Ahead Of The Curve with Jonathan Gelnar

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November 26, 2020  

Dr. Andy Bass- Coordinator of Mental Conditioning, Pittsburgh Pirates

Today we have on Andy Bass Coordinator of Mental Conditioning for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Andy has an awesome story, with playing professional baseball and developing the yips, then deciding he wanted to focus his attention onto helping players with the mental side by getting his advanced degrees in psychology and then motor learning.
On the show, we discuss how to integrate mindfulness into our practice sessions, we go over how to allow some autonomy players, we dive deep into game-like practices and feedback loops
Blackbox thinking- by Matthew Syed
Beartown- by Fredrick Backman
November 19, 2020  

Jeremy Sheetinger- Head Baseball Coach, Georgia Gwinnett College

Today we have on Jeremy Sheetinger, head baseball coach at Georgia Gwinnett College. Sheets is by far one of the most popular baseball coaches in the world. After working for the American Baseball Coaches Association and running the podcast, he took the job at GGC last year. On the show we discuss what he has learned during the 4 years he stepped away from the field, and how he has implemented so much information into what they do at GGC. We go all in on competitions, classroom sessions, and how to teach the mental game. If you're looking for a copy/paste episode, sheets delivered. This episode is so good, and here is Jeremy Sheetinger!
November 11, 2020  

Rich Benjamin- Head Baseball Coach, Indiana Weslyan University

Rich Benjamin begins his 6th year at the helm of the Indiana Wesleyan University
In Benjamin's first year at Indiana Wesleyan the Wildcats had one of the most successful seasons in program history as they advanced to the NAIA National Championship Opening Round for the first time.The Wildcats topped their 2016 success two years later going 37-20 in the 2018 season, winning the Crossroads League and reaching the NAIA Opening Round for the second time in program history. Coach Benjamin was named the Crossroads League Coach of the Year for his leadership during the 2018 season.
Prior to Indiana Wesleyan, Benjamin was the head baseball coach at Judson (Ill.) for eight seasons where he accumulated the most wins in program history with 304. 
On the show we go over how being a pitching coach early on helped him to develop a well rounded approach as a hitting coach and now head coach, we discuss why we need to simplify things in a world of constant noise, and we dive deep into what Rich calls “training zone focus vs performance zone focus”
Romans- The Bible
September 21, 2020  

Kyle Wagner- Author of Green Light Hitting and How the Rivercats Won, Teacher and Coach

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Kyle is a former standout high school baseball player who went on to play Division 1 baseball at Wake Forrest and a year professionally in the Angels organization.  Kyle was also a part of the historic 2015 Red Land Little League team that wen on to win the United States Championship. He is the author of two books- Green light hitting and How the Rivercats won. 
Kyle is one of my favorite twitter follows because he always helps me to think deeper on different subjects like practice design and player development.
September 15, 2020  

David Jeans- Head Baseball Coach, De La Salle HS (CA)

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Today we have on David Jeans, head baseball coach for De La Salle HS. David is an industrial engineer by trade and after pursing that for several years, started coaching a 6th grade basketball team. This led him to coaching football at De La Salle during the Bob Ladouceur era, which is one of the most successful dynasties in HS football history. He worked his way up the ranks and became the head baseball coach in 2012. And Since 2012- De La Salle Baseball has reached title game every year, won in 12,14,16,17,18,19.
So on the show we discuss how being a football coach has helped Under coach Lad helped him to establish a “development first” program. We discuss how being an engineer has helped with with practice plan design in limited space. And we dive deep into what being Spartan looks like on a daily basis.
Show notes courtesy of Zach Casto

