Ahead Of The Curve with Jonathan Gelnar

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August 18, 2019  
August 15, 2019  

Dave Turgeon- Coordinator of Instruction, Pittsburgh Pirates

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During this episode of Ahead of the Curve, I interviewed Dave Turgeon, Coordinator of Instruction for the Pittsburgh Pirates. This thorough and expansive discussion covered training and transfer, techniques Dave learned while playing in different countries, his “Training the 15 Seconds” concept, how to hit the breaking ball, and the debate between block training and random training. Dave Turgeon also talks about the importance of training players to be adaptable and competitive. 

Episode Highlights: 

  • How did Dave Turgeon get involved in baseball?   
  • Are there any things that come to mind from the different countries he played in? 
  • What does Dave mean by training and transfer? 
  • What are the things that Dave Turgeon has changed to improve baseball drills? 
  • What is ‘Training the 15 Seconds?
  • How does Dave Turgeon train for fundamental play? 
  • Dave explains to deliberate practice and what he means by ‘Respect the Rep?’
  • Is block practice relevant? 
  • How can players hit the breaking ball better? 
  • Which ways does Dave Turgeon integrate competition into practice? 
  • Baseball players have to be competitive and adaptable problem solvers. 
  • What is something creative that Dave Turgeon has tried lately with his players?  
  • Keep searching for the truth. 
  • Is there something that Dave has learned lately that has him really excited?  
  • What is something that Dave believes that other coaches may disagree with?  
  • Is there anything about his training that would stand out to people? 
  • What are some of Dave Turgeon’s favorite books and resources that have benefited his coaching? 

 

3 Key Points:

  1. Body control directly correlates to ball control in the zone. 
  2. The difference between block training and random training is practicing movements versus practicing how to think and move at the same time. 
  3. Learning and skill acquisition need to be put at a premium and made part of competition during practice. 

 

Tweetable Quotes:

  • “Through the art of show, a little bit of tell and mostly do, it’s an amazing equation for acquiring skill to help you perform better.” – Dave Turgeon (10:54)
  • “Your best pitches thrown with conviction have a really good chance of having success.” – Dave Turgeon (11:52)
  • “Wherever you are playing, you have to learn to assimilate into that culture to win at that game, not at the one that you play. You have to figure, ‘How are they trying to beat me.” – Dave Turgeon (12:38)
  • “The player resides in the man.” – Dave Turgeon (17:32)
  • “It is not about feeling good as it is about performing because acquiring skills is not a feel-good exercise. It is hard, it is slow, messy, and it takes a while.” – Dave Turgeon (18:11)
  • “You’ve got 12-15 seconds between pitches. The average major league game is about 2 hours and 55 minutes. There are about 75 minutes off in between pitch time. There are about 13-15 minutes of total action.” – Dave Turgeon (30:22)
  • “There is some value to a block blend. But for me, the higher you go, the lower the blend of block and the more there is to the challenge variability and randomness.” – Dave Turgeon (52:46)
  • “Number one, we’ve got to hit off the fastball to be able to adjust to hit the hanger. That’s the game. That’s the game from where you are at to the big leagues.” – Dave Turgeon (59:44)

Resources Mentioned: 

 

August 11, 2019  

Kevin Davidson- Owner/Founder of BaseballCloud

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During this episode of Ahead of the Curve, I interviewed Kevin Davidson, CEO of BaseballCloud. Kevin discusses how BaseballCloud was developed, the problems that it solves, and how data in baseball is not only beneficial, but Kevin also shares the ways in which the game has embraced data. 

 

Episode Highlights: 

  • How did Kevin Davidson get involved in BaseballCloud?   
  • What does BaseballCloud provide to users? 
  • Baseball doesn’t get enough credit for being a fast adapter to data. 
  • What was Kevin process for finding the right team to develop BaseballCloud? 
  • What made Kevin realize that BaseballCloud could fill a void? 
  • How are teams using data? 
  • What is Kevin’s advice for amateur teams using affordable options? 
  • How far back does BaseballCloud capture data on players? 
  • What different routes can you go in with data as a player? 
  • Have players been intellectually curious about their personal data? 
  • How many schools is BaseballCloud working with right now? 

