Where to start?

I have played baseball all my life but unfortunately pitching is not my forte. I love the game of baseball and hope to pass on that love to others that I come in contact with. I recently decided to go back to college and get a degree in Physical Education, Wellness and Leisure so I can begin coaching at the high school level. An opportunity came my way to help coach at a very small high school in Southern Arkansas. The program has never been much. I have had a number of people tell me that it is a “basketball school”. Being a “basketball school” not much interest has been shown toward baseball. So most of the players missed out on the necessary fundamentals needed to compete at this level. For the past few years we have been building up the youth summer baseball program. Most of our program consists of ages 5-12. Then there’s a gap till our high school program. So the future is looking bright for our community. Back to my original reason for posting…

We had our first practice this past Tuesday. We went over the stretching program that I purchased along with the “The TUFFCUFF Strength And Conditioning Manual For Baseball Pitchers” which is on it’s way. We are currently in our fall work out and right now we only practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays for a couple of house which could change if need be.

What I have is 9th-12th grade boys that haven’t played much baseball. I also have 7th-8th graders that haven’t played much either.

Where do I start? Will I start at the same place for both Jr. Varsity and Varsity?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Coach Meeker

This is what Ed Lopat—an active major-league pitcher and one of the finest pitching coaches anyone could ever hope to work with—told me. He would start off by checking out a pitcher in any one of a dozen ways—to determine what that pitcher’s natural motion is, what kind of stuff s/he has, if anything, and what the possibilities are—what that pitcher is, and could become, capable of. Then he would work with said pitcher to maximize those capabilities. He might start with the basics—the fundamentals—with a rank beginner who never pitched before. Another pitcher might have a rudimentary fast ball, and so the concentration might begin there, to work on velocity, location, command of that pitch, and maybe get started on a changeup. The important thing is to take what the pitcher is giving you and showing him/her how to make the most of it.
With position players, the emphasis needs to be on fielding one’s position, of course—in all aspects. this is particularly true of the infielders, and each infield position has its own problems and its own challenges, and what you want to do is work with each fielder individually at first and then get into the group practices—cutoffs, turning the double play, handling ground balls and pop-ups, and so on.
And don’t neglect the catcher—in many ways this is the most essential of the infield positions!
This is just a start that I’m presenting to you here—no doubt you’ll find other things to work on, but I’m sure you’ll be able to handle it. 8)

Gotta start somewhere, make them good athletes, Tuff Cuff should develop so many aspects of their game that it should be very solid training.

Next, are they coachable, can you develop players from “this is what I do” to this is “how it’s done”. Get rid of the uncoachable ones, who needs a player that “knows” better.

Once you have the plyers that are solid coachable athletes then the rest is just dedicaiton and hard work.

Coach,

Sounds like your “Where to start?” question applies to all aspects of baseball since your kids haven’t played much baseball. But since you’re on this site, I’ll just speak to pitching.

I would imagine that control is going to be a big issue. So anything you can do to solidify their mechanics and make their deliveries as consistent as possible might be your first focus. Working on developing a couple different pitches (e.g. fastball + changeup or fastball + curve) should also be up there.

I would suggest looking at some of the NPA’s materials. They have books and videos that explain their mechanics model and they have videos on throwing change-ups and curves. They also have an online entry-level coaches certification program. I haven’t taken it since I’ve been through the full blown certification program they offer but I’ve heard good things about it and it only costs $25. The NPA’s website is
http://www.nationalpitching.net][u]here[/u
.

Coach,

You didn’t mention whether you have any assistant coaches to help with the team.

TUFFCUFF sounds great for conditioning and I completely agree with Roger about the idea of training your pitchers with the NPA approach for mechanics, but it might be really good for your pitchers to feel like they have an assistant coach whose main job it is to work with them on pitching.

If you don’t have an assistant who can devote lots of dedicated time to the pitchers, I’d at least try to identify the bull-goose pitcher on your team and cultivate him to act as a good leader and example for the rest.

