Ahead Of The Curve with Jonathan Gelnar

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June 1, 2020  

Andy Barkett- 2018 World Series Champion Assistant MLB Hitting Coach, Boston Red Sox

This episode is brought to you by Marvbands. Use code AOTC for 10% off of team sets!





Today we have on 2018 World Series champion, Andy Barkett. Andy was an assistant MLB hitting coach with the Boston Red Sox in 2018-2019. On the show, we talk about how to earn trust with our players, why learning their routines is important, we discuss game-planning, approach and why Andy thinks that hitting coaches are basically part time psychologists. You’re gonna love this episode with Andy Barkett!



Foundations of Coaching Professional Hitters


Show notes courtesy of Zach Casto

  • Players will always remember what you did for them.
  • Those individuals will be their influences in life.
  • There is people along the way to help their players in life and in the field.
  • The best teams put their egos to the side.
  • They also learn, grow, and work together
  • Playing everyone’s playlist during batting practice helps build conversations amongst the players.
  • When the players are comfortable together they will coach each other.
  • When in the cage the preparation needs to be based on who you’re facing.
  • It will also be about guys focusing on zoning in on their damage zones.
  • “Pass the baton.”
  • This means everyone doing their job in the offense to keep the inning going.
  • These are unselfish at bats.
  • Every team is different every year.
  • When you have a team mentality, the chance for pressure to take away your at bat goes away.
  • The hardest part is getting everyone to put their egos to the side.
  • It’s a process that has to happen every year.
  • To establish trust with all of the players: be authentic, transparent, and show that you don’t know all the answers.
  • Ask the players for answers.
  • This shows you value their input.
  • Ask the players about how their life and families are going and doing.
  • If the players thoughts aren’t focused then the results of the athlete will be sporadic.
  • Find out what’s going on, talk to them, and get them focused.
  • Players want coaches who are invested in their careers.
  • “When you see the players singing each other’s songs, you’ll know they are focused and comfortable around each other.”
  • What separates players is the work ethic, lack of complacency, and search for greatness.
  • Example: JD Martinez practices bad at bats and simulated them after the game to realize how to adjust.
  • The best players have their own process and are always working.
  • They trust their process as well.
  • The hitting coach needs to especially be an offensive coordinator.
  • There should be a constant stream of information between the hitters and hitting coach.
  • Players want to know what exactly they need to know to have success.
  • They need to know where to attack each pitcher.
  • Example: anything low stay off, anything high smash it.
  • You need to be able to verbalize the plan based off of the language of the player.
  • It’s important for the coach to talk to the players about their processes.
  • The athlete must have a why behind everything they do.
  • As coaches we need to learn the processes of each player.
  • You want to serve the players as best as you can.
  • Players and coaches need to speak ideas freely because it’s about helping the team as a whole.
  • Don’t waste time. Have a plan and stick to it.
  • Players appreciate this.
  • You want a barbershop mentality.
  • This means you accommodate for all of the processes of the player and as they come in the cage will he set up for the individual hitter
  • To gain the trust of everyone it comes down to communication
  • Players need to know you’re there to help the player better.
  • “You need to remember you’re serving the players.”
  • When players are struggling they want their coaches to be positive and tell stories and advice to relate to them.
  • “The biggest opponent in baseball is self doubt.”
  • A plan in a game will stay the same, but the approach can be adjustable.
  • “The game is the best teacher.”
  • This will help the athlete learn their feels and where to adjust and work.
  • In the middle of the game, talk to your players about what you see and have the players discuss about the adjustment being made.
  • For competition have game like at bats with the machine.
  • Keep points within the game like at bats.
  • This creates competition and game like experiences for players to create feels.
  • “Find time every day to improve yourself as a coach and as a person.” 
May 28, 2020  

Hunter Mense- MiLB Hitting Coordinator, Toronto Blue Jays





Today we have on the Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Hitting Coordinator, Hunter Mense. Born in Liberty, MO, Hunter attended the University of Missouri. And was drafted in the 17th round by the Florida Marlins. After his playing career, he went back to Missouri and served in several roles- undergrad and graduate volunteer assistant coach, and color commentator on the team’s radio broadcasts and then made the jump back to pro ball with the padres for 1 season, then the bluejays as the AA hitting coach and now as the hitting coordinator.

On the show, we discuss what the process of making changes with players looks/sounds like, we go over the process of experimentation coupled with communication, and we discuss his role as a coordinator  which essentially coaches coach’s. 

You’re gonna love this episode with Hunter Mense!


