at our club we have a former minor league pitcher who last season was the coach for our bronco team. the main area of focus in the club is 16 below. my age group is 13-16 and we lack pitchers, not in number but ability. im the teams catcher and i believe that our “rotation” could benefit from coaching. should the minor league pitcher teach us “tricks of the trade” so to speak. im the teams oldest pitcher and i am developed, 6’1", 150lbs, i haven’t been instructed on the curveball or anything else. yet at the gb acadamy, there are 10 yr olds who can throw better curves then the people on my senior team. would you as coaches let him teach us, or as players want him to?
The problem I’ve found with former players of any position automatically thinking they can coach because of their experience is that they often will teach you “… the way I did it…” The way they did it may just be their own adaptations and not necessarily the way the pros do it or the pro teachers teach it.
What you need is a “student of the game”, in this case, pitching.
Has he studied concepts and theories out there?
Has he studied how the pros do it?
Does he know what internal and external rotation are and their roles?
Does he know what scapula loading is and it’s role? Why is it important to shoulder safety?
Does he understand the concept of the “kinetic chain” and the transfer of built up elastic energy?
Does he understand the concepts of elastic energy, stretch shortening cycle, etc.?
How about hip/shoulder separation?
Does he understand the problems with various cues, like “push hard off the rubber”, “drop 'n drive”, “tall 'n fall”, etc.?
Does he understand the differences between circle down, back and up slingers and horizontal W pitchers?
If he doesn’t understand these things, he may not be a student of the game and may not be able to advise accordingly. Doing it the way he figured out worked for him just isn’t enough for every kid.
If he’s a former minor leaguer, I’m sure he’s heard all of the fancy terms. I have been coaching and teaching the game for the last 30 years. There is one important thing I have learned and I believe dm59 was making this point. Just because you’ve gone to a university and gotten a degree from professor’s, this does not make you a university professor. Ask this player if he has been coaching at all. He will undoubtedly have some good advice for you and I believe that a 15-16 year old is certainly ready to learn a curve. Mechanics and arm slot will be most important when learning it. Good luck and work hard.
Great topic, and really good responses from coachric, dm59 and gb_catcher1.
I do think there’s a “value” to working with a former pro, even if he doesn’t know every pitching concept out there. Look, gotta be honest here, if you ask most pros about some of the instructors you can find online, you’d get a lot of blank stares. Even the ones that rank high on Google. Seriously.
I do think there’s a value in watching and working with a pro or former pro. If for nothing else, I think it helps to put professional baseball into context. The youth may start to think: “Hey, if he could do it, then I could play pro ball, too.” That’s a huge thing.
It’s the same reason that a lot of kids of pro ball players become professional baseball players, too: They’re in the dugout with dad. They’re around other pro players all the time. They’re not intimidated. They feel comfortable and realize that pro players are nothing special. They feel like they belong there because they grew up there.
That confidence, which may come from working with a former pro, could go a long way. Or at the very least, a lot farther than learning about various instructors’ “pitching concepts.” Are those concepts important? Of course they are. But what you find at the highest levels of the game is that confidence (which is different than arrogance) is king. The sooner that’s instilled in a youngster – be it hanging around pros or former pros – I think the quicker they’ll gain that confidence, which is so necessary.
You’re right, coachric. The fancy terms aren’t the point. It’s the concepts and the fact that the guy actually has grappled with them that I’m describing. Good point Stephen, the attitude and confidence are important. I guess I’m a little bit jaded by some of the coaching I see in my area. It’s not former big league or minor league players but coaches who mean well but who teach kids to do what they did when they played. What works for one doesn’t work for all. I’ve seen examples of coaches getting kids to do certain things that are intended to do something positive but I haven’t seen the pros actually doing it. I was taught some incorrect things as a kid by well intentioned adults. I prefer to do the homework so that what I pass on to a kid is a close to what the pros do and teach as possible. The problem is that baseball people agree on very little when it comes to mechanics, whether that be in hitting or pitching.
Listen to Dm59 thats a voice of experience. Things aren’t always what they seem. Definitely look for someone used to working with teenagers. A high school pitching coach is good place to start. We paid a heavy price going in the direction your considering.
thanks guys you’ve been a great help