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    Today we have on 2018 World Series champion, Andy Barkett. Andy was an assistant MLB hitting coach with the Boston Red Sox in 2018-2019. On the show, we talk about how to earn trust with our players, why learning their routines is important, we discuss game-planning, approach and why Andy thinks that hitting coaches are basically part time psychologists. You’re gonna love this episode with Andy Barkett!



    Foundations of Coaching Professional Hitters


    Show notes courtesy of Zach Casto

    Players will always remember what you did for them.Those individuals will be their influences in life.There is people along the way to help their players in life and in the field.The best teams put their egos to the side.They also learn, grow, and work togetherPlaying everyone’s playlist during batting practice helps build conversations amongst the players.When the players are comfortable together they will coach each other.When in the cage the preparation needs to be based on who you’re facing.It will also be about guys focusing on zoning in on their damage zones.“Pass the baton.”This means everyone doing their job in the offense to keep the inning going.These are unselfish at bats.Every team is different every year.When you have a team mentality, the chance for pressure to take away your at bat goes away.The hardest part is getting everyone to put their egos to the side.It’s a process that has to happen every year.To establish trust with all of the players: be authentic, transparent, and show that you don’t know all the answers.Ask the players for answers.This shows you value their input.Ask the players about how their life and families are going and doing.If the players thoughts aren’t focused then the results of the athlete will be sporadic.Find out what’s going on, talk to them, and get them focused.Players want coaches who are invested in their careers.“When you see the players singing each other’s songs, you’ll know they are focused and comfortable around each other.”What separates players is the work ethic, lack of complacency, and search for greatness.Example: JD Martinez practices bad at bats and simulated them after the game to realize how to adjust.The best players have their own process and are always working.They trust their process as well.The hitting coach needs to especially be an offensive coordinator.There should be a constant stream of information between the hitters and hitting coach.Players want to know what exactly they need to know to have success.They need to know where to attack each pitcher.Example: anything low stay off, anything high smash it.You need to be able to verbalize the plan based off of the language of the player.It’s important for the coach to talk to the players about their processes.The athlete must have a why behind everything they do.As coaches we need to learn the processes of each player.You want to serve the players as best as you can.Players and coaches need to speak ideas freely because it’s about helping the team as a whole.Don’t waste time. Have a plan and stick to it.Players appreciate this.You want a barbershop mentality.This means you accommodate for all of the processes of the player and as they come in the cage will he set up for the individual hitterTo gain the trust of everyone it comes down to communicationPlayers need to know you’re there to help the player better.“You need to remember you’re serving the players.”When players are struggling they want their coaches to be positive and tell stories and advice to relate to them.“The biggest opponent in baseball is self doubt.”A plan in a game will stay the same, but the approach can be adjustable.“The game is the best teacher.”This will help the athlete learn their feels and where to adjust and work.In the middle of the game, talk to your players about what you see and have the players discuss about the adjustment being made.For competition have game like at bats with the machine.Keep points within the game like at bats.This creates competition and game like experiences for players to create feels.“Find time every day to improve yourself as a coach and as a person.”
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    Today we have on the Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Hitting Coordinator, Hunter Mense. Born in Liberty, MO, Hunter attended the University of Missouri. And was drafted in the 17th round by the Florida Marlins. After his playing career, he went back to Missouri and served in several roles- undergrad and graduate volunteer assistant coach, and color commentator on the team’s radio broadcasts and then made the jump back to pro ball with the padres for 1 season, then the bluejays as the AA hitting coach and now as the hitting coordinator.

    On the show, we discuss what the process of making changes with players looks/sounds like, we go over the process of experimentation coupled with communication, and we discuss his role as a coordinator which essentially coaches coach’s.

    You’re gonna love this episode with Hunter Mense!