Range- David Epstein

Instagram and Twitter Relationships



Show notes courtesy of Zach Casto

  • The passion for the game can influence how others can fall in love with the game as well.
  • You can also help out players by sharing your experiences and shortcomings and help them adjust through your experiences.
  • Empower your players as much as possible to help them learn how to figure things out on their own.
  • You want them to be their own best coach.
  • Relationship communication is the most important piece to have to create improvement.
  • You want to have constant communication that is clear for minimal problems to occur.
  • We have to get buy in from a player before the adjustment will be successful.
  • Before there is a change have a conversation with the hitting coach and head coach.
  • Ask the player questions to see how he feels and what his opinion is on the change.
  • “If analytics are used right, it can help create the buy in of the player.”
  • Therefore, use analytics to be the evidence to create buy in with the player.
  • The analytics can allow the hitter to formulate why he’s not having success.
  • Have the player discuss the reason why he’s struggling. This can help everyone involved to help create a process to where the player will improve.
  • This helps them buy into the process and to be invested.
  • This puts the player in the role of taking accountability for their careers.
  • It takes a lot of listening and learning about the athlete to help the player grow.
  • Go through a set of drills with each player and find out what drills would work best for each player.
  • This is an ongoing process.
  • This process can create a common team verbiage through the drills as well.
  • Video each player’s swing.
  • Watch it with the coaching staff.
  • Find out things the player does and doesn’t do well.
  • Find out what to change.
  • Follow this up with metrics for evidence along with the video.
  • This gets all of the coaches on the same page and helps the athlete understand that the coaches are caring for the improvement of the player.
  • The changes made are movement or process made changes than overall swing changes.
  • “You may have to prepare 6 months for a 6 minute conversation.”
  • The goal for a staff is to simplify the information given to the players.
  • The information given to hitters is:
  • Velocity and what kind of fastball (rising, flat, or sinking).
  • We want our guys to have success with doing damage to a fastball.
  • Once this has been answered, then find out the offspeed pitches thrown.
  • “Be a master of yourself.”
  • The player needs to know where they do damage and where they swing and miss.
  • This helps the player creating a plan based off of the information given.
  • This also helps the athlete find out what pitchers he hits well and what pitchers he struggles with.
  • When a player struggles it’s often not about the pitcher the player is facing. It’s about one thing that can remind the player of what he did when he was doing well.
  • It’s a nugget or cue that can help the player realize what works for them.
  • “It’s a little reminder to help them realize what they are doing.”
  • We also have to recognize how we present things to players.
  • Present it respectfully and confidently.
  • Tone matters.
  • With struggling hitters:
  • 1. Find out what’s wrong.
  • 2. What was going right physically and mentally when the hitter was having success.
  • 3. Why were these aspects were going successful.
  • 4. Watch video of when the athlete was going well and not.
  • 5. Diagnose and come up with a game plan with the player.
  • 6. Ask if the player wants to make a change.
  • 7. Go to the cage.
  • “If you simply ask a player to come in tomorrow to get some work in, that means so much to the player.”
  • This shows that you care about them.
  • Go with feels. The player focuses on feels when things are going well or not.
  • Feels are the biggest solution for the athlete can understand what they need. (This helps them become their own best coach).
  • Any competition and playing a game gets the players excited.
May 24, 2020  

Chuck Box- Head Baseball Coach, Hartfield Academy HS (MS)

Today we have on Chuck Box, Head Baseball Coach and assistant athletic director at Hartfield Academy. We flipped the script a little today, and so Chuck takes us through an entire year of what they do at Hartfield. We go over individual player development plans, schedules, culture building and so much more. If you want a practical episode, this one is for you. Here is Chuck Box!
Show notes courtesy of Zach Casto
  • Your work is a melting pot of a ton of great things.
  • 10 Phases in a year.
  • 2 Phases are rest and recovery.
  • The fall has 3 phases.
  • Phase 1: Movement, Strength, and Toughness.
  • Total body assessment and hitting assessment during this time.
  • It’s the time to assess.
  • Start your throwing programs during this time.
  • The goal should be at their best in May.
  • “Get better everyday. If we get better everyday we will be pretty good in the end.”
  • The first 5-6 weeks is strength testing.
  • Then progress into throwing and skill work.
  • After Thanksgiving is a mini camp.
  • Install all of your stuff during this time.
  • It allows the first time in spring practice to go into the drills without having to re-teach.
  • Lifting 3 days a week and throwing progression 5 days a week.
  • You want your guys to throw over the winter break to be ready for the spring.
  • “If you have to talk about culture a lot, you probably don’t have it.”
  • Culture looks different for everyone.
  • Culture involves everything that you do.
  • As the leader of the program you have to model and hammer what needs to be done.
  • Ask your players what these four areas look like: Succeeding Academically, athletically, socially, and spiritually.
  • If the players can define these four areas, then they will have a better picture of what they need to do to help the culture.
  • Once everyone has an idea of the culture that you want, it will be in everyone’s DNA.
  • The standard is: “If you want to be mediocre, don’t come here.”
  • Create a program to help your players learn how to become quality young men.
  • Bring in guest speakers:
  • 1. Specific speakers: Example: speaking on nutrition.
  • 2. Successful leaders. (Successful coaches).
  • Discuss with your players how to be polite and treat women well.
  • Have your players use journals to take notes.
  • Give the notes back to the players so that they can continue their lifelong learning.
  • Meet 3 days a week in the classroom setting.
  • In the beginning of the season discuss leadership and life skills.
  • As you get closer to the season focus on baseball skills.
  • Allow the guest speakers to come and throw out the first pitch and be on the guest pass for all home games in the season.
  • Give your players opportunities to learn about different jobs.
  • Also give players conditioning week goals to challenge the players.
  • This helps the players become stronger mentally in order to win games when the young gets tough.
  • Words matter. What we say can go over the heads of our players.
  • Take a few classroom sessions to go over team verbiage and standards.
  • Assign words to the players to present to the team.
  • Example: Find our what the term “What you permit your promote.”
  • When the players start saying what you say that means they are all in with those terms.
  • The players and coaches must adjust to the standards of the culture.
  • Talk with the players and have them define when practice begins.
  • If the players don’t meet the standard of that the locker should look like give them an eviction notice.
  • Give them 24 hours to clean out and get out.
  • Give them 2-3 days to not have a locker to value what they had.
  • If you don’t stay on the culture with the players, then the players will settle to be mediocre.
  • When players pout, give them a 25 pound vest to wear.
  • Body language matters.
  • Measure toughness and body language.
  • Follow Blast Metrics for hitting.
  • For high school assistants
  • Look at community volunteers, student assistants, and retired people.
  • Be the kind of person people want to work for.
  • “Good people attract good people.”
  • Clearly define roles for everyone and get out of their ways.
  • A mix of old school and new school is best.
  • Practice what happens most in a game.
  • Practice what matters most in your system.
  • Hitting, throwing,and catching is what happens the most.
  • Plan out your week one day a week.
  • Script it out and then adjust it as the week goes along.
  • Have a mini camp with middle school players.
  • This helps them understand what the experience will be like.
  • The biggest adjustment will be the speed of practice and the game.
  • During BP have base running to be a component of it in order to work in game reads.
  • Pitching Plans:
  • Day 3: Drill Day
  • Day 4: Pen Day
  • Have a mental component to practice. Have that be at the beginning of practice every day.
  • Have a master schedule of practice with drills being summarized for coaches and players to understand.
  • Mental Skills practices: 2 days of visualization, 2 days of mental imagery, and 2 days of self affirmations.
  • Have a mental release station.
  • Have one station per practice where the players practice their releases.
  • The reason why frustration happen is because players don’t know how to release their frustration to be ready for the next pitch.
  • Be where your feet are.
  • “Where you are is your interview.”
Full Video
Cell- 601-896-4177
May 20, 2020  