3 Key Points:

  1. BaseballCloud is integrating players with data. 
  2. BaseballCloud has data going back five or six years of game data on many different baseball clubs on different devices. 
  3. As BaseballCloud is capturing data on players, they see the data that represents their performance and go back and see historically where success has been found with that data. 

Tweetable Quotes:

  • “I’m not your prototypical data guy. That’s for sure.” – Kevin Davidson (01:24)
  • “Essentially, I owe Wes Johnson the core credit for the evolution of BaseballCloud.” – Kevin Davidson (04:43)
  • “What if I created a centralized software system that takes all this data from all of these different sources and automates it, filters it, consolidates it, and turns it into visuals?” – Kevin Davidson (3:45)
  • “I blame the disconnect between the old school and the new school on the selling of it by the new school guys. The new school guys do a poor job of selling what data really is.” – Kevin Davidson (5:29)
  • “Data is not a philosophy. Data is just a result of a philosophy.” – Kevin Davidson (5:59)
  • “Which set of data produces the most optimum results? That’s all that is really happening and that is where data becomes valuable, once you understand, ‘hey, what did I do to create that result?’” – Kevin Davidson (6:35)
  • “I knew that if we just put together some quality visuals and allow the data to interact with each other and tell the story, we were going to be on the right path...and so far so good.” – Kevin Davidson (17:06)
  • “One of the things that we really take a lot of pride in is our database of data. We have one of the largest databases of amateur data in the United States.” – Kevin Davidson (18:17)

Resources Mentioned: 

August 8, 2019  

Steve Dintaman- Head Baseball Coach, Sinclair Community College (OH)

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This episode is brought to you by baseballcloud and Axebats.

Go to axebat.com and use our code AOTC at checkout to save 10% on your purchase of Axe Bat training products including all of the Axe Bat Speed Trainers and wood bats! 

During this episode of Ahead of the Curve, I interviewed Steve Dintaman, Head Baseball Coach at Sinclair Community College and an Associate Scout for the Texas Rangers. Steve Dintaman shares what he has learned as a head coach at Sinclair for 12 years, what it takes to maintain the team culture with young players constantly coming and going, and what he looks for in players and coaches. 

 

Episode Highlights: 

  • What is a Tartan?  
  • Why did Steve Dintaman get involved in baseball coaching? 
  • What is the fall training program over at Sinclair Community College like? 
  • How do they indoctrinate new players into their program? 
  • What are some things that Coach Dintaman does to build the team culture? 
  • How do you balance team chemistry with players coming and going? 
  • What does the team do to instill a sense of competition?  
  • How is he getting to know his players? 
  • How does Coach Dintaman develop coaches? 
  • Does Coach Dintaman hire his own coaches? 
  • What would make ideal hires for the Sinclair Tartans? 
  • How does the typical spring practice plan look like at Sinclair? 
  • What does his batting practice setup look like?  
  • What are the after-season meetings look like when talking to players? 
  • What advice does Steve have for someone who wants to be a head coach one day? 
  • Are there things that they do in practice that the players get excited about? 
  • What is something that you believe that other coaches might disagree on? 
  • Which books or resources does Coach Steve Dintaman recommend? 

 

3 Key Points:

  1. Don’t go into a team bragging about how good you are. Let your play do the talking. 
  2. The core values of the Sinclair Tartans are: sacrifice, confidence, character and brotherhood. 
  3. Join the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) if you want to become a coach.

 

Tweetable Quotes:

  • “Just lifting during the season, there are still some guys in high school that haven’t done that before. So we are lifting two or three times a week” – Steve Dintaman (09:68)
  • “We are probably practicing anywhere from five to six times a week with an off day built in.” – Steve Dintaman (10:03)
  • “I think my advice for any student athlete going in the fall is: be ready to go and keep your mouth shut and go to work.” – Steve Dintaman (11:43)
  • “The number one emphasis for our program is always going to be player development and the guys understand that our goal is their goal. We want them to reach the highest level they can play.” – Steve Dintaman (22:44)
  • “We are all part-time coaches too. No coach here is a full-time coach.” – Steve Dintaman (33:43)
  • “I think the first thing I would do is if I bring someone in obviously they have had some success and they have some nice pedigree with some references, but that we have the same philosophies.” – Steve Dintaman (37:15)
  • “There is nothing worse than a center fielder trying to track a ball and he’s going near the wall, about to make a catch, and all of a sudden his pitcher just catches it, and your like, “Come on Bro, get out the way.’” – Steve Dintaman (43:44)
  • “The thing I have always told people is, ‘surround yourself with good people and good things will happen.’” – Steve Dintaman (50:20)

 Resources Mentioned: 

August 4, 2019  

JSerra HS Head Coach Brett Kay on building culture and leaving a lasting legacy

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Go to axebat.com and use our code AOTC at checkout to save 10% on your purchase of Axe Bat training products including all of the Axe Bat Speed Trainers and wood bats!

Full Episode Here

http://www.aotcpodcast.com/e/36-brett-kay-head-baseball-coach-jserra-catholic-hs-ca/

August 1, 2019  

Jeff Leach- Manager of Hitting, Axe Bat

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This episode is brought to you by baseballcloud and Axebats.

Go to axebat.com and use our code AOTC at checkout to save 10% on your purchase of Axe Bat training products including all of the Axe Bat Speed Trainers and wood bats! 

 

During this episode of Ahead of the Curve, I interviewed Jeff Leach, Manager of Hitting at Axe Bat. Jeff Leach shares his wealth of experience as a swinging coach for players as young as 8-years old all the way up to the professional level. Jeff offers tips on various methods of training swing timing, when players should shut down on a swing, and how to find solutions for issues that players may have with their swing. 

 

Episode Highlights: 

  • How did Jeff Leach get involved in baseball coaching?   
  • What does Jeff do for Axe Bat? 
  • What is Jeff Leach’s system for developing players when he starts with them?  
  • How does he balance his training for players of very different skill levels? 
  • What are Jeff’s main goals for the off-season? 
  • What tools does Jeff Leach use to evaluate player’s abilities? 
  • Where does he start looking first to identify solutions for the problems of players? 
  • Are there different ways that Jeff uses to train swing timing? 
  • How does Jeff help players to decide when to shut down on a swing? 
  • What is Jeff’s advice to players about what to swing at? 
  • Is there something that Jeff has learned lately that has him really excited?  
  • What is something that his players do in training that they love? 
  • What is something that Jeff believes that other coaches may disagree with?
  • Is there anything about his training that would stand out to people?  
  • What are some of Jeff Leach’s favorite books and resources that have benefited his coaching? 

3 Key Points:

  1. Baseball skill tools include arm strength, hitting, hitting for power, speed, and fielding. 
  2. Jeff’s swinging advice is to look for speed or look for a location. 
  3. Finding a feel you trust in a competition is probably more important than rehearsing a perfect swing movement. 

Tweetable Quotes:

  • “I’m the manager hitting for Axe Bat. My role is to engage the baseball and softball community and help players really discover the Axe handle and the benefits.” – Jeff Leach (02:08)
  • “I migrated from an individual to a group training environment. I could train more players more often with more tools.” – Jeff Leach (04:02)
  • “If you are looking at an 8-year-old kid, he doesn’t have a lot of experience in the game. He may not be motivated at a high level to really train and practice at his craft without being pushed.” – Jeff Leach (04:39)
  • “My philosophy basically is that, hitting is an infinite moving problem and I need to give them as many solutions to that problem as possible.” – Jeff Leach (07:35)
  • “I think that every off-season for a player should be, first and foremost, about improving the player’s tools.” – Jeff Leach (10:22)
  • “As far as drills, I really like to work with drills that require the least amount of verbal reinforcement.” – Jeff Leach (11:00)
  • “Adjustability is really what we are talking about when talk about timing. Are you on time? Can you adjust your timing to barrel a baseball when your body is off?” – Jeff Leach (20:00)
  • “I love to throw wiffle balls and have wiffle ball games with guys. I think that's one of the most exciting things that a player can do. The competition level increases when they start competing against teammates.” – Jeff Leach (32:50) 

Resources Mentioned: 

July 28, 2019  

Nova Southeastern Head Coach Greg Brown on Batting Practice setup and “Theme Thursdays”

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Go to axebat.com and use our code AOTC at checkout to save 10% on your purchase of Axe Bat training products including all of the Axe Bat Speed Trainers and wood bats!

Full Episode Here

http://www.aotcpodcast.com/e/greg-brown-head-baseball-coach-nova-southeastern-university-fl/

July 25, 2019  

Jeff Carlson- Head Baseball Coach (retired), Elk Grove HS (CA)

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This episode is brought to you by baseballcloud and Axebats.

Go to axebat.com and use our code AOTC at checkout to save 10% on your purchase of Axe Bat training products including all of the Axe Bat Speed Trainers and wood bats! 

During this episode of Ahead of the Curve, I interview Jeff Carlson, Ex-Head Baseball Coach at Elk Grove Baseball in Elk Grove, California. Jeff Carlson shares his wealth of knowledge for father’s that are coaches and have kids playing baseball. Jeff also offers valuable tips on how to communicate openly and accurately with players and coaches, how to handle parents that are concerned about their kid’s playing time, and what have been beneficial strategies for fundraisers.

Episode Highlights:

  •          How did Jeff Carlson get involved in baseball coaching?
  •          What advice does Jeff Carlson give to those transitioning from coaching to focusing on family?
  •          What has been Jeff’s experience with his two sons playing baseball?
  •          What did the conversations look like with Jeff’s sons when he had to critique their playing?
  •          Was there ever a time with his sons playing baseball where he had to push them to practice more?
  •          What was Jeff Carlson’s experience like at Elk Grove when he first started?
  •          What are some different practical ways that Jeff was able to get players prepared to succeed?
  •          How did Jeff turn his coaching approach into a system that he could apply?
  •          What are Jeff Carlson’s thoughts on the power of communication?
  •          What is the fine line between effective communication and something they may not need to worry about?
  •          How did Jeff Carlson deal with parents feedback about their kids not playing in games?
  •          What hard rules did Jeff Carlson set out each year?  
  •          What were his teams’ best fundraisers?
  •          Did his staff interview with him or through the school’s athletic director?
  •  What is something they did in practice that his players loved?
  •          What books and resources that have benefited Jeff Carlson?

3 Key Points:

  1.     Find ways to get your team to spend time together before and after practice, such as having a clubhouse.
  2.     You can’t coach and communicate the same way with each player. It has to be tailored to their individual personalities.
  3.     Informal conversations with coaching candidates have been Jeff’s interviewing process.

Tweetable Quotes:

  •      “For your kids, always try to challenge them. Don’t be afraid that they might fail. When they learn failure at an early age, it’s just going to make them stronger and a better person and player down the road.” – Jeff Carlson (04:15)
  •      “As far as building culture, building communication as a head coach, I think that it is important that when a kid makes a mistake, that maybe you put your  arm around him and tell him.” – Jeff Carlson (09:22)
  •      “My main goal was about developing players, so that they could play at the next level.” – Jeff Carlson (16:21)
  •      “My philosophy was, ‘If you’re not hitting, you aren’t going to be able to play at the next level.’” – Jeff Carlson (26:03)
  •      “We always brought the kids in and we would talk to them where they are at and tell them their roles. And we tell the kids, ‘We are going to be honest. You may not like what you hear. But, we are going to be honest to you.’” – Jeff Carlson (33:33)
  •      “My rule was always, the player can always come to me at the appropriate time and discuss playing time. I was not going to discuss it with the parents, ever.” – Jeff Carlson (40:01)
  •      “I think our budget when I finished was about $100,000 to run our program, which is a lot.”– Jeff Carlson (46:00)
  •      “Try to surround yourself with the best possible coaches you can find.”– Jeff Carlson (47:30)

Resources Mentioned:

July 21, 2019  

HiPro Hitting’s Chris Dunn on two-way communication, and constraints in the team setting

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Go to axebat.com and use our code AOTC at checkout to save 10% on your purchase of Axe Bat training products including all of the Axe Bat Speed Trainers and wood bats!

Full Episode Here

http://www.aotcpodcast.com/e/9-chris-dunn-hitting-coach-and-author-of-the-high-performance-hitter/

 

 

July 18, 2019  

Drew Saylor- MiLB Manager and Hitting Coordinator, Pittsburgh Pirates

This episode is brought to you by baseballcloud and Axebats.

Go to axebat.com and use our code AOTC at checkout to save 10% on your purchase of Axe Bat training products including all of the Axe Bat Speed Trainers and wood bats! 

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During this episode of Ahead of the Curve, I interview Drew Saylor, Player Development and Assistant Hitting Coordinator with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Drew provides listeners with an inside look into recruiting and communication strategies, how he is able to maneuver between both of his job roles, how to train players to get their mind and body in sync to respond in game situations, and what it takes to improve timing and rhythm as a hitter.

 

Episode Highlights:

  • How did Drew Saylor get involved in baseball and coaching?

  • Drew Saylor discusses his dynamic relationship with his wife.

  • What were some of the first things he did when he got hired?

  • How are some of the recruiting conversations like when you are a new hire?

  • What are the unique tasks of having two different roles within the Pittsburgh Pirates organization?

  • How can you maximize communication for development from a macro and micro level?

  • What are ways Drew addresses hitting issues?

  • How is the communication successfully executed with players?

  • How can players be trained to develop timing and rhythm?

  • What are ways to help players learn to adjust to various situations in the moment?

  • What are ways to get players excited about training and implementing competition into their training?

  • Which books have had a strong impact on Drew Saylor?

  • What are things that are done in training that his players love?

  • Which additional resources have benefitted Drew Saylor?

3 Key Points:

  1. Being transparent and vulnerable add to being a trusted leader.

  2. Coordinators aren’t just problem fixers. They are also a higher-level form of overall support and feedback.  

  3. It’s not about trying to speed up your swing. It’s about trying to give yourself more time for your A-swing to get the contact.

Tweetable Quotes:

  • “A lot of what we’ve done is create the culture, create the relationships, and then now we are trying to build out how we view and how we evaluate our people.” – Drew Saylor (10:00)

  • “A lot of what I’ve done as a leader is be able to go, ‘Hey I’ve failed this way. I have messed up this way. I have fallen short of the mark this way,’ and have those transparent moments.” – Drew Saylor (12:15)

  • “For me, what I’ve tried to accomplish as a coordinator is to not lose that feel of that day-to-day.” – Drew Saylor (14:08)

  • “One of my big goals is spending time with the hitting coaches and with the managers, and say, ‘Hey, how is the chemistry of the club? What are some of the hot spots? How can I support you?’” – Drew Saylor (17:19)

  • “I like to think about failure as moving forward.” – Drew Saylor (19:42)

  • “It really starts with their ability to, swing at something they can hit hard.” – Drew Saylor (22:14)

  • (Timing) “I think that when players are not necessarily on time, or they don’t have the ability to get on time, one of the first questions that we try to ask them is, ‘When are you starting?” – Drew Saylor (33:13)

  • “When the idea comes from within, there is more investment. But you’re also helping the player indirectly think through a batting process of their swing.”– Drew Saylor (36:25)

 

Resources Mentioned: