Pitching Coaches and You

From time to time there are questions about getting a pitching coach and for those of you in high school or just about to reach that age level, I’d like to bring certain things to your attention that will help you.

However, I will deliberately avoid suggesting any youngster under the age of twelve to seek the level of intensity and scope that a true pitching coach will bring to the table. A youngster who’s twelve and under does not have the attention span, endurance, and growth physique to gain from this kind of instruction. RATHER, a healthy mix of school, family, social commitments and good citizenship exposure WILL serve this group of youngster’s best.

Now I know every youngster twelve and under has a fan club of parents and relatives that’ll tack my silhouette to the wall with … “ Oh yeah fella… well you haven’t seen my kid in action … so don’t go telling me!” Sorry to say… I have… in a way. Enough for me to say… “ been there… done that… got the T-shirt”. On the other hand, the best benefits that youngsters in this age bracket can get is play the game and observe the
best they can, and attend as many short –one-day clinics, then progress up to baseball summer camps. All in all, this mix is a lot of fun and great exposure to other kids, playing styles and a bunch of other stuff … fitting the age.

My suggestions here are for those fifteen and older.

First of all you want to learn things on the practice field that will work on the playing field. Right? Sounds simple enough … but it’s not. In order to learn… you got to learn by doing. And this means not falling back into old habits because these things are what your use to and their what you feel comfortable with. Also, you want this coach to be somewhat one-on-one with you, so you can learn by listening to his/her observations of YOU not
a general broad-brush of a hundred other guys standing around next to you.

Ok – so who do you look for. Well, let’s look at who’s available and what do they have for you and your enhancement.

There are four basic types of pitching coaches and they each play a role in the game. Some may be just the ticket and others are definitely not. Here are the four basic pitching coaches:

(1) Professional-Specific Pitching Coach*
(2) Seasonal Pitching Coach
(3) Clinic pitching Coach
(4) Rehab Pitching Coach*

Before we go any further, let’s get those that ARE NOT going to fit the bill out of the way first.
*(4) Rehab Pitch Coach will not be available for your use under most … if not all circumstances.

*(1) Professional-Specific Pitching Coach:
Professional pitching coaches in the Majors like John Farrell of the Red Sox, Brad Arnsberg of the Jays, and Rick Honeycutt of the Dodgers won’t be shaking anybody’s hand soon … including mine. Also, let’s include in this group … just as accomplished, pitching coach Mike Sweeney of the University of Massachusetts, J.D. Arteaga of University of Miami and the skipper of UCLA John Savage. All of these men could easily bring you along with flying colors… but that’s not gonna happen. Their attention span is at such a high intensity that the age group that you’re in just isn’t their thing… mostly.

*(4) Rehab Pitching Coach:
Rehap pitching coaches work very closely with trained and certified medical specialists and technicians. These coaches plug the gap between the medical staff and the player for the sport specific – pitching. These coaches follow the strict guidelines of all medical directives and set limits and thresholds based on improvements. And since these coaches know what to look for… quality wise, their link in the comeback of any athlete is invaluable. These coaches are totally out of reach … money wise, for the
amateur player and his/her family, unless of course the player is enrolled in a very high profile college or university. [color=red]
These men and women come with an impressive set of credentials. There references are impeccable
and they have the formal training to back up their title. They also carry insurance like any other
professional and are more than willing to show evidence of all the above. .

Ok, now the coaches that you’ll be look for:

(2) Seasonal Pitching Coach
(3) Clinic pitching Coach

These two types of pitching coaches usually interact and can be one and the same. But, their experience rate can be dramatically different based on their training, playing experience and what club(s) they are with … or were. For example, high school coaches make up the majority of these two groups and at that,some are nothing more than part timers at best. School teachers who also coach the local high school varsity are prime examples. But this doesn’t mean that they can’t coach pitching.

So, what criteria can you use. I suggest the following:
 Watch and learn from other youngsters BEFORE you get into a program and observe how this team’s pitching coach handles them. Are players NOT on their own, instead they are instructed? Do they have a routine to follow? Are pitchers treated as a group? If your answer to these basic questions is yes, that’s a good sign. This is a pitching coach worth talking to WITH your parents or family member(s).
 Attend even the most basic pitching clinics. Get a feel for what’s out there.
 Expect to learn something new at each training session.
 Don’t be surprised if you find a few different “systems” out there. Coaching pitchers can go from the simplest thing on the planet to the complex.
 Have a meeting with your prospective pitching coach and have him/her give you a training plan in writing, telling your exactly what your going to LEARN. The bottom line here is you should EXPECT your money’s worth at every…. and I mean EVERY session.
 To go, or not to got, with any pitching coach depends on the chemistry between you and him/her. You’ve got to be comfortable with this person. BUT, you might have to get a few sessions under your belt before you can make that assessment.
 And very important… your pitching coach shouldn’t b coaching your father or mother while he/she is coaching you. Parents and other family members can make the job of coaching very, very difficult. Don’t have your family members expect justification for every little thing.
 And finally, you must honestly try what you’ve been coached… on the playing field. And expect to have a rough go of it… for a while. After all, your learning by doing, and that process takes time.

All of the above was considering you on a one-on-one routine. There are of course prospect camps, special team clinics and so forth that can give you somewhat of the same experience … but your one-on-one relationship will not be as direct or complete.

Coach B.

Hi there, Coach B!
You were saying in your next-to-last paragraph that parents can make things very, very difficult for a coach—how true that is. NPA recently reprinted an article called “Dad, Are You Too Much Over The Top?” or something like that, which really should be required reading for everyone involved. This article told of a kid who gave up on the game—lost interest, no longer cared about it—because his father was constantly undermining the pitching coach, insisting that the kid throw over the top all the time in spite of the fact that this was not the kid’s natural delivery. You see this sort of thing all too often.
I remember how I found my pitching coach. There may have been luck involved, but it seems that I asked the right person about the slider. He was an active major-league pitcher who doubled as an extra pitching coach for the Yankees, and somehow he knew instinctively that I was serious—that I really wanted to know about that pitch. So he showed me how to throw it, and while I was familiarizing myself with the wrist action and all he watched me and made some mental notes—he was forming a jumping-off point from which he could work with me. That started it—for some three-and-a-half years he did just that; he took me in hand and helped me become a better pitcher than I had been before.
And it wasn’t just pitching—he worked with me on fielding my position, which is absolutely essential nowadays, and he gave me more support, reassurance and reinforcement than I had ever imagined possible. He had a basic premise: that every pitcher has a natural motion and the thing to do is show that pitcher how to make the most of it.
It doesn’t get any better than that. :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

You two are gold! 8) :mrgreen: :nod: :applause:

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When I sit on my front porch, and settle in to my favorite rocker, it’s nice to see someone else rocking in the same direction with the same tempo.

Zita rocks!

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