Tony Vitello- Head Baseball Coach, University of Tennessee

Today we have on the Tennessee Volunteers head coach Tony Vitello
Vitello arrived on Rocky Top following four seasons as assistant coach/recruiting coordinator at Arkansas. His rise to the head coaching ranks also included stops at Missouri (his alma mater) and TCU. After leading the program back to the NCAA Tournament in 2019, Vitello and the Vols looked poised to take another step forward in 2020 after a strong start to the season. The Vols were ranked as high as No. 11 in the nation after a 13-0 start to the year and were 15-2 heading into SEC play before the season was halted and eventually canceled due to COVID-19) global health crisis. 
Prior to the season being canceled, Tennessee led the country in total runs and runs per game while ranking second in home runs, slugging percentage, walks, and on-base percentage. 
On the show, we discuss what he looks for on the recruiting trail, how to get players to own their career, and we go over what they do for competition everyday and how that propelled them into leading the country in runs in 2020. 
Here is Tony Vitello
Heads up baseball- Ken Ravizza
Mind Gym- Gary Mack
Joe Rogan Podcast
Trevor Moawad
May 17, 2020  

Head Coaches- Rob Cooper, Penn State University and Steve Owens, Rutgers University

Today we have on Head Coach Rob Cooper from Penn State and Steve Owens from Rutgers
In this episode we have over 40 years of bead coaching experience between the two, so we dive into lessons learned, how to communicate with players, how to build relationships and how the formula for recruiting and the process of building culture changes year to year and especially program to program.
Here is Rob Cooper and Steve Owens!
Show notes courtesy of Zach Casto
    • We need to realize the mentors that helped shape us into wanting to coach. 
    • “I want to impact young people and baseball is a great vehicle to do that.”
    • Some of the best learning environments are one-on-one questioning environments. 
  • You can learn a lot in group settings, videos, podcasts, and books but one on one settings can give you feedback to your questions. 
  • Be a role model for your athletes. Expect that out of your assistant coaches as well. 
  • If you love what you do, you will never lose your passion. 
  • Understand the circumstances of the area and program you are joining/taking over. 
  • Depending on your career and relationships, you may be able to bring your assistants with you to the new program. 
  • The hardest thing to do is on the transition is saying goodbye to your players from your prior program. 
  • “Do this with as much class as possible.”
  • “It’s okay to look back, but don’t look back too long.”
  • Dive into the new program and find out your players first. 
  • “You can’t change a lot in the first year.”
  • During the first year get to know your athletes as people, their strengths, and their weaknesses. 
  • The most important thing is getting to know the players, then understand the operating sequence and schedule of the school you are at. 
  • Little by little you will make changes. 
  • “You need to watch, listen, and learn a lot before you start making changes with athletes.”
  • Have patience during this time. 
  • Don’t change what works well for the athlete, change what needs to be changed. 
  • “The games are the test.”
    • Practice provides the homework and the lessons. 
    • Some of the things you learn come from experience. 
  • Take a step back and reflect upon some of the challenges of the situation you are in. 
  • Recognize the strengths you have at the place you are at and maintain those strengths. 
  • Try to strengthen the weaknesses of the place as best as possible. 
  • You are going to have a culture with whatever you do. It is up to the leader to ensure that the culture is a strong one. If not, the culture will be weak.
    • It comes down to the players. We can set them up for the best situation possible, but it is up to the players to execute the plan and give 100% effort. 
  • “You have to find out what you are working with and find a way to win with what you have.”
  • “You have to be authentic with who you are and to be consistent for your audience.”
  • “How does the athlete learn best? What motivates the player?” (Find these out and pay attention to answer these questions).
    • Be simplistic with the terms you use when you teach. 
  • Have your players email back what they took away from the conversation with you. (Give them 24 hours).
  • You learn: 1. The interpretation of the athlete. 2. What got lost in translation. 
    • “We want our players to learn how to be their own best coach.”
  • “If you have to try to do things like someone else, it is not going to work.”
  • Take pieces of information from others that you like, but make it your own so it works out. 
    • As coaches we have to be a motivator and effective communicator. 
  • “Surround yourself with people who are as motivated as you to succeed.”
  • “You want to be able to allow the athlete to grow.”
    • You are not doing a great job if you have to motivate every day.”
  • Players need to come to practice and provide energy. 
  • “If you want it more than they do then they won’t reach their goals. 
  • “Failure is growth. It is the pathway to learning.”
    • It is important for your program to understand that failure provides growth. 
  • “You can’t play it safe and be brave in the arena.”
  • “You have to sign up to get your ass kicked.”
  • Be willing to go out and fail and learn. 
  • Find the message behind why you fell short and grow from it. 
  • It is important for your athletes to create short term and long term goals. 
  • This drives the athlete.
  • “A goal driven person is much easier to coach.”
  • Players need to identify their weaknesses. 
    • The players or coaches need to educate the athlete on the weaknesses of the athlete.
  • “Understand your weaknesses and don’t run away from them.”
  • “Don’t expect a pat on the back for extra work.”
  • Challenge the best players the most. 
  • Goal setting allows for the player to take ownership of their career. 
    • As a coach you want to be consistent and genuine.
    • Great coaches are everywhere. 
  • Coaching is all about growing young men and to make them better human beings for the four years that they were when they came into the program. 
    • Your assistants are critical because they need to help you implement the vision of the program. 
    • “Don’t recruit what you don’t need.” 
    • This will shorten your needs. 
  • “You want tough players.”
  • You can help change people for the better. 
  • You want confident players. Players who don’t have confidence won’t compete well. 
  • Confident players trust in their process. 
  • You want your players to be low maintenance and can be their own best coach. 
  • They do the right things all the time. 
    • “Take care of the little things.”
  • You want your players to want to be playing for your program. 
    • If that box isn’t checked by the players then it is most likely not going to work. 
  • Allow your athletes to be able to play multi-sport athletes if they like. 
  • It is their life. 
  • The athleticism and instincts of the athlete improves when doing this too. 
    • There are many ways to be successful but the most important thing to be is yourself. 
  • As an Assistant Coach you are being a sponge and learning what to do and what not to do. 
    • “Control what you can control.”
  • The best thing you can do is have a clear understanding of where you are at, who you have, and how to have success in the program you are at. 
  • “Be on time, organized, and efficient at practice.”
  • “Do your job because you want to do your job. Don’t do your job to go somewhere else.”
    • Play to the style of the abilities of your team. 
  • “Build your style on how you can win with that team this year.”
  • Be adaptable and adjust your style accordingly. 
  • Reach out to coaches you respect and learn from them. 
  • When you leave a program you want the head coach to realize that you were the hardest working coach in the program that wanted the best for the program. 
May 14, 2020  