    Range- David Epstein

    Instagram and Twitter Relationships



    Show notes courtesy of Zach Casto

    The passion for the game can influence how others can fall in love with the game as well.You can also help out players by sharing your experiences and shortcomings and help them adjust through your experiences.Empower your players as much as possible to help them learn how to figure things out on their own.You want them to be their own best coach.Relationship communication is the most important piece to have to create improvement.You want to have constant communication that is clear for minimal problems to occur.We have to get buy in from a player before the adjustment will be successful.Before there is a change have a conversation with the hitting coach and head coach.Ask the player questions to see how he feels and what his opinion is on the change.“If analytics are used right, it can help create the buy in of the player.”Therefore, use analytics to be the evidence to create buy in with the player.The analytics can allow the hitter to formulate why he’s not having success.Have the player discuss the reason why he’s struggling. This can help everyone involved to help create a process to where the player will improve.This helps them buy into the process and to be invested.This puts the player in the role of taking accountability for their careers.It takes a lot of listening and learning about the athlete to help the player grow.Go through a set of drills with each player and find out what drills would work best for each player.This is an ongoing process.This process can create a common team verbiage through the drills as well.Video each player’s swing.Watch it with the coaching staff.Find out things the player does and doesn’t do well.Find out what to change.Follow this up with metrics for evidence along with the video.This gets all of the coaches on the same page and helps the athlete understand that the coaches are caring for the improvement of the player.The changes made are movement or process made changes than overall swing changes.“You may have to prepare 6 months for a 6 minute conversation.”The goal for a staff is to simplify the information given to the players.The information given to hitters is:Velocity and what kind of fastball (rising, flat, or sinking).We want our guys to have success with doing damage to a fastball.Once this has been answered, then find out the offspeed pitches thrown.“Be a master of yourself.”The player needs to know where they do damage and where they swing and miss.This helps the player creating a plan based off of the information given.This also helps the athlete find out what pitchers he hits well and what pitchers he struggles with.When a player struggles it’s often not about the pitcher the player is facing. It’s about one thing that can remind the player of what he did when he was doing well.It’s a nugget or cue that can help the player realize what works for them.“It’s a little reminder to help them realize what they are doing.”We also have to recognize how we present things to players.Present it respectfully and confidently.Tone matters.With struggling hitters:1. Find out what’s wrong.2. What was going right physically and mentally when the hitter was having success.3. Why were these aspects were going successful.4. Watch video of when the athlete was going well and not.5. Diagnose and come up with a game plan with the player.6. Ask if the player wants to make a change.7. Go to the cage.“If you simply ask a player to come in tomorrow to get some work in, that means so much to the player.”This shows that you care about them.Go with feels. The player focuses on feels when things are going well or not.Feels are the biggest solution for the athlete can understand what they need. (This helps them become their own best coach).Any competition and playing a game gets the players excited.
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    Today we have on Chuck Box, Head Baseball Coach and assistant athletic director at Hartfield Academy. We flipped the script a little today, and so Chuck takes us through an entire year of what they do at Hartfield. We go over individual player development plans, schedules, culture building and so much more. If you want a practical episode, this one is for you. Here is Chuck Box! Show notes courtesy of Zach CastoYour work is a melting pot of a ton of great things.10 Phases in a year.2 Phases are rest and recovery.The fall has 3 phases.Phase 1: Movement, Strength, and Toughness.Total body assessment and hitting assessment during this time.It’s the time to assess.Start your throwing programs during this time.The goal should be at their best in May.“Get better everyday. If we get better everyday we will be pretty good in the end.”The first 5-6 weeks is strength testing.Then progress into throwing and skill work.After Thanksgiving is a mini camp.Install all of your stuff during this time.It allows the first time in spring practice to go into the drills without having to re-teach.Lifting 3 days a week and throwing progression 5 days a week.You want your guys to throw over the winter break to be ready for the spring.“If you have to talk about culture a lot, you probably don’t have it.”Culture looks different for everyone.Culture involves everything that you do.As the leader of the program you have to model and hammer what needs to be done.Ask your players what these four areas look like: Succeeding Academically, athletically, socially, and spiritually.If the players can define these four areas, then they will have a better picture of what they need to do to help the culture.Once everyone has an idea of the culture that you want, it will be in everyone’s DNA.The standard is: “If you want to be mediocre, don’t come here.”Create a program to help your players learn how to become quality young men.Bring in guest speakers:1. Specific speakers: Example: speaking on nutrition.2. Successful leaders. (Successful coaches).Discuss with your players how to be polite and treat women well.Have your players use journals to take notes.Give the notes back to the players so that they can continue their lifelong learning.Meet 3 days a week in the classroom setting.In the beginning of the season discuss leadership and life skills.As you get closer to the season focus on baseball skills.Allow the guest speakers to come and throw out the first pitch and be on the guest pass for all home games in the season.Give your players opportunities to learn about different jobs.Also give players conditioning week goals to challenge the players.This helps the players become stronger mentally in order to win games when the young gets tough.Words matter. What we say can go over the heads of our players.Take a few classroom sessions to go over team verbiage and standards.Assign words to the players to present to the team.Example: Find our what the term “What you permit your promote.”When the players start saying what you say that means they are all in with those terms.The players and coaches must adjust to the standards of the culture.Talk with the players and have them define when practice begins.If the players don’t meet the standard of that the locker should look like give them an eviction notice.Give them 24 hours to clean out and get out.Give them 2-3 days to not have a locker to value what they had.If you don’t stay on the culture with the players, then the players will settle to be mediocre.When players pout, give them a 25 pound vest to wear.Body language matters.Measure toughness and body language.Follow Blast Metrics for hitting.For high school assistantsLook at community volunteers, student assistants, and retired people.Be the kind of person people want to work for.“Good people attract good people.”Clearly define roles for everyone and get out of their ways.A mix of old school and new school is best.Practice what happens most in a game.Practice what matters most in your system.Hitting, throwing,and catching is what happens the most.Plan out your week one day a week.Script it out and then adjust it as the week goes along.Have a mini camp with middle school players.This helps them understand what the experience will be like.The biggest adjustment will be the speed of practice and the game.During BP have base running to be a component of it in order to work in game reads.Pitching Plans:Day 3: Drill DayDay 4: Pen DayHave a mental component to practice. Have that be at the beginning of practice every day.Have a master schedule of practice with drills being summarized for coaches and players to understand.Mental Skills practices: 2 days of visualization, 2 days of mental imagery, and 2 days of self affirmations.Have a mental release station.Have one station per practice where the players practice their releases.The reason why frustration happen is because players don’t know how to release their frustration to be ready for the next pitch.Be where your feet are.“Where you are is your interview.” Full Videohttps://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQBSr0rorty5X0V0-mMDLTw?view_as=subscriber Contactcbox@hartfield.orgCell- 601-896-4177
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    Today we have on the Tennessee Volunteers head coach Tony VitelloVitello arrived on Rocky Top following four seasons as assistant coach/recruiting coordinator at Arkansas. His rise to the head coaching ranks also included stops at Missouri (his alma mater) and TCU. After leading the program back to the NCAA Tournament in 2019, Vitello and the Vols looked poised to take another step forward in 2020 after a strong start to the season. The Vols were ranked as high as No. 11 in the nation after a 13-0 start to the year and were 15-2 heading into SEC play before the season was halted and eventually canceled due to COVID-19) global health crisis. Prior to the season being canceled, Tennessee led the country in total runs and runs per game while ranking second in home runs, slugging percentage, walks, and on-base percentage. On the show, we discuss what he looks for on the recruiting trail, how to get players to own their career, and we go over what they do for competition everyday and how that propelled them into leading the country in runs in 2020. Here is Tony Vitello ResourcesHeads up baseball- Ken RavizzaMind Gym- Gary MackJoe Rogan PodcastTrevor Moawad
  • Today we have on Head Coach Rob Cooper from Penn State and Steve Owens from Rutgers In this episode we have over 40 years of bead coaching experience between the two, so we dive into lessons learned, how to communicate with players, how to build relationships and how the formula for recruiting and the process of building culture changes year to year and especially program to program. Here is Rob Cooper and Steve Owens! ContactRob- rjc40@psu.eduSteve- baseball@scarletknights.com Show notes courtesy of Zach CastoWe need to realize the mentors that helped shape us into wanting to coach. “I want to impact young people and baseball is a great vehicle to do that.”Some of the best learning environments are one-on-one questioning environments. You can learn a lot in group settings, videos, podcasts, and books but one on one settings can give you feedback to your questions. Be a role model for your athletes. Expect that out of your assistant coaches as well. If you love what you do, you will never lose your passion. Understand the circumstances of the area and program you are joining/taking over. Depending on your career and relationships, you may be able to bring your assistants with you to the new program. The hardest thing to do is on the transition is saying goodbye to your players from your prior program. “Do this with as much class as possible.”“It’s okay to look back, but don’t look back too long.”Dive into the new program and find out your players first. “You can’t change a lot in the first year.”During the first year get to know your athletes as people, their strengths, and their weaknesses. The most important thing is getting to know the players, then understand the operating sequence and schedule of the school you are at. Little by little you will make changes. “You need to watch, listen, and learn a lot before you start making changes with athletes.”Have patience during this time. Don’t change what works well for the athlete, change what needs to be changed. “The games are the test.”Practice provides the homework and the lessons. Some of the things you learn come from experience. Take a step back and reflect upon some of the challenges of the situation you are in. Recognize the strengths you have at the place you are at and maintain those strengths. Try to strengthen the weaknesses of the place as best as possible. You are going to have a culture with whatever you do. It is up to the leader to ensure that the culture is a strong one. If not, the culture will be weak.It comes down to the players. We can set them up for the best situation possible, but it is up to the players to execute the plan and give 100% effort. “You have to find out what you are working with and find a way to win with what you have.”“You have to be authentic with who you are and to be consistent for your audience.”“How does the athlete learn best? What motivates the player?” (Find these out and pay attention to answer these questions).Be simplistic with the terms you use when you teach. Have your players email back what they took away from the conversation with you. (Give them 24 hours).You learn: 1. The interpretation of the athlete. 2. What got lost in translation. “We want our players to learn how to be their own best coach.”“If you have to try to do things like someone else, it is not going to work.”Take pieces of information from others that you like, but make it your own so it works out. As coaches we have to be a motivator and effective communicator. “Surround yourself with people who are as motivated as you to succeed.”“You want to be able to allow the athlete to grow.”You are not doing a great job if you have to motivate every day.”Players need to come to practice and provide energy. “If you want it more than they do then they won’t reach their goals. “Failure is growth. It is the pathway to learning.”It is important for your program to understand that failure provides growth. “You can’t play it safe and be brave in the arena.”“You have to sign up to get your ass kicked.”Be willing to go out and fail and learn. Find the message behind why you fell short and grow from it. It is important for your athletes to create short term and long term goals. This drives the athlete.“A goal driven person is much easier to coach.”Players need to identify their weaknesses. The players or coaches need to educate the athlete on the weaknesses of the athlete.“Understand your weaknesses and don’t run away from them.”“Don’t expect a pat on the back for extra work.”Challenge the best players the most. Goal setting allows for the player to take ownership of their career. As a coach you want to be consistent and genuine.Great coaches are everywhere. Coaching is all about growing young men and to make them better human beings for the four years that they were when they came into the program. Your assistants are critical because they need to help you implement the vision of the program. “Don’t recruit what you don’t need.” This will shorten your needs. “You want tough players.”You can help change people for the better. You want confident players. Players who don’t have confidence won’t compete well. Confident players trust in their process. You want your players to be low maintenance and can be their own best coach. They do the right things all the time. “Take care of the little things.”You want your players to want to be playing for your program. If that box isn’t checked by the players then it is most likely not going to work. Allow your athletes to be able to play multi-sport athletes if they like. It is their life. The athleticism and instincts of the athlete improves when doing this too. There are many ways to be successful but the most important thing to be is yourself. As an Assistant Coach you are being a sponge and learning what to do and what not to do. “Control what you can control.”The best thing you can do is have a clear understanding of where you are at, who you have, and how to have success in the program you are at. “Be on time, organized, and efficient at practice.”“Do your job because you want to do your job. Don’t do your job to go somewhere else.”Play to the style of the abilities of your team. “Build your style on how you can win with that team this year.”Be adaptable and adjust your style accordingly. Reach out to coaches you respect and learn from them. When you leave a program you want the head coach to realize that you were the hardest working coach in the program that wanted the best for the program.

  • Today we're talking with Alon Leichman, Milb pitching coach for the Seattle Mariners. Alon has an interesting background, being born and raised in Israel and then playing college baseball in the States. So we talk about his journey to the Mariners, which includes volunteer coaching in Cape Cod during his first summer after playing. What he learned as a bullpen coach in the World Baseball Classic, coaching with Jerry Weinstein. And we also dig into how we can get to better know our players and why that is vital to everything we do as coaches. ResourcesHoops WhispererRange Contactalonleichman@gmail.comAlon Leichman Show notes courtesy of Zach Casto

    Alon Leichman: MiLB Pitching Coach (Seattle Mariners)