David Jeans: Head Baseball Coach De La Salle HS

  • Being a teacher is helpful with coaching.
  • It helps you with observing your players and finding out how they learn best.
  • Being a teacher helps you have a format on helping your players to solve problems that baseball brings.
  • In high school sports it’s all about development.
  • It’s about developing the person, student, and player.
  • Focus on developing every single player in your program.
  • When coaching and teaching focus on building the person while teaching them.
  • Relationships are crucial for development of the player.
  • Have mixed practice.
  • The varsity comes on and stretches, catch play, individual defense, team defense, and then the JV comes and has BP.
  • When the JV takes BP, the Varsity takes game speed defense.
  • The goal is to not have a lot of standing around.
  • Work on getting quality reps.
  • Having a whole team practice allows for the JV players to understand the expectations of the Varsity team.
  • This also creates competition within the team.
  • Tell your players they you are preparing your athletes to be a college player.
  • Tell all of your players this.
  • Have practices that will be next level speed and a lot like a college practice.
  • Point out expectations of college programs to prepare the players.
  • More often than not the mental piece is what is lacking in underclassmen.
  • The playing piece is there but it’s the mental game that holds them back.
  • It often takes 2-3 years for the underclassmen player to be mentally prepared for the Varsity team.
  • As you’re preparing your players as coaches you are giving players tools for their toolkit to solve problems that baseball gives them.
  • Example: working on push bunts.
  • The philosophy of the team stays the same but the skill set can be changing every single year depending on the makeup of your team.
  • Tell the players on the importance of their decisions. Their decisions should be a good reflection upon the team in order to be successful on and off the field.
  • The weight room is where successful team habits start to be taught and occur.
  • Teach your underclassmen the importance of lifting, how to lift, how to play baseball, and how to take care of what they have.
  • When the players are upperclassmen then they will already be doing those habits they were taught.
  • You want your players to be empathetic, good listeners, look you in the eye, and are reliable.
  • Expect to win, play hard, and do things the right way.
  • Remind your players about how to represent the school program the right way all the time.
  • Even if you’re playing in a different program.
  • “It’s always a learning experience in sports.”
  • “The ultimate goal is to have good husbands, fathers, and family members.”
  • Have commitment cards with your players.
  • Weekly students will stand up and commit to their teammates about what they plan on doing this week.
  • Example: I’m going to run hard out of the box.
  • The hard part is being held accountable by the team.
  • The following week you’ll have to stand up and say if you did it or not.
  • This teaches accountability.
  • You need to expect your players to be able to consistently do a skill in order to have success.
  • “They are on the pursuit of mastery.”
  • You want your players to narrow down their focus in order to have success.
  • You want your players to be able to adapt within different situations in the game.
  • You need to be able to beat high velocity and good offspeed, low velocity and spin, etc.
  • Work on defeating multiple kinds of pitchers and teams.
  • It is the saying of adapt or die.
  • When you decide to adapt, it has to be a well informed decision.
  • Have competition days in practice.
  • Saturday’s are competition days.
  • Have an intersquad scrimmage on Saturday so that everyone gets their game like reps in.
  • On opponents go and scout them.
  • “Having information is huge.”
  • Having advanced knowledge on opponents gives you a better chance to win.
  • Example: 52% opportunity to win can go up to 62% due to quality preparation.
  • Face the probable pitcher on the pitching machine so that the hitters will adapt to the pitch.
  • Try to take away the pitchers number one pitch.
  • You want your players to be their own best coach and understand what they need to do to be adaptable for success.
  • You want the players to be accountable, learn from their failures, and to be adaptable.
  • Teach things as simple as possible and then allow the players to see and experience what was taught so that they can be adaptable.
  • Take away what the opponent does best. If you do that then you have an advantage.
  • Do the little things over and over so that the players are confident with their fundamentals.
  • Winning is the outcome of preparation.
  • Develop skill sets that cause successful results.
  • Example: move up on a dirt ball read.
  • List out all of the things they players need to know in the program.
  • Start when they are freshmen.
  • “It’s a continuous four year journey.”
  • Experience comes in your career.
  • It takes doing things over and over to get better.
  • Experience also allows you to pull from the past to help the present.
  • You want your players to talk to each other and communicate to learn from each other.
  • Three ideal team players are humble, hungry, and smart.
  • Have your players self assess and and their teammates assess their teammate.
  • We need to understand the importance of coaching on our players.
  • We could change their lives within four years.
September 7, 2020  

Curt Nelson, Professional Hitting Consultant and NW Bandits Head Coach (WA).


Today we have on Curt Nelson, Professional Hitting Consultant. and NW bandits head coach (WA).

Curt works with players from the big leagues to little league. So on the show we discuss what his evaluation process looks from when a person walks in the door for the first time, to fine tuning professional hitters mechanics. We dive deep into hitting mechanics, game planning, timing and much more. This episode is so good and here is Curt Nelson! 