Alon Leichman- MiLB Pitching Coach, Seattle Mariners

Today we're talking with Alon Leichman, Milb pitching coach for the Seattle Mariners. Alon has an interesting background, being born and raised in Israel and then playing college baseball in the States. So we talk about his journey to the Mariners, which includes volunteer coaching in Cape Cod during his first summer after playing. What he learned as a bullpen coach in the World Baseball Classic, coaching with Jerry Weinstein. And we also dig into how we can get to better know our players and why that is vital to everything we do as coaches.
Hoops Whisperer
Show notes courtesy of Zach Casto

Alon Leichman: MiLB Pitching Coach (Seattle Mariners)

  • Surround yourself with good people. 
  • Relationships with your players are the first part of success. 
  • Get to know your staff the same way you get to know your players. 
  • This creates whole team trust. 
  • Pick the brains of the members of your staff, friends, and others. 
  • This time is a great opportunity to learn. 
  • You are either learning and growing or you are getting passed up. 
  • Take a step back and appreciate what you have during these circumstances. 
  • Have gratitude for all the blessings you are given. 
  • Spend time with the players and be yourself. 
  • Be your authentic self so that the players will trust you. 
  • When coaching players they are ELL’s don’t be afraid to mess up with Spanish. 
  • This allows the ELL athlete to be vulnerable and trust you as well
  • One of the biggest problems players have is overthinking. 
  • Have a strong enough relationship to allow players to come to you to talk about it. 
  • The sooner you recognize this the quicker the problem will be fixed. 
  • Reassure them they it’s okay to struggle and they we are all in this together. 
  • You want to get them out o an athletic mindset and not struggle with over thinking. 
  • The more we can use external cues and give the players a goal the better chance the athlete will self organize and accomplish the goal. 
  • The more we think about our mechanics the more the mechanics will break down. 
  • Without data, we must use an educated guess to help the player. 
  • When you see video: see if the delivery is fluid. 
  • When at foot strike, is the arm in a good position?
  • Is the elbow and shoulder level? 
  • Deficiencies: body limitations. 
  • Talk to strength coaches and have them help you find out these deficiencies. 
  • The arm recoil isn’t necessarily a bad thing. 
  • For some players it is natural to do this. 
  • It’s natural with some hard throwers. 
  • Recoiling is a natural deceleration for the throwing arm. 
  • Take the strengths of the player and give data based off of the technology of what you have. 
  • The data can show you where you’re at with accomplishing your goal. 
  • Individual plans and goals provide clarity for the player on what to do to dominate their role. 
  • “Process over results.”
  • Individualized plans provide buy in for the player. 
  • If you don’t know the player and the his strengths the. You won’t be able to help develop the player the best way possible.
  • Involve the player when making decisions on their goals. 
  • Don’t change without asking the player’s side first. 
  • Give evidence as to why you want to make a change. 
  • Learn to listen but don’t switch super fast. 
  • You have to know how to tell evidence to your players. 
  • “It’s not the content that you speak, it’s the way you speak it to the player.” 
  • You want to be engaged with your guys. 
  • Example: one way to be engaged is to throw with the pitchers every day. 
  • Throw different pitches with each guy.
  • Have your catchers try out different stances in bullpens. 
May 11, 2020  

Nick Winkelman- Head of Athletic Performance & Science for Irish rugby and author of “The Language of Coaching”

Today we have on Nick Winkelman, Head of Athletic Performance & Science for Irish rugby and recent author of “The Language of Coaching.”
Nick's primary role is to oversee the delivery and development of strength & conditioning and sports science across all national and provincial teams. Before working for Irish Rugby, Nick was the director of education and training systems for EXOS and oversaw the speed and assessment component of the EXOS NFL Combine Development Program and supported many athletes across the NFL, MLB, NBA, National Sports Organizations, and Military. Nick has his Ph.D. on motor skill learning and sprinting. 
On the show we talk mainly about the role communication plays in coaching, and here’s a hint, it's a big one. More specifically we get into internal and external. Cues, how we can use coaching feedback loops and we discuss the role of attention and so much more
Here is Nick Winkelman!
Show notes courtesy of Zach Casto

Nick Winkelman: Head of Athletic Performance & Science for Irish Rugby

  • “Every Coach has a story of success or failure.” 
  • Treat every athlete with respect and wanting to get to know the athletes and make them better. 
  • Coaches are molding young men or women to become better people.
  • Be precise and have your words have purpose so people are focused in on the details. 
  • The quality of a movement is dictated on how we coach. 
  • We will get better throughout time but to improve faster we must coach better.
  • You need to find the right times to be quiet, when to ask a question, and when to talk more. 
  • “How we coach gets less discussion than what we coach.”
  • We need to focus on how we coach more and communicate better. 
  • One way to help reflection is to record yourself during practice and find out how many you ask high level questions and understand when you talked too much. 
  • The players have to feel like they are part of the process. 
  • They also have to feel like they’ve created and own part of their development process. 
  • There needs to be an evaluation process and then a feedback meeting to help the athlete understand where they are at and ways to help improve the process. 
  • We need to reflect and evaluate how we communicate to connect it with how we coach best. 
  • Often times our communication is on autopilot. 
  • After a practice ask these questions: What did I say, How did I say, When did I say, and Did I make a difference? (positively or negatively) 
  • Mic up twice for 6 months, and then after that once a month. 
  • Find out your strengths as a coach. 
  • Find out areas of improvement of coaching. 
  • Reflect on why that needs improved. 
  • Is there any habits or behaviors that should’ve been used? 
  • Get the spark, get the buy in, reflect, and improve the process. (When creating a plan for a coach or player for improvement)
  • The roadmap isn’t difficult, it’s changing the mindset that is difficult. 
  • “Habit is a type of memory that requires no conscious thought.” 
  • “To change these habits we must be conscious of these habits.” 
  • Coaching is a skill that has both good habits and bad habits. 
  • The best communicators have wait time, don’t say filler words, change their tone. and are precise when they speak. 
  • “You have to want to get better because these are elusive skills.” 
  • 3 keys of effective communicators: Words we use, our tone of voice (pitch, pace, loudness) and body language.
  • The best communicators tell one story and tell the right story using these elements. 
  • “When we make players better, we become a better coach.”
  • Understand what you’re coaching before you can reflect how to improve. 
  • Know your content. 
  • If we go through the effort of changing then what we are changing MUST improve performance. 
  • “Is the problem a mechanical problem or a coordination problem?”
  • In other words is it a car problem or a driver problem? 
  • If you’re given a race car it doesn’t mean you’re going to win a race. 
  • To change the body you’re going to have to get in the gym and work with professionals to help that person reach their goals. 
  • 3 P’s of Performance
  • 1. Position: Can they get into the positions to have success of this skill? Example: Hip flexion to field a ground ball? 
  • 2. Power: Do they have the strength to optimally perform the skill? Example: Engine of the car.
  • 3. Pattern:Can they take different positions and patter the movements together? Example: taking the bat back, and swinging. 
  • For anything that is a “car” issue is going to be worked with a strength professional. 
  • The driver problems will be prioritized in order to understand how it can be changed with cues. 
  • You can’t fix a car problem with a driver cue. 
  • You have to find out what will work best. 
  • If you see a player who is struggling to learn. 
  • “You have not taught until they’ve learned.” 
  • Find out if there is a better way to help the player learn and evaluate how well you coach. 
  • If you take the change we’ve made and you’ve owned it, whether or not you know it it will become part of your new normal. 
  • If you require my reminders as your coach, then you have not learned yet. 
  • “The best coaches makes them no longer needed.” 
  • “A good teacher is a giver.” 
  • A good coach doesn’t want to develop athletes who depend on the coach. 
  • Use questions to corral the athlete to the solution. During the next session watch with your eyes before you speak. 
  • “The silence set is the opportunity to show the coach thay the athlete doesn’t depend on you.” 
  • See if the player can self correct. 
  • As long as it looks like they are exploring and trying, keep them going. 
  • People have to struggle and keep trying in order to learn. 
  • “Before you can be understood, you must seek to understand.” 
  • Understand how the athlete communicates and learn how to communicate with the athlete. 
  • “Get to know the person inside of the player.” 
  • Our goal is to hide technical terms inside cues that will help the athlete recall the proper visual to have success. 
  • Cue prop is a prop to showcase the proper technique for the athlete. 
  • Example: show a pencil to help show body positioning.
  • If our athletes aren’t paying attention then we can’t teach them anything. 
  • The athlete who is making eye contact and their body is forward then they are fully focused. 
  • People listen with their eyes, ears, and body. 
May 7, 2020  

Tyler Yearby- Skill Acquisition Specialist, Co-Founder & Co-Director of Education at Emergence

Today we have on Tyler Yearby Co Founder of emergence which is a dedicated resource and community for coaches and movement specialists looking to explore the ever growing world of skill acquisition through ecological dynamics. Tyler also works at Starters Sports Training, which trains baseball and softball players.  

