Pitching Coach Practice Plan Insight


#1

Hello guys, I was once active on these boards as a high school and junior college pitcher. This is my first year out of college after what I considered a very rewarding career.

I have since accepted the pitching coach position at a small D3 school in the Mid-Atlantic. It’s an exciting time but I wanted to pose the question to you guys who I trusted for years. Also it’s great to see you guys are doing well and many of the regulars are still around.

What are some key things you would feature in your practice planning for a college team?

Some of my early thoughts were based on stations for my guys. I have around 20 pitchers on my staff. I could do 5 stations of 4 players.

Some thoughts:
-Dynamic Mobility Station
-PFP Station
-Jobes/Arm Care/Scap Work Station
-Conditioning Station
-Bullpens/Flat Grounds

Just looking to open a think tank here, whether you have thoughts on practice planning or not I’m welcome to hear any of your ideas.

Thanks
Coach D


#2

I’ve watched a lot of D3 institutions, their games, practices, and so forth. Mostly on the East Cost and Mid Atlantic, some just below the Mason-Dixon Line.

From what I gathered, these clubs seem to thrive on a program that orbits -the simpler the better. Their overall scale of economy, player pool, etc. doesn’t lend itself to the dynamics of a larger organizations. Therefore, your itinerary may be a bit ambitious. I would suggest getting your feet wet first with who and what you’re dealing with. Who has the biggest bark among the other coaches and what was the track records of those that went before you as pitching coach.

On the other hand, here’s what I’ve noticed about the clubs in your line of work:
-There seems to be three or four really good players that the entire club revolves around.

-Resources are sparse, very sparse. Fund raisers are a constant way of life and be a bit haphazard at times with people showing up to help out.

-Don’t be surprised if you other duties are field maintenance, academic tracking, interfacing with local police, security details, EMT’s - at home and away, motel accommodations, meal plan selection and the types of meal plans being purchased by each player while at college, dealing with clubhouse politics, and other assigned details.

-Other programs like “clubs” seem to draw on-again/off-again players and interest. I’ve seen the “socialites”, mostly females, are the main draw here.

-Friends and friends of friends can be a distraction at practice, at home and away games also.

-Although not every D3 program is small, the complexion of the baseball program can be. Unless baseball is a big draw, you might find yourself alone a lot, I mean very alone.

-I found many, and I do mean many, small programs have one or two alumni that were once the top dog in the baseball program. They can pop up once or twice … sometimes forever, and literally take over your spot with speeches, on field appearances in the dugout, and even drive the bus to and form away games. These guys can be impossible to shake off and ignore. I’ve seen some that even undermine the very authority that the coaching staff (of two) are trying to maintain.

-Big check writers will have their relatives on the roster, regardless. Just make sure your not the reason for failures or the butt of jokes when they crash-n-burn.

-Religious colleges and such at your level of competition will have, without exception, a built in patronage system that will excluded you from just about every major decision if you’re not part of the system by residence, relatives, same religion or social persuasion.

-You will be sharing facilities with other sports so make sure your schedule is included early and all inclusive to what you need.

-You mentioned that you have 20 pitchers - don’t count on it. Be very flexible to eligibility requirements as the season progresses - grades, conduct, and so forth.

-You might require a tutor system to help some players. If there isn’t one in place for your athletes, start one of your own. If you share in a tutor system, be very selective here. Pretty girls will do nothing for your plans and will only be a distraction.

  • And last but not least, internal relations are a very important part of any sport’s program - HOWEVER - you’re only the pitching coach, DON’T overstep your boundaries here. Be mindful of what your authority is and is not. Remember that you’re the new kid on the block, so you have a certain “time-n-grade” to endure. Stick with pitching and don’t offer anything outside that realm of business.

#3

Our strength and conditioning coach would go nuts when our pitching coach stepped in and tried to run conditioning, “abs,” or anything related to that during practice. It wasn’t his realm, so be careful of overstepping your bounds right from the start. If you want to work with the strength coach on a team plan, that’s different, but be careful about taking control of his realm.

Take stock in your players, genuinely care about them and try to help them succeed. They will see this and respect you for it.

Know when to offer help, but don’t give feedback every single pitch of every single bullpen - over coaching is a real thing, and it will only get in a player’s head. It doesn’t matter if your feedback is good, if you’re saying something every single pitch. Sometimes it’s good to point players in the right direction and let them try to figure it out.


#4

LankyLefty is spot on. Also, the pitching coaches that I’ve witnessed, don’t coach during game time. Their rotation for that day/night has been planned in advance, the rotation is matched to the game plan that supports the head coach as best that can be done, and I’ve noticed that the pitchers for that day/night game won’t mingle with the bench players- or any of the spectators.

I’ve also noticed that the coaches that seem to have a handle on things with these institutions are reserved, very reserved. They tend to concentrate on the “plan” for that day/night and they don’t get all animated with what’s going on, either on the field or otherwise. For example, when calls are being disputed, every coach on the bench seems to get into it - but not the pitching coach.

If your fortunate enough to have a bullpen coach - USE HIM, use him a lot. If your club doesn’t have an itinerary for a bullpen coach- get one, make one. You’re going to know … as a must, what your guy is going to be doing prior to his taking the hill. Why? Some of your guys may get the butterflies so bad that their like jello out there. Some guys may have attitudes all of a sudden from who knows where. An some guys will actually stick it to you because of disagreement that you two had (that happened to me once - not good).

So, congratulations on your new assignment. I hope the glitter and excitement never leaves, all your challenges will be good ones that make you a better pitching coach - day by day.

One last thing - a personal note: I’d like to welcome you to the most underrated, overworked, unappreciated, test of metal that you’ll ever experience in your life. When you find yourself up against a brick wall - and you will more times that you’ll want, come back and PM anyone here that you fell comfortable with, talking to. LeftLanky is a gentleman and he’s got a ton of things to pass on to you , same with me and a few others that have actually done this for a living - either at the amateur or professional level. And now a final note - be mindful of making friends - you can’t. You’re a pitching coach. You must separate yourself from personal feelings and just do your job. Your Skipper is the one that deserves your 100% loyalty, regardless of anyone else - even your players. Your players should be treated with respect and your guidance, yes, but it’s your Skipper that you should consider every step of the way.

Good luck son and make it work for you.


#5

I meant to address your question more directly during my last posting.

About workouts and the like - some of your player may not have the opportunity to meet with you or a strength and conditioning coach at a time that’s convenient for everybody. Class schedules, even part time jobs can conflict. Some students may even require more study time, mid term and final exam help sessions, and so forth. These things interrupted me with my attendance and what I was there for, a lot.

Another thing that I saw was personal issues at home that crept into the mix. Specifically, a pitcher that I was watching didn’t seem to be with it. He was replaced only after facing five batters. Reason: someone in his family was very ill. These kind of things can come out of now where.


#6

In addition to differing school schedules, your starters will each be on a different pitching schedule as will your relief pitchers depending on their workloads. I think that instead of planning on groups of pitchers all going through the stations together, I would think you need to teach your pitchers their routine and then rely on them to do it on their own according to their individual schedules.


#7

In you new job, here are some things that might be worth considering:

The position that your assuming had a track record to it because of many things. The most important part of that track record was the coach(s) that went before you. Taking a drastic departure from your predecessor’s schedule(s), method of doing things and the like may not be well received. Go lightly in the beginning of your tenure. Aggressive management can be self defeating. Besides, there’s a reason for you being hired and not someone else - reflect on that, be honest with yourself.

When I was interested in a player, I always gave the courtesy of introducing myself to the Skipper of the club first - always. My business card, along with a formal letter of introduction pre-empted every personal contact with that coach. I never went over his head and discussed anything with his crew - including the pitching coach if there was one. So, if you’re approached and asked to talk about a player by any professional in the business of scouting - affiliated or independent, be polite, answer some general questions, then ask if that person(s) if he/she has introduced himself/herself to the head coach. There are professional considerations here that involve protocols, school policy, NCAA rules and even professional baseball way’s of doing business.

Every head coach has gotten to be a head coach by climbing the ladder - job after job after job. In many instances, they like to have a crew that they feel comfortable with, thus bring along with them to the next job. That next job, more often than not, is a better paying job with a little more goodies to it. So, reason out a good base of “contacts” in the job that you’re now going to assume.

Join the American Baseball Coaches Association - abca.org
Those “contracts” I referred to above can be cultivated during your tenure at this D3 institution. This organization has conventions that are not only informative, but a real nice collection of “who’s who” in your profession. Also, their classified jobs section is a wealth of information about who’s looking for what, turnover by district/region, and so on. They also publish a directory of coaches and contacts.

Since you’re the new kid on the block, you may get jobs that … well … may seem beneath you. Go with the flow… it’s all about time-n-grade and paying your dues in this business. Heck, one of my first jobs was making cotton candy. I even put that down on a resume I sent out… I got a call back within a week and was hired on the spot. That new coaching job moved me up a peg … I got my CDL and was the substitute bus driver.