Ahead Of The Curve with Jonathan Gelnar

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April 27, 2020  

Chris Holt- Pitching Coordinator, Baltimore Orioles

Coaches vs. Covid

fredhutch.org/coachesvscovid

Today we have on the pitching coordinator for the Baltimore Orioles, Chris Holt. Chris Oversees the development of every pitcher in the organization and have an increased presence on the Major League side. 
On the show we talk about how he builds in autonomy and lets the coaches in the system utilize their strengths, how we can embrace who the player is but also help the improve and we talk about what he thinks the next wave is in pitching development is. 
 
Show notes courtesy of Zach Casto
  • When you have a small amount of players. (6 players) play double or nothing. 
  • Players go for a double no matter where the ball is. 
  • This can build instincts. 
  • “Coordinators coach the coaches.” 
  • You have to realize you want guys around you who will do things the right way. 
  • You want your players to do things their own way in order for them to problem solve the best way possible. 
  • Once you have buy in the approach has to be “Let’s get work done.” 
  • There is less difficulty to create buy in when there is objective data. 
  • Tell players what they do well and what they don’t. 
  • Explain why behind each finding and how they can improve. 
  • Understand the player as a person and find out how they learn best. 
  • With players who aren’t buying in be honest and real with the player. 
  • Players need to realize that “We don’t have time to waste, so let’s not waste it.” 
  • Our time playing the game is very short. 
  • Be close with your players so that you can be completely truthful with them. 
  • Understand where the player comes from and his background. 
  • Spend time in the office talking to the player and what they believe in. 
  • “Players need to maintain what got them good in the first place.” 
  • We want our players to own their performance. 
  • Throw your regular bullpen and then then finish off with a game called one shot. 
  • The coach gives the location, count, pitch, and situation.
  • If the player executed this pitch then the coach will do ten pushups or some other exercise. If the player misses then they have to do the exercise. 
  • This allows you to be vulnerable around your players and creates a fun atmosphere. 
  • The next goal is to maximize the sequencing and deception aspects of the pitcher’s mix and delivery. 
  • To get a players as good of a pitch off that he can the pitcher needs to have athleticism, rhythm, and tempo in the delivery. 
  • The pitcher must have a be on attack mindset. 
  • There must be an intent behind the work instead of an intent to throw hard. 
  • “Intent is having a purpose.” 
  • The next wave of guys are those who can pitch vertically and horizontally. (Nightmare repertoire). 
  • Work on simplifying what you are saying for clear understanding. 
  • Get into the art of cues. 
  • This can help players understand to maximize their performance. 
  • “You want to be simple and concise.” 
  • Find out what kind of learning that excites the players. 
  • Players need to understand that failing is a part of improvement. 
  • Be positive and enthusiastic with the player. 
  • Take complicated aspects and simplify it down to simplistic terms. 
  • When reading and learning focus on what speaks to you. 
  • Your thoughts become your habits, and habits become your performance. 
  • Whatever we are learning, we need to create mastery in order to teach it well. 
 
April 23, 2020  

Tracy Smith- Head Baseball Coach, Arizona State University

Coaches vs. Covid

fredhutch.org/coachesvscovid

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.” 
April 18, 2020  

John Savage- Head Baseball Coach, UCLA

Coaches vs. Covid

fredhutch.org/coachesvscovid

 
Today we’re joined by UCLA Head Baseball Coach John Savage. Through 15 seasons as UCLA’s head coach, John has established the Bruins as a consistent national championship contender. Savage helped UCLA reach college baseball’s pinnacle in 2013, as the Bruins won their first-ever NCAA baseball title. Under his guidance, UCLA has advanced to the postseason in 11 of the last 15 seasons, hosting an NCAA Regional in six of the last 10, including four-straight from 2010 through 2013.
 
Savage completed his 15th season as UCLA’s head coach in 2019. He is currently the third longest-tenured head coach in UCLA baseball program history and has gone 539-360-1 in the past 15 seasons.
 
On the show, we talk about steps he and his staff have taken to build the culture, we get into staff development, we talk about competitive situations in practice and much, much more. Here is John Savage!
 
