Ahead Of The Curve with Jonathan Gelnar

Ahead Of The Curve with Jonathan Gelnar header image 1
June 10, 2019  
June 6, 2019  

Matt Denny- Head Baseball Coach, Mountain Pointe HS (AZ)

This episode is brought to you by baseballcloud and OnBaseU.

Summary:

In this episode of Ahead of the Curve, I interview Matt Denny, the Head Baseball Coach for Mountain Pointe High School in Phoenix, Arizona. Matt walks us through what his typical training sessions look like, how and why he developed a ‘hard-nosed’ culture in his baseball program to integrate consistency into his team, and methods for coaches to get players to overcome their fears and mistakes.

 

Show Notes:

  • Matt Denny introduces himself and shares his background

  • What does a typical week during fall training look like

  • How do they go about grouping players for training needs

  • How many coaches does Matt have in the fall

  • Which internal competitions does Matt integrate into training

  • How is Matt developing a hard-nosed culture for his team

  • What does Matt look for in his players on a regular basis

  • How does he bring his players closer together as a team

  • Matt walks through their weekly training plan during the season

  • How do their BP sessions work in practice

  • What data does Matt track besides BP and defense

  • How does he get his team ready to play in the post-season

  • What is meant by the belief that ‘fear is a liar’

  • How does the summer program operate

  • What advice does Matt Denny offer to first-time coaches

  • Be fair and be consistent

  • What gets Matt excited the most lately

  • Which training drills get the most enthusiastic reaction from Matt Denny’s players

  • Matt Denny shares his biggest baseball resources

  • Be a part of coaching associations

3 Key Points:

  1. Coach your players to be leaders so the program can lead itself.

  2. Players are more likely to listen to you when you develop trust and open communication.

  3. Talk to your team about other programs that are worthy of being state champions.

Tweetable Quotes:

  • “You can’t move on to anything else that we’re doing until you can do things exactly how we want them to be done.” – Matt Denny (5:05)

  • “To have a culture like that (hard-nosed) it’s not just something you can talk about and it happens, it is something that has to happen over time.” – Matt Denny (17:20)

  • “Every single mistake that they make, my coaches and my assistants are instructed to talk about every single mistake.” – Matt Denny (18:24)

  • “’We have a sign that just says, ‘Do Things Right,’ and it’s kind of has been our mantra this year, D.T.R...” – Matt Denny (21:00)

  • “As hard as we are on them, it is because we love them and there are times when things aren’t going our way and we are all in it together.” – Matt Denny (23:16)

  • “Preparing for the post-season, in my opinion, starts the day you lose your last game the last year.” – Matt Denny (34:36)

  • “To beat the best you have to be ready to play the best.” – Matt Denny (36:24)

  • “Fear is not an actual thing. It is something you choose to do. You’re choosing to be nervous. You’re choosing to be scared.” – Matt Denny (36:42:)

 

Resources Mentioned:

Website and Social Media sites for the show 
May 30, 2019  

Andrew Wright- Head Baseball Coach, University of Charleston (WV)

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Summary:

In this episode of Ahead of the Curve, I engage in a discussion with Andrew Wright, the Head Baseball Coach and Assistant Athletic Director for Recruitment and Retention at the University of Charleston in West Virginia. Coach Wright generously shares his wisdom regarding how to not only evaluate players, but also ways to empower the coaching staff as well. Find out what Andrew Wright’s training methods typically consist of what valuable advice he has benefited from along the way.

Show Notes:

  • Andrew Wright introduces himself and shares his background

  • How does player development and evaluation work in his program

  • Which types of information do they measure and evaluate

  • What are his players competing against and which skill metrics are involved

  • It is one thing to identify problems, it is another to offer assistance to fix them

  • What daily routines and drills do they do to establish a productive team culture

  • A lack of education, empowerment, or accountability lead to the process breaking down

  • How can you convey problems to players without shattering their confidence

  • Don’t let players feel let down, put down, or shut down

  • How do you get all of your coaches on the same page

  • What does your coach development process look like

  • What are some great interview questions for recruitment

  • Being a super stubborn coach is a disservice to your team

  • When you think kindly of someone, where is that coming from

  • What are some unique things that Andrew’s organization is doing that others aren’t

