Calling all coaches/pitching gurus

This post is intended more for coaches than for players (though the latter could certainly profit from the information shared.)

After posting a reply to a young pitcher via this forum (referent to the danger in throwing a screwball) I read a reply to my post by a person whose knowledge and sincerity I highly respect - specifically Chris O’Leary. I contacted him for further information on the subject and received an immediately reply. His comments and education made me realize that some of my “thought-based” teaching may be in error. So…I began to again look through my extensive personal “library” of books and videos on pitching. While my purpose was to find all I could on throwing the screwball, I began to wonder if my library was complete. In the desire to be sure that it includes all that I might need when instructing, I thought “Hey, why not ask other coaches?” Hence, this posting…

What I’d like to know from other coaches/pitching gurus is as follows:

Whose “teaching” have you found to be THE most valuable to you?
What is the ONE thing that causes you to make that source your #1 reference?
If it is in book form - what is the exact title and approximate cost?
If it is a video - again, what is it’s exact title and cost?
If it is something different, please explain.

Please understand that my intent is NOT - directly or indirectly - to push a certain book or video. I simply am an “old dog” who’se still willing to learn “new tricks” (or feel more comfortable in knowing that I already have what others are using.)

Remember, while many of you no doubt have libraries equal or superior to mine, and most probably have used a variety of its content in your teaching, please limit your choice to what you personally consider the BEST of what you have.

Here’s a general “Thank You” to those of you who reply and a specific thank you to Chris O’leary who, indirectly, caused me to make this request.

The most valuable aid I have ever come across was the trained eye of a professional. A case in point, I found Mr. O’Leary’s web-site to be very interesting, so much so that I passed the link to a former major leaguer, and a fellow with approx 10 years of coaching experience, I received 2 completely different responses. The former major leaguer was critical and said it was dis-jointed and hard to follow, he said that it showed too many angles of the same thing and as a training aid for youngsters it left much out (Some of which I conveyed to Mr. O’Leary, who to his credit was interested in making the noted changes), the other fellow thought it was a great thing and had his son, a 16 yr old JV pitcher look through it.
I guess the point I will make to you is simply this, I thought I could coach kids (20 years of experience), until I met a man who taught coaching and “was” a professional coach (Mr Dusty Rhodes of the University of North Florida), at which point I learned that one can never learn too much about the gift of coaching, and just when you think you have something down pat, you had better check the ego at the door and accept that it NEVER starts or ends with you.
Honestly the only instructional/how to book I really ever got a lot out of, had nothing to do with pitching (But it gave me some great insights into pitching), it was Ted Williams book on hitting, a classic in anyones library.

Let me make a couple of comments about this…

  1. I recognize that my methods are imperfect. However, they are cheap (though time-consuming). I know that some of you have major league contacts and I would greatly appreciate the assistance of anyone who could help me gain better access to pitchers (e.g. photographers’ wells) so that I can take pictures of them from multiple, consistent angles.

  2. There are two reasons that I sometimes have multiple pictures of the same moment in a pitcher’s motion. First, I do this so that I can see a moment from multiple angles. Second, and more importantly, I do this as a test of consistency. The key to both control and deception is to do the same thing every time.

Thanks.

Chris

Please everyone understand that I meant no negative asides to Chris, I was poorly illistrating a point.

No problem.

I mostly wanted to make the point about the importance of consistency. That is something that I haven’t focused on enough.

ive had many good coaches over the years. some understand mechanics better, some have a better idea of verbal cues that tend to be effective. ive been coaching young pitchers for a few years now.
House, Thurston, etc, these guys are all good, all have something to offer.

for me, the guy who ive seen make the most effective presentation of the mechanics of pitching is Brent Strom. because he gives good ways of making young pitchers understand, in simple terms, what they need to do to throw hardest. and what they should feel physically.

coaching is part art, part science. each kid is different, and learns differently. ive found it very interesting to see how some kids make adjustments after verbal cues, where other kids need to really feel the movement before theyre able to make the change.
for that reason, i think its important to keep in mind theres not one perfect approach or method to follow every time. each case is different. what works in one case might not be as effective in another.

