Texas Baseball Ranch Director of Player Development Flint Wallace on Assessments, Connection and In Season Development
Full Episode Here
Full Episode Here
In this episode of Ahead of the Curve, I have a really useful discussion with Lance Spigner, the Baseball Coach at Horatio High School in Horatio, Arkansas. Coach Spigner walks us through his 28 years of coaching experience, shares how he goes about training his players for success, and what types of competitive efforts and events keep his players embracing a winning attitude and having fun on the field.
Lance Spigner introduces himself and shares his background
What new challenge is Lance going to take on in his retirement
What does Coach Spigner’s fall training program look like
What is involved in the competition that Lance calls the “Dirt Bag Olympics’
How does their bat speed training methods work
What are some different competitions that Lance’s players engage in
How does the strategy of stickers for hit by pitches work
What are some different fundraising efforts that Lance’s team has used
What are rules and standards that Lance’s team implements for players
How many players are in Lance’s program
What does his BP set-up look like and how are they are grouped together
How does he get his team ready to peak at the right time
What advice would Coach Spigner give his younger self
What has Lance learned lately that has gotten him excited
Which resources have been beneficial to Coach Spigner
What training efforts are kids enthusiastic about
Set up your training program systematically and measure the results
3 Key Points:
Coach Spigner’s team is known for winning with underdogs, player development, and trying to get the most out of everybody.
Coach Spigner’s team embraced the identity of ‘dirt bags’ to help their country and rural area kids utilize a tough mindset.
Enjoy the journey because suddenly you will blink, and it will be time to retire.
“Everything we do, if we can, we turn into some kind of competition, because competition is fun, and that’s what you want out of your players.” – Lance Spigner (8:20)
“We’re going to be ‘dirt bags.’ And one of the things that is involved with that for us is we try to think that we’re tougher than you are.” – Lance Spigner (15:00)
“Our community has been spectacular and our administration too as far as supporting our program.” – Lance Spigner (16:59)
“We’ve found the easiest thing to do a lot of times with our fundraising is to go with some of the online fundraisers.” – Lance Spigner (19:06)
“The more written rules you have, the more rope sometimes you leave people to hang yourself.” – Lance Spigner (21:54)
“We throw all of our bullpens at the start of practice. We’ve done that now for I guess three or four years, and it has worked out really well for us.” – Lance Spigner (26:26)
“Make the ‘big time’ where you are.” – Lance Spigner (39:42)
“We love base running. The StealBases.com website and information that they have put out is tremendous.” – Lance Spigner (43:48)
During this episode of Ahead of the Curve, I interview Dave Therneau, Pitching Coach at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida. Coach Therneau has been named Collegiate Baseball’s Pitching Coach of the Year in 2018, and shares the advice that he has found beneficial in recruiting great pitchers, training players to be their best, and enhancing his hard-working team culture through internal motivation.
Why did Dave Therneau decide to get into coaching?
What does day one look like during Dave Therneau’s program?
How does a typical week come across in Dave’s pitching system?
What are the most common problems that Coach Therneau notices?
Which player elements stand out positively to Dave Therneau during recruitment?
What exactly is the “hatter?”
How does Coach Therneau go about developing the culture of the team?
How does Dave motivate and keep his players competitive during training?
How does Dave Therneau prioritize individual development in a team setting?
What makes a good bullpen setting?
How does he develop command of the pitch?
What does a typical week look like during the season for a starting player?
What is the latest thing that Coach Therneau is excited about using?
Does he have fun traditions that his players enjoy engaging in?
Which resources does Dave Therneau find the most useful?
3 Key Points:
Video of Coach Therneau’s pitchers helps to improve their delivery.
Pitchers are only as good as their strike zone.
Self-motivation can be accomplished by getting players to compete against themselves.