  • How is this spring’s practice plan shaping up

  • What does Andrew suggest to head coaches or assistants that want to be head coaches

  • It is important to respect how your ideas get results

  • When pitchers get behind, it is typically because of their fast ball

  • What is something that Andrew Wright has learned lately that he is excited about

  • Which resources are useful that have come up in staff meetings

3 Key Points:

  1.  Don’t just bog the players down with the details. Show them how to apply them.

  2.  Team culture is a product of your belief, behavior, and experience.

  3.  Learn how to listen and how to manage your reaction when addressing issues.

Tweetable Quotes:

  • “In a given year we have anywhere from 47 to 55 players for whom we are responsible. So, we have to get very creative.” – Andrew Wright (2:49)

  • “At the Division 2 level, you can’t just recruit your wins, you have to recruit and develop them.” – Andrew Wright (4:24)

  • “Unless we are willing to share the information, and be very transparent about what we are doing, we can’t really prove our worth. It’s just an opinion at that point.” – Andrew Wright (5:54)

  • “We probably gather more information than we can actually process at this point. But the beauty is in the application.” – Andrew Wright (9:54)

  • “We want to be candid with each other, and we want to be vulnerable, and we really want to be real with each other.” – Andrew Wright (13:53)

  • “If we don’t have daily conversations about what it is supposed to look like, and hold each other accountable, then it is not going to work. You are doing it for show.” – Andrew Wright (31:32)

  • “I want people who are willing to hold their own opinions as accountable as they hold someone else’s.” – Andrew Wright (37:01)

  • “Be authentic. People see right through you when you are not.” – Andrew Wright (52:07)

Resources Mentioned:

Website and Social Media sites for the show 
May 23, 2019  

Nunzio Signore- Strength and Conditioning Coach, Owner of Rockland Peak Performance (NY)

This episode is brought to you by baseballcloud and OnBaseU.

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Summary:

In this episode of Ahead of the Curve, I welcome Nunzio Signore, athletic trainer, Owner of Rockland Peak Performance in Sloatsburg NY, author of the book Pitchers Arm Care, Director of the Pitching Lab and a contributing writer for such publications as Inside Pitch Magazine, Elite Baseball Performance and Stack Sports. Nunzio Signore shares his wealth of knowledge about how to properly access the needs of players during training, how to assist players with strength and velocity, and strategies to help them recover in a healthy manner.

Show Notes:

  • What made Nunzio transition from soccer to baseball

  • What is the first step that Nunzio would take to train a 16-year player

  • How does Nunzio undergo his player assessments

  • What are some of the things that most kids have problems with

  • How does the core velocity belt help players

  • What is the strength-speed continuum program

  • What will players get out of the pitching lab training

  • Which three things are the top issues that Nunzio is looking for in players

  • How does Nunzio feel about when is it right to give players time off

  • What makes up a great bullpen setting

  • Which factors bring about an unstable pitch

  • Breathing, a good night sleep, and water are fantastic for player recovery

  • What tools and strategies does Nunzio use for his assessments

  • Until velocity of a player increases, he doesn’t add more weight to a player’s weight training

  • What are the biggest new training elements that Nunzio is excited about

  • Why do Nunzio’s players love jump profiling

  • How can you make nutrition a proper part of their training

  • Which resources does Nunzio recommend

3 Key Points:

  1. Everyone should sequence their pelvis, thorax, elbow extension, and shoulder internal rotation.

  2. The pitch lab aims to produce the complete pitcher by merging pitching inside the nets and strength training.

  3. Instead of paying for showcases, pay to develop yourself as a player.

 

Tweetable Quotes:

-        “People are hungry out there to make sure the kids stay safe and we can increase velocity and command and control safely.” – Nunzio Signore (1:49)

-        “The assessment in our facility, that’s the cornerstone of what we do at RPP. I honestly believe that it’s the way to create a blueprint for an athlete.” – Nunzio Signore (3:01)

-        “You don’t want to add strength to disfunction.” – Nunzio Signore (4:57)

-        “If you can feel it, you can do it.” – Nunzio Signore (9:09)

