My Way or the Highway


#1

There’s something that I’ve noticed within amateur environment that seems to be across the boards with respect to coaches. There is this “my way or the highway” environment that permeates a lot of clubs for the 12 years old, up into high school, and absolutely at the college level. Now I know there are exceptions, but for the most part, I haven’t seen it (exceptions).

Granted, my experiences have only been up and down the East Coast, from Maine to Georgia, and west to Ohio, but still. The majority of the coaching population at the amateur level is pure adult control and adult pressures of one or more adults on other adults that elect to coach.

So, does visiting this site and receiving advice actually backfire on a youngster who takes that advice and brings it onto the playing field? I don’t know how much of that assumption is fact or just my imagination. So, I put it out there for some feedback.

Have you taken advice and suggestions presented here, onto the field, only to be told… “hey wait a minute, you’re not doing what I told you to do.”

Just wondering?


#2

The most valuable life lesson my son has learned from baseball coaches is how to deal with jerks. Most in our experience, I hate to say it, are jerks.
It would be one thing to be a jerk and be great at improving performance, but, most are not great or even good in my experience.

I have found a tremendous amount of insecurity in the coaching ranks. I dont know if this is people needing to feel in control or if they are insecure about their lack of knowledge, but, it is pervasive. It has been said baseball is a game of failure and that is true. Maybe this feeds the psyche of people under the impression they should be able to control it.
One thing for sure…if you are in a position of power over people, particularly kids, and you exploit that power in a negative way you are a jerk.
The other thing I have seen is little accountability from coaches. They preach one thing…be accountable, never miss time, be respectful, respect the game (blah)…then display the opposite behavior. In short; hypocrites.
So, my son learned pretty early on to not share any excitement about what he was doing, to not share any other coaching he may have received. If you coach tells you to do something, do it. If it is stupid and a waste of time, just bite your tongue on do it.
If you travel ball coach forbids coaching or lessons anywhere else, ignore him. Kids, you have to be able to seek out your own information and your own coaching, because, chances are your high school coach or travel ball coach does not care about your development.
To answer your question, finding information that is helpful, whether via this site or private instructors is a great thing. Just think twice before sharing it with your high school or travel ball coach.
That has been our experience anyway.


#3

[quote=“fearsomefour”]The most valuable life lesson my son has learned from baseball coaches is how to deal with jerks. Most in our experience, I hate to say it, are jerks.
It would be one thing to be a jerk and be great at improving performance, but, most are not great or even good in my experience.

I have found a tremendous amount of insecurity in the coaching ranks. I dont know if this is people needing to feel in control or if they are insecure about their lack of knowledge, but, it is pervasive. It has been said baseball is a game of failure and that is true. Maybe this feeds the psyche of people under the impression they should be able to control it.
One thing for sure…if you are in a position of power over people, particularly kids, and you exploit that power in a negative way you are a jerk.
The other thing I have seen is little accountability from coaches. They preach one thing…be accountable, never miss time, be respectful, respect the game (blah)…then display the opposite behavior. In short; hypocrites.
So, my son learned pretty early on to not share any excitement about what he was doing, to not share any other coaching he may have received. If you coach tells you to do something, do it. If it is stupid and a waste of time, just bite your tongue on do it.
If you travel ball coach forbids coaching or lessons anywhere else, ignore him. Kids, you have to be able to seek out your own information and your own coaching, because, chances are your high school coach or travel ball coach does not care about your development.
To answer your question, finding information that is helpful, whether via this site or private instructors is a great thing. Just think twice before sharing it with your high school or travel ball coach.
That has been our experience anyway.[/quote]

So sad, but true


#4

I had been working with a high school kid for a couple years and his mechanics were looking pretty good. But one off-seaon we were trying to squeeze a little more velocity out of him and we introduced a slight counter-rotation to increase hip and shoulder separation. After some work, the pitcher went from low 70’s to upper 70’s as witnessed by the pitcher’s dad who was operating the radar gun. When the school season started and the school’s pitching coach - a former SF Giants pitcher - noticed the change in the pitcher’s deivery. He accused the pitcher of trying to copy Tim Lincecum and told the pitcher to go back to his old delivery. The pitcher - and his dad - were not amused.


