Ahead Of The Curve with Jonathan Gelnar

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August 3, 2020  

Ryan Sienko- Catching Coordinator, Los Angeles Dodgers

August 3, 2020
This episode is sponsored by Athlete's Brand.

Today we have on Ryan Sienko- Catching Coordinator for the LA Dodgers

Ryan was a catcher at the University of Iowa, played professionally for the Texas Rangers, Chicago White Sox and in independent baseball where he was an All-Star. 

His current responsibilities include catching philosophies and drills, deciphering receiving metrics, blocking philosophies and drills, throwing philosophies and drills, coordinating player plans, working with the research and development department, drills and skill work, and traveling to all affiliates to work with the catchers.

On the show, we discuss how he evaluates catchers, what data and trends we can look for, and we go through several drills and thought processes with how we can setup up catchers to maximize their potential, on and off the field.




Choose love not fear

Getting outside of your comfort zone. 

“Ask other people what challenges the face, and how they overcome them."






Show notes courtesy of Zach Casto

  • The catching position has changed where there are very athletic players who are catching.
  • You’re seeing athletes behind there.
  • You can find ways to overcome/improve movement issues
  • To be seen as a catcher be an athlete and hit.
  • The catcher needs to be flexible.
  • Evaluate his strengths and weaknesses.
  • If the catcher is on your team give them a list of what they do well and don’t. This will help the catcher understand what to work on.
  • Walk through with them specific hitters and see if they can pick out weaknesses and strengths of each hitter in order to call the game.
  • Give the catchers the freedom to be creative and try out stances.
  • When you give them freedom they will experiment and find out what works best for them.
  • Coaches need to be open minded and allow their players to try things out.
  • “Be open to trial and error.”
  • When the ball gets by the catcher bad things happen.
  • So find ways to prevent that and receive the best way possible.
  • “If you want to find a really good catcher, notice how well the command of the pitcher is.”
  • We are living in a world where it’s high velocity and low command.
  • The best catchers receive in such a way that it makes every pitcher look good.
  • The most important thing a coach can do to be able to teach a player is to have a strong relationship with the player.
  • A player needs to trust first before any success can happen.
  • “It’s much more about the relationship and the communication.”
  • Lead learning by asking questions where the player can communicate what he is doing in order to understand himself.
  • If the player doesn’t trust us then they won’t get anything out of our teaching.
  • As soon as we can make it relatable to them and for them to understand the why behind each drill, then we will understand how good the player is.
  • As coaches dive into the process with the players.
  • Don’t be on the side, go through things with players and be all in with them.
  • To create trust with the players be transparent with them.
  • Make sure you break data down so that it’s understandable and actionable.
  • Don’t allow your guys to get upset after each game with the daily scores.
  • Let daily scores tell you if the game was a good or bad one.
  • Go weekly to see if there are any trends to make adjustments.
  • Analytics tells us is the player good? And where do we need to work?
  • The recall of catchers is amazing.
  • On specific pitches, ask the catchers what happened and why?
  • Ask them if they can use things they’ve worked on in practice.
  • Ask them to slowly bring in what they are working on.
  • The best part of being a coach is the small bit of influence you made on their career.
  • To be a good catcher you need to create championship caliber men, who roll with the punches, who are also good communicators.
  • Catchers need to be able to talk with both the pitching and catching coaches.
  • Allow your players to give presentation a to talk improve their communication.
  • Serve to Lead is about serving everyone not just pitchers.
  • It’s about serving teammates, coaches, and everyone on the organization.
  • Catchers are typically the best teammate because they are living the Serve to Lead culture.
  • Serve to Lead is the expectation for every catcher in the Dodger organization.
  • “Being a good teammate will elevate your career.”
  • Being a good teammate will help the athlete outside of the field and help improve the world.
  • “Building stronger men builds stronger baseball players.”
  • If the player is a better person then they will make a positive impact in the world.
  • Before you talk about receiving with a catcher make sure they are prepared to talk about how many pitches they are going to receive.
  • All we have to make sure is the catcher is prepared to have the proper set up to receive each pitcher they will see.
  • The catcher needs to understand what each pitch is going to do.
  • Understanding the spin rate, spin efficiency, and break of the pitch.
  • “You’re going to have to adjust with everything they do and be able to adjust.”
  • Catchers need to understand how to receive each pitcher they will see properly.
  • Every catcher has a pitcher they struggle to receive.
  • Allow them to experiment to be able to catch that pitcher.
  • Allowing freedom will create a shared to problems.
  • Sit down with your catchers and find out how to get ahead, what to do when ahead and behind, how are you going to put the hitter away with each pitcher on the staff.
  • Then throw in specific hitters and create a plan for pitch calling.
  • Find out who does damage, who chases, who can handle velocity, who can handle offspeed pitches.
  • To be able to have success with receiving is to have pocket awareness in space.
  • Having players understand where their pocket is in space is crucial.
  • “The reason why we block is to prevent the runner from advancing.”
  • You want your catchers to recognize they need to block and then block a certain way that prevents the runner from advancing.
  • A successful block is one that prevents the runner from advancing.
  • The exchange is the most crucial part of throwing when catching.
  • Get your right foot down, take your left foot and plant, then throw.
  • The best coaches are innovate and question conventional wisdom.
  • Create team building exercises where players learn how to communicate better and communicate with everyone well.
  • If you can get your catchers to talk and communicate well together is a huge win.
  • Talk to everyone and ask a lot of questions. You can learn from everyone’s experiences.
  • Be respectful and understand everyone’s perspective.