Ahead Of The Curve with Jonathan Gelnar

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July 28, 2020  

Jason Kanzler- MiLB Hitting Coach, Houston Astros

July 28, 2020
Today we have on Jason Kanzler 
Jason was undrafted/unrecruited out of high school, tried to walk on at Northeastern University in Boston and Was cut after fall ball, He Went on to attend the University of Buffalo and became the first D1 player ever to win the gold glove award twice, won MAC player of year, won UB student athlete of year, then was drafted in 20th round by Twins as senior sign for $1k
Jason played 3 years in twins system, during which they a Florida state league championship and then spent the next 2.5 years teaching high school physics/chemistry while also coaching baseball
He was hired by with Astros last year, and was the hitting coach in high A.
On the show we talk about the art of coaching, we discuss the importance of data and how subjective measurements are also important. We dig in conversations in the dugout an how we can teach the game within the game.



Antifragile- Nassim Nicholas Taleb 

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Show Notes (Zach Casto)

  • “Teachers are the best coaches.”
  • “If you can teach students who may not be interested in the subject you’re teaching then you
  • Teaching opens your eyes on how to get to know each student and create relationships for success.
  • “Deliver content when appropriate and when the athletes are ready for it.”
  • Since there is a ton of information out there we now can give objectives and options instead of giving the player one way to accomplish a task.
  • “Everyone has a built in BS detector now.”
  • It’s about facilitating and understanding how to communicate with each player.
  • We need to find out how each player learns best.
  • The best teachers can reduce the noise to teach each player their best way.
  • You need to be able to filter out what the player doesn’t need to use.
  • Putting our ego aside is very important.
  • “Silence is a sound so don’t just speak to speak.”
  • If we say a lot of irrelevant information then we can lose their trust and detail the player’s career.
  • Coaches need to have deep relationships with the players because they is what builds trust.
  • “Players own their career.”
  • Simplifying data is the most important key for success.
  • You can use pencil and paper and make a leaderboard on things you treasure.
  • Example: create a hard hit ball leaderboard.
  • Find ways to track who is having quality practice and who isn’t.
  • Hitting the ball hard is crucial at the high school level.
  • Maturity and being in the weight room will be helpful with making hard contact.
  • Barrel consistency is super important at the high school level.
  • Track consistency of hard contact and barreled up contact.
  • When first evaluating hitters and pitchers look at timing, rhythm, and tempo.
  • Find out how the player is moving in space and time.
  • Being in control of your body will create consistency.
  • A quality mover has effortless and smooth movements.
  • “It doesn’t look Max effort even though you know the player is giving their best effort.”
  • Have a conversation with your players to build awareness on their timing.
  • “You need a lot of pitches worth of observation if you’re going to use your eyes to assess timing.”
  • Go week by week to assess timing.
  • Data and information can be used in positive ways or negative ways to effect performance.
  • You almost have to re-learn or remold how you’ve learned data to positively influence the player.
  • You can create data for and collect information from seeing with hitting the ball hard.
  • The art of coaching is understanding and coaching each player their best way as an individual.
  • Understanding when to talk and when not to is an art and takes a lot of experience.
  • To create any adjustments with a player, trust has to be there.
  • To create trust there must be a relationship.
  • I’d there is trust, ask questions to have them go through in their head to find out that they need to make a change.
  • You want it to be their idea. If it’s their idea there will be a better chance of buy in.
  • As a coach break down information of who they are facing.
  • Understand what pitch mix they have and the speed of each pitch.
  • Break down the pitchers and find out what information each hitter on your team wants to know.
  • You can either plan against the pitchers strengths or plan around the hitters strengths.
  • “I’d much rather plan around the hitters strengths.”
  • Planning to the pitchers’s strengths puts a defensive mindset to the hitter.
  • Ask each player what they want to know.
  • Some players don’t want to know anything. That’s okay if it works.
  • If it doesn’t work then have a conversation with the player to create a plan.
  • Allow stretch time for the player to get ready for the day.
  • After that allow the players to go through their feel good/ game preparation routine drills to get ready for the day.
  • Understand each of these drills to help each player get ready.
  • Allow the player to use whatever will help him get prepared for the team hitting section of pregame.
  • One of the hardest things to do is freeing the player to do what works for them and to find out their process.
  • To be able to truly help the player, a strong relationship must be there.
  • Players have to trust you in order to trust themselves when you give them that freedom.
  • Being observant as a coach and modeling that will help the players become interested in doing the same.
  • Model what you want your players to do.
  • To be a good coach: understand what the player is feeling when hitting and playing and how they are seeing the ball.
  • Look at timing, are they doing any preparation on the pitcher, do they look under control in their forward move.
  • If a player doesn’t look smooth, odds are he won’t see the ball well.
  • The best coaches make their players feel like an equal to the coaches.
  • You want everyone all in together.
  • Tennis Ball Hitting Drill:
  • Toss into a strike zone.
  • The hitter will either hit the ball in the air or let the ball bounce.
  • The objective is for the hitter to hit the ball on a line.
  • It’s a competitive drill that makes the players better.