#5

Roger, of all the people - helping a youngster to enjoy this craft, to take away all the work and attention that you gave that youngster, only to be slighted by someone with little or no appreciation of all your work… I have found typical, very typical in the youth game and at the upper levels of amateur baseball.

I’m not a man who patronages anyone. I don’t care for, or, talk to hear myself talk.

However, I will say this…
I’ve followed your posts here on this site since day one of reading and posting, and I will state that you have one of best handles on observing and commenting here. You’re precise and to the point without the banter and sarcasm. You’ve got an excellent eye for detail and how to approach subject matter that really helps a youngster, parents and anyone else for that matter.

One of the many reasons why I don’t coach in the amateur ranks physically is - I have no feel for it. I have no talent for addressing the youth side of things and perhaps messing up someone like yourself who has worked with youngsters. I can however critique based on observations, but putting the time in, one on one, comes with a lot of unknowns. Unknowns that mirror the situation that you described.


#6

One of the worst examples of this line of thinking is that of the coach who insists—mandates—that there’s only one way to pitch, and that is “over the top” with no regard as to whether that delivery is right and comfortable for the young pitcher. I’ve seen this all too often, and to my way of thinking such a coach has to be one of the worst jerks in captivity. I can only
suggest that the young pitcher thank this coach for his time and RUN!!!
In my playing days I had the good fortune to work with one of the finest pitching coaches anyone would give his eye teeth to work with—a veteran major-leaguer named Eddie Lopat who had absolutely no use for that kind of thinking. Whether working with a young Little Leaguer or an oldtimer who needed assistance or someone like me who just wanted to be a better and more effective pitcher, he would start out by helping the pitcher find his natural, comfortable arm angle and take it from there. He saw that I was a true natural sidearmer who liked to use the crossfire, and he helped me refine that move, in addition to expanding my repertoire and teaching me a lot of very intensive stuff he felt I needed to know. I worked with him for almost four years, and what I learned from him was nothing short of priceless—and I am proud to say that, whether as a starter or a late-inning reliever, I never lost a game!
He also had a way of putting things in perspective. One day I commented that I knew he didn’t win all the time, that he did lose games now and then, and he startled me—he said that I sounded like a pitcher who had never lost a game! I had to admit that this was the case, and then he remarked:
“Oh, I’ve lost some—but it all depends on the loss. I’ve been belted around, 8-0, 9-3,11-2, but even though I didn’t like it I wasn’t all that upset by it because all those scores told me was that I just didn’t have my good stuff those days. What got me was the close ones—2-1, 3-2—and often after such a defeat I would sit in the locker room and chew myself out for letting the game get away from me. It was at those times I would wish I’d just gone fishing.” I would remark, sympathetically, “Aw-w-w…but you won your next time out.” Which he did.
(sigh) If only we had more pitching coaches like that.
:slight_smile:


#7

This is a great topic.

When I began to do things out of the ordinary in regards to my pitching, meaning warm up routine, long toss, weighted balls, mechanical changes, etc there was a lot of resistance from coaches at first. They obviously thought their way was the best way, and I listened to them but I also did a lot of research on my own too to support what I was doing. (They usually thought I was pulling this stuff out of my you know what). I was stubborn and kept on what I was doing, what I thought was right, and there were coaches who supported what I was doing but not all of them did. I knew if I was going to make it I had to do it this way. Low and behold 2 years later I sit at division 1 school with man opportunities ahead of me. And all those coaches who downed what I was doing, take credit for what I’m doing now. Funny how that works.

Disclaimer: I put in many hours of research when it came to my craft, my stubbornness didn’t just come because I wanted to be stubborn. I trusted what I was doing. Also never don’t listen to what a coach has to say, just understand they’re probably wrong 90% of the time. Be smart.


#8

One way of handling the situation: next time a coach (?) who appears not to know his elbow from third base or whatever persists in the idea that his way is the only way to go, ask him one question: “Why?”—and wait for his answer. If he has any sense in his head, he might be amenable to a serious discussion. If not—thank him for his time and RUN!!!
I will never forget the time I was watching Eddie Lopat, my wise and wonderful pitching coach, conduct a workshop for some high-school pitchers, and I saw how he dealt with a youngster who had some serious issues with his pitching. The kid’s problem was that his high-school coach was a stick-in-the-mud with one idea—his way or the highway—and he was glad that the kid was considering giving up on the game, resistant as he was. Lopat, who never stood for such—utter—c.r.a.p., went after the problem, starting with clearing the kid’s head and then demolishing a whole slew of misconceptions and mistaken ideas, and he ended up by making a snatching motion with his hand and exclaiming “And this is what you do with a mosquito!” I had to laugh, and then I realized that this was his way of thinking. My estimation of Steady Eddie jumped another 600%.


