Pitching Coaches

Reading that Chris was back in this forum rekindled something I had been wondering for a while. How many of you that now provide pitching instruction actually pitched yourself , and do you think it should be a determing factor when an aspiring pitcher selects a pitching coach ?

In my opinion, (and remember here folks, it’s just my opinion) if you’re an aspiring Pitcher who wants to get to the Collegiate level or beyond, you’re best bet is to receive instruction from someone whose actually played the game for an extended period of time, now I’m not saying that they’ve had to went Pro, but at the very least an extensive background up to the Collegiate Level and then a solid background in Coaching.

The problem I see with receiving instruction from someone who hasn’t played the game is that for the most part they are too hung up on the theory aspect of it. As I said in a Chat discussion with someone everything in theory works, for example Communism in theory was perfect. But applying that theory is a whole other story. This is where most instructors who’ve never played the game get into trouble and they try and force people into their theories.

You can have all the book smarts you want, but it takes that other aspect called experience of actually being on the field knowing what emotions, thought process and feelings and knowing from looking through their experiences what they did wrong, or team mates did wrong, so they’ve learned from their own experiences and mistakes to really be able to apply and teach to someone successfully.

Now there are some people (few and far between) who’ve never played the game that are good at doing instructional work, but again they are few and far between, and chances are you’ll waste a lot of time and money on the ones who don’t really know what they are doing.

Again this is just my opinion.

I teach and pitch. No substitute for experience.

“Communism in theory was perfect. But applying that theory is a whole other story. This is where most instructors who’ve never played the game get into trouble and they try and force people into their theories”

IMO a very wise theory there Wales :wink:
Pitching is a holistic thing…leaving out any aspect can prove fatal…right on down to grades and sat scores. Experienced instructors are aware of those little things that can stop it all.
I had a very sad event the other day…A kid who is 2 years older than my son, cruised low 90’s in hs…quality pitcher, quality kid…a good person…had to go Community College because of grades…is now struggling with motivation because of schooling…This kid was looked at by some great schools but is now mired in it all because of that one aspect…I said what I could in hopes to rekindle something…(Let me tell you, his dad was really hurtin…not much a parent can do if a kid won’t get that aspect together.). He is now wondering…Marine Corp. or struggle through…the happy kid throwing 90 is facing life without his art…woe was that sad.

JD,

That’s a shame. Everytime I talk to any player at the HS level or below I always stress the importance of grades. It’s really too bad when guys leave out that part of the equation.

I know most Pitching Coaches usually don’t stress the importance of marks, because they view it as not being there job, which I can understand, they are being paid to instruct the player in the skill set of Pitching.

But what good does having the skill set if you don’t have the marks to get to where you want to go?

Very sad indeed.

Wait, what? Which is Chris is back? I haven’t been in the last few days…

[quote=“terprhp”]Reading that Chris was back in this forum rekindled something I had been wondering for a while. How many of you that now provide pitching instruction actually pitched yourself , and do you think it should be a determing factor when an aspiring pitcher selects a pitching coach ?[/quote]I am a pitcher myself in college now…and i think it plays a very small factor, jus because a player that played before can maybe speak in a language more familiar to the pitcher needing advice…but i dont think it matters really

I don’t think pitching experience matters because just because you were a good pitcher doesn’t mean your going to be a good coach. I had this one coach, real old guy who had pitched for like the Brooklyn Dodgers organization and than coached since than. Great baseball guy, I respect him very much for still being involved in the game, but every time I got on the mound it was like I had never met him before. If something was a little off and I wasn’t throwing as well as last time, he couldn’t tell me what I was doing differently because he didn’t remember!

Now that might be an extreme example but I have another one. In high school an ex successful major league reliever, I’m not going to mention any names because I’m not like that, used to come down 2 times a week and work with us. Now this guy had been successful but he did nothing to improve our staff pitching wise. He didn’t teach anyone anything that made any difference. So though he had been a very good pitcher, he was not a very good coach. (I must add though that he had awesome stories about “the show” and had unique ways of doing running and drills that made them actually fun. Everyone looked forward to the days that he was coming. So he would have made a good head coach maybe, but pitching coach he wasn’t to great.)

The point is that some of the best things I’ve ever been taught have come from guys who have had little to no pitching experience, and some of the worst things I’ve ever been taught have come from guys with great experience. This is all just opinion of course, I’m not saying that anyones wrong here, I just think, from my experience, a good coach is a good coach and a good player is a good player. Is it possible to be a good player and a good coach? Of course it is! but I think its also possible to be just one.

I give pitching instruction but I have no pitching experience.

I’ve coached Little League, travel ball and junior high teams and have provided pitching instruction through that role. And I will soon be offering private pitching lessons.

I know my lack of experience means there are things I don’t know. However, I feel those things figure in more at higher levels which is why, up until now, I’ve pretty much limited myself to working with younger kids. Plus, I like to help get the young kids started down the right path.

Despite my lack of experience, I do think I know more about pitching - especially mechnics - than most coaches I’ve been exposed to. And I don’t have any old conventional wisdoms stuck in my head. My younger son use to take lessons from a former pro pitcher back before I knew much and, in hindsight, he taught some stuff (e.g. balance point) I would never teach now.

“I do think I know more about pitching - especially mechnics - than most coaches I’ve been exposed to. And I don’t have any old conventional wisdoms stuck in my head. My younger son use to take lessons from a former pro pitcher back before I knew much and, in hindsight, he taught some stuff (e.g. balance point) I would never teach now”

Greg Maddux to ya Roger. 8)
I’d spend money having you coach my kid. Not this one, he’s already spoiled…my grandson…he’s up and coming…I believe he’ll be a lefty…his daddy is 6’3" 220, so you’ll have a decent form to mold. :wink:

Thanks for the kind words, JD.