Tyler’s speciality is in skill acquisition, so we go over how we can use skill acquisition techniques in baseball. A few things we go into, constraints led approach, how we know if a skill “Sticks” long term, what is “game-like” and we go into how to do this in a team 
Nonlinear pedagogy
Constraints led approach
Dynamics of skill acquisition
Dexterity in its development
“Underpinnings” course
Visual perception and action in sport

Show Notes courtesy of Zach Casto

  • Ecological psychology is how we as humans interact with the world around us. 
  • It is how we handle the information that we use around us. 
  • Examples: weight and size of the bats or the weather. 
  • Constraint Drills: Preventing different options and the athlete will have a few options to have success. 
  • Example: The amount of innings in a game. 


    • Motor Learning is something that is continually adapting over time. 
    • It views the brain as part of a larger system that creates behaviors of the whole body within a set environment. 


  • Constraints: You are giving them a problem, and the athlete will come up with the best solution that they are capable of giving. 
  • “Constraints are the search for the appropriate reaction.”
  • We are creating snippets of the game and allowing the athlete to search based off of their memory patterns for areas of success. 
  • Constraints is all about the athlete. 
  • These drills allow for individualization. 
  • “We need to remember that we all perceive things differently.”
  • The better we get to know our athletes, the better we will be able to coach them. 
  • Example: We need to know how well they pick up the spin of the baseball. 


    • We need to know if they have an attention problem. 
    • We need to know if the problem is an intention problem. 
    • “Context is what shapes the content.”
    • The constraints led approach facilitates the process of self organization.
    • Mix the pitches across the plate and allow the athlete to recognize a pitch to hit the opposite way. 
    • Direct learning: Finding out where the athlete's intentions are. 
    • Understand where the attention is. Example: The batter is finding where the pitcher’s arm slot is in order to pick up the baseball out of the hand to recognize the pitch. 


  • As a coach set up the drill that designs and allows the players to come up with the solution that is necessary for success. 
  • Players will self organize, but they will self organize with the solution that is desired. 
  • The player is interacting with the process of the problem in subtle different ways. 


    • Don’t give the players too much information. 


  • The beauty of the constraint drills is that the players self organize their bodies to have the proper solution to the problem. 
  • The player will learn a feel on how to hit the ball the other way in their own way. 
  • Example: Use a ball with black tape on it to see the spin of the ball. 
  • This gives automatic feedback. 
  • Have consequences present that tells the athlete that they made a mistake. 
  • Make sure the environment that you are creating is game-like. 
  • Have a strike zone set up with the goal of the drill. 
  • Example: The hitter is in a disadvantaged count and they are to hit the ball up the middle or the other way. An inside pitch comes in, the hitter doesn’t swing and it is a strike. The hitter will learn to foul the ball off in order to stay in the count and to be able to achieve the goal of the drill. 


    • For younger athletes use bigger balls or have a bounce in the ball to help the young athletes pick up the spin of the baseball.


  • Allow your players to use different drills or tees because that may be part of their warm up routine. 


    • “If the best of the best use this, then it must be important.”


  • The tee is helpful for the psychological aspect of hitters.


    • For younger players the tee helps the players understand the feeling of getting their bat through the zone. 
    • When they are older, timing is crucial. 
    • Players need to see the pitch by seeing the arm slot of the pitcher and seeing the spin of the ball. 


  • We need to find and use drills that will help the athletes feel and live in game-like environments. 
  • Small sided games: The game is in a small area where the athlete makes decisions under stressful situations. The athlete also interacts with information that will happen in a game. 
  • Example: Your centerfielder, middle infielder, and catcher are struggling with lining up properly. Take them and mix up the reps to where some reps are in the gap and the players need to be lined up, and routine plays such as grounders and fly balls. (Make it random)


    • Players have to understand what they need to do with different factors of a game-like environment. 


  • Example: Moving up the screen for batting practice to help the athlete see a more authentic pitching velocity. 
  • This drill helps the athlete react and perceive the game-like environment. 
  • You don’t want to live there constantly because it may be too much for an athlete. 
  • But use this if you are facing a pitcher who throws with a high velocity. 


    • Representative Learning Design: Allow for actions that is what is going to happen in a game. 
    • “Machines all the time doesn’t work either.”


  • Constraint set up: 
  • This is the objective, I don’t know how you will get there but find out how you can do it. 
  • Players will understand what it feels like when they are doing it right and wrong based off of the information after the result. 


    • We need to understand the context of the data given. 
    • When the data tells us there is a different result than what has been happening, ask the player how they felt and what they did. 
    • This helps the athlete gain understanding from what they experienced. 