Curt’s YouTube page 

Contact Info

Show notes courtesy of Zach Casto

  • The goal of a coach is to take each player and take them to the next level.
  • When pre assessing a player, you need to understand the level of play of the player.
  • Professional players you need to look up video to get a start on understanding them.
  • You want to see how each player moves and thinks to understand what can work for the player.
  • Lead by asking questions to learn more about each player.
  • The more you understand the setup, his mechanics, bat path, his thoughts, and understanding are all crucial understandings.
  • Changing the mind first will create a smoother change.
  • “Mobility plays a ginormous role.”
  • “There are no absolutes, but timing, balance, and bat path are close to absolutes.
  • With that being said, the bat path can be different for each player.
  • You can’t make any change without the relationship piece though.
  • When asking questions, ask about their timing mechanisms, what they are trying to do to the baseball, their thoughts on the tee, and what their approach is.
  • Understand what the hips are doing.
  • “The ground is the number one source of power and energy.
  • Any question that gives you insight is important.
  • Ball flight is important to understand the approach and mechanics.
  • Video is your friend in understanding this.
  • Start with movement preparation drills before you go into swings.
  • Example: Slam balls and PVC pipe connection drills. (This helps showcase the body and how well it moves.)
  • After movement prep work on each hitters routines.
  • Group up each hitter to work on the routine together with other players and they can talk to find solutions to situations.
  • After the grouping you can work on team hitting and allow competition to flow between the athletes.
  • “Everything starts with a setup.”
  • Getting into the right setup for that hitter is paramount.
  • Every hitter needs to start in balance.
  • The head has to be in the center of the body.
  • Don’t get hitters to get into their quads and legs too early.
  • “Hitting is done more flat footed than we think.”
  • Being on the balls of your feet isn’t conducive for balance.
  • A quality sets up the athlete to be consistent and have success.
  • There is a right position/setup for everyone.
  • Mobility is a huge factor.
  • It’s about finding the right balance.
  • Example: If the ankle is a problem you can move it to find the right balance for each hitter.
  • “You’re trying to maximize each individual.”
  • The mirror is a great teacher for each hitter.
  • It gives the hitter instant feedback on what they are feeling.
  • When you’re in a mirror you can feel what you’re trying out.
  • Put an X on the mirror. Tell the athlete to keep their forehead in the X to find the right setup and movement.
  • This helps the player to find the right movement that promotes not a ton of excess movement.
  • Have a balance beam where the hitter has to make a clean forward move and then move backwards. This will help the athlete find the right movement.
  • “Stride our to 50-50, then back to your setup.”
  • The setup is the key that unlocks the best results for the player.
  • “There is not a specific move to have everyone use.”
  • Use trial and error and work it in real time in the cage.
  • “There is no fooling balance.”
  • If the athlete knows where he is at in space, then he will have confidence and conviction behind what he is doing.
  • You’re trying to gather and load against the back leg.
  • This can help the head stay still.
  • You’re trying to promote a powerful and balanced forward move.
  • When gathering, the stride leg is working underneath the front shoulder or underneath the front hip.
  • This prevents the foot from reaching out too far.
  • When you lost balance then the body breaks down it’s efficiency.
  • You want to get your body ready to move it’s weight to put all it’s force into the ball.
  • To test out a forward move:
  • Draw a line of of the back foot and video it.
