My son is really looking forward to playing HS ball, and of course has visions of going all the way just like everyone else does. We've sent him to some local camps, with mixed results. Some have helped him get better and of course some offer some less productive advice, a polite way of saying they shouldn't be offering their services.
There's a few places in the area that offer training facilities, but what do you look for in picking one, or do you try to find a more one on one coach to work with him? After reading some of the places programs saying they will get him to gain 8-10 mph, while I'm sure they could but how much will they be looking out for the well being of my son's health?
I know some parents that enrolled their kids there. The kids were on the lower scale of abilities, and yes they got good improvement to the point where their kids are good average ball players. But I haven't seen anyone that was more above average blossom into a superstar. Anyone have similar experiences, or recommendations?
This may be easier said than done but...
Look for an instructor who adapts to your son instead of forcing your son to fit his mold. Avoid instructors who impose a cookie cutter approach. For example, avoid instructors who teach a specific arm slot. Avoid instructors who base their instruction on unsupported conventional wisdom. Focus should not be only on velocity. The instructor should have an appreaciation for the importance of strength and flexibility to go along with good mechanics. The instructor should be able to teach grips, pitcher defense, pitch sequencing, the mental game, etc.
Sounds like pretty much will be trial and error. Didn't know if there is any sort of organization that would sort of register quality coaches. Almost like a union board. But I guess that wouldn't be too easy to do.
Not necessarily, from any of the clinics attended, did you find anyone in whom you felt had a good approach? If so contact them. We had used a local university as our main resource to uncover who was or wasn't a quality coach (Coincidently we found our best coaching from that school or from folks affiliated with that school). I think the bench mark is what is the motivation of the coach? Is it to pad their own travel squad..or is it to improve a kid no matter where the chips fall? College coaches are as a rule very expensive but I'd say the quality of what they present is worth it. I wouldn't consider it in the way you presented (Superstars don't generally get "made" by coaching) As with my son, what happened was I identified that his skill surpassed my ability to compliment it. The kids desire, athletic skill and natural ability will determine if they move forward. My recommendations are always look for someone with an interest in arm health and maintenance first and then a skill at understanding mechanics improvements and last looking for someone who knows and can assist at conditioning.
Roger---that's exactly what I've been saying all this time. DON'T EVER MESS WITH A PITCHER'S NATURAL MOTION!!! I will never forget the first time I met Ed Lopat, and while I was familiarizing myself with the slider he was watching me and making some mental notes---about my delivery, my release point, what have you---and what he was doing was forming a jumping-off point from which he could work with me. I quickly found out that his basic idea was that each pitcher has a natural motion and so what he would do would be to show said pitcher how to make the most of it. I remember that from the very beginning he made me feel comfortable and kept me relaxed and receptive to the information, advice and instruction I received from him over the three-plus years that followed. As he said, "It's what I do."
jdfromfla---you're on the right track! It's absolutely essential for a good pitching coach to know where it's at when it comes to mechanics, and even when to leave them alone. There have been pitching coaches (?) who insist on messing with a young pitcher's mechanics, who try to change things even when nothing really needs changing, and the results have been nothing short of disastrous, when all that might have been needed is a bit of fine tuning. You're indeed fortunate to have access to coaches who know their elbows from third base.
I'll never forget the time when I mentioned to Steady Eddie that I was using the crossfire a lot, and he said "Let's see what you're doing with it." I went through the move, and immediately he noticed that I wasn't getting quite the momentum going into it from the stretch the way I was from the full windup. And he came up with an idea that I could put to good use to work up the speed I wanted, then put it aside when I had achieved my objective. Lopat never had to tell me very much with regard to mechanics---he just showed me things I could do here and there, and I picked up on them and took it from there. 8)
I was at a loss until I lucked into a situation with a hitting coach. This coach introduced my son and I to a pitching coach who is top notch in every regard.
My boy had worked for 2 years with an NFP coach who was excellent at developing strength and conditioning, but his skills as a pitch-teacher and situational instructor were less so. My son's present coach is able to bring his MLB experience to bear on the development of my son.