“I always talk to them about conditioning the arm. They don’t play catch. I don’t believe in that…I don’t like using that term hear.” – Dave Therneau (10:04:)
“If you are trying to go ‘full go,’ whether it be on the mound, roaming short stop or center field…and you do that for a few games, and then you are not training in between, I think it puts kids at risk.” – Dave Therneau (13:38:)
“If you want to be a hard-working, tough group, which is what we are trying to build here, we’ve had that, you have to bring those types of kids in.” – Dave Therneau (20:18:)
“I try to get these guys to compete individually against themselves.” – Dave Therneau (23:02:)
“You are pretty much using 25-27 guys, If you think about a major league roster, I think it’s around that, 25-27. All of those guys are contributors and important pieces to the team.” – Dave Therneau (27:06:)
“Every pitch has a purpose.” – Dave Therneau (34:02:)
“If something works for a guy, I like to study why.” – Dave Therneau (45:34:)
“Teach the game and teaching routines, and I just hope that that is a focus, from all of us responsible for that in baseball, because as a college coach, sometimes we get kids that are unprepared.” – Dave Therneau (52:33:)
Dave Therneau’s Contact: gohatters.com/staff.aspx?staff=140
In this episode of Ahead of the Curve, I interview Matt Denny, the Head Baseball Coach for Mountain Pointe High School in Phoenix, Arizona. Matt walks us through what his typical training sessions look like, how and why he developed a ‘hard-nosed’ culture in his baseball program to integrate consistency into his team, and methods for coaches to get players to overcome their fears and mistakes.
Matt Denny introduces himself and shares his background
What does a typical week during fall training look like
How do they go about grouping players for training needs
How many coaches does Matt have in the fall
Which internal competitions does Matt integrate into training
How is Matt developing a hard-nosed culture for his team
What does Matt look for in his players on a regular basis
How does he bring his players closer together as a team
Matt walks through their weekly training plan during the season
How do their BP sessions work in practice
What data does Matt track besides BP and defense
How does he get his team ready to play in the post-season
What is meant by the belief that ‘fear is a liar’
How does the summer program operate
What advice does Matt Denny offer to first-time coaches
Be fair and be consistent
What gets Matt excited the most lately
Which training drills get the most enthusiastic reaction from Matt Denny’s players
Matt Denny shares his biggest baseball resources
Be a part of coaching associations
3 Key Points:
Coach your players to be leaders so the program can lead itself.
Players are more likely to listen to you when you develop trust and open communication.
Talk to your team about other programs that are worthy of being state champions.
“You can’t move on to anything else that we’re doing until you can do things exactly how we want them to be done.” – Matt Denny (5:05)
“To have a culture like that (hard-nosed) it’s not just something you can talk about and it happens, it is something that has to happen over time.” – Matt Denny (17:20)
“Every single mistake that they make, my coaches and my assistants are instructed to talk about every single mistake.” – Matt Denny (18:24)
“’We have a sign that just says, ‘Do Things Right,’ and it’s kind of has been our mantra this year, D.T.R...” – Matt Denny (21:00)
“As hard as we are on them, it is because we love them and there are times when things aren’t going our way and we are all in it together.” – Matt Denny (23:16)
“Preparing for the post-season, in my opinion, starts the day you lose your last game the last year.” – Matt Denny (34:36)
“To beat the best you have to be ready to play the best.” – Matt Denny (36:24)
“Fear is not an actual thing. It is something you choose to do. You’re choosing to be nervous. You’re choosing to be scared.” – Matt Denny (36:42:)
In this episode of Ahead of the Curve, I engage in a discussion with Andrew Wright, the Head Baseball Coach and Assistant Athletic Director for Recruitment and Retention at the University of Charleston in West Virginia. Coach Wright generously shares his wisdom regarding how to not only evaluate players, but also ways to empower the coaching staff as well. Find out what Andrew Wright’s training methods typically consist of what valuable advice he has benefited from along the way.
Andrew Wright introduces himself and shares his background
How does player development and evaluation work in his program
Which types of information do they measure and evaluate
What are his players competing against and which skill metrics are involved
It is one thing to identify problems, it is another to offer assistance to fix them
What daily routines and drills do they do to establish a productive team culture
A lack of education, empowerment, or accountability lead to the process breaking down
How can you convey problems to players without shattering their confidence
Don’t let players feel let down, put down, or shut down
How do you get all of your coaches on the same page
What does your coach development process look like
What are some great interview questions for recruitment
Being a super stubborn coach is a disservice to your team
When you think kindly of someone, where is that coming from
What are some unique things that Andrew’s organization is doing that others aren’t
How is this spring’s practice plan shaping up
What does Andrew suggest to head coaches or assistants that want to be head coaches
It is important to respect how your ideas get results
When pitchers get behind, it is typically because of their fast ball
What is something that Andrew Wright has learned lately that he is excited about
3 Key Points:
Don’t just bog the players down with the details. Show them how to apply them.