  • Guys who are in balance don’t go outside of that line.
  • You can use a wall as well.
  • Put the back on the wall and the player should not feel any body part touch the wall.
  • As the front foot picks up the back heel needs to stay grounded in the forward move.
  • The glute possesses the power in the swing.
  • Look for the root cause that is effecting a good move or a bad move for the player.
  • Start looking at timing and then go from there.
  • Teach a player the difference between perceived 50-50 balance and what it actually is and feels.
  • Look at the head first at 50-50 to find the right look for the player.
  • Some guys are 60-40 at foot strike.
  • We as coaches have to help the player find their best setup at foot strike.
  • The move of the player should naturally allow the flute of the athlete to load up.
  • Coil and scap loading takes the hitter off of his line and balance.
  • If the hands are behind the body then the front side has to move more to compensate.
  • Get the hands in the position of launch that stays in line.
  • To do this have the player work on taking their hands back based off of the chalk line in the batter’s box.
  • Some hitters have their hands back too far at launch as well.
  • You just have to work with the player to find the most comfortable and natural launch position for success.
  • You want to create adaptable and adjustable hitters.
  • In the world of hitting nothing is really new.
  • Hitting changes based off of what the pitchers are doing.
  • Example. With sinkers/pitch to contact pitchers, hitters are trying to hit the ball in the air.
  • The timing is crucial for the proper time to barrel up the ball.
  • If you’re late, start earlier so you have more room for error.
  • As the elbows are going down the hands get on plane with the pitch and the bat will lag to create whip with the swing.
  • We are trying to run the barrel north to south to square up the baseball.
  • An east to west barrel can roll over balls that should be squared up.
  • One of the hardest things to do when teaching hitting is timing.
  • Have game footage and practice footage where you can see the difference between the player in game and in practice.
  • The video helps the hitter and coach create an understanding of what happening to the hitter whether that’s his movement, mental game, or pitch mix.
  • Understand what each pitcher is trying to do in order to create a hitting plan.
  • Example: with a sinker pitcher try to hit the ball in the air.
  • The ultimate goal is to hit line drives.
  • Find out what the fastball is doing and try to base things off of that pitch.
  • Then you can eliminate offspeed pitches.
  • Try to find the sequence due to patterns.
  • Feet together go forward:
  • The player starts with the feet together and this works the forward move.
  • The hitter needs to try to get to 50-50 balance.
  • You can use a mirror or video to assess the forward move.
  • You can use a Chuck It to work on the top hand.
  • You can use a frisbee to work on the bottom hand.
  • Bat path drill:
  • You can use a bat and tell the hitter to release the bat at the pitchers head.
  • If the bat path is going east or west then the bat will land pull side or opposite side.
  • The goal of any coach is to have the hitter self assess and coach themselves.
  • The best players can coach themselves.
  • Allow for communication to happen constantly so you can help them.
  • As a coach you are going to leave some days wanting to do better and then there are days where you will feel you did a great job.
  • Journaling is a great way for each player and coach to remember what has worked and what doesn’t.
  • Create your own opinions based off of trial and error. Trial and error will allow for the opinion to be created.
  • “Don’t think like everyone else. Think outside of the box.”
  • Failure will breed success if you stick with it.
  • Keep trying and giving your best.
  • Keep up the energy.
  • “Always remember that it’s about the player.”


August 31, 2020  

Kevin Wilson- Professional Hitting Consultant

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For over 19 years, Kevin Wilson has been one of the most sought after hitting consultants in the game. Kevin currently works with or has worked with with Minor and Major League players from all 30 MLB organizations. In 2013, Kevin was the hitting coach for the USA Baseball 18U National Team. Team USA beat Japan for the Gold medal at the IBAF World Cup in Taiwan.

On the show Kevin and I discuss what #goodbatting is, we talk about how hitting is a conversation. And Kevin walks us through what it sounds like to be in a cage session with him. This episode is packed full of content and here is Kevin Wilson!
Inner game of golf- Timothy Gallwey
Inner game of tennis- Timothy Gallwey
Show notes courtesy of Zach Casto
  • Understand that the longer you’re in a profession and you continue to grow the better coach you will become.
  • When you have a goo have confidence in yourself to get there.
  • Remember that it’s not about you, it’s about how you can help the players.
  • To be the best coach for each player you have to be a world class listener.
  • Be a hitting mentor rather than coach. You still coach but you help the whole person grow not just the player.
  • Lead by questioning for the players.
  • Example: what’s on your mind? What are you feeling?
  • More often than not the players will answer their own question.
  • This allows the player to be their own best coach.
  • “We all want to be heard.”
  • Meet the player where they are at. Help them with their situation and listen intently.
  • Recognize that you won’t be the best coach for everybody but you will be for somebody.
  • When the players aren’t coming to you, try to create relationships so they you can gain trust with the player.
  • The best coaches are the ones that don’t force the players into doing something one way.
  • You want your players to use what works.
  • The best coaches ask the players about how they’ve grown as a player, how they do things and why, and they also talk about their life.
  • This builds trust and helps the player understand.
  • You gain trust by an intentional conversation with the player so that the players can understand themselves the best that they can do that they are adaptable in the game.
  • Share your experiences with the players so that they can understand that they will get though their struggles.
  • Most problems aren’t mechanical, they are mostly mental issues.
  • If we can create self awareness for the player then they will be more convicted with their actions.
  • “All it takes is 5 minutes to change a life.”
  • If you take 5 minutes and check in with your team a few times a week then the rewards will be beneficial.
  • It’ll take some work at first but at the end it’ll be so beneficial.
  • You’ll find out the little things that will tell you what the players are thinking with their body language.
  • When they are stretching go out and see how they are all doing.
  • This matters so much to the players. They will look forward to seeing you and talking to them.
  • If it means enough to you to create life lessons and help the person then you will do this.
  • The goal of the coach is to take each player and make them a better human being and athlete.
  • When you first get a player, ask the player with questions so that you can be a world class listener.
  • Ask them why they do what they do, so that you can understand them the best way possible.
  • Tell the players that they have the ability to be themselves.
  • “Hitting is a conversation.”
  • Have the player map out their goals and how they want to do it so that they can visualize their plan and get there.
  • The coach is there to help along the way and fill in the blanks.
  • Don’t allow ego to take over. Tell the player that what happens in the cage will happen and not to beat themselves up.
  • Players are searching with something that is repeatable, adjustable, and they have confidence in.
  • Understand how each player learns so that they can understand.
  • The numbers are a result of your processes and purposes.
  • If we don’t explain the why and how behind what we are doing then it won’t be as successful as it could be.
  • If you can pick up tendencies from the pitcher then they can create an adjustable game plan.
  • Game planning is crucial for the hitter.
  • Watch the pitcher warm up, get their timing, and see what pitches work for the game.
  • Find out what pitches he can pitch for a strike so you can eliminate pitches.
  • When it comes to approach:
  • What pitch you hit best and where you hit that pitch the best.
  • This is with less than two strikes.
  • Players must commit to that plan.
  • “The pitcher works for you with less than two strikes.”
  • Players need to understand how hard the pitcher throws for timing and what the pitcher’s out pitch is.
  • “You learn a lot from observing.”
  • Bring your approach to the game and adjust to the pitcher and how you’re being pitched.
  • Talk to your teammates about the pitcher and finding out similarities and paths to success.
  • Teach the game better so that you can teach your players what to look for.
  • Allow opportunities in practice to have unorganized organized games.
  • Example: whiffleball or sandlot baseball.
  • It is through these experiences that you learn baseball IQ.
  • “As a coach we can’t assume that they know anything about the game.”
  • Therefore we must have patience, teach, and reteach the players.
  • Teach them as if they don’t know anything about baseball so that every step is included.
  • “Out of respect for the entire group, assume they know nothing.”
  • To be a better coach, ask a better question and listen.
  • 7 Ball Drill:
  • The player must swing at every pitch as if it’s a hit and run.
  • After the player makes contact he will tell the coach what ball he made contact.
  • After the round, the player will tell the coach where he made the hardest contact consistently out of all of the areas with the balls that he hit.
  • After this, the coach will tell them player to focus on that zone and swing at those.
  • Put the pressure on the pitcher and not the hitter.
  • “How you do everything is how you do anything.”
  • The player needs to do everything the best way possible, be detail oriented, and giving their best effort.
  • Players need to have a purpose behind every single thing that they do.
  • What they eat, how much they sleep, why they swing, and who they hang around with.
  • Be consistent with your habits and attitude with each of your players. They depend on you and you mold them into who you want them to be.
August 24, 2020  

Tom Sutaris- MiLB Hitting Coach, Colorado Rockies

Today we're joined by Tom Sutaris.
Tom has spent time coaching at every level. He was a high school English teacher and coach, a college coach, and is now the AA hitting coach for the Colorado Rockies.
On the show Tom shares with us some ways he has grown as a coach, especially getting to coach at each level, we talk how to make changes with the player and how to ask questions to get to the root of the problem, and Tom dives deep into how to create a hitting culture.
Energy Bus- Jon Gordon
Atomic Habits- James Clear
Show notes courtesy of Zach Casto