Dad sounds good sized. If I were a future coach of the boy, I’d take notice of Dad’s size. Sometimes, I wonder if coaches notice things like that. Especially with late-bloomers - keep ‘em in the program long enough to bloom if you think they’ll end up big. Ya’ never know what you might end up with. Could be a bust. Or could be a player that’s going somewhere.

Pitching coaches are a multi-level group, all marking time based on their environment. A glimpse in time for this population is briefly covered in a post that I made on this forum under Just for Coaches. On that forum I submitted a read titled “Types of Coaches and Types of Coaches Part Two”.
In addition to that, pitching coaches normally bring a certain element of history with them thateither becomes a base for instruction … or is a rock solid mindset regardless of what’s happening in the world around them. Again, like I said above, it all depends on the environment that their in.

When I was coaching at a highly aggressive tempo, I used my experience to suggest rather than coach. Very little tweaking was necessary because of the talent level that I was dealing with. And it was my experience that gave me that intuition – to leave well enough alone. My duties were more
oriented towards the rotation as a staff rather than each individual pitcher. And this rotation’s contribution to the head coach’s game plan more than who’s available today, tomorrow, etc. Pitch selection as a total tool … so many fastballs, so many change-ups, so many junk guys, and so on. My job was to insure a tool box that our club could use to command our defensive posture.

On the other hand, in order to get to that level… I paid my dues by learning a lot more from my charges then I’m sure they learned from me. I made a ton of mistakes, turned upside-down more game plays than I care to count, and so it goes. I did all of this at a very unflattering level of competition and I would admit I didn’t do justice to a lot of the pitchers at that level. But, in hindsight I will say that we were all at that level for a reason – ability. (or the lack there of.)

As far as technique and what’s “hot” on the training circuit today — well, that’s up for grabs, depending on whom you talk to. I’ve learned over the years that endorsements and claims means squat if they don’t have real world application. Take Steve Ellis and his TuffCuff. In my professional opinion, you don’t get any more real world then that. You can use that NOW. It works… NOW. It has real, sensible knowledge … NOW. It’s all in one place…NOW. On the other hand, I’ve had a lot of youngsters who
have returned from some pretty famous training camps- former MLB pro’s – renowned coaching experts,and they could have all save a lot of time and money… because there was little or no evidence of mprovement. Why? Because youth has its limitations. Size, weight, tolerance levels, and most importantly – the playing environment. A kid whose six foot, three hundred pounds and who’s on a perpetual diet of pop, Twinkies and practices once a week just isn’t going to cut it – I don’t care how much his parents spend. And a kid that has to pitch and play off a field that resembles a bombing range, with a mound made of sand and dirt with a rubber that sticks out the ground about eight inches is in for a real disappointment – I don’t care who trains him. Also, kids that play with a club at the 14U level that doesn’t allow them to fail just as much as they succeed – has a very narrow commitment to the youth coaching role. ( just my opinion)

The bottom line here is, pitching is a craft, an art form, just as much as say… painting, pottery making and dance. You’ve got to learn young, with a certain amount of talent going into the process – as much as experiencing the process itself. Does this mean that everybody can be trained to be a NCAA Division one player – no. However, somewhere between 10U baseball and high school JV, a certain learning curve can be satisfied— without a pitching coach. The place were you live and the surrounding resources has a lot to do with your education here – baseball wise. If you’re not fortunate enough to be one of the “haves” in this regard… well then your one of the “have not”. You do the best you can.

Can finding a pitching coach improve your lot. No. why? Because this coach will be dealing with the same scale-of-economy that you’re dealing with. So be reasonable and realistic when asking for a pitching coach. Their expensive, time consuming and as productive as you are — not the other way around.

If you have the talent to warrant a further “look see” by those in the game – regardless of the level of competition that you’re at – you’ll be spotted and approached. I know this is hard to believe but it’s true.
I’ve found many— and I do mean many, of my pitchers at all levels by driving by a park, or watching some kid toss a ball with his dad or buddies, and slammed on the brakes and then politely introduced myself. If you’ve got talent, even raw talent – you’ll be spotted. Pitching coach or not.

Coach B.

Being a good player does not mean one will be a good coach. Because
you can do something does not mean you can teach someone to do it.
The converse is also true. One does not have to have done something
to teach how to do it. A doctor doesn’t have to experience a heart attack
to know what its about and how to treat it. If a pitching coach is knowledgable of proper mechanics, and has the pitching experience to coach the nonmechanical intangibles of pitching, he will have a real advantage over someone without experience. For example, the pitching coach who has also pitched will be able to know what works and what does not because he has probably experienced it. The combination will be be synergistic.

One final thought. Wheather one has pitching experience or not, he needs to be a good communicator.

I don’t think anyone here said that good pitchers make good coaches. I do believe, however, that all other things being equal, the coaches that have pitching experience will have a little more to offer than one that doesn’t have game experience.

Roger, I would agree that you have more knowledge than many coaches. Now I think you would agree that if you took that knowledge, and had personal experience attached to it, you’d be that much better off.

In my mind, experience is just an added tool for the tool belt, and it definitely helps me relate to other pitchers through my own similar experiences.

This is an excellent though under-appreciated point. Instruction is worthless if the pitcher doesn’t understand it. Different people learn by different means (hearing, seeing, feeling/doing) and a coach needs to learn this about his pitchers and tailor his communication/instruction accordingly.

Definitely agree.