We got lucky. Point is, find a coach with connections, bone fides, and a willingness to work with you and your child regardless of what he teaches (hitting, fielding, whatever) and he will undoubtedly know a great pitching coach or two. Then make sure that you and you son can work closely with this coach.
And incidentally, I wouldn't trade the training my son received as a 14 and 15 year old with his original pitching coach for anything. He did a great job of improving my son's mechanics and made him much stronger. But as he moves on to the next level, he needs a next-level instructor.
A good coach can help you determine what level of development your son needs right now, and direct him to appropriate instructors as he grows and develops. Keep track of all the coaches and contacts you make along the way, because it all comes around again at some point.
Zita, it would be such a treat to be able to see you in that glory..Do you have any pictures or even better yet did you ever get some film? I have a picture in my mind and I'd love to see if it's what I suspect.
So are you posting under your own name? If so, how far did you go in baseball?
\You could try
http://www.nationalpitching.net/certified.asp?][b]the NPA website[/b
I got lucky. My area is the sahara desert for pitching coaches. I'd have to travel an hour and a half to get to a year round training facility and then it wouldn't matter because I couldn't afford to pay what they are asking.
My son's pitching coach saw him at the end of his sophmore year and walked up and volunteered to coach him. This is a guy that has coached several players that went on to pitch in college. Here are some of his attributes that you might look for in a pitching coach:
He is dedicated to gradual improvement and constantly gets feedback on the health of my son's arm.
He has a plan and is willing to share that with your son and you.
He was a DI college pitcher himself.
He monitors my son's game performances by talking to him about the game by phone sometime later.
He explains all facets of the game, mental, mechanics, conditioning respect for the game (coach), you name it.
He genuinely wants to see my son succeed and he expects him to.
He uses his contacts to get exposure for him. He has volunteered to take my son on several ocassions to tryouts or showcases.
He is not being paid a dime, however I have tried to take care of some travel expenses.
He reinforces the academic priorities it takes to get into a good college program.
The one thing a pitching coach can't supply is the desire. The kid has a certain amount of talent and potential but the desire has to be there. It's alot of work for the average kid.
Someday my kid will realize just how lucky he has been. He will have the option to early sign this fall going into his senior year if he choses.
Thought I'd leave that one to you, Roger. Nolan's first pitching coach is NPA certified, and he's a great coach in my opinion.
Note to jdfromfla: Oh, do I wish! But it was so long ago...Anyhoo, it seems we're all on the same wavelength on this issue.
Note to hoseman: I don't know how far I could have gone---after all, we played strictly for the fun of it, organized as it was. But we had a manager who went by major league rules, and that was how we did things, and the way my pitching coach worked with me was major league all the way. (No wonder I got the nickname "The Exterminator" pinned on me!) I do know that I had to stop in the early- to mid-60s when my work schedule caught up with me and I lost my free weekends---but I have all those good memories. 8)
A private pitching coach should first of all be a pitching coach. Not a generalist or some one who’s “been around”
Try and compare this itinerary to the coaches/people that you review for your son.
Ask what is a common thread (baseball experience) among youngsters of your son’s age. And then ask “how do you know that?” Listen carefully at the choice of words that makes up the answer(s). If your confused or don’t understand the response; just think how your son is going to respond to such questions and answers.
Ask how he/she introduces himself/herself to a youngster of your son’s age. Is there an age limit for this person’s instruction – both lower and upper? There should be. Youth coaching 14, 15 and some times 16 .. and under requires a heck of lot more simple “basics” then say 17 and over. Pitching coaches especially – are tuned to the frequency of certain levels of competition. What fits for a … say … 12 year old … will be like night and day for a say 17 year old. It does make a big difference.