Show notes courtesy of Zach Casto

Ahead of the Curve Live: John Savage (Head Coach UCLA)

  • When you develop your beliefs and become a head coach, trust yourself and be yourself.
    • Players will notice if you aren’t being your authentic self. 
  • As a head coach, be organized and delegate duties to assistants and trust them. 
  • Be present in the moment as a head coach. 
    • That allows for you to be the most helpful. 
    • Good pitching and catching will determine how good your team is at the end of the day. 
  • Organization, communication, and being a true team are crucial for the success of a program. 
    • Keep in mind that you need to know your players. 
    • This will allow for you to not go in and take away repetitions from the players. 
    • Hire coaches due to needs and allow for them to do their job and trust them to do it. 
  • Ensure that your coaching staff isn’t saying the weaknesses out loud to the team during practice. 
  • Also stay away from saying this because it could cause a wall to go up between you and the other coach. (Essentially be a professional). 
  • It takes time to become a good program. 
  • Different teams each year have different strengths and character. 
  • You want every single thing that you do to have a championship look.
  • The more you can teach guys to be part of that culture, the quicker the progress will happen. 
    • Good teams have good leadership. 
    • The players in quality programs know how to keep the culture where it needs to be.
  • As a coach it is important to model how the culture should be in order for the players to recognize what to do. 
  • Through time, the players will start to respond how the coaching staff will and how the culture wants the response to be.  
  • As a coach you want your players to be mentally tough and not focus on things they cannot control. 
    • You need to work on the individuals first before you can focus on the team.
    • This helps you learn the players first, and then focus on the team and players after that. 
    • Loyalty and trust of the coaching staff is crucial to have for a successful team. 
    • As a high school coach it is important to teach your players how to act, compete, and respond to adversity. (College coaches look for this along with academics and off the field character). 
  • “Good character makes great teams.”
    • At the end of the day, the best teams and athletes are consistent. 
    • “The game is supposed to be played a certain way.”
    • It comes down to how do you want your players to look and respond?
    • When you see something good or bad let the players know, but handle both situations in a respectful way in order for the athletes to not feel put down. 
  • “Timing has to be right for a coaching staff to give messages.”
  • You want rational messages, not emotional messages. 
    • “You want to keep building success not tear down success.”
    • “The game can flip on you quickly.”
    • Make sure every player on your team feels like they matter to the team. 
    • Example: Bullpen catcher helps the pitchers gain feedback before or during a game. 
    • “Players need to be ready when they get called upon.”
    • You want your players to walk with a sense of confidence. 
    • One negative player can feed upon to the rest of the team and hurt the culture. 
    • “Unless you help the player to make a change, they won’t do it.” 
    • Treat and care for others the best you can possible. 
    • The more we get to know our players, the more we can help improve their life. 
  • Make sure when you are working on improving mechanics, focus on one mechanic at a time. 
  • This allows for the player to not be confused and to have a clear understanding of what needs to be changed. 
    • “Present things to the player in order to build confidence.”
    • Talking to players and investing in relationships will allow for you and the coaching staff to understand how to handle each player in order to coach them the best way possible. 
  • You learn about how much to talk with players through experience. 
  • It is important to lead rationally and not let emotion take over decisions. 
  • “You can’t get wrapped up in the results in a game. You are taking blows in a game, so how you respond is important.”
    • You want rhythm and tempo to your team when competing. If you can control the flow of the game, then you are in control of the game.
  • Everyone’s developmental clock is different, so be patient. 
  • Sometimes you won’t have players develop until their Senior year. 
    • If you have players show that they are doing the right thing, then it will be easier for them to have the opportunity to reach their potential. 
    • Make defense a crucial part of your program. Players have to be able to defend well to play defense. 
  • Help your players find their roles. 
  • Whatever the player has shown that he can do then that will be the role. As they improve the role increases. 
  • Example: Jimmy can get a hit in pinch hitting roles, as he improves with defense he earns an opportunity to start and makes the most of it. Jimmy becomes a starter due to his hard work. 
    • Players have to learn how to be patient. It takes time to develop skill. 
    • Be honest and upfront in where the player is in their development so they understand their role. 
  • “You have to give players hope. You do this by giving opportunities.”
  • Example: If you are up 10-0, allow a player off of the bench to pinch hit and make the most of the opportunity. 
  • You don’t really know what you have until you play other teams. 
  • That is where you find the pulse of the team. 
    • If you don’t have Left Handed Pitchers then you will have to teach your Right Handed Pitchers how to pitch to get Left Handed Hitters out. 
    • Make the most out of what you have. 
    • “If you want to pitch in the Big Leagues, you need to have the ability to get the opposite handed hitter out.”
    • Put your players in competitive environments and watch how the player responds to failure in front of their teammates. 
    • It is during this opportunity that you can help teach the players how you would like them to respond to failure. 
    • Try to have enough of a competitive environment in order for the players to realize what they need to improve upon. 
    • The quicker you know your deficiencies the better off you will be. 
  • Players need to be versatile and have different tools in order to solve different problems. 
  • “You need to be able to hit 76 as well as you hit 86.”
  • As a coaching staff map out what the year will look like. The assistant coach that has the specific position will teach the staff what they would like to do. This will allow for the coaching staff to learn and to find out the best path of the team. 
    • The number one component part of a staff is loyalty. 
  • You want coaches who are just as smart or smarter than you on your staff. 
    • You need to be honest with your players. 
    • They will respect you more if you do this. 
    • You can’t take things personal, if you do then you will find yourself in a rut. 
    • Players must be able to commit to the rules of the team. 
  • You don’t know what you have until you have it. So be patient with the development of the player. 
    • There is always something that will surprise you with a player and will need to be worked on by a player. 
    • As a coach, don’t make a fool of yourself. 
    • Be a good role model to those that you coach. 
  • “If you are going to call pitches then you better see every bullpen.”
  • Rhythm, pace, and tempo is all about timing. 
  • Pitching and hitting are both based on timing. 
  • If you can’t pitch inside, then practice it. 
  • As a pitcher you don’t want to beat yourself. 
  • So in a game pitch outside until you have confidence to pitch inside. 
  • Pitchers need to be just as good out of the stretch as they are in the windup. 
  • It’s an old adage but it is so true. 
April 17, 2020  