Team culture is a product of your belief, behavior, and experience.
Learn how to listen and how to manage your reaction when addressing issues.
“In a given year we have anywhere from 47 to 55 players for whom we are responsible. So, we have to get very creative.” – Andrew Wright (2:49)
“At the Division 2 level, you can’t just recruit your wins, you have to recruit and develop them.” – Andrew Wright (4:24)
“Unless we are willing to share the information, and be very transparent about what we are doing, we can’t really prove our worth. It’s just an opinion at that point.” – Andrew Wright (5:54)
“We probably gather more information than we can actually process at this point. But the beauty is in the application.” – Andrew Wright (9:54)
“We want to be candid with each other, and we want to be vulnerable, and we really want to be real with each other.” – Andrew Wright (13:53)
“If we don’t have daily conversations about what it is supposed to look like, and hold each other accountable, then it is not going to work. You are doing it for show.” – Andrew Wright (31:32)
“I want people who are willing to hold their own opinions as accountable as they hold someone else’s.” – Andrew Wright (37:01)
“Be authentic. People see right through you when you are not.” – Andrew Wright (52:07)
In this episode of Ahead of the Curve, I welcome Nunzio Signore, athletic trainer, Owner of Rockland Peak Performance in Sloatsburg NY, author of the book Pitchers Arm Care, Director of the Pitching Lab and a contributing writer for such publications as Inside Pitch Magazine, Elite Baseball Performance and Stack Sports. Nunzio Signore shares his wealth of knowledge about how to properly access the needs of players during training, how to assist players with strength and velocity, and strategies to help them recover in a healthy manner.
What made Nunzio transition from soccer to baseball
What is the first step that Nunzio would take to train a 16-year player
How does Nunzio undergo his player assessments
What are some of the things that most kids have problems with
How does the core velocity belt help players
What is the strength-speed continuum program
What will players get out of the pitching lab training
Which three things are the top issues that Nunzio is looking for in players
How does Nunzio feel about when is it right to give players time off
What makes up a great bullpen setting
Which factors bring about an unstable pitch
Breathing, a good night sleep, and water are fantastic for player recovery
What tools and strategies does Nunzio use for his assessments
Until velocity of a player increases, he doesn’t add more weight to a player’s weight training
What are the biggest new training elements that Nunzio is excited about
Why do Nunzio’s players love jump profiling
How can you make nutrition a proper part of their training
Which resources does Nunzio recommend
3 Key Points:
Everyone should sequence their pelvis, thorax, elbow extension, and shoulder internal rotation.
The pitch lab aims to produce the complete pitcher by merging pitching inside the nets and strength training.
Instead of paying for showcases, pay to develop yourself as a player.
- “People are hungry out there to make sure the kids stay safe and we can increase velocity and command and control safely.” – Nunzio Signore (1:49)
- “The assessment in our facility, that’s the cornerstone of what we do at RPP. I honestly believe that it’s the way to create a blueprint for an athlete.” – Nunzio Signore (3:01)
- “You don’t want to add strength to disfunction.” – Nunzio Signore (4:57)
- “If you can feel it, you can do it.” – Nunzio Signore (9:09)
- “I just don’t ever think that we should get out of the pattern of throwing.” – Nunzio Signore (24:51)
- “Don’t take mechanical solutions to athleticism problems.” – Nunzio Signore (33:35)
- “I don’t really believe in trying to get rid of soreness by running. I don’t really feel like running for a pitcher is something that we would do at all.” – Nunzio Signore (35:54)
- “My recovery for my athletes is breathing.” – Nunzio Signore (36:17)
In this episode of Ahead of the Curve, I talk with Tanner Swanson, minor league Catching Coordinator with the Minnesota Twins. He shares about his journey of coaching and teaching and how that has led him to this point in his career. He shares incredible insight into the importance and mechanics of solid catching techniques, and brings a wealth of insight to the catching position.