-        “I just don’t ever think that we should get out of the pattern of throwing.” – Nunzio Signore (24:51)

-        “Don’t take mechanical solutions to athleticism problems.” – Nunzio Signore (33:35)

-        “I don’t really believe in trying to get rid of soreness by running. I don’t really feel like running for a pitcher is something that we would do at all.” – Nunzio Signore (35:54)

-        “My recovery for my athletes is breathing.” – Nunzio Signore (36:17)

Resources Mentioned:

Website and Social Media sites for the show 
May 16, 2019  

Tanner Swanson- MiLB Catching Coordinator, Minnesota Twins

This episode is brought to you by baseballcloud and OnBaseU.

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Summary

In this episode of Ahead of the Curve, I talk with Tanner Swanson, minor league Catching Coordinator with the Minnesota Twins. He shares about his journey of coaching and teaching and how that has led him to this point in his career. He shares incredible insight into the importance and mechanics of solid catching techniques, and brings a wealth of insight to the catching position.

Episode Highlights:

  • Tanner grew up playing baseball in a small town and had positive experiences and connections with coaches.

  • Gained an interest in teaching and coaching in college.

  • Shares about how catching has shaped his career, and how he got to spend focused time on teaching the catching program at the University of Washington.

  • Tanner talks about the parallel of the catching position and middle linebacker, as opposed to the quarterback analogy typical used.

  • Tanner shares about the importance of framing metrics in the catching position.

  • There's more complexity to stances than just 2 stances.

  • Tanner shares some insight into a variety of positions for different situations, and how varying setups and hand positions affect outcomes.

  • A deep dive into receiving position

  • Important to understand the pitcher's mix and qualities  

  • Discussion on varieties of extension styles and manipulations  

  • 3 keys to high level throws

  • Importance “on the field” communication for catchers.

  • Discuss next phase of motion technology

 

3 Key Points:

  1.     When you step back and look at anything from a distance, it allows you to question and see things from a different perspective.

  2.    Developing a versatile, well-rounded skill set needs to be the foundation.

  3.    We need more voices to come forward and push the catching position forward.

 

Tweetable Quotes:

  • “Coaching is teaching, and they parallel each other.” – Tanner Swanson

  • “Good ideas, inspiration, and creativity are drawn from asking the right questions.” – Tanner Swanson

  • “A catcher has to be very instinctive, very reactive, and has to have really advanced perceptive skills to be able to read, react, and respond to a lot of different variables in a really short amount of time.” – Tanner Swanson

  • “It's important to start prioritizing your training economy based on what actually happens in competition” – Tanner Swanson

  • “Not a single catcher in baseball is a better pitch framer from a big, active secondary stance.” – Tanner Swanson

  • "The key to the strike zone is down, being able to dominate the bottom of the strike zone is critical." - Tanner Swanson

  • "Down is better than up, right is better than left." - Travis Swanson

  • "We should be promoting what we want pitchers to do, not what we want them to avoid. - Tanner Swanson

Resources Mentioned:

Website and Social Media sites for the show 

www.aotcpodcast.com

Twitter

@aotc_podcast

Facebook

Ahead of the Curve Coaches Facebook group

Instagram

aotc_podcast

May 9, 2019  

Rob Benjamin- Hitting Coach, Riot Hitting (NY)

This episode is brought to you by baseballcloud and OnBaseU.

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Summary:

In this episode of Ahead of the Curve, I welcome Rob Benjamin, a highly experienced baseball hitting trainer at R.I.O.T. Hitting based in the New York City area. Rob Benjamin discusses how to help players break out of their stiff batting routines, and become more adaptable to real game situations. Rob also expresses important processes to assist hitters gaining movement solutions and degrees of freedom in their swings.