Kirk Bradshaw- Founder of Athletic Training Institute (WA)

fredhutch.org/coachesvscovid

Today we have on Athletic Training Institute founder Kirk Bradshaw. ATI works with athletes and individuals who aspire to be athletic to develop and maintain their potential utilizing Muscle Activation Techniques, Performance enhancement and integrated systems.

On the show, Kirk and I discuss how athletes compensate, which is vital for our survival but can be a good or a bad thing for out athletic movements. We get into muscle activation techniques and a ton of different ways to recover including sleep and what we eat. This was such an enlightening conversation, and you’re gonna love it with Kirk Bradshaw!

Contact Info

425-882-2122

nfo@athletictraininginstitute.com

 

April 16, 2020  

Hitting Coaches- Ron Prettyman- University of Washington and Neil Walton- Cal State (Northridge)

fredhutch.org/coachesvscovid

Todays conversation is with two college hitting coaches in Neil Walton from Cal State Northridge and Ronnie Prettyman from the University of Washington. 
On the show, we discuss how they train hitters through collaboration and freedom. We talk about how we (as coaches) can best adapt to our players, we go over game planning, scouting reports and how to adjust.  Both of these guys are rising stars on the collegiate level, and you don't want to miss this conversation with Ronnie Prettyman and Neil Walton!

Neil Walton Contact Info

@ _neilwalton11

 
Ron Prettyman Contact Info
 
 
April 12, 2020  

Darin Everson- Hitting Coordinator, Colorado Rockies.

 
Today we’re joined by Darin Everson. Hitting coordinator for the Colorado rockies. On the show, we talk about all things hitting. Including swing prep, game planning, communication and so much more
 
Twitter
@eversonbaseball
 
Show notes courtesy of Zach Casto

Ahead of the Curve Live Podcast: Darin Everson (Hitting Coordinator: Colorado Rockies)

