Ahead Of The Curve with Jonathan Gelnar

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May 28, 2020  

Hunter Mense- MiLB Hitting Coordinator, Toronto Blue Jays

May 28, 2020





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

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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.