    Surround yourself with good people. Relationships with your players are the first part of success. Get to know your staff the same way you get to know your players. This creates whole team trust. Pick the brains of the members of your staff, friends, and others. This time is a great opportunity to learn. You are either learning and growing or you are getting passed up. Take a step back and appreciate what you have during these circumstances. Have gratitude for all the blessings you are given. Spend time with the players and be yourself. Be your authentic self so that the players will trust you. When coaching players they are ELL’s don’t be afraid to mess up with Spanish. This allows the ELL athlete to be vulnerable and trust you as wellOne of the biggest problems players have is overthinking. Have a strong enough relationship to allow players to come to you to talk about it. The sooner you recognize this the quicker the problem will be fixed. Reassure them they it’s okay to struggle and they we are all in this together. You want to get them out o an athletic mindset and not struggle with over thinking. The more we can use external cues and give the players a goal the better chance the athlete will self organize and accomplish the goal. The more we think about our mechanics the more the mechanics will break down. Without data, we must use an educated guess to help the player. When you see video: see if the delivery is fluid. When at foot strike, is the arm in a good position?Is the elbow and shoulder level? Deficiencies: body limitations. Talk to strength coaches and have them help you find out these deficiencies. The arm recoil isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For some players it is natural to do this. It’s natural with some hard throwers. Recoiling is a natural deceleration for the throwing arm. Take the strengths of the player and give data based off of the technology of what you have. The data can show you where you’re at with accomplishing your goal. Individual plans and goals provide clarity for the player on what to do to dominate their role. “Process over results.”Individualized plans provide buy in for the player. If you don’t know the player and the his strengths the. You won’t be able to help develop the player the best way possible.Involve the player when making decisions on their goals. Don’t change without asking the player’s side first. Give evidence as to why you want to make a change. Learn to listen but don’t switch super fast. You have to know how to tell evidence to your players. “It’s not the content that you speak, it’s the way you speak it to the player.” You want to be engaged with your guys. Example: one way to be engaged is to throw with the pitchers every day. Throw different pitches with each guy.Have your catchers try out different stances in bullpens.
  • Today we have on Nick Winkelman, Head of Athletic Performance & Science for Irish rugby and recent author of “The Language of Coaching.” Nick's primary role is to oversee the delivery and development of strength & conditioning and sports science across all national and provincial teams. Before working for Irish Rugby, Nick was the director of education and training systems for EXOS and oversaw the speed and assessment component of the EXOS NFL Combine Development Program and supported many athletes across the NFL, MLB, NBA, National Sports Organizations, and Military. Nick has his Ph.D. on motor skill learning and sprinting. On the show we talk mainly about the role communication plays in coaching, and here’s a hint, it's a big one. More specifically we get into internal and external. Cues, how we can use coaching feedback loops and we discuss the role of attention and so much moreHere is Nick Winkelman! ResourcesJulian Treasure Ted Talkwww.languageofcoaching.com Contactinfo@languageofcoaching.cowww.languageofcoaching.com@nickwinkelman Show notes courtesy of Zach Casto

    Nick Winkelman: Head of Athletic Performance & Science for Irish Rugby

    “Every Coach has a story of success or failure.” Treat every athlete with respect and wanting to get to know the athletes and make them better. Coaches are molding young men or women to become better people.Be precise and have your words have purpose so people are focused in on the details. The quality of a movement is dictated on how we coach. We will get better throughout time but to improve faster we must coach better.You need to find the right times to be quiet, when to ask a question, and when to talk more. “How we coach gets less discussion than what we coach.”We need to focus on how we coach more and communicate better. One way to help reflection is to record yourself during practice and find out how many you ask high level questions and understand when you talked too much. The players have to feel like they are part of the process. They also have to feel like they’ve created and own part of their development process. There needs to be an evaluation process and then a feedback meeting to help the athlete understand where they are at and ways to help improve the process. We need to reflect and evaluate how we communicate to connect it with how we coach best. Often times our communication is on autopilot. After a practice ask these questions: What did I say, How did I say, When did I say, and Did I make a difference? (positively or negatively) Mic up twice for 6 months, and then after that once a month. Find out your strengths as a coach. Find out areas of improvement of coaching. Reflect on why that needs improved. Is there any habits or behaviors that should’ve been used? Get the spark, get the buy in, reflect, and improve the process. (When creating a plan for a coach or player for improvement)The roadmap isn’t difficult, it’s changing the mindset that is difficult. “Habit is a type of memory that requires no conscious thought.” “To change these habits we must be conscious of these habits.” Coaching is a skill that has both good habits and bad habits. The best communicators have wait time, don’t say filler words, change their tone. and are precise when they speak. “You have to want to get better because these are elusive skills.” 3 keys of effective communicators: Words we use, our tone of voice (pitch, pace, loudness) and body language.The best communicators tell one story and tell the right story using these elements. “When we make players better, we become a better coach.”Understand what you’re coaching before you can reflect how to improve. Know your content. If we go through the effort of changing then what we are changing MUST improve performance. “Is the problem a mechanical problem or a coordination problem?”In other words is it a car problem or a driver problem? If you’re given a race car it doesn’t mean you’re going to win a race. To change the body you’re going to have to get in the gym and work with professionals to help that person reach their goals. 3 P’s of Performance1. Position: Can they get into the positions to have success of this skill? Example: Hip flexion to field a ground ball? 2. Power: Do they have the strength to optimally perform the skill? Example: Engine of the car.3. Pattern:Can they take different positions and patter the movements together? Example: taking the bat back, and swinging. For anything that is a “car” issue is going to be worked with a strength professional. The driver problems will be prioritized in order to understand how it can be changed with cues. You can’t fix a car problem with a driver cue. You have to find out what will work best. If you see a player who is struggling to learn. “You have not taught until they’ve learned.” Find out if there is a better way to help the player learn and evaluate how well you coach. If you take the change we’ve made and you’ve owned it, whether or not you know it it will become part of your new normal. If you require my reminders as your coach, then you have not learned yet. “The best coaches makes them no longer needed.” “A good teacher is a giver.” A good coach doesn’t want to develop athletes who depend on the coach. Use questions to corral the athlete to the solution. During the next session watch with your eyes before you speak. “The silence set is the opportunity to show the coach thay the athlete doesn’t depend on you.” See if the player can self correct. As long as it looks like they are exploring and trying, keep them going. People have to struggle and keep trying in order to learn. “Before you can be understood, you must seek to understand.” Understand how the athlete communicates and learn how to communicate with the athlete. “Get to know the person inside of the player.” Our goal is to hide technical terms inside cues that will help the athlete recall the proper visual to have success. Cue prop is a prop to showcase the proper technique for the athlete. Example: show a pencil to help show body positioning.If our athletes aren’t paying attention then we can’t teach them anything. The athlete who is making eye contact and their body is forward then they are fully focused. People listen with their eyes, ears, and body.
  • Today we have on Tyler Yearby Co Founder of emergence which is a dedicated resource and community for coaches and movement specialists looking to explore the ever growing world of skill acquisition through ecological dynamics. Tyler also works at Starters Sports Training, which trains baseball and softball players.

    Tyler’s speciality is in skill acquisition, so we go over how we can use skill acquisition techniques in baseball. A few things we go into, constraints led approach, how we know if a skill “Sticks” long term, what is “game-like” and we go into how to do this in a team Resources Nonlinear pedagogyConstraints led approachDynamics of skill acquisitionDexterity in its developmenthttps://emergentmvmt.com/“Underpinnings” courseVisual perception and action in sport Contact@TylerYearby@EMERGENTMVMThttp://www.starterssportstraining.com/

    Show Notes courtesy of Zach Casto

    Ecological psychology is how we as humans interact with the world around us. It is how we handle the information that we use around us. Examples: weight and size of the bats or the weather. Constraint Drills: Preventing different options and the athlete will have a few options to have success. Example: The amount of innings in a game. Motor Learning is something that is continually adapting over time. It views the brain as part of a larger system that creates behaviors of the whole body within a set environment. Constraints: You are giving them a problem, and the athlete will come up with the best solution that they are capable of giving. “Constraints are the search for the appropriate reaction.”We are creating snippets of the game and allowing the athlete to search based off of their memory patterns for areas of success. Constraints is all about the athlete. These drills allow for individualization. “We need to remember that we all perceive things differently.”The better we get to know our athletes, the better we will be able to coach them. Example: We need to know how well they pick up the spin of the baseball. We need to know if they have an attention problem. We need to know if the problem is an intention problem. “Context is what shapes the content.”The constraints led approach facilitates the process of self organization.Mix the pitches across the plate and allow the athlete to recognize a pitch to hit the opposite way. Direct learning: Finding out where the athlete's intentions are. Understand where the attention is. Example: The batter is finding where the pitcher’s arm slot is in order to pick up the baseball out of the hand to recognize the pitch. As a coach set up the drill that designs and allows the players to come up with the solution that is necessary for success. Players will self organize, but they will self organize with the solution that is desired. The player is interacting with the process of the problem in subtle different ways. Don’t give the players too much information. The beauty of the constraint drills is that the players self organize their bodies to have the proper solution to the problem. The player will learn a feel on how to hit the ball the other way in their own way. Example: Use a ball with black tape on it to see the spin of the ball. This gives automatic feedback. Have consequences present that tells the athlete that they made a mistake. Make sure the environment that you are creating is game-like. Have a strike zone set up with the goal of the drill. Example: The hitter is in a disadvantaged count and they are to hit the ball up the middle or the other way. An inside pitch comes in, the hitter doesn’t swing and it is a strike. The hitter will learn to foul the ball off in order to stay in the count and to be able to achieve the goal of the drill. For younger athletes use bigger balls or have a bounce in the ball to help the young athletes pick up the spin of the baseball.Allow your players to use different drills or tees because that may be part of their warm up routine. “If the best of the best use this, then it must be important.”The tee is helpful for the psychological aspect of hitters.For younger players the tee helps the players understand the feeling of getting their bat through the zone. When they are older, timing is crucial. Players need to see the pitch by seeing the arm slot of the pitcher and seeing the spin of the ball. We need to find and use drills that will help the athletes feel and live in game-like environments. Small sided games: The game is in a small area where the athlete makes decisions under stressful situations. The athlete also interacts with information that will happen in a game. Example: Your centerfielder, middle infielder, and catcher are struggling with lining up properly. Take them and mix up the reps to where some reps are in the gap and the players need to be lined up, and routine plays such as grounders and fly balls. (Make it random)Players have to understand what they need to do with different factors of a game-like environment. Example: Moving up the screen for batting practice to help the athlete see a more authentic pitching velocity. This drill helps the athlete react and perceive the game-like environment. You don’t want to live there constantly because it may be too much for an athlete. But use this if you are facing a pitcher who throws with a high velocity. Representative Learning Design: Allow for actions that is what is going to happen in a game. “Machines all the time doesn’t work either.”Constraint set up: This is the objective, I don’t know how you will get there but find out how you can do it. Players will understand what it feels like when they are doing it right and wrong based off of the information after the result. We need to understand the context of the data given. When the data tells us there is a different result than what has been happening, ask the player how they felt and what they did. This helps the athlete gain understanding from what they experienced. If we want to positively help our players then the wait times need to be individualized for the athlete. Players need to experience an event a lot for the experience to be stored into long term memory. If the necessary result doesn’t happen, then we need to go back and realize why the necessary result didn’t happen. If we keep changing the constraints and the performance of the athlete goes down, then we need to slow down because we are overwhelming the athlete. Have pitchers pitch live bullpens so that the defense, pitcher, hitter, and catcher is getting game like reps and working on areas that need work. As a coach, watch the results and see how the players react to the situations.Define the constraint drill. What is the intent of the task? You can change the amount of defenders in the field, the weight of the bat, the backdrop, or the count. Do what you can to make the hitter feel what needs to be worked on. We need to understand what the athlete hears, sees, and feels.
  • Coaches vs. Covid