    • Communication is a huge aspect to have to unlock potential for the athlete. 
  • You need to ask the right type of questions. 
  • You need to find out what motivates the player. 
  • What worries them. 
  • Find out what makes them nervous. 
    • Ask indirect questions to find out these parts of the player. 
  • Have journal books to remember key facts about a player in order to help the player improve. 
    • You want to be an outlet for the player to have in order to get out their concerns and to learn about life from you. 
    • Find out about who your players are. 
  • Open-ended question example: What are you thinking? What is your goal? 
  • This helps the athlete be where their feet are at. 
    • Make the conversation authentic with the player in order to help the player the best. 
  • If you can get the players to talk about themselves you generally get a good idea of who that player is as a person. 
  • A fun question to ask is about food. 
    • You need to learn how your players learn best. 
    • This will help you fill up their toolbox. 
  • Backwards planning is important. 
  • Allows for you to know what the goal is with what you are doing. 
  • “The moment I became a better teacher, is when I became a better coach.”
  • If you love and care about your players, the baseball aspect will take care of itself.
  • The collaboration piece is important to have with staff. Have individual meetings and then whole group meetings. 
  • Get everyone’s ideas on paper and then combine the best of each. 
  • Collect as much objective information and facts to help the player realize why they need to make a change. 
  • It is hard to dispute the facts. 
  • The goal of a coach is to have the player become their own best coach. 
    • Start with explaining why, and then tell them to try a small adjustment. 
    • The player may hate it but take notes on what happens. 
    • Use your phone to record a note or a video. 
  • As coaches be the guard rails to keep the player on the correct path on their journey to reaching their potential and improvement. 
    • Players need to be able to trust the changes that have been made.
    • Can they take it over from BP to the game? 
    • As a coach you need to ask yourself is it a constraint drill or a swing prep drill?
    • A swing prep drill works on a specific feel of the swing for the hitter to feel. 
  • Example: Ask the player for five minutes to use a heavy bat at an angle to try to find a feel. 
    • If the player doesn’t have swing prep, then it will be hard for the player to take over what was learned if he cannot feel the changes. 
  • The feelings that the player gets will help the player create cues to remember when he is competing in the box. 
  • Swing prep is different for every player. 
  • Sometimes the players use PVC pipe to feel different things. 
  • Other examples: Different tee drills, Heavy Bat, Underweight bat. 
  • The tee can help the player find proper posture and find the proper areas of contact. 
    • The player will need to find specific drills that they can go to that will help the player prepare for the game. 
  • These drills have to help the player feel his swing and to feel good because he can understand his body. 
  • The player doesn’t have to have a ton of swing prep drills, less is more. 
    • Once the player has finished the swing prep, go onto a different objective in Batting Practice. 
    • After the Swing prep part of the practice, go into decision training in hitting drills. 
  • By the time the game starts you want your players to have their cleats in the ground and competing. 
  • Decision Drills: The Coach Says in, out, or take. The player listens and will react to what the coach says.  
    • The player can do this off of a tee or by coach/player pitch. 
    • Anytime you can shorten a screen is great. 
    • The ball jumps on the player. 
    • Throw BP at an angle. 
    • Doing all of this forces the players to adjust during the decision making BP. 
  • Have counts during this time. To force the player to think. 
  • During decision making BP, ask your players questions. 
  • Questions such as what was going through your mind? What was your goal? What were you feeling? 
    • This helps the hitter to understand what he likes and what he doesn’t like. 
    • It helps the player take borderline pitches, even when it is a strike. 
    • Decision-making BP creates awareness. 
    • The player must have an approach for different situations in a game. 
  • Example: Johnny, this pitcher pitches the ball high. Do you like high pitches? No. Okay, where do you like to hit a pitch? Low. What will you do? I will look for a low pitch. 
    • The player must have a plan or approach for every pitcher that he faces. 
  • The hitter needs to focus on what pitches the hitter likes and in what part of the strike zone. 
  • This allows for the hitter to drive the ball. 
  • If a hitter is facing a pitcher who is his opposite, then the hitter needs to focus on adjusting to having success. 
  • Example: If I am facing a pitcher who is throwing in the 90’s and I am used to hitting 78, then I need to choke up and try to hit the ball on a line to center-right field. 
    • For players who are English Language Learners, try to learn their language. 
  • Players will appreciate this effort. 
  • Talk to bilingual players in order to help you in the effort to have clear communication with different players. 
  • Use language programs in order to learn different languages. 
  • Keep a journal on words that you have learned. 
  • Luckily most of our players are visual learners. 
  • Show the player the move or through video. 
  • Have another coach with you in order to help you and the athlete understand as best as possible. 
  • Try to learn about the athlete’s culture as well. 
  • Are you moving in the batter’s box athletic?
  • Can you do this movement in different environments such as off of a machine, tee, etc?
    • This prevents cookie-cutting to happen. 
  • Players need to learn the awareness of the spin of a pitch and understanding the trajectory of the pitch during Batting Practice. 
    • Use machines that is as game-like as possible. 
    • You don’t want the task to be too overwhelming or unrealistic. 
  • Machines are useful in order to for your hitters to see game-like spin and velocity. 
  • If there is any tool that will help the player build confidence, use it. 
    • You want your guys to have all of the confidence in the world when it is game time. 
  • You want your hitters to create as much energy with the body that you have and transferring it to and through the baseball. 
  • You want to hit the middle of the baseball. 
  • This allows for solid contact. 
  • Find out how the player is creating their energy and transferring their energy. 
  • Can the player then see how the energy is transferring to contact with the baseball?
  • You can measure through exit velocity. 
    • Check in with your players regularly during and after the pandemic. 
    • During this time players can tinker to try different things with the swing. 
    • One of the biggest differences between the best of the best and average players is maturity. 
    • You need to ask yourself as the coach, how can I help this player right now?
    • Give them objectives. 
  • “It is not about the quantity, it is about the quality of what you are doing.”
  • The player needs to realize what will prepare the player for the game. 
  • “Don’t ever forget how good you are.”
    • Have the players watch highlights of themselves and to visualize success. 
  • Make hitting as simple as possible. 
  • Don’t talk about mechanics.
  • Talk more about feels. 
  • Talk more about pitch recognition, approach, and plan. 
  • When a player is in a slump, see if there are any mechanical changes? See how well his process is going? See how well the player’s mental outlook is. 
  • The player needs to realize how good he is and what he can do. 
  • Sometimes players need a few days off to get a mental break because this game is hard. 
  • “Can you carry your confidence?”
  • That is the challenge when things are 
  • Don’t chase hits, chase feels that will allow you to feel good and have success in the box. 
April 11, 2020  