#9

One way of handling the situation: next time a coach (?) who appears not to know his elbow from third base or whatever persists in the idea that his way is the only way to go, ask him one question: “Why?”—and wait for his answer. If he has any sense in his head, he might be amenable to a serious discussion. If not—thank him for his time and RUN!!!
I will never forget the time I was watching Eddie Lopat, my wise and wonderful pitching coach, conduct a workshop for some high-school pitchers, and I saw how he dealt with a youngster who had some serious issues with his pitching. The kid’s problem was that his high-school coach was a stick-in-the-mud with one idea—his way or the highway—and he was glad that the kid was considering giving up on the game, resistant as he was. Lopat, who never stood for such—utter—c.r.a.p., went after the problem, starting with clearing the kid’s head and then demolishing a whole slew of misconceptions and mistaken ideas, and he ended up by making a snatching motion with his hand and exclaiming “And this is what you do with a mosquito!” I had to laugh, and then I realized that this was his way of thinking. My estimation of Steady Eddie jumped another 600%.


#10

Unfortunately, this situation is all too common for players. As a HS player, I see this first hand on a regular basis. It really is a bum deal for the kids that have to deal with this. The way that I handle it whenever comes up (pretty often) is to listen to whatever BS the coach has to say and do it when he is watching. However, once his back is turned, I go back to doing stuff the right way. In the end, I have to do whatever is best for myself and my career, and if some quack has other ideas then hes just gonna have to deal with it.

You will notice that these types are also the first to take credit whenever one of “their” athletes makes, totally discounting the countless hours of work that the kid put in and the first to blame bad outings on not following their instruction.

Honestly, this attitude really really angers me. It reflects the anti-intellectualism that is rampant among the coaches in this sport. Their only source of information is how it was done “back in the day” and they completely ignore the massive amount of amazing data that can be found in research. They ostracize the few coaches that train the athletes the right way and bench the athletes that have enough sense to question what they have to say.

Ultimately, as players, coaches, and parents, it is up to each of us to take a stand against these coaches (I use that term loosely) for the sake of the players and the sport.


#11

How things were done “back in the day”—if you look carefully you’ll find that there were pitching coaches with brains, with common sense, and with an instinct for not only what was right but also what was comfortable for each individual pitcher. Jim Turner was one of the great pitching coaches—but if something came up that puzzled him he would ask Eddie Lopat for advice and help. I will never forget a game in which Whitey Ford, in his rookie year, started a game and was lambasted from here to Timbuktu with every pitch being turned into a line-drive base hit. First baseman Tommy Henrich told him that the first-base coach was calling every pitch he threw! The next day Turner and Lopat took Ford into the bullpen and had him throw from the stretch, because that was where the problem was occurring. Turner was puzzled and kept scratching his head, but Steady Eddie spotted the trouble at once: Ford was positioning his glove hand one way for a fast ball and another way for a curve, so it was no problem for the first-base coach to relay the signal to the batter. Lopat took Ford aside and quietly told him what he was doing wrong, and the problem was corrected in short order. No ifs, ands, buts or bases on balls. Ford won his next start…


#12

Unfortunately this was our experience for my son’s freshman year. The coach had one way for pitching mechanics - head should stay straight and not move, arm to stay forward going straight towards home plate -not sure how to de-accelerate the arm when the hand ends up in the crouch, but that wasn’t an issue for the coach - and he needs to finish in a standing, fielding position, balanced and facing the hitter. Needless to say, even though my son was hitting mid 80’s with a strong K-BB rate, he didn’t pitch much and sat the bench, while the coaches guys got hammered with their soft stuff.

The fallout is my son has put all of his energies into academics, that’s a good thing, and basketball, which has turned out very well for him. He has no desire to play for this coach again.