Here’s what I would suggest Skipper,

Build a reputation at that school where having a great time is the main attraction of your program.
You have a sport and program that’s very lucky to even exist during times like this - so, don’t push things too far in the expectations department.
Have your guys help the school out with volunteer projects. Just be careful not to step on the toes of those that get paid to do stuff - specifically union jobs.
Start a parents Booster Club. Enlist the moms with an office title like Booster Club President, Sprit Club Director, and so forth.
Do your own advertising - go around to local merchants and ask if you can put your game schedule in their windows. Print up, on poster boards, a design of you teams logo and when and where your playing and who.
Find a young lady at the school who knows a little about the game and give here $5 a game to keep score in your offical score book. A pretty young lady in the dugout/bench keeping score will draw players to your bench like a magnet - trust me on that one.
Find a player on your club that made a great play during a game and post his name and a picture of him in the halls of your school. Get permission first though. Give your guys something to look forward to, not to mention drawing attention to your club. Make the player " Player of the game", or how about " MVP of the game", and such.
Single out one play each game that made an outstanding play. Have every player on the team sign a baseball - including him, then schedule a short presentation after that game to his mom, if she’s in attendance. Mom’s love that stuff and it draws a lot of attention to a very supportive environment.
Find a local vendor that supplies you with equipment and find anything that he-she-they did something nice for you - like a special order, gave you something free… anything free, or are just nice people to do business with. Build a relationship with that vendor by sending them a “thank you” note signed by all your guys. Send a nice letter to your local Chamber of Commerce, the mayor’s office, city councilor - any person or organization that would recognize the efforts that those people did to help you and your club. That’ll come back to you and help your cause.

As far as pitchers are concerned - you’ve got to have an environment that draws natural talent. Home grown youngsters that just have it. Trying to invent to wheel with unknown stock is an “if-ee” situation at best. Who knows, you may draw some youngster that really never thought of playing ball, or pitching before, or, attract the attention from players from another sport.

There’s a few things that you can take from the professional game that work.

  1. Promotion is the key.
  2. Drawing good talent depends on promotion.
  3. Working with good talent makes your job so much easier.
  4. Keeping your job depends on constantly refering to #1.

Coach B.

Thanks to all who replied. I will take everything said and use in building our baseball program. If anyone else wants to add a suggestion please do so. I will get everyone updated on our progress and ask any questions that may come up.

Thanks again,
Coach Meeker

Coach Meeker,

I imagine everyone here would very much appreciate periodic updates from you on how things are going, what’s working, what’s not working, etc, etc. You can help everbody by continuing to provide feedback to LTP.

BTW, I thought Coach B’s suggestions really look well thought out and insightful…as usual. The man is a walking treasure-trove.

[quote=“laflippin”]Coach Meeker,

I imagine everyone here would very much appreciate periodic updates from you on how things are going, what’s working, what’s not working, etc, etc. You can help everbody by continuing to provide feedback to LTP.

BTW, I thought Coach B’s suggestions really look well thought out and insightful…as usual. The man is a walking treasure-trove.[/quote]
Coach B is one big reason this is the best pitching website on the Internet.

[quote=“laflippin”]Coach Meeker,

I imagine everyone here would very much appreciate periodic updates from you on how things are going, what’s working, what’s not working, etc, etc. You can help everbody by continuing to provide feedback to LTP.

BTW, I thought Coach B’s suggestions really look well thought out and insightful…as usual. The man is a walking treasure-trove.[/quote]

I will continue to provide update on what worked and what did not. We are currently having out first fall practice in school history. We had about 26 players sign up to play. About 7 or 8 of them are playing basketball and we have a solid 13 show up for practice other than the basketball players.

We have had a few practices and there’s not much to report just yet. I hope to have some good stuff to report next time I am able to sit down and respond. Thanks again for you suggestions. Keep them coming!!!

Coach Meeker