Ahead Of The Curve with Jonathan Gelnar

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October 24, 2019  

Matt Midkiff- Head Baseball Coach, Swarthmore College (PA)

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During this episode of Ahead of the Curve, I interviewed Matt Midkiff, Head Baseball Coach at Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. Coach Midkiff, shares how he entered into his head coaching with a list of the things that he would accomplish in the first 100 days, how he juggles drills with the 16 falls days he has with players, the rules and standards that his team has to live up to, and how he goes about building strong bonds with his players. 

 

Episode Highlights: 

  • Matt Midkiff shares his baseball background and how he got involved in coaching.   
  • What did the vision look like when he got started coaching at Swarthmore?  
  • What were some of the things that were on his ‘First 100 Day List?’ 
  • How does he find players that meet high academic standards?  
  • What does the fall training look like and what time restraints does he have?   
  • Which things do they cram into their fall practices? 
  • When do they take their 16 days?  
  • Coach Midkiff describes the high-level of work ethic his players have.
  • How does he establish the team culture? 
  • Is there anything that he specifically does to make sure that he builds an individual connection with each player?
  • What are some different competitions that they do? 
  • What are some of the different rules and standards that are in place for his team?
  • How is he helping his assistant coaches grow?
  • What are some things that they do offensively during training? 
  • Coach Midkiff discusses spring training drill sets that they do that may be different? 
  • What advice does Matt have for first-year head coaches?  
  • What is the latest thing that Coach Midkiff has learned that he is excited about?  
  • What is something that Matt does in practice that his players love? 
  • What is something that he believes that other coaches may disagree with? 
  • What are three things that would stand out during Coach Midkiff’s baseball practices?  
  • Does Matt feel that his players feed off of his energy? 
  • What are some of Matt’s favorite books and resources that he has learned the most from? 
  • What is the last piece of advice that Matt Midkiff does have to offer? 

 

3 Key Points:

  1. In the fall, they split their days into teaching, practice, a competitive game piece, and a strength and conditioning component. 
  2. Coach Midkiff is cultivating his players to be responsible on and off the field. 
  3. You are going to fail. But it is the only failure if you fail to learn from it. 

Tweetable Quotes:

  • “In Division 3 we have 16 days of practice that we can have in the fall.” – Matt Midkiff (08:02)
  • “The more we can just play baseball, the more we can just have live pieces in our practice and read balls off the bat and see live pitching and things of that nature, the better we are going to be.” – Matt Midkiff (11:20)
  • “You are talking about high-achieving students that are oftentimes in the top 10%, 5%, 1%. We’ve got a valedictorian on our team. We’ve got some perfect AST, SAT scores on our team.” – Matt Midkiff (14:37)
  • “Myself and our assistant coaches, we really develop a strong bond with our players and their families too.” – Matt Midkiff (17:06)
  • “I try to be as real as I can. If I make a mistake I own it. The guys will make fun of me and we’ll joke back and forth and we just have that relationship where, I take my job seriously, but I don’t take myself seriously.” – Matt Midkiff (18:28)
  • “We like to have a live segment in every practice that we do.” – Matt Midkiff (23:58)
  • “Don’t get your self-worth from your team’s performance.” – Matt Midkiff (42:02)
  • “Take a skill that is a little bit above the level of the player and make them attempt it until they get it.” – Matt Midkiff (45:10)

Resources Mentioned: 

October 22, 2019  

Tyler Jeske- MiLB Hitting Coach, Los Angeles Angels

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Today, we’re joined by Tyler Jeske. Minor League Hitting coach for the Los Angeles Angels. Tyler has had an array of background experiences in the game including coaching in the DR, being a video coordinator in the SEC and at Missouri State. On the show, we talk about his background which includes several applicable ideas on how he got into professional baseball. We talk about the things he has learned in the past year and why systems and reflections are so vital in coach. Tyler also has an amazing event coming up for any hitting coaches listening. Slugfest will be start on November 22 and run through the 24th. 
October 20, 2019  
October 17, 2019  

Larry Day- MiLB Manager, Cleveland Indians

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During this episode of Ahead of the Curve, I interviewed Larry Day, Manager of the Arizona League Indians Red for the Cleveland Indians. Larry shares a wealth of information regarding how he goes about balancing the development of players with winning, how he establishes the team culture with players that are from all over and may not speak English as their first language. Larry Day also provides advice from mentors like Coach Tim Corbin from Vanderbilt University that has been very beneficial to him. 