Show Notes:

  • Guest: Rob Benjamin, baseball hitting trainer at R.I.O.T. Hitting

  • Rob Benjamin shares his upbringing in Puerto Rico and New York City playing baseball

  • His journey towards coaching began in the early 2000s

  • Who is the player, what is their hitting experience, and what are their parents’ concerns

  • Video review includes dissecting major league hitting swings

  • Recreate the unpredictability of the real game in the batter’s box

  • Playing sound effects of loud crowd noises helps players prepare for game distractions

  • Player assessment involves using video to help evaluate them

  • How does Rob Benjamin help clean up player’s movement patterns

  • Many players have been overcoached to the point that their body’s move too robotically

  • Players need to trust you to communicate what they need

  • How do you coach the timing of hitting

  • The swing starts as soon as the foot lifts off of the ground

  • What should be the focus when using videos for training

  • Do players have too many degrees of freedom to their swing

  • Bridge the gap between training information and the experience of movement solutions

  • What are training drills that Rob Benjamin’s players love

  • Watching his own children develop is an enlightening experience for Rob

  • Look for challenges and obstacles, and embrace failure

3 Key Points:

  1.  Having a successful bat swing includes the launch, the barrell, and de-excelleration.

  2.  Techniques during hit training include: throwing screens up, ball drop drills, and two pitchers throwing at the same time.

  3.  Know what your players’ goals are.  

Tweetable Quotes:

  • “I want to see these players adapt.” - Rob Benjamin (10:21)

  • “Being the ‘teacher king,’ I don’t want to do that. I want the environment to do that for me.” - Rob Benjamin (12:27)

  • “Some kids have been so over-coached that a lot of the athleticism has been stripped from their bodies.” - Rob Benjamin (26:53)

  • “It’s important that you create a foundation of trust so they can talk.” - Rob Benjamin (29:10)

  • “I want them to make one choice...hit the baseball.” - Rob Benjamin (36:32)

  • “Figure out how players learn with respect to stable components of their swing.” - Rob Benjamin (41:47)

Resources Mentioned:

Website and Social Media sites for the show 
May 2, 2019  

Marty Smith- Head Baseball Coach, The College of Central Florida

This episode is brought to you by baseballcloud and OnBaseU.

Summary:

In this episode of Ahead of the Curve, I welcome Marty Smith, the Head Baseball Coach for the Central Florida Patriots at the College of Central Florida. Marty Smith is overflowing with essential experience, going into his 25th season, and having won two FCSAA state championships, rewarded twice as FCSAA Coach of the Year, and is also a five-time Mid-Florida Conference Coach of the Year. Gain some applicable training advice, ways to personalize methods to players, and what it takes to shape a successful team culture.

 

Show Notes:

  • Guest: Marty Smith, Head Baseball Coach at the College of Central Florida

  • What has Marty Smith’s career in baseball consisted of

  • How has Marty put his training team together

  • What are some intentional things that Marty Smith has done to built the team culture?

  • What are the expectations that Marty has for his players

  • How does his fall training structure look

  • Marty gives players the chance to eat during practice

  • How are players trained to address individual issues

  • What numbers are they tracking for their players to monitor success

  • How is his typical spring training program look

  • Which baseball machines does Marty Smith utilize for his team

  • What machine did Barry Bonds use that Coach Smith has learned from

  • What advice would Marty Smith give to his younger self and current coaches

  • Dive into useful Twitter feeds and keep reading about strategies to get better

  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes...and learn from those mistakes

  • “The Performance Cortex” is a heavy book that Marty Smith is reading now

  • What are the training drills that Coach Smith’s players love

 

3 Key Points:

  1.  Establish the work ethic, credibility and respect that will last beyond your time on the team.

  2.  If you had a bad game, let your team know that it wasn’t because you didn’t work hard.

  3.  Be a coach for the love of the game and keep making yourself valuable.

Tweetable Quotes:

  • “Last year, breaking our records for home runs, it was crazy. We hit 95 home runs in 46 games. Our record before that was like 55.” - Marty Smith (07:39)

  • “I’ll take the credit for being smart enough to trust my assistants.” - Marty Smith (10:22)

  • “We want our culture to be a happy, content, smiling fun group to be around that want to play for each other, whether we win or lose.” - Marty Smith (11:21)

  • “When you’re winning and your hitting home runs, and all of your guys are 90+ throwing. And you know that they’ve developed and have gotten better, and they are going to go to good schools from here. That’s kind of the culture we want.” - Marty Smith (12:08)

  • “Be on time. Go to class. Work hard. Lift hard. Be a good guy.” - Marty Smith (14:58)

  • “There is a fine line between killing your confidence and getting some confidence.” - Marty Smith (38:18)

  • “You can move up by being a smart guy, and being a nerd, and getting jobs in pro ball because you know things that other guys don’t.“ - Marty Smith (41:11)

Resources Mentioned:

Website and Social Media sites for the show 
April 25, 2019  

Cage Work with Doug Latta and Craig Hyatt Ep. 4

Episode 4 video

This episode is brought to you by baseballcloud and OnBaseU.