TJ Bruce- Head Baseball Coach, The University of Nevada

fredhutch.org/coachesvscovid

On today’s show, we have TJ Bruce, head baseball coach at The University of Nevada. Th was hired at Nevada in 2015 and arrived on campus as one of the top assistant coaches in the nation after spending five seasons at UCLA where he helped the Bruins to four postseason appearances and a 2013 College World Series title. In 2019, Bruce led Nevada to the Mountain West Tournament for the fourth-consecutive year. As it won 30 games for the second time with him at the helm, including sweeping No. 2 and 2018 National Champion Oregon State in two home contests. On the show, we talk about what is was like when he arrived at Nevada and the first steps he took with the program. We also talk about how he goes about growing his assistant coaches to become head coaches someday, what their program standards are, how he helps grow young men in their program, and so much more.
 
Contact Info
Twitter
@tj_bruce
@NevadaBaseball
 
Show notes courtesy of Zach Casto

Ahead of the Curve Live Podcast: TJ Bruce (Head Coach of University of Nevada)
- During this time appreciate your family. It will keep your positivity during this
uncertain time.
- Have a routine every day to have something to look forward to.
- During this time you can continue to learn to help improve your players when we
are allowed to get back to coaching.
- “Everything you do is an opportunity to learn.”
- “This format makes you a better listener.”
- This is something that we need to be better at.
- As coaches, the best thing we can do for our players is to tell them to get back
and enjoy their families.
- In terms of baseball practice, you have to get creative.
- To stay in shape players can do pushups and pull-ups.
- Players can break down their mechanics on video.
- Players can throw into a wall or a net.
- Players can hit into a net.
- Players can catch up with friends and talk life and baseball and learn from them.
- If you have a team playbook, the players can read the playbook in order to
understand the complete team culture and play.
- “Be extraordinary in the ordinary.”
- As coaches, it is our job to prepare our players for the next level of baseball.
- When you get the head coaching job, you have no clue how the experience
will be until you get that experience.
- When you are in this situation, you need to lean on what you know.
- The most success that the team had was when there were roles.
- Players appreciate the organization and clear communication.
- As a head coach, it is your job to help develop your staff to achieve their
goals.
- Players need to realize the role that they are in on the team.
- Players need to accept responsibility and be the best at the role that they
are in.
- They can challenge themselves by being the best at their role.
- Have team-oriented statistics.