Episode Highlights: 

  • How did Larry Day get involved in baseball and as a coach?   
  • What set’s Coach Tim Corbin apart as a coach? 
  • What is the reason for the fist bump touches among the players?  
  • What did his process look like when he began his position? 
  • Larry discusses the importance of communication. 
  • What does the process look like for balancing the development of players with winning? 
  • What does a typical day of training look like? 
  • How do they go about culture-building and transitioning players from all over to be ready to be a professional baseball player?  
  • What are some different things that Larry helps grow the coaches he is around every day? 
  • What are some things Larry does to build relationships with his players from different backgrounds?  
  • What are some of the latest things that Larry has learned that he is excited about? 
  • How do we relay complicated details with data for players that don’t naturally speak English?
  • What is something that he does in practice that his players love? 
  • Is there anything that Larry Day believes that other coaches might disagree with?  
  • What are some of his favorite books and resources? 

 

3 Key Points:

  1. Embracing the diversity of different races, cultures, and ages of players helps to establish culture-building.  
  2. Dan Coyle, the author of the book “The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups” works with Larry Day’s players. 
  3. Players don’t care what you know until they know that you care. 

 

Tweetable Quotes:

  • (Coach Tim Corbin) “He certainly is elite as it comes to coaching and teaching and that is what he truly is. He is a teacher.” – Larry Day (03:45)
  • “Everything that is executed within that program (Vanderbilt) is 100% intentional. Planned, thought out. prepared.” – Larry Day (06:51)
  • “It comes down to having the ability to pre-plan and pre-communicate.” – Larry Day (10:04)
  • “You have anywhere between 4 to 6 fields with games on potentially 4 to 6 fields. You have morning workouts, and you know how baseball workouts go.There is the defense component, there is the throwing component.” – Larry Day (11:12)
  • “You put that time in 8 days out of a 7-day week to be able to run a clean, productive workout.” – Larry Day (20:29)
  • “The last thing that we want our players to do is be confused, or our coaches to be confused on what the objective is, what we are trying to accomplish, what the objective is for the day or the drill.” – Larry Day (20:42)
  • “We have a learning and development component of our organization that solely targets the continued development of staff.” – Larry Day (25:39)
  • “The smile is international. The ability to non-verbally connect and to have a sense of where your players are at from an emotional, mental, standpoint. You can see the physical.” – Larry Day (30:04)

Resources Mentioned: 

October 15, 2019  

Ari Ronick- MiLB Pitching Coach, Seattle Mariners

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Ari Ronick Minor League Pitching Coach for the Seattle Mariners. Ari has a doctor of physical therapy and a masters of business administration from the University of Montana. On the show Ari discusses how to tackle mobility challenges, addressing player movement, resources that can help with the movement screening process, and ways to shape progress in pitching development.

Episode Highlights: 

  • What are the key reasons that Ari Ronick became a baseball coach? 
  • What does his pitching development look like? 
  • How does Ari address mobility challenges? 
  • What are common problems that Ari sees, and how can we fix them? 
  • What are things that pop out to Ari Ronick when he looks at a video?  
  • Does he start with lower body when addressing player movement?
  • How does Ari handle customizing individual player development in a team setting? 
  • What are great ways to go about teaching players new pitches?
  • What is his postseason routine like? 
  • How do you prepare players in between starts? 
  • What things has he recently learned?
  • How often does his pitchers know what their strengths are? 
  • What is something that his players love to do in practice? 
  • What are his thoughts on the long toss and weighted balls? 
  • What would we notice during Ari’s practices that he typically does? 
  • Which resources have been helpful to Ari?