  • If we want to positively help our players then the wait times need to be individualized for the athlete. 
  • Players need to experience an event a lot for the experience to be stored into long term memory. 
  • If the necessary result doesn’t happen, then we need to go back and realize why the necessary result didn’t happen. 
  • If we keep changing the constraints and the performance of the athlete goes down, then we need to slow down because we are overwhelming the athlete. 
  • Have pitchers pitch live bullpens so that the defense, pitcher, hitter, and catcher is getting game like reps and working on areas that need work. 
  • As a coach, watch the results and see how the players react to the situations.
  • Define the constraint drill. 
  • What is the intent of the task? 
  • You can change the amount of defenders in the field, the weight of the bat, the backdrop, or the count. 
  • Do what you can to make the hitter feel what needs to be worked on. 
  • We need to understand what the athlete hears, sees, and feels.



May 4, 2020  

Hugh Quattlebaum- MiLB Hitting Coordinator, Seattle Mariners

Coaches vs. Covid


Today we have on Hugh Quattelbaum, hitting coordinator for the Seattle Mariners. Q has such an awesome background from his playing career, to being a screenwriter and then becoming a coordinator. On the show, we talk about the rewards and challenges of coaching coaches, we talk about how to execute organizational principles, we talk plan/approach and mindset and how to simplify these to help the player focus. You’re gonna love this conversation and here is Hugh Quattelbaum!

The way of baseball
Inner game of tennis
Obstacle is the way

Show notes courtesy of Zach Casto

  • Hire people who know can do a good job, no matter their background. 
  • You want to hire people who have a growth mindset. 
  • Progress starts with relationships. 
  • You can’t get people to trust you, until you prove to them to trust them. 
  • When your team is struggling look at the stats and come up with conclusions while staying in the program’s umbrella to ensure success for the team. 
  • As a coach you have to be a salesperson for the culture you want to create. 
  • You can do this too by modeling the behaviors you want. 
  • Make individualization a piece of player development. 
  • “Coach your players up but let them do their thing.” 
  • “Everyone be in charge of their 20 square feet.” 
  • Everyone has a big role. 
  • “All roles are important in their 20 square feet.” 
  • Give people space to be themselves and to dominate their 20 square feet. 
  • There is always common ground. 
  • If you develop the relationship, then the common ground can be made. 
  • “Almost every idea you come up with you will realize someone else will have a similar idea.” 
  • Everyone is trying to drive towards the same thing. 
  • The key is executing the most. 
  • Execution comes from simplifying everything in your program for execution to occur. 
  • Wisdom comes from cutting out the noise and doing what is best for everyone to execute the task. 
  • “Provide the player map but don’t give them the directions.”
  • This allows the athlete to find ways to achieve a task. 
  • Provide the environment and allow them to find out how to get to the desired result. 
  • Once you’ve developed the relationship aspect is to ask questions. 
  • Example: you have a player who is struggling, the staff has decided to help the player by sitting down and asking where you think the player can improve. 
  • You can help the player find answers by having the player answer your questions. 
  • “The data doesn’t lie.” 
  • Data allows to set goals that are validated and clear. 
  • If you give untruthful feedback to your players then you will lose trust with them. 
  • “You can never go wrong with confidence.” 
  • It’s unrealistic to help a player get to a 9-10 on the confidence level. 
  • The best thing you can do is to reassure them that they got this. To slow the situation down and focus on executing their process. 
  • You don’t want them to focus on mechanics and to focus on visualization. 
  • Start with feel (movement preparation) drills before BP. 
  • Example: Work on side bend in the swing. 
  • You’re working on weaknesses as well. 
  • Continue a daily pattern of working on strengths. 
  • After this you go into Batting Practice and working on your process in preparation for the game. 
  • “Don’t forget about what you do well.” 
  • If you go into visualization for 10 minutes before going into bed focus on takes and quality hits. 
  • “There is no substitute for mix BP.” 
  • You can use a machine or thrown BP and mix pitches and speeds. 
  • You can do the three plate drill for decision training in BP. 
  • Put a medium sized cone at the bottom of the zone.
  • If the cone starts at the bottom of the cone you lay off, if it’s at the top you take a swing. 
  • “Simple wins and helps us focus on what is important.” 
  • You have to practice your approach and swing decisions. 
  • Have your players declare what they are doing so there is a goal with each swing they take. 
  • During BP, focus on an external target to hit when you’re taking swings to reaffirm the approach. 
  • You want guys to look for pitches in the damage zone (the middle of the zone). 
  • The commitment box is where you want to hit any pitch. 
  • “Stay with your strengths as much as you can until you can’t.” 
  • “Pitchers make mistakes.”
  • Don’t give pitchers too much credit. 
  • As much as you are working, you’re opponents are working too. 
  • Keep striving for excellence. 
  • Set up velo machine drill and create two teams and compete. 
  • Have players through short range BP to get game like reps and competition. 
  • Have players compete by hitting targets to compete. 
  • Whatever you track will create a competition for your players. 
  • Example: Tracking Quality at Bats.
  • “You track it and they pay attention to it.” 
  • Ask your players, when you’re at your best what are you thinking? 
  • When you’re in-game players need to work on vision and process goals rather then mechanics. 
  • If players are talking about mechanics in-game then they are not setting themselves up for success. 
  • The biggest problem players will have is confidence. 
  • “Get guys time expect the expected.” 
  • At some point an 0 for 15 is going to happen. So have your players prepare for this so this event isn’t so shocking. 
  • Keep them focusing on controlling what they can control. 
  • “You don’t want them to think it’s the end of the world.” 
  • Have simple systems they value what we value the most. 
  • Target BP is fun for players to play where they hit targets in the game and compete. 
  • Answers are found in the middle of both sides of two arguments. 