    Today we have on Hugh Quattelbaum, hitting coordinator for the Seattle Mariners. Q has such an awesome background from his playing career, to being a screenwriter and then becoming a coordinator. On the show, we talk about the rewards and challenges of coaching coaches, we talk about how to execute organizational principles, we talk plan/approach and mindset and how to simplify these to help the player focus. You’re gonna love this conversation and here is Hugh Quattelbaum!

    Resources The way of baseballInner game of tennisObstacle is the wayAntifragile ContactTwitter

    Show notes courtesy of Zach Casto

    Hire people who know can do a good job, no matter their background. You want to hire people who have a growth mindset. Progress starts with relationships. You can’t get people to trust you, until you prove to them to trust them. When your team is struggling look at the stats and come up with conclusions while staying in the program’s umbrella to ensure success for the team. As a coach you have to be a salesperson for the culture you want to create. You can do this too by modeling the behaviors you want. Make individualization a piece of player development. “Coach your players up but let them do their thing.” “Everyone be in charge of their 20 square feet.” Everyone has a big role. “All roles are important in their 20 square feet.” Give people space to be themselves and to dominate their 20 square feet. There is always common ground. If you develop the relationship, then the common ground can be made. “Almost every idea you come up with you will realize someone else will have a similar idea.” Everyone is trying to drive towards the same thing. The key is executing the most. Execution comes from simplifying everything in your program for execution to occur. Wisdom comes from cutting out the noise and doing what is best for everyone to execute the task. “Provide the player map but don’t give them the directions.”This allows the athlete to find ways to achieve a task. Provide the environment and allow them to find out how to get to the desired result. Once you’ve developed the relationship aspect is to ask questions. Example: you have a player who is struggling, the staff has decided to help the player by sitting down and asking where you think the player can improve. You can help the player find answers by having the player answer your questions. “The data doesn’t lie.” Data allows to set goals that are validated and clear. If you give untruthful feedback to your players then you will lose trust with them. “You can never go wrong with confidence.” It’s unrealistic to help a player get to a 9-10 on the confidence level. The best thing you can do is to reassure them that they got this. To slow the situation down and focus on executing their process. You don’t want them to focus on mechanics and to focus on visualization. Start with feel (movement preparation) drills before BP. Example: Work on side bend in the swing. You’re working on weaknesses as well. Continue a daily pattern of working on strengths. After this you go into Batting Practice and working on your process in preparation for the game. “Don’t forget about what you do well.” If you go into visualization for 10 minutes before going into bed focus on takes and quality hits. “There is no substitute for mix BP.” You can use a machine or thrown BP and mix pitches and speeds. You can do the three plate drill for decision training in BP. Put a medium sized cone at the bottom of the zone.If the cone starts at the bottom of the cone you lay off, if it’s at the top you take a swing. “Simple wins and helps us focus on what is important.” You have to practice your approach and swing decisions. Have your players declare what they are doing so there is a goal with each swing they take. During BP, focus on an external target to hit when you’re taking swings to reaffirm the approach. You want guys to look for pitches in the damage zone (the middle of the zone). The commitment box is where you want to hit any pitch. “Stay with your strengths as much as you can until you can’t.” “Pitchers make mistakes.”Don’t give pitchers too much credit. As much as you are working, you’re opponents are working too. Keep striving for excellence. Set up velo machine drill and create two teams and compete. Have players through short range BP to get game like reps and competition. Have players compete by hitting targets to compete. Whatever you track will create a competition for your players. Example: Tracking Quality at Bats.“You track it and they pay attention to it.” Ask your players, when you’re at your best what are you thinking? When you’re in-game players need to work on vision and process goals rather then mechanics. If players are talking about mechanics in-game then they are not setting themselves up for success. The biggest problem players will have is confidence. “Get guys time expect the expected.” At some point an 0 for 15 is going to happen. So have your players prepare for this so this event isn’t so shocking. Keep them focusing on controlling what they can control. “You don’t want them to think it’s the end of the world.” Have simple systems they value what we value the most. Target BP is fun for players to play where they hit targets in the game and compete. Answers are found in the middle of both sides of two arguments.
  • Coaches vs. Covid


    On today show we have Todd Interdonato, head baseball coach at Wofford College. Todd is in his thirteenth season as head coach of the Wofford baseball program. He was named head coach of the Terriers on June 26, 2007 after previously serving for two seasons as an assistant coach at Wofford. With 323 career wins, he is first all-time among Wofford baseball coaches in that category. Interdonato has led the program to unprecedented success, with 30 or more wins in five of the last six seasons. On the show We talk about how we give a ton of ownership to players, while holding them accountable, Todd gives us some insight into how to provide clarity to players in their roles, and we talk about how to build a team offense that is multifaceted. Contact interdonatotj@wofford.com Show notes courtesy of Zach Casto

    Ahead of the Curve Live: Todd Interdonato

    “Say less act more.”Allow for your players to discuss the expectations. Have them come up with examples.“People were likely to commit when they have ownership.”It is their program, let them steer the program.Cabinet: Players vote on who their class representatives. This helps the coaching staff understand what each class group feels in regards to practice, culture, etc,Meet with the cabinet once every 3-4 weeks. Players appreciate a consistent message, so confusion doesn’t happen. Wofford Baseball 5 Must-Haves:1.High Internal motor2. Always be developing.3. Have a high baseball IQ. 4. Be selfless.5. Play Tough. Playing tough is can you throw a 2-0 fastball down the middle with the bases loaded with the 3 hole hitter up. This might be the best chance for the team to win. You have to give players data in order to help create the best chance for buy in. Find out the must haves at your level of play in order to have consistent success. Data will tell the story of this. As a coach find out ways to perfect your role. Have the players have this same mindset. Example: As a head coach, perfect how you will address your team better every single time. Plate discipline, timing, and creating maximum bat speed. Focus on these three areas for an offense. “Simplicity is king.” Anytime you feel you haven’t done your best job messaging your players, go talk with your players so that you and the players are on the same page. “If something isn’t connecting with the team, go talk to the cabinet members and find out what can help improve the practice session for the team as a whole.”“You have to prepare for the role you have, not for the one you want long term.” You have to master at one level before you can get to the goal that you want. You want all of your players to understand their role and find out how to master their role. Players need to come in with a notebook to take notes with the coaches. Players need to know what their best skill is. Example: Player says he is a good OBP guy. Coaches then say, to be at your best you need to understand the strike zone and swing at pitches you can do damage with.If a player doesn’t understand their role and how to master it, then it is our fault as a coaching staff. Having this clear message creates accountability for each player. “You don’t need to focus on the next skill, you need to focus on the skill you need to master right now.”What kind of disparity can we create with stealing bases and preventing the opponent from taking the extra 90 feet. We are trying to defeat our opponents in every facet of the game. Teach your players why you do certain things in the game and why the opponent would do a certain skill. This creates an improved baseball IQ and situational awareness. Do your 1/9th: Whatever the situation calls for, do your part. “It’s not what your ego needs, it is what the situation calls for.”“You cannot have success without the support of your teammates at the amateur level.” Swing at the right pitch, be on time, and swing at maximum bat speed. Change from swing rounds to pitch rounds. Example: Rounds of five, five different pitches. This is great decision training during batting practice. Guys who are obsessed with their mechanics want to swing and have a lack of plate discipline. Conditional Green Light:Lead, Speed, Pitchers time to the plate.If the player is matched up with this criteria, then they have the green light. Understand what your players can do despite what baseball is telling you to do. Trust your players more than what baseball is telling you to do. Allow the player to make the decision based off of this criteria. (They have to trust their baseball IQ). When recruiting, have the ability to say no if the player doesn’t fit the criteria that you want for your program. The player needs to have athleticism and MUST have character. “Find ways to win with the constraints that you have.”Offensive Drill: Four teams of four. Two teams are on defense.One group on the bases starts at first base. The guys at the plate get one round of five swings. The team hitting will see how many times they can drive the guys on the bases in. One base runner at a time. One round with guys on second. One round with guys on third. With guys on third the infield plays in. Always starts with less than two outs. This game takes two hours. This is a mental toughness game. No more than four guys in a cage without an individual coach. Focus on an individualized approach to coaching. Players love one-on-one small group teaching. After every series or game write notes. Find out what went well, what didn’t, and what to improve upon. Film intrasquad and offense whole team games. You can see game-like instincts and repetitions from the film.The best coaches can adjust to multiple situations. “An elite coach has an elite attention to detail of focus on the areas they are trying to improve.”
  • Coaches vs. Covid