when you find what works for a kid, though, thats the exciting part. thats when u get to really see the improvement and feel like you had a part in it. so my advice is to keep experimenting, keep researching to get new ideas, keep an open mind, and you’ll find you can make a difference in a young pitchers progress.

anyway, thats my input. hope my response wasnt too far off topic.

as for books, the book i would recommend the most would be “the head game”. doesnt get too into mechanics, but as for a book about pitching and how to be successful at it, its a great resource. not a bad read either. not a how to book. but it gives you an idea how great pitchers have been great over the years.

i try to get most of my info from coaches currently between the lines actually doing the job rather than living in theory. i have found some useful stuff from the gurus but lean toward the people coaching for a living.
2 of the most informative sources of info ive found recently has been the university of tennessee pitchers manual by their former pitching coach fred corral. he has moved to another school. he also has videos. the other is the university of memphis pitchers manual by coach shroenrock.
both are very detailed and complete from 2 very successful coaches.

I presently have Ted Williams’ book on hitting and I agree that its content provides a pitcher and coach with a great opportunity to “see” pitching from the hitter’s view. Additionally, I have much material (books, videos, etc.) from current coaches and have found them to be very helpful and useful. That’s one very important reason I attend the annual ABCA convention so that I can keep up-to-date with what’s out there as well as have the opportunity to talk to and share “wisdom” with fellow coaches from all levels. Brent Strom was one of this year’s presenters and he was excellent.

Coach Dixon,

You mentioned you specifically liked the work of Coach Corral (I have his video “Common Faults and Corrections in Pitching”) and Coach Shroenrock. Where did you get (How could I get) the pitching manuals that you spoke of? They sound like they can be extremely helpful.

Also, as head coach of Raider Baseball, you were one of the people whose opinion I wanted on youth baseball pitchers (see “Wanted…Part 2”). I have visited your web site, but couldn’t find any info the age range for Raider Baseball (I know it’s probably there but I couldn’t find it.) Is it affiliated with AAU baseball? While I am not a fan of year-round youth baseball (no matter what the affiliation) I AM a supporter of AAU (or whatever league) as a “replacement” organization for whatever presently exists in a community if it provides the most knowledgeable coaching staff and safest playing environment for the youths of its area. How does Raider Baseball deal with the issues mentioned in that post? Does Raider Baseball have the problem of a pitcher participating in two different leagues? If YES, how do you deal with it? Has any one of the current coaches whose material you use ever mentioned anything referent to youth pitching?

Though over the years I’ve seen and learned much having been (and still am) a coach/pitching coach/pitching clinician in Little League, Pony League, Babe Ruth, high school, and American Legion (that gives you a good idea of how the heck OLD I am!), I still want to/believe I need to learn more, particularly since science-based technology is wreaking havoc on my belief-based education.

we are a high school program. we do however have quite a bit say with our youth teams which play aabc and some usssa. we do not play year round. our kids play other sports and we encourage our high school kids to play other sports also. if they dont we keep them busy with our off season program but we’d rather them be playing football and basketball. we’ve had several kids sign college scholarships the last 4 years and all of them played other sports. one of the first things a college coach always asks me about a kid is whether he plays football or not.
as far as the material from coach shoenrock and coach corral i just called and asked them for it. very good guys and willing to share which as are 99% college coaches ive talked to.
we’ve never had a kid with major arm problems. our kids throw all the time. we dont abuse them in game situations but we dont baby them either. we throw - not pitch - all the time. since we’ve been using the throwing program on our website and armcare excercises we have not had a kid with a hurt arm or a kid miss a turn pitching. our pitchers are position players too. on rare occassion we will let them dh the day after they pitch but most of the time they are ready to go the next day.
we keep up with pitch counts but their is no magic number we go by - it varies from kid to kid. we follow the leo mazzone line of thinking that kids just dont throw enough. having said that we take care of their arms. we have a very strict required arm care program of excercises they do everyday.
remember 99% of these gurus scientific evidence is to make money. the guys in the college game are the ones on top of the latest studies, etc.
well ive rambled enough.