  • It’s always important to know your why and never forget it.
  • Hope your players to the team standard always.
  • Video is crucial to help players create awareness to make changes and give feedback.
  • “Everything we say to a guy matters.”
  • As each level you go down understand that the confidence level of the players goes down.
  • Have patience and be a good listener.
  • Be careful with your words and understand what you’re saying.
  • “You want to fail a little bit less than you did yesterday.”
  • Before you show players how much you know you have to show hoe much you care.
  • Understand the person first before you dive into the player.
  • Get to know about what they like, their family, favorite hobbies, etc.
  • “Listen before you make any suggestions.”
  • Have a checklist before you decide to make changes.
  • Lead with questions for the player so that you can understand why they do what they do and what they believe in.
  • The information from the player will be helpful for the coach and for the player to understand and question what he does.
  • When observing a player start with the mechanics.
  • Start with the lower half first and then go up the body.
  • Ask the player why they do they do.
  • The mental game and how the player sees himself is so important.
  • Understand what the player is doing when his front foot hits the ground.
  • Does he have rhythm, control of his body, and space to make contact?
  • Does he control his forward move?
  • Really good coaches understand the why and the how behind everything.
  • Ask the why behind what they do.
  • Allow the player to lead the discussion so that they learn about themselves and
  • Emphasize that they don’t tell you what you want to hear.
  • The feedback has to be honest from the player.
  • We need to understand the approach and what the player is trying to do so he learns.
  • Think about what drill will help the player solve his issue.
  • Players need to understand the why behind each drill.
  • Make sure you ask them if they want to do the drill.
  • Also have them reflect with what they felt and learned and with what you saw after the drill.
  • The best way to help a player make a change is to show data and evidence for a change to be made.
  • Players are likelier to make changes if they see data instead of an opinion.
  • Have a vision for your players to achieve to.
  • This is like standards.
  • Create a culture where the player had confidence but you are also honest with them so they can trust you.
  • Whatever happens, embrace the challenges of the day.
  • Don’t use it as an excuse. Embrace the challenge.
  • Eliminate the fear of failure for your players.
  • Allow them to have a love for learning and growing.
  • Make sure you model it for your players so they they obtain that.
  • Bring energy so that they love that way as well.
  • “You can’t take days off as coaches.”
  • When a player is struggling, have a one on one discussion with them.
  • Tell him they you have something for them or getting lunch with them.
  • Getting them one on one will allow the player to share his thoughts and build confidence with him.
  • Emphasize the process over results for the player.
  • Example: if the player is swinging at the right pitches, then he’s on the right track.
  • “If we stay in the process then we will be good.”
  • Remind the player of how good he is, because all players have self doubt.
  • When a player is struggling, send him a video of his highlights to build confidence.
  • This will help the player remember how good he is.
  • Remind your players that it only takes one pitch to change the momentum of the game.
  • Focus on playing the game one pitch at a time.
  • At some point ace pitchers are going to have a bad inning.
  • Tell the players to win each pitch. The more pitches you win the more often you’ll have success.
  • Send out in a group text the scouting report of the team you’re facing and their tendencies.
  • Everything before the player gets for the cage will help them develop individually to go to the next level.
  • Group BP and team hitting will help the players to prepare them for the game or that day.
  • Give credit to assistant coaches for the long term success of the players.
  • Example: Strength coaches for the health and maintenance of the players.
  • Shortened Distanced BP helps players see game like spin and velocity.
  • Angle BP helps the players see game like angles from RHP’s and LHP’s.
  • “Train like you fight.”
  • “You sink to the level of your training.”
  • “Don’t ever forget how hard the game of baseball is.”
  • Tell your players to have a clear mind and focused for every single pitch of the game.
  • The more focused the player is, is the superstar between good and great players.
  • “Spread positivity. Remember that you have the option to spread positivity or negativity.”
August 17, 2020  

Billy Berry- Head Baseball Coach, Tennessee Weslyan University

Today we have on Billy Berry, Head Baseball Coach at Tennessee Weslyan University 
Billy was the head coach of TWU from 2005-2015 and then returned to TWU in July of 2017 after a two year coaching stint at the Baylor School. Billy and TWU have won 2 NAIA national championships during his 2 stints and In his twenty + years of coaching, He has seen over forty former players move on to professional baseball. He wants to continue to help young men use baseball as an avenue to get their education, continue on the bulldog baseball success and have kids that represent the school, their families and the program with pride.
So on the show we talk about how he uses the Weslyan tradition to ingrain the culture every year. How he helps players to own their career and holds them accountable, and he discusses how to “attack the day” everyday.
Energy Bus
Books about programs or seasons