April 30, 2020  

Todd Interdonato- Head Baseball Coach, Wofford College (SC)

Coaches vs. Covid


On today show we have Todd Interdonato, head baseball coach at Wofford College. Todd is in his thirteenth season as head coach of the Wofford baseball program. He was named head coach of the Terriers on June 26, 2007 after previously serving for two seasons as an assistant coach at Wofford. With 323 career wins, he is first all-time among Wofford baseball coaches in that category. Interdonato has led the program to unprecedented success, with 30 or more wins in five of the last six seasons. 
On the show We talk about how we give a ton of ownership to players, while holding them accountable, Todd gives us some insight into how to provide clarity to players in their roles, and we talk about how to build a team offense that is multifaceted.
Show notes courtesy of Zach Casto

Ahead of the Curve Live: Todd Interdonato

    • “Say less act more.”
    • Allow for your players to discuss the expectations. 
    • Have them come up with examples.
  • “People were likely to commit when they have ownership.”
    • It is their program, let them steer the program.
  • Cabinet: Players vote on who their class representatives. 
  • This helps the coaching staff understand what each class group feels in regards to practice, culture, etc,
  • Meet with the cabinet once every 3-4 weeks. 
    • Players appreciate a consistent message, so confusion doesn’t happen. 
  • Wofford Baseball 5 Must-Haves:
  • 1.High Internal motor
  • 2. Always be developing.
  • 3. Have a high baseball IQ. 
  • 4. Be selfless.
  • 5. Play Tough. 
    • Playing tough is can you throw a 2-0 fastball down the middle with the bases loaded with the 3 hole hitter up. This might be the best chance for the team to win. 
    • You have to give players data in order to help create the best chance for buy in. 
    • Find out the must haves at your level of play in order to have consistent success. 
    • Data will tell the story of this. 
  • As a coach find out ways to perfect your role. 
  • Have the players have this same mindset. 
  • Example: As a head coach, perfect how you will address your team better every single time. 
  • Plate discipline, timing, and creating maximum bat speed. Focus on these three areas for an offense. 
  • “Simplicity is king.” 
  • Anytime you feel you haven’t done your best job messaging your players, go talk with your players so that you and the players are on the same page. 
  • “If something isn’t connecting with the team, go talk to the cabinet members and find out what can help improve the practice session for the team as a whole.”
  • “You have to prepare for the role you have, not for the one you want long term.” 
    • You have to master at one level before you can get to the goal that you want. 
  • You want all of your players to understand their role and find out how to master their role. 
  • Players need to come in with a notebook to take notes with the coaches. 
  • Players need to know what their best skill is. 
  • Example: Player says he is a good OBP guy. 
  • Coaches then say, to be at your best you need to understand the strike zone and swing at pitches you can do damage with.
  • If a player doesn’t understand their role and how to master it, then it is our fault as a coaching staff. 
    • Having this clear message creates accountability for each player. 
  • “You don’t need to focus on the next skill, you need to focus on the skill you need to master right now.”
    • What kind of disparity can we create with stealing bases and preventing the opponent from taking the extra 90 feet. 
    • We are trying to defeat our opponents in every facet of the game. 
    • Teach your players why you do certain things in the game and why the opponent would do a certain skill. This creates an improved baseball IQ and situational awareness. 
  • Do your 1/9th: Whatever the situation calls for, do your part. 
  • “It’s not what your ego needs, it is what the situation calls for.”
  • “You cannot have success without the support of your teammates at the amateur level.” 
  • Swing at the right pitch, be on time, and swing at maximum bat speed. 
  • Change from swing rounds to pitch rounds. 
  • Example: Rounds of five, five different pitches. 
  • This is great decision training during batting practice. 
    • Guys who are obsessed with their mechanics want to swing and have a lack of plate discipline. 
  • Conditional Green Light:
  • Lead, Speed, Pitchers time to the plate.
  • If the player is matched up with this criteria, then they have the green light. 
  • Understand what your players can do despite what baseball is telling you to do. 
  • Trust your players more than what baseball is telling you to do. 
  • Allow the player to make the decision based off of this criteria. (They have to trust their baseball IQ). 
  • When recruiting, have the ability to say no if the player doesn’t fit the criteria that you want for your program. 
  • The player needs to have athleticism and MUST have character. 
  • “Find ways to win with the constraints that you have.”
  • Offensive Drill: 
  • Four teams of four. 
  • Two teams are on defense.
  • One group on the bases starts at first base. 
  • The guys at the plate get one round of five swings. 
  • The team hitting will see how many times they can drive the guys on the bases in. 
  • One base runner at a time. 
  • One round with guys on second. 
  • One round with guys on third. 
  • With guys on third the infield plays in. 
  • Always starts with less than two outs. 
  • This game takes two hours. 
  • This is a mental toughness game. 
  • No more than four guys in a cage without an individual coach. 
  • Focus on an individualized approach to coaching. 
  • Players love one-on-one small group teaching. 
  • After every series or game write notes. 
  • Find out what went well, what didn’t, and what to improve upon. 
  • Film intrasquad and offense whole team games. You can see game-like instincts and repetitions from the film.
    • The best coaches can adjust to multiple situations. 
  • “An elite coach has an elite attention to detail of focus on the areas they are trying to improve.”