- Example: Quality at Bat
- This can help the young non-starters learn the game at a quicker pace.
- One Baton: This is the whole team.
- Every player has a role and if the team does the best at their role then the
team will only get better.
- Roles can change and improve.
- Lean on the coaches you have worked for every single day.
- Allow for your staff to collaborate and learn from other coaching staffs.
- Whatever access that you would have, allow for your assistants to have
that same access.
- Hire coaches that are smarter than you. (You need coaches around you
that will offset your personality).
- As a head coach, your job is to help the program.
- Assistant coaches need to be loyal, respectful, and competent.
- “If you help our program win, you will get yours at the end.”
- Allow your assistants to see what your role is as a head coach and what the role
of each assistant will be.
- Show them what you deal with every day.
- It is okay to be vulnerable to your assistants.
- This is a strength. It will allow for trust and respect to happen because you are
letting them into how you feel.
- Go over every aspect of the program with your assistants.
- Budget and playbook.
- Allow for the family to be involved in your program.
- Run your program like a college/Major League organization.
- Don’t be afraid for your assistants to give out ideas to improve the team.
- Allow for your assistants to be able to speak to the team.
- This shows to the team that the assistants are just as important as the
head coach.
- Ask your hitting coach what they see on the pitching side.
- Ask your pitching coach what they see on the hitting side.
- Understand that opinions are opinions and nobody is wrong.
- Don’t criticize your coaches publicly.
- Allowing your assistants to talk publicly will help them improve at public speaking
to help them be developed into reaching their goals.
- Ask for help from your assistants.
- Standards:
- What does it look like, feel like, and sounds like?
- Understand how the vision will look like in those three areas.

- You have to have a definitive mission.
- Vision, Expectation, and the Standard.
- What the players believe and what the staff believes will showcase how
successful the
- The program will make you a better man and will be relentless with chasing
perfection.
- It is general and broad but allows for growth.
- The pursuit of perfection is in baseball, classroom, and personal life.
- Your vision has to be crystal clear and you have to feel that it will be a success in
your core.
- “You are either getting better or worse.”
- Outwork your staff.
- Example: Be the first one to the office.
- “The program is built upon how well you can control what you can control.”
- Don’t disrespect the program.
- That means be on time, being accountable, giving your best, and preparing the
best that you can.
- “You’ve got to be ready to be ready.”
- “Be where you need to be when you need to be there.”
- Place the needs of the team above your own.
- If you are not capable of taking honest coaching, please go home.
- The number one thing you can do to help create buy-in is honest
communication.
- Ask the players what they expect from you and tell them what you expect from
them.
- Players will typically go to different instructors.
- This will create the opportunity for players to work on what the coaches want the
player to do.
- Video will allow for the player and coach to discuss what happened and
break down the thought process of the player in that situation.
- Ask your players how they learn best. Then once you know this you can
teach them the way they learn best.
- At the end of the day, all players want to improve.
- You have to really know your players.
- You have to have an identity for what you are trying to do in any aspect of
baseball.
- You are trying to develop and win games.
- You have to have the right attitude and effort to have success.
- Make the routine play consistently.

- Handle the ball and keep it off the ground.
- When the team is stretching, take a ball and toss it and it will allow for the players
to compete with keeping the ball off the ground.
- Know the percentages and play them.
- Try to catch every ball as much as possible, but allow for your players to
backhand when fielding.
- Want the Ball.
- Separate offense and defense when playing.
- You can’t take the last at-bat into the field.
- The most important event in the game is the current pitch.
- “If I don’t get mine, you won’t get yours.”
- This means if you don’t get a hit don’t let the opponent get a hit.
- The best defenses don’t blame their teammate for an error or a hit.
- Have your players trust their eyes and instincts.
- Ask the player their thought process during a specific play.
- Get players on the whiteboard.
- This helps players understand the situation.
- It is an easy way for players to see things.
- Most players are visual learners.
- Watch more videos on defense than offense.
- “Players are brought up for 18 years on how to hit, not on how to play
defense.”
- During practice, have one infielder talk for the day.
- This builds trust and the player learns what to say during the right time.
- Every area of play needs to have its own verbiage.
- Instead of saying step off say, “Black.”
- It prevents a balk from happening.
- The player will say 1- 1 thousand and then get rid of the baseball.
- When recruiting, you want to have a strong middle of the field.
- Catcher, Pitching, Shortstop, 2nd, and Centerfield.
- Ask your staff what they want to deal with and what they don’t want to deal with.
- Have a set of attributes that you are looking for in a player.
- If a player doesn’t match the attributes that you want.
- You need to ask the coach from the level below what tools the player possesses.
- As a high school coach, create a checklist for your players to improve
upon in order to get to the next level.
- An overlooked key is asking yourself if the player you are recruiting come
from a winning program?
- Be yourself.