Show notes courtesy of Zach Casto

  • Let everyone who has helped you along the way how much you appreciate them.
  • When you go to a program understand what it does well and what it doesn’t do well.
  • Adopt what works well and advance it.
  • It will be a smooth transition for the players and for the coach.
  • Be humble enough to keep a good tradition going and add on to what works.
  • Create your culture and your team will build their own identity based off of the culture created.
  • Each team will look different but can still adhere and live the culture you create.
  • Be appreciative of the opportunities that you are given.
  • Understand why every opportunity is important on your journey.
  • On day one have a team meeting.
  • Ask the team what sacrifices they are willing to take to win?
  • You are successful in the classroom, on the field, and off the field.
  • The decisions the players and coaches make in those areas will determine how successful the team is going forward.
  • Prepare your players to be accountable and valuing their time and the time of others in life.
  • Prepare them to win on the field and in life.
  • Focus on communication and one on one communication with your players.
  • Have your core values discussed each day of the week.
  • Example: Appreciation (Core Value).
  • Have a classroom session or pull over players one on one and have them tell you about someone they appreciate and why.
  • This bonds players together and everyone gets a deeper understanding of the individual.
  • To have a successful team, the players are responsible for the team first and themselves second.
  • “Culture is a learned trait.”
  • Therefore the culture you want is something you can teach.
  • You want your practices to match the speed of what you want your team to be.
  • Example: practice fast because you want your team to play fast.
  • I’m scrimmages make diving plays, taking risks, and being aggressive on the bases.
  • In scrimmages give your players and teams extra points because of the aggressiveness.
  • Tell them and show them that you won’t be upset with their aggressiveness.
  • You want the practices to be challenging and the games to be easy.
  • If players aren’t practicing hard send them home.
  • You want your coaches to be good leaders in their own way.
  • Whether that’s by example, vocal, etc.
  • This will spread to the players.
  • Your best teams will have the best players as the leaders.
  • The players are the ones who will be driving the team on the best clubs.
  • You want coaches and players who are hungry to achieve and want to work.
  • Have an identity for your program that helps players fit into the program.
  • The identity of the program will help the players understand how to act within their identity.
  • Tell players that when they come into the program that they have a clean slate.
  • It’s up to them to write their own story with this program.
  • Tell them that if they do what they did. In the past then they won’t be successful here, but they have a fresh start.
  • The best players are the ones that own their careers and hold themselves accountable.
  • Address everything that is wrong in the fall.
  • Then once the players understand what they need to do and what it looks like then they will do things themselves.
  • It doesn’t happen with every team though.
  • Some teams need policed more.
  • Your program is going to be what you tolerate.
  • Don’t ask your players to do anything that you wouldn’t expect your players or yourself to do.
  • Making adjustments should be made and discussed the best way possible for that individual player to understand.
  • With hitting, focus on mentality over mechanics.
  • They need to understand how to attack based off of how they are being taught.
  • It’ll take 12 months for a player to make a complete change.
  • You can make small tweaks but the players need to trust the coaches.
  • Be available to your players so that you can work with them one on one.
  • Have conversations that aren’t baseball related to create trust with the players.
  • End every day with some form of competition.
  • Have coach pitch scrimmages, machine scrimmages, and Coach point scrimmages based off of aggressive plays.
  • “Focus on how many days are won, not how many games are won.”
  • 9 Hit drill:
  • Players are in groups and the teams need to get 9 hits in a row. Other teams can smack talk the other teams.
  • Coaches are the judges.
  • Have consequences for the losing team.
  • Time your players to run the bases with weighted plates.
  • Have non baseball related competitions such as dodgeball or tug of war.
  • Have a whiffle ball game as well.
  • “If you really want to see your players compete put them in competitions that aren’t baseball related.”
  • Understand that coaching isn’t about you. It’s about the players and helping them grow as a person and athlete.
  • Have your players wake up every single day and tell the players to attack the day and dominate each situation they are in.
  • You want them to be take seriously.
  • It’s the way they talk and dress.
  • The first impression is so important.
  • If things are going to work the coaches have to create a vision, live that vision, and the players grab onto them.
August 10, 2020  

Head Coaches- Wes Brooks (Oxford HS, AL) Butch Chaffin (Cookeville HS, TN)

Today were joined by Episode #1 and #5. Butch Chaffin and Wes Brooks.


Wes Brooks is the head coach at Oxford HS in Alabama and Butch Chaffin, Head coach at cookeville HS in Tennessee. 


I may have mentioned it several times on the podcast, but I want to reiterate it here. Butch and Wes are two of the best coaches in the country and they absolutely get the most out their guys and love them to death. So on the show, we talk about what’s important to them. We discuss what growing men in your program means, we talk all things culture building, and you can develop a system that works for your program.