Tanner grew up playing baseball in a small town and had positive experiences and connections with coaches.
Gained an interest in teaching and coaching in college.
Shares about how catching has shaped his career, and how he got to spend focused time on teaching the catching program at the University of Washington.
Tanner talks about the parallel of the catching position and middle linebacker, as opposed to the quarterback analogy typical used.
Tanner shares about the importance of framing metrics in the catching position.
There's more complexity to stances than just 2 stances.
Tanner shares some insight into a variety of positions for different situations, and how varying setups and hand positions affect outcomes.
A deep dive into receiving position
Important to understand the pitcher's mix and qualities
Discussion on varieties of extension styles and manipulations
3 keys to high level throws
Importance “on the field” communication for catchers.
Discuss next phase of motion technology
3 Key Points:
When you step back and look at anything from a distance, it allows you to question and see things from a different perspective.
Developing a versatile, well-rounded skill set needs to be the foundation.
We need more voices to come forward and push the catching position forward.
“Coaching is teaching, and they parallel each other.” – Tanner Swanson
“Good ideas, inspiration, and creativity are drawn from asking the right questions.” – Tanner Swanson
“A catcher has to be very instinctive, very reactive, and has to have really advanced perceptive skills to be able to read, react, and respond to a lot of different variables in a really short amount of time.” – Tanner Swanson
“It's important to start prioritizing your training economy based on what actually happens in competition” – Tanner Swanson
“Not a single catcher in baseball is a better pitch framer from a big, active secondary stance.” – Tanner Swanson
"The key to the strike zone is down, being able to dominate the bottom of the strike zone is critical." - Tanner Swanson
"Down is better than up, right is better than left." - Travis Swanson
"We should be promoting what we want pitchers to do, not what we want them to avoid. - Tanner Swanson
Website and Social Media sites for the show
In this episode of Ahead of the Curve, I welcome Rob Benjamin, a highly experienced baseball hitting trainer at R.I.O.T. Hitting based in the New York City area. Rob Benjamin discusses how to help players break out of their stiff batting routines, and become more adaptable to real game situations. Rob also expresses important processes to assist hitters gaining movement solutions and degrees of freedom in their swings.
Guest: Rob Benjamin, baseball hitting trainer at R.I.O.T. Hitting
Rob Benjamin shares his upbringing in Puerto Rico and New York City playing baseball
His journey towards coaching began in the early 2000s
Who is the player, what is their hitting experience, and what are their parents’ concerns
Video review includes dissecting major league hitting swings
Recreate the unpredictability of the real game in the batter’s box
Playing sound effects of loud crowd noises helps players prepare for game distractions
Player assessment involves using video to help evaluate them
How does Rob Benjamin help clean up player’s movement patterns
Many players have been overcoached to the point that their body’s move too robotically
Players need to trust you to communicate what they need
How do you coach the timing of hitting
The swing starts as soon as the foot lifts off of the ground
What should be the focus when using videos for training
Do players have too many degrees of freedom to their swing
Bridge the gap between training information and the experience of movement solutions
What are training drills that Rob Benjamin’s players love
Watching his own children develop is an enlightening experience for Rob
Look for challenges and obstacles, and embrace failure
3 Key Points:
Having a successful bat swing includes the launch, the barrell, and de-excelleration.
Techniques during hit training include: throwing screens up, ball drop drills, and two pitchers throwing at the same time.
Know what your players’ goals are.
“I want to see these players adapt.” - Rob Benjamin (10:21)
“Being the ‘teacher king,’ I don’t want to do that. I want the environment to do that for me.” - Rob Benjamin (12:27)
“Some kids have been so over-coached that a lot of the athleticism has been stripped from their bodies.” - Rob Benjamin (26:53)
“It’s important that you create a foundation of trust so they can talk.” - Rob Benjamin (29:10)
“I want them to make one choice...hit the baseball.” - Rob Benjamin (36:32)
“Figure out how players learn with respect to stable components of their swing.” - Rob Benjamin (41:47)