Don’t be impressed with wins and losses, coaching titles, or similar accolades. These things don’t mean squat if the human chemistry isn’t there. For example, a perennial league champion from your local high school or even college can have a threshold of expectation that can be a rough fit for your son’s temperament, and attention span. Trust your son’s intuition here .. after all it’s all about him, not you … not the coach…. not the awards…
Of all the things that a youth pitching coach MUST understand is the (1) limitations of youth, (2) the limited tolerances for athletic duration(s), (3) the pressures that come from dear ole dad is paying for this so darn it, pay attention!, (4) and finally, today I want to pitch, but two weeks from now, .. I want to captain a steam freighter sailing the Mediterranean. (it happens)
Private instruction deals with the semi-perfect world. Actual game time does not. The pitching surface that your son will practice off of will be somewhat solid and smooth. Actual game quality surfaces will be far less forgiving. DON’T discount this when watching your son perform during live fire. Also, this part of his training experience can leave some negative reinforces that may take years to overcome … not to mention .. to rationalize under the game review phase of his training.
The start of his coaching experience should begin with a meeting between all parties concerned – including other interested family members. Get as much feedback as you can by others of their “take” on this guy. (coach). Also, you’d be amazed at how sensitive and intuitive mothers, aunts, grandmothers, etc., can be during such an initial meeting. Any coach that patronizes this gender should be shown the door – pronto.
A pitching coach should have a detail training itinerary formalized in writing for your son’s age group. It should spell out what – when – and how much of, each session will cover and what the expected results should be. Nothing vague or generalizations here. What is the youngster going to benefit from … session after session. Also, ask how your son will be reviewed by this coach so the next training session can build upon the last. And if your son needs a couple of sessions on the
same topic… what are the most prevalent topics that normally give a the kids of your son’s age the most time consuming. Don’t accept the answer… “well, every kid is different.” Well, that’s correct to a point… but your son shouldn’t be an unknown for a seasoned pitching coach after a few sessions. Experience means just that… this coach has the experience to “read” your son as he progresses.
There’s a lot more into this process then time and space here allows, but I hope some of my suggestions are helpful.
A final note though… if and when your son says ENOUGH… then it’s enough. Learning this craft can be a rough ride with other things in orbit for kid. Growing up is tough enough without pressures from something that’s suppose to be fun.
It’s lonely out there in the middle of the infield. The kids out there all by himself, nobody to help him, nobody cares. Do the job or you’re gone. Tough stuff for a kid. Tough stuff for a kid to hear the criticisms made by other parents under their breath … just out of ear shot… blaming your son for a loss…
Dad, your about to start something that will really bring out the good-guy in you, the things that make dad a dad. Being there for your boy … not him for you… is the stuff of true courage and sense of sharing the father and son relationship that knows no boundaries. I wish you all the best in your baseball experience.
Another great post, Coach B!
All I can say is....wow
Thanks again, Coach B
That is some fantastic advise. Pretty much spelled out all my fears. Great things to look for in the interview process.
Just say after an initial interview session someone answers the way I'd like them to, and I decide to go with them. How long do I allow for a sort of gelling process? A time for my son and I to feel confident and comfortable with what the person is teaching.
I'm a real good judge of character, but I also realize a relationship grows over time. Should I be put off by a coach relating to my son as "Oh my 11:00 is here" or should I look for someone wanting to make a more personal connection?
I guess at what point do I pull a Donald and tell him "Your Fired"
When what he does doesn't help or make sense for your son.
You will be able to see if the coach isn't coaching..or if he's lost interest.
if you find someone who knows what they are talking about and your guy thinks he is helping him, hang onto him for dear life. these people are rare. lots of people giving pitching lessons are selling snake oil. get their basic philosophy in the first 2 sessions and see if it fits with what you know or think. then talk to someone who has been working with him (or her) for 6 months to a year. if they can't tell you is philosophy very close to what he told you, that is a red flag in my book.
and if he says he teaches the marshal method or tall and fall, don't walk away from them, run.
try to find somebody at a baseball academy. i found an ex pro pitcher, a really nice guy that taught me alot. you need to find someone that teaches the way your kid likes to be taught, but also someone who knows the game.
hit me up with your general location (like county and state) and if you live near me, ill tell you about a really good guy.