3 Key Points:

  1. Find some objectives that you can improve in that can be tracked.  
  2. FMS (Functional Movement Screen) and OnBaseU can help with the movement screening process. 
  3. Physical stress theory means that demands that are put on the body lead to adaptations. 

Tweetable Quotes:

  • “I grew up in a family where I was the youngest of three boys. It was a baseball household. We were playing all the time as a kid. I played through highschool, through college and as long as I could professionally.” – Ari Ronick (00:28)
  • “Coaching, it allows me to use two skillsets, to see pitching through the lens of a player, someone who pitched, and as a physical therapist.” – Ari Ronick (01:23)
  • “Everyday I get to breakdown human movement. I get to watch how people throw. In physical therapy, our mission is to optimize movement to improve the human experience.” – Ari Ronick (01:35)
  • “I’m going to start by looking at a range of motion. I’m going to look at strength. I’m going to look at a quick movement screen.” – Ari Ronick (04:24)
  • “What we are ultimately looking for here is, are they able to throw in a way that leads to a favorable pitch? Whether that be velocity movement, command, whatever it happens to be. Do these translate to a change on the baseball field?” – Ari Ronick (07:19)
  • “A good place to start is always with using strengthening, either or gain length, or to add the muscle that you might need to even get to that position as a player.” – Ari Ronick (09:35)
  • “What I find with pitching videos is we just want to make everything so perfect that we lose track that the body is pretty complicated. It’s a complex movement and players are going to move in the way that they most efficiently can often times.” – Ari Ronick (11:31)
  • “This past season I’ve spent a lot of time learning about pitch characteristics and how that can relate to in-game strategy.” – Ari Ronick (27:05)

Resources Mentioned: 

October 13, 2019  
October 10, 2019  

Adam Moseley- Head Baseball Coach, Hoover HS (AL)

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During this episode of Ahead of the Curve, I interviewed Adam Moseley, Head Baseball Coach at Hoover High School in Hoover, Alabama. Coach Moseley, who was awarded as the World Champion 2018 USA Baseball 15u Pitching Coach, offers an informative discussion about what it takes for him to develop fantastic pitchers, establishing the team culture for new players, getting to know his players better, 

Episode Highlights: 

  • How did Adam Moseley get involved in baseball?   
  • What does Adam’s fall training season look like?  
  • What has Adam Moseley done to be able to develop great pitchers? 
  • What type of environment does Adam set up to integrate new players into the team culture? 
  • Are there any specific things that Coach Moseley requires his players to do?  
  • What are some different strategies for getting to know each player better? 
  • How does he develop his assistant coaches? 
  • What are some different things that Adam does during interviews of potential hires?  
  • What different rules and standards does he have in his program? 
  • What does a typical spring training plan look like? 
  • How does Coach Moseley deal with parents or players complaining about playing time? 
  • What advice does Adam have for first-year head coaches?  
  • What is the latest thing that he has learned that he is excited about?  
  • What is something that he does in practice that his players love? 
  • What is something that he believes that other coaches may disagree with? 
  • What are three things that would stand out during Coach Moseley’s baseball practices?  
  • What are some of Adam’s favorite books and resources that he has learned the most from? 

3 Key Points:

  1. Coaches have to be able to trust their kids.  
  2. Coach Moseley talks to each player every two weeks and keeps an updated chart of all of his players where he adds the date and discussions he has had with them. 
  3. If winning isn’t fun, then why are you doing it? 

Tweetable Quotes:

  • “I’ve been at Hoover (High School) for five years. This will be my 6th year, and we’ve had a pretty fun run here. We’ve had a lot of college players and a lot of great young men that we’ve been able to coach.” – Adam Moseley 
  • “In Alabama, we have some different rules, I know every state does. Essentially, we can spend as much time as we want in strength training and conditioning with our kids. There really isn’t a limit on that.” – Adam Moseley 
  • “We hire out a company called Godspeed. The guy’s name is Lance Rhodes and he started this business years ago. He is a Hoover graduate. Almost every NFL guy that lives in Birmingham, it seems like, trains with him.” – Adam Moseley 
  • “The best athlete on the mound means that in the 7th inning of the biggest game of the year he’s able to make the adjustment that he has to make to get the guy out, whether it is all working for him, or it is not.” – Adam Moseley 
  • “If you are doing the same drills for everybody, 25% of them are getting better, 25% of them are not getting any better, 25% are getting worse, and 25% are hurt.” – Adam Moseley
  • “Any time you start sharing sweat, and you are all sweating together, I think the culture builds right away.” – Adam Moseley 
  • “First and foremost, I think it goes into who you are hiring. You need to hire guys that fit the development profile that you are looking for. I want to hire a guy that wants to be a life-long learner.” – Adam Moseley 
  • “I’m not a big, giant ‘rule sheet’ guy. Our program is not full of tons of rules. To me, the more rules you put out there, the more that they start looking for ways they can get around them.” – Adam Moseley 

Resources Mentioned: 

October 6, 2019  
October 3, 2019  

Randy Sullivan- CEO, Florida Baseball Ranch

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During this episode of Ahead of the Curve, I interviewed Randy Sullivan, Owner and CEO of Sullivan Rehab Services, The ARMory Power Pitching Academy, and The Florida Baseball Ranch, Baseball Player Development Specialist, and Physical Therapist. Randy discusses his concept of linking hardware to software, constraint-based training, and the differences between the old school versus the new school. 

Episode Highlights: 

  • Randy Sullivan talks about the Skill Acquisition Conference.  
  • What are some things that he took and utilized from last years’ Skill Acquisition Conference?
  • What are the difference between coaching hitters and coaching pitchers? 
  • What does Randy mean by ‘linking hardware to software?”
  • Does Randy see the Bernstein Principle getting used out of context? 
  • What was Randy Sullivan’s blog post addressing the old school versus the new school about?  
  • Coaches need to help players sift through the data that matters and doesn’t matter. 
  • What is involved in Randy’s constraint-based training?  
  • How is Randy Sullivan teaching and training for timing?  
  • What are ways to be able to take action and perception and match them together? 
  • In any given hitting session, Randy wants 15% of his player’s swings to be against the fastest pitches, 15% against the slowest pitches, 15% against their 2-strike approach. The rest will be variable. 
  • What is the latest thing Randy has learned that he is excited about?
  • What is something that his players do in training that they love? 
  • We need to stop labeling kids as having mental disorders. 
  • Every player has potential.  

 

3 Key Points:

  1. Randy Sullivan’s concept of linking hardware to software is to understand a player’s particular body abilities to apply the right customized techniques to make them a better player.  
  2. The way to change movement is through manipulating sensory information. 
  3. Data is just telling you how you are doing. Intent alone without any guidance isn’t going to solve problems. 

Tweetable Quotes:

  • “When there is time pressure, you kind of have to revert to our more primitive sensory stream which is, you’ve got to move. You know? Like when you touch a slug with a stick, he moves.” – Randy Sullivan (08:45)
  • “One thing we all have to remember is that, coaches have been teaching human movement since the game began. Since anything began. And so, all we are doing is kind of refining the things that we are already doing.” – Randy Sullivan (09:49)
  • “Hitting is probably more complex because you have to respond to sensory information and it is a little more complex than teaching pitching.” – Randy Sullivan (11:31)
  • “In nature, we want to accomplish important goals and we want to do it. Complex organisms are inherently lazy. They have to be. They have to conserve energy.” – Randy Sullivan (13:33)
  • “This generation of player is not afraid of hard work. This generation of player is afraid of things that may make them think they are stupid. They’ve got more information than they have ever had before.” – Randy Sullivan (20:35)
  • “It’s not that we are teaching you a new way to throw or hit. What we are teaching is a new way to view throwing and hitting, which leads to a new way to teach throwing and hitting.” – Randy Sullivan (29:33)
  • “You can never repeat a movement, that ever single throw and every single swing is going to be different.” – Randy Sullivan (31:34)
  • “There is no good drill for everything.” – Randy Sullivan (34:55)

Resources Mentioned: 

 

September 29, 2019