Ahead Of The Curve with Jonathan Gelnar

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April 23, 2020  

Tracy Smith- Head Baseball Coach, Arizona State University

April 23, 2020

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 CF
  • Put 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.”