Mans search for meaning







Show notes courtesy of Zach Casto

  • Baseball will teach you a lot about life and reward you with friends and a lifelong memories.
  • If your players see that you love the game then the relationships will come.
  • As a coach you want to touch the lives of your players, make them better people, and help them find out what they want to be.
  • Spend a lot of time in the classroom building the culture.
  • Understand what your players can understand and learn.
  • Trust your gut and do what will work for your players.
  • If you open up to your players, then they will and trust will be created.
  • Players will go the extra mile if they know you care about them.
  • Rush the development of the person.
  • The mature person can learn information use the information given.
  • Demand that your players are going to focus and learn.
  • “You can develop and win at the same time.”
  • If your head coach is in the dugout then the head coach can communicate with the players and teach in the game.
  • You can gain better communication and understanding if you’re teaching and developing all the time.
  • “Development is nonstop.”
  • A good coach in the summer is teaching and developing in practice and in the game.
  • For the player to understand and coach themselves use external cues.
  • “The external cue for each individual is different.”
  • Find out what works best for each player in regards to external cueing.
  • If a player is growing then he is developing.
  • If you’re going to have words for players to understand, then you need to have a definition for each word.
  • This creates a common verbiage.
  • Give your assistant coaches the opportunity to be the head coach of their position.
  • Research and talk with other coaches to add new things to grow.
  • “A good coach has a growth mindset.”
  • Good coaches try new things. If it works they keep it, if not they discard it.
  • You want your staff to be on the same page.
  • As the head coach things work better when it’s your page and your assistants are writing on the outside of the page.
  • As a young coach find around 10-12people who you can talk baseball with and grow.
  • Every coach will have parent problems.
  • Find that core group of guys where you can bounce ideas off of.
  • Talk with your group of coaches on takeaways and what you’ve learned from a speaker.
  • Read books and talk about them with that group of coaches.
  • When bunting you want to control the barrel.
  • Put the index finger out to control the barrel with the bunt.
  • As a coach try this out to see if you can feel it.
  • Be open for trial and error.
  • To have a growth mindset and explore what you like.
  • If you really like it, then keep it for your team.
  • Be open minded to try our new things.
  • As a coach help out other coaches.
  • You will help them grow and they will help you grow.
  • With the coaching group that you have, bounce situational baseball ideas off of them.
  • This will open your eyes and want to try our new things.
  • Try your best as a head coach to make things a priority that the conversations your parents have with your players to be the same conversations that the coaches are having with the player.
  • Example: Share with the parents what a quality at bat is.
  • “Get everyone with two feet in the circle.”
  • Lay out the expectations with your parents on what their players can expect.
  • Parents want their kids to play, but if you set out the expectations and how following what the coaches have put out will help the players.
  • It’ll help the player stay focused and not worried on distractions.
  • As a coach you’re working for all of the parents who are supporting the program.
  • The parent who doesn’t like you won’t ever like you.
  • “If everybody likes you then you’re doing it wrong.”
  • Focus on coaching your team.
  • Be transparent with your players, parents, and community.
  • As a head coach set the boundary where the parents cannot go to the assistant coaches and talk about playing time.
  • The players know and understand why they aren’t playing.
  • Talk to your players about the role of each player.
  • Have a parent only meeting and a player only meeting.
  • Ask both the parents and players the same questions.
  • 1. Write down their son’s individual goals.
  • 2. Write down our team goals.
  • 3. If your son doesn’t accomplish these two goals then what do you want them to experience?
  • At the end of the day, parents want their child to grow as a person, student, and athlete.
  • Don’t hold a grudge against a parent for what they say about you.
  • Before practice you have two teams.
  • One team is to clean up the locker room.
  • The other team is to clean up the team room.
  • Whoever cleans either room better earns a point.
  • In practice those teams will be competing.
  • Then both teams will alternate either running sprints or cleaning up the dugout.
  • Keep score each day.
  • “Try to compete in everything that you do.”
  • Allow for players who love baseball but struggle with playing to be student coaches or managers.
  • Find Out Friday: You will be in a chair during workouts. Players ask one question and you give them an honest answer.
  • “Culture is something you feel.”
  • You compete in the weight room by the strength of the players and putting more weight on the machines and lifts.
  • Ask coaches and players about what went well culture wise and what needs changed.
  • “If you let culture be the teacher then culture will be better.”
  • You want your worst player to be better than the opponents worst player.
  • If a player does something wrong we are going to handle the situation right there.
  • “Don’t have regrets about things away from the game.”
  • Don’t put up with lack of effort and wrong attitude.
  • Do the program the way you want it.
  • Guys get fired because of a lack of culture instead of wins and losses.
  • “The grass is always greener if you don’t water and fertilize where you’re at.”
  • “Be where you’re feet are and do the best at where you’re at.”


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