Ahead Of The Curve with Jonathan Gelnar

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July 13, 2020  

Aaron Bates on the process and what that means to the Dodgers minor league system, game planning, simplification, and what he has learned during COVID.

July 13, 2020
Today we have on Aaron Bates. The Dodgers MLB assistant hitting coach, and he’s also the director of hitting for the minor leagues. 
Aaron was a third-round pick out of North Carolina State by Boston in 2006, and played eight professional seasons — he logged 12 plate appearances with the Red Sox in 2009 — before joining the coaching ranks. His final swings came with the Dodgers in 2014. From there he served as a hitting coach in the Arizona, Midwest, and California leagues. In 2018, he became the assistant hitting coordinator for LA’s minor league system.
On the show, we discuss the process and what that means to the Dodgers minor league system. We go over game planning, simplification, what he has learned during COVID and so much more. 
Favorite books
Culture Code- Daniel Coyle
Talent Code- Daniel Coyle
Show notes courtesy of Zach Casto
  • “The best way to gain someone’s trust is not saying anything at all.”
  • Be a good listener.
  • Watch players and how they compete and learn.
  • Get to know the players and build quality relationships with them.
  • “Ask them how they feel first instead of throwing information at them.”
  • The strongest organizations have the strongest cultures.
  • The strongest organizations have strong communication and share a vision.
  • “If you have good people you’ll have a good culture.”
  • Have progress reports for hitters to focus on quality at bats over results.
  • “Teach process so that the Manager can trust you to put together good at bats.”
  • “If you stick with the process the results will come.”
  • Example: QAB is lining out and squaring the ball up. That’s a good process, just had an unlucky result.
  • A good coach takes a lot of information, funnel it to the player, and the player understands it.
  • “Simple wins.”
  • Ask the input of your players on what they like and what their process is.
  • Ask the player what happens when things are good or bad. Also ask them to think out loud their adjustments.
  • We need to show we trust the player first before they trust us.
  • Try to remember how things were when you played.
  • Be the coach you wanted to have as a player so you can improve the experience for your players.
  • All players have good swings.
  • But the best of the best swings are more consistent.
  • The best of the best can control their mass and control their body. Their best swing and worst swing are similar and can adjust easier.
  • Whereas the average have more of a difference between their best swing and their worst swing. (Therefore more inconsistent).
  • Making a mechanical change with a player depends on how open the player is to it.
  • Be prepared with video and data (evidence).
  • Keep in mind what could be changed in season and in the offseason.
  • Have video of good swings and bad swings and have reasons as to why the player will struggle with what’s going on.
  • Give evidence that is relevant to probe the point.
  • Use a movement assessment to find solutions that will actually work based on how the athlete moves.
  • Say things as simple as possible that will have the most impact.
  • “Treat the cause (of the problem) not the effect (of the problem).”
  • Treat the players like they were your teammates.
  • Be respectful and offer things the right way.
  • Do not treat people differently.
  • You and the players will understand when the situation will be serious.
  • “When you’re real the players will sense it and respect it.”
  • Players respect authenticity.
  • Work with ELL athletes and learn each other’s languages together.
  • “The best conversations are the ones where the players lead the conversations.”
  • As a coach start the conversation and let the players lead the discussion.
  • Ask them what the pitcher has pitched each hitter.
  • This will help the hitters find out any tendencies for all hitters that are being faced.
  • Once through the order the offense should have a plan of adjustment to the starter that the lineup is facing.
  • This is why having team verbiage and clear communication is key.
  • Find your best way possible to get the message across.
  • In the first 5-6 hitters you’ll have an idea how a pitcher is pitching an offense.
  • Hitters want to know velocity, what the pitcher has, and how each pitch moves.
  • Then they will focus on how they are being pitched.
  • When players are struggling pull up videos that show them when they are having success, when they are struggling, and allow them to get their mental anxiety out.
  • “Tell the players that they aren’t as bad as they think they are and they aren’t as great as they think they are. It’s in the middle where the truth lies.”
  • You want the player to be even keeled.
  • The player just has to focus one pitch at a time and take control of the moment.
  • “When you’re struggling do less not more.”
  • You don’t want the player to add pressure to them.
  • Allow for the players to have early work.
  • This may be their routine and will help them be successful.
  • Have challenges during BP for players to compete and get better.
  • Throw situations with them.
  • You can create point systems.
  • You don’t want your players to take mindless swings.
  • You want intentional decisions in batting practice.
  • You want your hitters to be tough outs and consistent at the plate because they are competing.
  • Be an egoless coach and always keep learning.