Summary:

 

In this episode of Ahead of the Curve, I proceed forward in the discussion with Craig Hyatt, the Hitting Coach at East Valley High School in Yakima Washington, and Doug Latta a hitting trainer from Bally Yard based in Northridge California. This fourth episode covers topics related to drills to improve movement of the heel and foot kicks during the swinging process. Gain some guidance on how to create more consistent hitters that can self-correct their process.

Show Notes:

  • Guests: Craig Hyatt, the Hitting Coach at East Valley High School in Yakima Washington, and Doug Latta a hitting trainer from Bally Yard based in Northridge California

  • Craig and Doug discuss a beneficial heel drill

  • How to create a backside drive into a front side brace

  • What is the “kick drill” for swinging

  • Any move that doesn’t allow your foot to release will jeopardize your line

  • How do you fix holes in your swing

  • What is a good process to hit a baseball

  • How many different body types do they see in high school

  • Hitting the ball hard is a myth

  • Get consistent in your hitting path

  • Learn how to self-correct your swing

  • Avoid cookie-cutter coaching advice

  • Move forward from mistakes

  • Getting upset and emotional makes a player unbalanced

 

3 Key Points:

  1. It is natural for the body to want to kick during a swing.

  2.  All we can do as a hitter is go on time, find a good balance point, and take a swing.

  3.  Vision and timing are a part of balance.

Tweetable Quotes:

  • “If the front foot comes up underneath my hip, I carry athletically.” - Doug Latta (2:45)
  • “I’m going to keep the foot, knee, and hip together, even in a practice.” - Doug Latta (3:54)
  • “A lot of people say ‘keep that foot down’ Don’t you dare, that’s an anchor.’” - Doug Latta (8:12)
  • “You’ve got to be able to do damage on any pitch.” - Doug Latta (10:14)
  • “He just missed that pitch. Don’t throw it again because he won’t miss it twice.” - Doug Latta (11:40)
  • “Why do people quit playing baseball? Because they can’t hit. This game is no fun when you can’t hit.” - Doug Latta (14:13)
  • “Strength compliments a swing. It doesn’t define a swing.” - Doug Latta (16:50)
  • “The key is, the more they understand their body and feel it, they're going to be able to fix.” - Doug Latta (19:22)

 

Resources Mentioned:

Website and Social Media sites for the show 
April 18, 2019  

Cage Work with Doug Latta and Craig Hyatt Ep. 3

YouTube Video

This episode is brought to you by baseballcloud and OnBaseU.

Summary:

In this episode of Ahead of the Curve, I continue the discussion with Craig Hyatt, the Hitting Coach at East Valley High School in Yakima Washington, and Doug Latta a hitting trainer from Bally Yard based in Northridge California. During this third installment of our talk, we get into the importance of developing a natural, clean hitting setup and establishing a fluid hitting range.

 

Show Notes:

  • Guests: Craig Hyatt, the Hitting Coach at East Valley High School in Yakima Washington, and Doug Latta a hitting trainer from Bally Yard based in Northridge California
  • “The Two Hand Under” move is explained by Craig Hyatt and Doug Latta
  • What has helped Craig become trained to see proper swings
  • Typically only hits and home runs are showcased, not the consistency level of a hitter
  • How do kids pick their hitting set-ups
  • What can we learn from the sound decibels of hits
  • What is the importance of having an effective range of contact
  • Which training drills are very beneficial for hitters
  • What is the movement called “moving into the staircase”
  • You have to have front side resistance to have back side
  • Every hitter has to operate on their own terms

 