    Today we have on the pitching coordinator for the Baltimore Orioles, Chris Holt. Chris Oversees the development of every pitcher in the organization and have an increased presence on the Major League side. On the show we talk about how he builds in autonomy and lets the coaches in the system utilize their strengths, how we can embrace who the player is but also help the improve and we talk about what he thinks the next wave is in pitching development is. Show notes courtesy of Zach CastoWhen you have a small amount of players. (6 players) play double or nothing. Players go for a double no matter where the ball is. This can build instincts. “Coordinators coach the coaches.” You have to realize you want guys around you who will do things the right way. You want your players to do things their own way in order for them to problem solve the best way possible. Once you have buy in the approach has to be “Let’s get work done.” There is less difficulty to create buy in when there is objective data. Tell players what they do well and what they don’t. Explain why behind each finding and how they can improve. Understand the player as a person and find out how they learn best. With players who aren’t buying in be honest and real with the player. Players need to realize that “We don’t have time to waste, so let’s not waste it.” Our time playing the game is very short. Be close with your players so that you can be completely truthful with them. Understand where the player comes from and his background. Spend time in the office talking to the player and what they believe in. “Players need to maintain what got them good in the first place.” We want our players to own their performance. Throw your regular bullpen and then then finish off with a game called one shot. The coach gives the location, count, pitch, and situation.If the player executed this pitch then the coach will do ten pushups or some other exercise. If the player misses then they have to do the exercise. This allows you to be vulnerable around your players and creates a fun atmosphere. The next goal is to maximize the sequencing and deception aspects of the pitcher’s mix and delivery. To get a players as good of a pitch off that he can the pitcher needs to have athleticism, rhythm, and tempo in the delivery. The pitcher must have a be on attack mindset. There must be an intent behind the work instead of an intent to throw hard. “Intent is having a purpose.” The next wave of guys are those who can pitch vertically and horizontally. (Nightmare repertoire). Work on simplifying what you are saying for clear understanding. Get into the art of cues. This can help players understand to maximize their performance. “You want to be simple and concise.” Find out what kind of learning that excites the players. Players need to understand that failing is a part of improvement. Be positive and enthusiastic with the player. Take complicated aspects and simplify it down to simplistic terms. When reading and learning focus on what speaks to you. Your thoughts become your habits, and habits become your performance. Whatever we are learning, we need to create mastery in order to teach it well.
  • Coaches vs. Covid


    Tracy Smith, the 2013 National Coach of the Year, was hired as the fifth head baseball coach in program history on June 24, 2014, and enters his sixth season at the helm of the Sun Devil baseball program. Smith has established a reputation of evaluating and developing talent as more than 75 student-athletes since 2000 improved their stock in the Major League Baseball Draft under Smith’s tutelage, including four who became first-round draft picks after going undrafted out of high school. In 23 total years as a head coach, Smith has seen 85 of his players selected in the MLB Draft, including 78 draftees since 2000 and 35 in the first 10 rounds. He has mentored 53 Major League Baseball draft picks over the past eight seasons. On the show, we talk about his ecosystem of winning and the Arizona State culture. We go over how to establish clear expectations and communication with players and staff and we talk about what the look for in recruits and how that sets the tone for culture on a daily basis. Here is Tracy Smith! Show notes courtesy of Zach Casto

    Ahead of the Curve Live: Tracy Smith (Arizona State University)

    Every day is an opportunity to learn and assess the information you have. During this pandemic, try to find out where your team is at in order to have a clear plan for the future. When you go to a new program. Assess what you have and find out what will be successful. You have to find kids of a certain skill set that will develop. Look at physical attributes that allow for players to have a high ceiling. Have individual time before practice where you can have one on one practice with the players.This helps the players to take their time and improve at their pace. Have a good staff around you in order to improve the team. The culture you want has to work for you and the program. It’s important to have the support and proper message from home in order to have a healthy program. Work really hard to identify kids and families that are all in. Achievement of goals isn't going to happen overnight. You can learn a lot about a player with how the player carries himself before, during, and after the game. Body language is so important to see. You want a strong culture to create extended success of the program. You want your upperclassmen to model the standards of your culture to your underclassmen. How will players respond to adversity?You want your players to be able to adjust and be willing to learn and grow. Go through every aspect of the program and find out how each person impacts the success of the program. Grade on a 0-10 scale. You will find out where you are putting your time in. You will also write down jobs to be done for each aspect in order to have success in your role. Keep it to three jobs to be done. This gives everyone direct responsibilities and accountability. This is a business plan. “You hire good people because you can teach them to do anything.” The bad hires go back to their personality. “I don’t care who gets the credit as long as we have team success.” You want your staff to have open dialogue to improve the program. You want a staff that wants to consistently learn. The players that are easiest to coach have a process to do what they want to do. They are intrinsically motivated. Team standards are what you live by and model every single day. Players are going to figure out how to live and model the standards properly. You want your players to own their own performance. This helps them become their own best coach. The player needs to learn their own feels and mechanics through the help of the coaches and the player. If you’re having to focus on off the field behaviors, then you cannot maximize your abilities. Players have to have good behaviors in order to maximize their abilities as an athlete. Do activities with your players in order to have the players see you more than just a baseball coach. Example: have lunch with them. The more coaches can do things outside of the baseball setting, the more the players won’t feel afraid or untrusting because they will know who you are. “The more players can observe you off the field, the more they will trust you on the field.” Focus on the repeated bad decision after one bad decision. Find out what’s going through the mind of the athlete. Give them examples of when you messed up in order to help the athlete. “There are actions and consequences. Who controls that?” “Education is Power.”Use science (pictures and videos) and the consequences of sleep deprivation, drugs, and alcohol. This helps the players understand what they need to do. When you can get guys to compete and learn from the competition then growth will occur. You want your players to learn how to get comfortable when they are outside of their comfort zone. Be creative to find this. You don’t want to hurt your athletes though. Spider Drill: (Outfield Drill)Helps determine range. Cone in CFPut a screen with a tarp over it on the mound. Have three machines at home plate. The outfielder can’t see which machine is being fed. All the outfielder can see is the ball. Players can’t cheat in this drill. You learn who has the quickest reaction time and who is getting to what locations. Chart the areas to objectively know who caught the ball where. What players and coaches will remember the most is how much fun you had with your players. Part of our jobs as coaches is to mold and develop people. Success is bringing all walks of life together to have success. Lay clear expectations and have the guts to follow through with those expectations. “Do what is right regardless of how it’ll impact you.” Have a rule, if your player screws up call the head coach. Be a father figure in that situation. “Purpose over passion.” If you love the game there are no bad jobs. “There is no such thing as a tough decision because if you’re clear with convictions your decision has already been made.”
  • Coaches vs. Covid


    Today we’re joined by UCLA Head Baseball Coach John Savage. Through 15 seasons as UCLA’s head coach, John has established the Bruins as a consistent national championship contender. Savage helped UCLA reach college baseball’s pinnacle in 2013, as the Bruins won their first-ever NCAA baseball title. Under his guidance, UCLA has advanced to the postseason in 11 of the last 15 seasons, hosting an NCAA Regional in six of the last 10, including four-straight from 2010 through 2013. Savage completed his 15th season as UCLA’s head coach in 2019. He is currently the third longest-tenured head coach in UCLA baseball program history and has gone 539-360-1 in the past 15 seasons. On the show, we talk about steps he and his staff have taken to build the culture, we get into staff development, we talk about competitive situations in practice and much, much more. Here is John Savage! Show notes courtesy of Zach Casto

    Ahead of the Curve Live: John Savage (Head Coach UCLA)

    When you develop your beliefs and become a head coach, trust yourself and be yourself.Players will notice if you aren’t being your authentic self. As a head coach, be organized and delegate duties to assistants and trust them. Be present in the moment as a head coach. That allows for you to be the most helpful. Good pitching and catching will determine how good your team is at the end of the day. Organization, communication, and being a true team are crucial for the success of a program. Keep in mind that you need to know your players. This will allow for you to not go in and take away repetitions from the players. Hire coaches due to needs and allow for them to do their job and trust them to do it. Ensure that your coaching staff isn’t saying the weaknesses out loud to the team during practice. Also stay away from saying this because it could cause a wall to go up between you and the other coach. (Essentially be a professional). It takes time to become a good program. Different teams each year have different strengths and character. You want every single thing that you do to have a championship look.The more you can teach guys to be part of that culture, the quicker the progress will happen. Good teams have good leadership. The players in quality programs know how to keep the culture where it needs to be.As a coach it is important to model how the culture should be in order for the players to recognize what to do. Through time, the players will start to respond how the coaching staff will and how the culture wants the response to be. As a coach you want your players to be mentally tough and not focus on things they cannot control. You need to work on the individuals first before you can focus on the team.This helps you learn the players first, and then focus on the team and players after that. Loyalty and trust of the coaching staff is crucial to have for a successful team. As a high school coach it is important to teach your players how to act, compete, and respond to adversity. (College coaches look for this along with academics and off the field character). “Good character makes great teams.”At the end of the day, the best teams and athletes are consistent. “The game is supposed to be played a certain way.”It comes down to how do you want your players to look and respond?When you see something good or bad let the players know, but handle both situations in a respectful way in order for the athletes to not feel put down. “Timing has to be right for a coaching staff to give messages.”You want rational messages, not emotional messages. “You want to keep building success not tear down success.”“The game can flip on you quickly.”Make sure every player on your team feels like they matter to the team. Example: Bullpen catcher helps the pitchers gain feedback before or during a game. “Players need to be ready when they get called upon.”You want your players to walk with a sense of confidence. One negative player can feed upon to the rest of the team and hurt the culture. “Unless you help the player to make a change, they won’t do it.” Treat and care for others the best you can possible. The more we get to know our players, the more we can help improve their life. Make sure when you are working on improving mechanics, focus on one mechanic at a time. This allows for the player to not be confused and to have a clear understanding of what needs to be changed. “Present things to the player in order to build confidence.”Talking to players and investing in relationships will allow for you and the coaching staff to understand how to handle each player in order to coach them the best way possible. You learn about how much to talk with players through experience. It is important to lead rationally and not let emotion take over decisions. “You can’t get wrapped up in the results in a game. You are taking blows in a game, so how you respond is important.”You want rhythm and tempo to your team when competing. If you can control the flow of the game, then you are in control of the game.Everyone’s developmental clock is different, so be patient. Sometimes you won’t have players develop until their Senior year. If you have players show that they are doing the right thing, then it will be easier for them to have the opportunity to reach their potential. Make defense a crucial part of your program. Players have to be able to defend well to play defense. Help your players find their roles. Whatever the player has shown that he can do then that will be the role. As they improve the role increases. Example: Jimmy can get a hit in pinch hitting roles, as he improves with defense he earns an opportunity to start and makes the most of it. Jimmy becomes a starter due to his hard work. Players have to learn how to be patient. It takes time to develop skill. Be honest and upfront in where the player is in their development so they understand their role. “You have to give players hope. You do this by giving opportunities.”Example: If you are up 10-0, allow a player off of the bench to pinch hit and make the most of the opportunity. You don’t really know what you have until you play other teams. That is where you find the pulse of the team. If you don’t have Left Handed Pitchers then you will have to teach your Right Handed Pitchers how to pitch to get Left Handed Hitters out. Make the most out of what you have. “If you want to pitch in the Big Leagues, you need to have the ability to get the opposite handed hitter out.”Put your players in competitive environments and watch how the player responds to failure in front of their teammates. It is during this opportunity that you can help teach the players how you would like them to respond to failure. Try to have enough of a competitive environment in order for the players to realize what they need to improve upon. The quicker you know your deficiencies the better off you will be. Players need to be versatile and have different tools in order to solve different problems. “You need to be able to hit 76 as well as you hit 86.”As a coaching staff map out what the year will look like. The assistant coach that has the specific position will teach the staff what they would like to do. This will allow for the coaching staff to learn and to find out the best path of the team. The number one component part of a staff is loyalty. You want coaches who are just as smart or smarter than you on your staff. You need to be honest with your players. They will respect you more if you do this. You can’t take things personal, if you do then you will find yourself in a rut. Players must be able to commit to the rules of the team. You don’t know what you have until you have it. So be patient with the development of the player. There is always something that will surprise you with a player and will need to be worked on by a player. As a coach, don’t make a fool of yourself. Be a good role model to those that you coach. “If you are going to call pitches then you better see every bullpen.”Rhythm, pace, and tempo is all about timing. Pitching and hitting are both based on timing. If you can’t pitch inside, then practice it. As a pitcher you don’t want to beat yourself. So in a game pitch outside until you have confidence to pitch inside. Pitchers need to be just as good out of the stretch as they are in the windup. It’s an old adage but it is so true.
  • fredhutch.org/coachesvscovid

    Today we have on Athletic Training Institute founder Kirk Bradshaw. ATI works with athletes and individuals who aspire to be athletic to develop and maintain their potential utilizing Muscle Activation Techniques, Performance enhancement and integrated systems.

    On the show, Kirk and I discuss how athletes compensate, which is vital for our survival but can be a good or a bad thing for out athletic movements. We get into muscle activation techniques and a ton of different ways to recover including sleep and what we eat. This was such an enlightening conversation, and you’re gonna love it with Kirk Bradshaw!

    Contact Info



  • fredhutch.org/coachesvscovid

    Todays conversation is with two college hitting coaches in Neil Walton from Cal State Northridge and Ronnie Prettyman from the University of Washington. On the show, we discuss how they train hitters through collaboration and freedom. We talk about how we (as coaches) can best adapt to our players, we go over game planning, scouting reports and how to adjust. Both of these guys are rising stars on the collegiate level, and you don't want to miss this conversation with Ronnie Prettyman and Neil Walton!

    Neil Walton Contact Info

    @ _neilwalton11

    @CSUNBaseball Ron Prettyman Contact Info @rpbaseball15 @UW_Baseball
  • fredhutch.org/coachesvscovid Today we’re joined by Darin Everson. Hitting coordinator for the Colorado rockies. On the show, we talk about all things hitting. Including swing prep, game planning, communication and so much more Twitter@eversonbaseball Show notes courtesy of Zach Casto

    Ahead of the Curve Live Podcast: Darin Everson (Hitting Coordinator: Colorado Rockies)

    Communication is a huge aspect to have to unlock potential for the athlete. You need to ask the right type of questions. You need to find out what motivates the player. What worries them. Find out what makes them nervous. Ask indirect questions to find out these parts of the player. Have journal books to remember key facts about a player in order to help the player improve. You want to be an outlet for the player to have in order to get out their concerns and to learn about life from you. Find out about who your players are. Open-ended question example: What are you thinking? What is your goal? This helps the athlete be where their feet are at. Make the conversation authentic with the player in order to help the player the best. If you can get the players to talk about themselves you generally get a good idea of who that player is as a person. A fun question to ask is about food. You need to learn how your players learn best. This will help you fill up their toolbox. Backwards planning is important. Allows for you to know what the goal is with what you are doing. “The moment I became a better teacher, is when I became a better coach.”If you love and care about your players, the baseball aspect will take care of itself.The collaboration piece is important to have with staff. Have individual meetings and then whole group meetings. Get everyone’s ideas on paper and then combine the best of each. Collect as much objective information and facts to help the player realize why they need to make a change. It is hard to dispute the facts. The goal of a coach is to have the player become their own best coach. Start with explaining why, and then tell them to try a small adjustment. The player may hate it but take notes on what happens. Use your phone to record a note or a video. As coaches be the guard rails to keep the player on the correct path on their journey to reaching their potential and improvement. Players need to be able to trust the changes that have been made.Can they take it over from BP to the game? As a coach you need to ask yourself is it a constraint drill or a swing prep drill?A swing prep drill works on a specific feel of the swing for the hitter to feel. Example: Ask the player for five minutes to use a heavy bat at an angle to try to find a feel. If the player doesn’t have swing prep, then it will be hard for the player to take over what was learned if he cannot feel the changes. The feelings that the player gets will help the player create cues to remember when he is competing in the box. Swing prep is different for every player. Sometimes the players use PVC pipe to feel different things. Other examples: Different tee drills, Heavy Bat, Underweight bat. The tee can help the player find proper posture and find the proper areas of contact. The player will need to find specific drills that they can go to that will help the player prepare for the game. These drills have to help the player feel his swing and to feel good because he can understand his body. The player doesn’t have to have a ton of swing prep drills, less is more. Once the player has finished the swing prep, go onto a different objective in Batting Practice. After the Swing prep part of the practice, go into decision training in hitting drills. By the time the game starts you want your players to have their cleats in the ground and competing. Decision Drills: The Coach Says in, out, or take. The player listens and will react to what the coach says. The player can do this off of a tee or by coach/player pitch. Anytime you can shorten a screen is great. The ball jumps on the player. Throw BP at an angle. Doing all of this forces the players to adjust during the decision making BP. Have counts during this time. To force the player to think. During decision making BP, ask your players questions. Questions such as what was going through your mind? What was your goal? What were you feeling? This helps the hitter to understand what he likes and what he doesn’t like. It helps the player take borderline pitches, even when it is a strike. Decision-making BP creates awareness. The player must have an approach for different situations in a game. Example: Johnny, this pitcher pitches the ball high. Do you like high pitches? No. Okay, where do you like to hit a pitch? Low. What will you do? I will look for a low pitch. The player must have a plan or approach for every pitcher that he faces. The hitter needs to focus on what pitches the hitter likes and in what part of the strike zone. This allows for the hitter to drive the ball. If a hitter is facing a pitcher who is his opposite, then the hitter needs to focus on adjusting to having success. Example: If I am facing a pitcher who is throwing in the 90’s and I am used to hitting 78, then I need to choke up and try to hit the ball on a line to center-right field. For players who are English Language Learners, try to learn their language. Players will appreciate this effort. Talk to bilingual players in order to help you in the effort to have clear communication with different players. Use language programs in order to learn different languages. Keep a journal on words that you have learned. Luckily most of our players are visual learners. Show the player the move or through video. Have another coach with you in order to help you and the athlete understand as best as possible. Try to learn about the athlete’s culture as well. Are you moving in the batter’s box athletic?Can you do this movement in different environments such as off of a machine, tee, etc?This prevents cookie-cutting to happen. Players need to learn the awareness of the spin of a pitch and understanding the trajectory of the pitch during Batting Practice. Use machines that is as game-like as possible. You don’t want the task to be too overwhelming or unrealistic. Machines are useful in order to for your hitters to see game-like spin and velocity. If there is any tool that will help the player build confidence, use it. You want your guys to have all of the confidence in the world when it is game time. You want your hitters to create as much energy with the body that you have and transferring it to and through the baseball. You want to hit the middle of the baseball. This allows for solid contact. Find out how the player is creating their energy and transferring their energy. Can the player then see how the energy is transferring to contact with the baseball?You can measure through exit velocity. Check in with your players regularly during and after the pandemic. During this time players can tinker to try different things with the swing. One of the biggest differences between the best of the best and average players is maturity. You need to ask yourself as the coach, how can I help this player right now?Give them objectives. “It is not about the quantity, it is about the quality of what you are doing.”The player needs to realize what will prepare the player for the game. “Don’t ever forget how good you are.”Have the players watch highlights of themselves and to visualize success. Make hitting as simple as possible. Don’t talk about mechanics.Talk more about feels. Talk more about pitch recognition, approach, and plan. When a player is in a slump, see if there are any mechanical changes? See how well his process is going? See how well the player’s mental outlook is. The player needs to realize how good he is and what he can do. Sometimes players need a few days off to get a mental break because this game is hard. “Can you carry your confidence?”That is the challenge when things are Don’t chase hits, chase feels that will allow you to feel good and have success in the box.
  • fredhutch.org/coachesvscovid

    On today’s show, we have TJ Bruce, head baseball coach at The University of Nevada. Th was hired at Nevada in 2015 and arrived on campus as one of the top assistant coaches in the nation after spending five seasons at UCLA where he helped the Bruins to four postseason appearances and a 2013 College World Series title. In 2019, Bruce led Nevada to the Mountain West Tournament for the fourth-consecutive year. As it won 30 games for the second time with him at the helm, including sweeping No. 2 and 2018 National Champion Oregon State in two home contests. On the show, we talk about what is was like when he arrived at Nevada and the first steps he took with the program. We also talk about how he goes about growing his assistant coaches to become head coaches someday, what their program standards are, how he helps grow young men in their program, and so much more. Contact InfoTwitter@tj_bruce@NevadaBaseball Show notes courtesy of Zach Casto

    Ahead of the Curve Live Podcast: TJ Bruce (Head Coach of University of Nevada)
    - During this time appreciate your family. It will keep your positivity during this
    uncertain time.
    - Have a routine every day to have something to look forward to.
    - During this time you can continue to learn to help improve your players when we
    are allowed to get back to coaching.
    - “Everything you do is an opportunity to learn.”
    - “This format makes you a better listener.”
    - This is something that we need to be better at.
    - As coaches, the best thing we can do for our players is to tell them to get back
    and enjoy their families.
    - In terms of baseball practice, you have to get creative.
    - To stay in shape players can do pushups and pull-ups.
    - Players can break down their mechanics on video.
    - Players can throw into a wall or a net.
    - Players can hit into a net.
    - Players can catch up with friends and talk life and baseball and learn from them.
    - If you have a team playbook, the players can read the playbook in order to
    understand the complete team culture and play.
    - “Be extraordinary in the ordinary.”
    - As coaches, it is our job to prepare our players for the next level of baseball.
    - When you get the head coaching job, you have no clue how the experience
    will be until you get that experience.
    - When you are in this situation, you need to lean on what you know.
    - The most success that the team had was when there were roles.
    - Players appreciate the organization and clear communication.
    - As a head coach, it is your job to help develop your staff to achieve their
    - Players need to realize the role that they are in on the team.
    - Players need to accept responsibility and be the best at the role that they
    are in.
    - They can challenge themselves by being the best at their role.
    - Have team-oriented statistics.

    - Example: Quality at Bat
    - This can help the young non-starters learn the game at a quicker pace.
    - One Baton: This is the whole team.
    - Every player has a role and if the team does the best at their role then the
    team will only get better.
    - Roles can change and improve.
    - Lean on the coaches you have worked for every single day.
    - Allow for your staff to collaborate and learn from other coaching staffs.
    - Whatever access that you would have, allow for your assistants to have
    that same access.
    - Hire coaches that are smarter than you. (You need coaches around you
    that will offset your personality).
    - As a head coach, your job is to help the program.
    - Assistant coaches need to be loyal, respectful, and competent.
    - “If you help our program win, you will get yours at the end.”
    - Allow your assistants to see what your role is as a head coach and what the role
    of each assistant will be.
    - Show them what you deal with every day.
    - It is okay to be vulnerable to your assistants.
    - This is a strength. It will allow for trust and respect to happen because you are
    letting them into how you feel.
    - Go over every aspect of the program with your assistants.
    - Budget and playbook.
    - Allow for the family to be involved in your program.
    - Run your program like a college/Major League organization.
    - Don’t be afraid for your assistants to give out ideas to improve the team.
    - Allow for your assistants to be able to speak to the team.
    - This shows to the team that the assistants are just as important as the
    head coach.
    - Ask your hitting coach what they see on the pitching side.
    - Ask your pitching coach what they see on the hitting side.
    - Understand that opinions are opinions and nobody is wrong.
    - Don’t criticize your coaches publicly.
    - Allowing your assistants to talk publicly will help them improve at public speaking
    to help them be developed into reaching their goals.
    - Ask for help from your assistants.
    - Standards:
    - What does it look like, feel like, and sounds like?
    - Understand how the vision will look like in those three areas.

    - You have to have a definitive mission.
    - Vision, Expectation, and the Standard.
    - What the players believe and what the staff believes will showcase how
    successful the
    - The program will make you a better man and will be relentless with chasing
    - It is general and broad but allows for growth.
    - The pursuit of perfection is in baseball, classroom, and personal life.
    - Your vision has to be crystal clear and you have to feel that it will be a success in
    your core.
    - “You are either getting better or worse.”
    - Outwork your staff.
    - Example: Be the first one to the office.
    - “The program is built upon how well you can control what you can control.”
    - Don’t disrespect the program.
    - That means be on time, being accountable, giving your best, and preparing the
    best that you can.
    - “You’ve got to be ready to be ready.”
    - “Be where you need to be when you need to be there.”
    - Place the needs of the team above your own.
    - If you are not capable of taking honest coaching, please go home.
    - The number one thing you can do to help create buy-in is honest
    - Ask the players what they expect from you and tell them what you expect from
    - Players will typically go to different instructors.
    - This will create the opportunity for players to work on what the coaches want the
    player to do.
    - Video will allow for the player and coach to discuss what happened and
    break down the thought process of the player in that situation.
    - Ask your players how they learn best. Then once you know this you can
    teach them the way they learn best.
    - At the end of the day, all players want to improve.
    - You have to really know your players.
    - You have to have an identity for what you are trying to do in any aspect of
    - You are trying to develop and win games.
    - You have to have the right attitude and effort to have success.
    - Make the routine play consistently.

    - Handle the ball and keep it off the ground.
    - When the team is stretching, take a ball and toss it and it will allow for the players
    to compete with keeping the ball off the ground.
    - Know the percentages and play them.
    - Try to catch every ball as much as possible, but allow for your players to
    backhand when fielding.
    - Want the Ball.
    - Separate offense and defense when playing.
    - You can’t take the last at-bat into the field.
    - The most important event in the game is the current pitch.
    - “If I don’t get mine, you won’t get yours.”
    - This means if you don’t get a hit don’t let the opponent get a hit.
    - The best defenses don’t blame their teammate for an error or a hit.
    - Have your players trust their eyes and instincts.
    - Ask the player their thought process during a specific play.
    - Get players on the whiteboard.
    - This helps players understand the situation.
    - It is an easy way for players to see things.
    - Most players are visual learners.
    - Watch more videos on defense than offense.
    - “Players are brought up for 18 years on how to hit, not on how to play
    - During practice, have one infielder talk for the day.
    - This builds trust and the player learns what to say during the right time.
    - Every area of play needs to have its own verbiage.
    - Instead of saying step off say, “Black.”
    - It prevents a balk from happening.
    - The player will say 1- 1 thousand and then get rid of the baseball.
    - When recruiting, you want to have a strong middle of the field.
    - Catcher, Pitching, Shortstop, 2nd, and Centerfield.
    - Ask your staff what they want to deal with and what they don’t want to deal with.
    - Have a set of attributes that you are looking for in a player.
    - If a player doesn’t match the attributes that you want.
    - You need to ask the coach from the level below what tools the player possesses.
    - As a high school coach, create a checklist for your players to improve
    upon in order to get to the next level.
    - An overlooked key is asking yourself if the player you are recruiting come
    from a winning program?
    - Be yourself.

    - Example: If you are a yeller, be a yeller.
    - If you are not being yourself, then you are not going to be successful.
    - Your family mission will work into your coach mission.
    - Surround yourself with great people.
    - Don’t be afraid to show that you don’t know everything around your
    - In the offseason, have your players talk to coaches who can really help the

  • fredhutch.org/coachesvscovid Today we’ve got on Josh Herzenberg, Pitching Coordinator/Quality Control Coach for the Lotte Giants. Josh was a scout and coach for the dodgers organization before heading overseas to coach in the KBO and on the show we talk about how his scouting background has helped him become a better coach, we discuss some of the first steps when he took his coordinator role, some differences between Major League Baseball and the KBO and much, much more.Here is Josh Herzenberg! Contact Josh (@JoshHerzenberg)Youtube- Giants TV

  • Coaching with Flexibility and Communication with James Ramsey

    During this episode of Ahead of the Curve, I interviewed James Ramsey, Hitting Coach at Georgia Tech. James Ramsey talks about the importance of clarity, simple wins, communicating with players, measuring players in the off-season, his BP set-up, what a hitting meeting looks like in the fall, and not overthinking things.

    Episode Highlights:

    How did James Ramsey get involved in baseball and as a coach? Was coaching something that he had in the back of his mind when he was playing baseball? What are some life lessons that he has learned from other coaches that he will never forget? What was his transition like into the Georgia Tech program? What did this past off-season look like for him? Are there any set things that he is looking for in players to group them together to address their needs? When new players arrive on the team where does he start with them? What does ‘plan and approach’ mean to James? What kinds of competitions have they used in their training practices that they really like? What are some different ways that he really likes to train game-like practices, especially on the hitting side? What are some different ways that we can train players to make better decisions? What is his advice to be a better communicator? What does his BP set-up look like?What is something that James Ramsey is excited about learning and applying?What changes has he been making from last year to this year?What are things his players get excited about doing during practice? Is there anything that he believes that other coaches might disagree with?What is something we would notice at one of James Ramsey’s practices?Are there any resources that James Ramsey would recommend?

    3 Key Points:

    Make sure you are ready for when your opportunities come. Keep the most important things important. Have an accountability partner on the field that can keep the expectations going on and off the field.

    Tweetable Quotes:

    “I love to read and it’s baseball, it’s mental toughness, it’s corporate culture books. I think that baseball has a lot to learn from some other areas.” – James Ramsey (09:18)“Being able to kind of relate off the field too as well. I think telling the players, ‘I don’t know what I don’t know and I’m new to this as well and I’m going to make mistakes. But I’m going to make them aggressively.” – James Ramsey (11:46)“I did 6 BP groups, laminated them, stuck them out there so I didn’t have to take the time on the day-to-day to do it and so, some of them are grouped by ‘rightys’ versus ‘leftys’ as basic as that sounds. Can we throw a different angle on the machine?” – James Ramsey (15:54)“I have clarity. That is one thing I try to search for.” – James Ramsey (18:20)“These guys have grown up in a showcase setting where some of them have never had a first and third plays put on.” – James Ramsey (19:22)“As far as the team is concerned, doing self-evaluations, doing evaluations on the coaching staff, I want to make sure, hey, am I communicating this clearly?” – James Ramsey (22:05)“We can overthink it sometimes too. So it’s, can I just fundamentally get to, where did this kid come from? What is his style of learning? What is his style of coaching? What is his motivation style that he likes?” – James Ramsey (22:58)“Every pitch a pitcher is forced to throw, I believe that there is probably a good correlation to winning a game.” – James Ramsey (40:24)

    Resources Mentioned:

    Ahead of the Curve PodcastTwitter: @AOTC_podcast

    James Ramsey: Twitter Instagram

  • During this episode of Ahead of the Curve, I interviewed Matt Borgschulte, MiLB Hitting Coach, for the Minnesota Twins. Matt Borgschulte discusses where his baseball career has taken him, the importance of working on the swing in the off-season, helping players process the mental side of success, how to train for adjustability and pitch recognition.

    Episode Highlights:

    How did Matt Borgschulte get involved in baseball and as a coach? How does the off-season look like for Matt Borgschulte as far as goals? What should be focused on in the off-season? What are some different ways to help players make better decisions? Are these particular things that Matt looks for when viewing player videos? Is there an example of a common movement limitation that he sees often? What are some ways that we can train for adjustability? How does he help players deal with the mental process of playing baseball? What are some ways that he gets players to get ingrained in competition? How has he become a better communicator? What does he do to be a better communicator with guys with whom English isn’t their first language? How does Matt Borgschulte prioritize individual development within the season?Each player is different when it comes to what they need to get better.What are some things that he is very intentional about? What is something that Matt Borgschulte is excited about learning and applying? Is there anything he is looking to improve on? What are things his players get excited about doing during practice? Is there anything that he believes that other coaches might disagree with? What is something we would notice at one of Matt Borgschulte’s practices? Are there any resources that Matt Borgschulte would recommend? Are there any competitions that he likes to use with players? What are things that he is looking for when watching video? How does he help players whom English isn’t their first language? How does he go about individualizing training in the team setting?

    3 Key Points:

    Training pitch recognition is important for helping players make better decisions. Game Sense Sports offers an app for training pitch recognition: gamesensesports.comWays to train for adjustability include: changing the environment, changing the task, and you can change what you implement.

    Tweetable Quotes:

    “Some of the things I really tried to accomplish this fall season is just to continuing to study the swing, a little bit more in-depth than you can do in-season.” – Matt Borgschulte (04:16)“I think in the off-season it is a great time to really dig in on the swing in terms of making certain swing adjustments, much more difficult to do in-season, especially when you are trying to perform that day or that week.” – Matt Borgschulte (05:18)“The first place you really need to start or you need to look when it comes to any athletic movement is how that specific athlete’s body moves.” – Matt Borgschulte (08:33)“As hitting coaches, we really need to be able to work with strength conditioning, athletic training, so we can better understand each athlete’s movement capabilities.” – Matt Borgschulte (08:43)“When you talk about the mental side it is just understanding what success is and recalculating and redefining what that is for each guy.” – Matt Borgschulte (14:18)“It is such a long season and the work you have to put in day in and day out it can get monotonous for sure. But, creating competition is a great way to kind of keep the energy and focus during a long season.” – Matt Borgschulte (17:03)“Communication is so huge, especially when you are working with professional players that have had a lot of success.” – Matt Borgschulte (18:57)“What I’ve found is that if you show that you are willing to try and you are willing to mess up and you are willing to put yourself out there they (foreign language players) are going to respect that a lot more than just using a translator.” – Matt Borgschulte (21:22)

    Resources Mentioned:

    Ahead of the Curve PodcastTwitter: @AOTC_podcastMatt Borgschulte: Linkedin TwitterGame Sense Sports: gamesensesports.comBook: Good to Great by Jim Collins