- Example: If you are a yeller, be a yeller.
- If you are not being yourself, then you are not going to be successful.
- Your family mission will work into your coach mission.
- Surround yourself with great people.
- Don’t be afraid to show that you don’t know everything around your
players.
- In the offseason, have your players talk to coaches who can really help the
players.

April 10, 2020  

Josh Herzenberg, Pitching Coordinator/Quality Control Coach for the Lotte Giants (KBO)

 
Today we’ve got on Josh Herzenberg, Pitching Coordinator/Quality Control Coach for the Lotte Giants.
 
Josh was a scout and coach for the dodgers organization before heading overseas to coach in the KBO and on the show we talk about how his scouting background has helped him become a better coach, we discuss some of the first steps when he took his coordinator role, some differences between Major League Baseball and the KBO and much, much more.
Here is Josh Herzenberg!
 
Contact Josh (@JoshHerzenberg)
Youtube- Giants TV
 
February 27, 2020  

James Ramsey- Hitting Coach, Georgia Tech

Coaching with Flexibility and Communication with James Ramsey 

 

During this episode of Ahead of the Curve, I interviewed James Ramsey, Hitting Coach at Georgia Tech. James Ramsey talks about the importance of clarity, simple wins, communicating with players, measuring players in the off-season, his BP set-up, what a hitting meeting looks like in the fall, and not overthinking things. 

 

Episode Highlights: 

 

  • How did James Ramsey get involved in baseball and as a coach?   
  • Was coaching something that he had in the back of his mind when he was playing baseball? 
  • What are some life lessons that he has learned from other coaches that he will never forget?   
  • What was his transition like into the Georgia Tech program? 
  • What did this past off-season look like for him? 
  • Are there any set things that he is looking for in players to group them together to address their needs? 
  • When new players arrive on the team where does he start with them? 
  • What does ‘plan and approach’ mean to James? 
  • What kinds of competitions have they used in their training practices that they really like?  
  • What are some different ways that he really likes to train game-like practices, especially on the hitting side? 
  • What are some different ways that we can train players to make better decisions?  
  • What is his advice to be a better communicator? 
  • What does his BP set-up look like?
  • What is something that James Ramsey is excited about learning and applying?
  • What changes has he been making from last year to this year?
  • What are things his players get excited about doing during practice? 
  • Is there anything that he believes that other coaches might disagree with?
  • What is something we would notice at one of James Ramsey’s practices?
  • Are there any resources that James Ramsey would recommend? 

3 Key Points:

  1. Make sure you are ready for when your opportunities come. 
  2. Keep the most important things important. 
  3. Have an accountability partner on the field that can keep the expectations going on and off the field.   

 

Tweetable Quotes:

  • “I love to read and it’s baseball, it’s mental toughness, it’s corporate culture books. I think that baseball has a lot to learn from some other areas.” – James Ramsey  (09:18)
  • “Being able to kind of relate off the field too as well. I think telling the players, ‘I don’t know what I don’t know and I’m new to this as well and I’m going to make mistakes. But I’m going to make them aggressively.” – James Ramsey  (11:46)
  • “I did 6 BP groups, laminated them, stuck them out there so I didn’t have to take the time on the day-to-day to do it and so, some of them are grouped by ‘rightys’ versus ‘leftys’ as basic as that sounds. Can we throw a different angle on the machine?” – James Ramsey  (15:54)
  • “I have clarity. That is one thing I try to search for.” – James Ramsey  (18:20)
  • “These guys have grown up in a showcase setting where some of them have never had a first and third plays put on.” – James Ramsey  (19:22)
  • “As far as the team is concerned, doing self-evaluations, doing evaluations on the coaching staff, I want to make sure, hey, am I communicating this clearly?” – James Ramsey  (22:05)
  • “We can overthink it sometimes too. So it’s, can I just fundamentally get to, where did this kid come from? What is his style of learning? What is his style of coaching? What is his motivation style that he likes?” – James Ramsey  (22:58)
  • “Every pitch a pitcher is forced to throw, I believe that there is probably a good correlation to winning a game.” – James Ramsey  (40:24)

Resources Mentioned: 

James Ramsey: Twitter Instagram

February 20, 2020  

Matt Borgschulte- MiLB Hitting Coach, Minnesota Twins

During this episode of Ahead of the Curve, I interviewed Matt Borgschulte, MiLB Hitting Coach, for the Minnesota Twins. Matt Borgschulte discusses where his baseball career has taken him, the importance of working on the swing in the off-season, helping players process the mental side of success, how to train for adjustability and pitch recognition. 

Episode Highlights: 

 

  • How did Matt Borgschulte get involved in baseball and as a coach?   
  • How does the off-season look like for Matt Borgschulte as far as goals? 
  • What should be focused on in the off-season? 
  • What are some different ways to help players make better decisions? 
  • Are these particular things that Matt looks for when viewing player videos? 
  • Is there an example of a common movement limitation that he sees often? 
  • What are some ways that we can train for adjustability?  
  • How does he help players deal with the mental process of playing baseball?   
  • What are some ways that he gets players to get ingrained in competition? 
  • How has he become a better communicator?  
  • What does he do to be a better communicator with guys with whom English isn’t their first language? 
  • How does Matt Borgschulte prioritize individual development within the season?
  • Each player is different when it comes to what they need to get better.
  • What are some things that he is very intentional about? 
  • What is something that Matt Borgschulte is excited about learning and applying? 
  • Is there anything he is looking to improve on? 
  • What are things his players get excited about doing during practice? 
  • Is there anything that he believes that other coaches might disagree with? 
  • What is something we would notice at one of Matt Borgschulte’s practices? 
  • Are there any resources that Matt Borgschulte would recommend?  
  • Are there any competitions that he likes to use with players? 
  • What are things that he is looking for when watching video? 
  • How does he help players whom English isn’t their first language? 
  • How does he go about individualizing training in the team setting? 

 

3 Key Points:

  1. Training pitch recognition is important for helping players make better decisions.  
  2. Game Sense Sports offers an app for training pitch recognition: gamesensesports.com
  3. Ways to train for adjustability include: changing the environment, changing the task, and you can change what you implement. 

 

Tweetable Quotes:

  • “Some of the things I really tried to accomplish this fall season is just to continuing to study the swing, a little bit more in-depth than you can do in-season.” – Matt Borgschulte (04:16)
  • “I think in the off-season it is a great time to really dig in on the swing in terms of making certain swing adjustments, much more difficult to do in-season, especially when you are trying to perform that day or that week.” – Matt Borgschulte (05:18)
  • “The first place you really need to start or you need to look when it comes to any athletic movement is how that specific athlete’s body moves.” – Matt Borgschulte (08:33)
  • “As hitting coaches, we really need to be able to work with strength conditioning, athletic training, so we can better understand each athlete’s movement capabilities.” – Matt Borgschulte (08:43)
  • “When you talk about the mental side it is just understanding what success is and recalculating and redefining what that is for each guy.” – Matt Borgschulte (14:18)
  • “It is such a long season and the work you have to put in day in and day out it can get monotonous for sure. But, creating competition is a great way to kind of keep the energy and focus during a long season.” – Matt Borgschulte (17:03)
  • “Communication is so huge, especially when you are working with professional players that have had a lot of success.” – Matt Borgschulte (18:57)
  • “What I’ve found is that if you show that you are willing to try and you are willing to mess up and you are willing to put yourself out there they (foreign language players) are going to respect that a lot more than just using a translator.” – Matt Borgschulte (21:22)

Resources Mentioned: