can find out about your stores, right?
Jennie Finch: They can, yes. Jenniefinch.com and Jenniefinchstore.com is our store.
Gary: Thanks again.
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