3 Key Points:

  1.  Swing clean, free, and fast, but not necessarily harder.

  2.  Sound is loud and long at the point of contact during a hit.

  3.  A good miss is having a good position, with your energy driving towards the pitcher.

 

Tweetable Quotes:

  • “One major leaguer that I assembled some video for, who just ordered one season. I had 80-some videos of him, just in one season.” - Craig Hyatt (1:12)

  • “There is no ABC, 123, cookie-cutting way to make a hitter.” - Doug Latta (2:32)

  • “New hitters are going to grow. Even big leaguers change. But, there is not ’this is the perfect swing.’” - Doug Latta (2:48)

  • “People ask me all the time, with all the videos I’ve seen, ‘who is your favorite?’ I don’t know. My favorite is the player’s best swing.” - Craig Hyatt (2:59)

  • “I don’t fix swings. I fix setups.” - Craig Hyatt (3:48)

  • “If we get in a good set-up, it will create a good first move, that will get the balance, and everything takes care of itself after that.” - Craig Hyatt (5:00)

  • “My shoulders need to stay very level in my move in order for me to have balance. Because if my shoulders go downhill, I’m going to fall, I’m going to rush, and I’m going to come in and out of the zone.” - Doug Latta (13:30)

  • “It is not easy to spin, which is not a natural move for the body.” - Doug Latta (22:25)

Resources Mentioned:

Website and Social Media sites for the show 
April 11, 2019  

Cage Work with Doug Latta and Craig Hyatt Ep. 2

Episode 2 YouTube Link

This episode is brought to you by baseballcloud and OnBaseU.

Summary:

In this episode of Ahead of the Curve, I join in on the discussion with Craig Hyatt, the Hitting Coach at East Valley High School in Yakima Washington, and Doug Latta a hitting trainer from BallYard based in Northridge California. We break down the impact of balance in leveraging the power and abilities of the human body, and how to break bad habits that are hurting hitters.

Show Notes:

  • Guests: Craig Hyatt, the Hitting Coach at East Valley High School in Yakima Washington, and Doug Latta a hitting trainer from Bally Yard based in Northridge California

  • How do they define balance and why do we need it

  • What is the biggest grind move

  • Describe what people mean by “get into the ground”

  • How can coaches get their players moving more effectively

  • Why can tennis drills improve hitting

  • How can hockey slap shot drills benefit baseball hitting

  • Backspin is built in when you hit through a spin

  • How does tennis showcase how players create power

  • Homes runs come from being smooth and productive with your body

  • You have got to have consistency

  • What is a the hitting strategy called “shut piece”

  • How prevalent is the analysis of  high school player stats and data

  • You have to hit through each pitch

  • What does it mean to have a soft entry into the zone

  • Don’t hit your pitches with your front arm

  • Video and data can show a hitter what their body is doing

3 Key Points:

  1. The body works better from a position of balance.

  2. Tennis drills offer players the chance to feel proper body movement when hitting.

  3. One hit every two weeks, at the big league level, is 20 points towards your average

Tweetable Quotes:

  • “I have a very strong bias for balance. I think it is elemental to the way bodies move.” - Craig Hyatt (01:35)

  • “I really think tennis and actually throwing are the best ways that really exemplify how our bodies should move when we hit.” - Doug Latta (13:18)

  • “We really hit balls in a line and in a rectangle.” - Doug Latta (17:38)

  • “The thing with tennis, all the bodies are different. So there is variation of how guys create power, but they also need to be consistent, they need to hit the ball in a certain direction.” - Craig Hyatt (21:08)

  • “‘I worked really hard to hit that home run.’ No, you hit that homerun because you were clean and efficient with your body.” - Craig Hyatt (22:37)

  • “Most young hitters and a lot of professional hitters have big shoulder moves. And if we don’t get those out of them, they aren’t going any farther.” - Doug Latta (24:36)

  • “Once we get down to balance, the one key I want and give people is, you have to hit through every pitch you see.” - Doug Latta (30:33)

  • “Train young hitters so that they have the same basic moves that they’re going to have up the latter, and their adjustments become internal.” - Doug Latta (31:40)

Resources Mentioned:

Website and Social Media sites for the show