Ahead Of The Curve with Jonathan Gelnar

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August 3, 2020  

Ryan Sienko- Catching Coordinator, Los Angeles Dodgers

This episode is sponsored by Athlete's Brand.

Today we have on Ryan Sienko- Catching Coordinator for the LA Dodgers

Ryan was a catcher at the University of Iowa, played professionally for the Texas Rangers, Chicago White Sox and in independent baseball where he was an All-Star. 

His current responsibilities include catching philosophies and drills, deciphering receiving metrics, blocking philosophies and drills, throwing philosophies and drills, coordinating player plans, working with the research and development department, drills and skill work, and traveling to all affiliates to work with the catchers.

On the show, we discuss how he evaluates catchers, what data and trends we can look for, and we go through several drills and thought processes with how we can setup up catchers to maximize their potential, on and off the field.




Choose love not fear

Getting outside of your comfort zone. 

“Ask other people what challenges the face, and how they overcome them."






Show notes courtesy of Zach Casto

  • The catching position has changed where there are very athletic players who are catching.
  • You’re seeing athletes behind there.
  • You can find ways to overcome/improve movement issues
  • To be seen as a catcher be an athlete and hit.
  • The catcher needs to be flexible.
  • Evaluate his strengths and weaknesses.
  • If the catcher is on your team give them a list of what they do well and don’t. This will help the catcher understand what to work on.
  • Walk through with them specific hitters and see if they can pick out weaknesses and strengths of each hitter in order to call the game.
  • Give the catchers the freedom to be creative and try out stances.
  • When you give them freedom they will experiment and find out what works best for them.
  • Coaches need to be open minded and allow their players to try things out.
  • “Be open to trial and error.”
  • When the ball gets by the catcher bad things happen.
  • So find ways to prevent that and receive the best way possible.
  • “If you want to find a really good catcher, notice how well the command of the pitcher is.”
  • We are living in a world where it’s high velocity and low command.
  • The best catchers receive in such a way that it makes every pitcher look good.
  • The most important thing a coach can do to be able to teach a player is to have a strong relationship with the player.
  • A player needs to trust first before any success can happen.
  • “It’s much more about the relationship and the communication.”
  • Lead learning by asking questions where the player can communicate what he is doing in order to understand himself.
  • If the player doesn’t trust us then they won’t get anything out of our teaching.
  • As soon as we can make it relatable to them and for them to understand the why behind each drill, then we will understand how good the player is.
  • As coaches dive into the process with the players.
  • Don’t be on the side, go through things with players and be all in with them.
  • To create trust with the players be transparent with them.
  • Make sure you break data down so that it’s understandable and actionable.
  • Don’t allow your guys to get upset after each game with the daily scores.
  • Let daily scores tell you if the game was a good or bad one.
  • Go weekly to see if there are any trends to make adjustments.
  • Analytics tells us is the player good? And where do we need to work?
  • The recall of catchers is amazing.
  • On specific pitches, ask the catchers what happened and why?
  • Ask them if they can use things they’ve worked on in practice.
  • Ask them to slowly bring in what they are working on.
  • The best part of being a coach is the small bit of influence you made on their career.
  • To be a good catcher you need to create championship caliber men, who roll with the punches, who are also good communicators.
  • Catchers need to be able to talk with both the pitching and catching coaches.
  • Allow your players to give presentation a to talk improve their communication.
  • Serve to Lead is about serving everyone not just pitchers.
  • It’s about serving teammates, coaches, and everyone on the organization.
  • Catchers are typically the best teammate because they are living the Serve to Lead culture.
  • Serve to Lead is the expectation for every catcher in the Dodger organization.
  • “Being a good teammate will elevate your career.”
  • Being a good teammate will help the athlete outside of the field and help improve the world.
  • “Building stronger men builds stronger baseball players.”
  • If the player is a better person then they will make a positive impact in the world.
  • Before you talk about receiving with a catcher make sure they are prepared to talk about how many pitches they are going to receive.
  • All we have to make sure is the catcher is prepared to have the proper set up to receive each pitcher they will see.
  • The catcher needs to understand what each pitch is going to do.
  • Understanding the spin rate, spin efficiency, and break of the pitch.
  • “You’re going to have to adjust with everything they do and be able to adjust.”
  • Catchers need to understand how to receive each pitcher they will see properly.
  • Every catcher has a pitcher they struggle to receive.
  • Allow them to experiment to be able to catch that pitcher.
  • Allowing freedom will create a shared to problems.
  • Sit down with your catchers and find out how to get ahead, what to do when ahead and behind, how are you going to put the hitter away with each pitcher on the staff.
  • Then throw in specific hitters and create a plan for pitch calling.
  • Find out who does damage, who chases, who can handle velocity, who can handle offspeed pitches.
  • To be able to have success with receiving is to have pocket awareness in space.
  • Having players understand where their pocket is in space is crucial.
  • “The reason why we block is to prevent the runner from advancing.”
  • You want your catchers to recognize they need to block and then block a certain way that prevents the runner from advancing.
  • A successful block is one that prevents the runner from advancing.
  • The exchange is the most crucial part of throwing when catching.
  • Get your right foot down, take your left foot and plant, then throw.
  • The best coaches are innovate and question conventional wisdom.
  • Create team building exercises where players learn how to communicate better and communicate with everyone well.
  • If you can get your catchers to talk and communicate well together is a huge win.
  • Talk to everyone and ask a lot of questions. You can learn from everyone’s experiences.
  • Be respectful and understand everyone’s perspective.
July 28, 2020  

Jason Kanzler- MiLB Hitting Coach, Houston Astros

Today we have on Jason Kanzler 
Jason was undrafted/unrecruited out of high school, tried to walk on at Northeastern University in Boston and Was cut after fall ball, He Went on to attend the University of Buffalo and became the first D1 player ever to win the gold glove award twice, won MAC player of year, won UB student athlete of year, then was drafted in 20th round by Twins as senior sign for $1k
Jason played 3 years in twins system, during which they a Florida state league championship and then spent the next 2.5 years teaching high school physics/chemistry while also coaching baseball
He was hired by with Astros last year, and was the hitting coach in high A.
On the show we talk about the art of coaching, we discuss the importance of data and how subjective measurements are also important. We dig in conversations in the dugout an how we can teach the game within the game.



Antifragile- Nassim Nicholas Taleb 

Stuart McMillan Blog






Show Notes (Zach Casto)

  • “Teachers are the best coaches.”
  • “If you can teach students who may not be interested in the subject you’re teaching then you
  • Teaching opens your eyes on how to get to know each student and create relationships for success.
  • “Deliver content when appropriate and when the athletes are ready for it.”
  • Since there is a ton of information out there we now can give objectives and options instead of giving the player one way to accomplish a task.
  • “Everyone has a built in BS detector now.”
  • It’s about facilitating and understanding how to communicate with each player.
  • We need to find out how each player learns best.
  • The best teachers can reduce the noise to teach each player their best way.
  • You need to be able to filter out what the player doesn’t need to use.
  • Putting our ego aside is very important.
  • “Silence is a sound so don’t just speak to speak.”
  • If we say a lot of irrelevant information then we can lose their trust and detail the player’s career.
  • Coaches need to have deep relationships with the players because they is what builds trust.
  • “Players own their career.”
  • Simplifying data is the most important key for success.
  • You can use pencil and paper and make a leaderboard on things you treasure.
  • Example: create a hard hit ball leaderboard.
  • Find ways to track who is having quality practice and who isn’t.
  • Hitting the ball hard is crucial at the high school level.
  • Maturity and being in the weight room will be helpful with making hard contact.
  • Barrel consistency is super important at the high school level.
  • Track consistency of hard contact and barreled up contact.
  • When first evaluating hitters and pitchers look at timing, rhythm, and tempo.
  • Find out how the player is moving in space and time.
  • Being in control of your body will create consistency.
  • A quality mover has effortless and smooth movements.
  • “It doesn’t look Max effort even though you know the player is giving their best effort.”
  • Have a conversation with your players to build awareness on their timing.
  • “You need a lot of pitches worth of observation if you’re going to use your eyes to assess timing.”
  • Go week by week to assess timing.
  • Data and information can be used in positive ways or negative ways to effect performance.
  • You almost have to re-learn or remold how you’ve learned data to positively influence the player.
  • You can create data for and collect information from seeing with hitting the ball hard.
  • The art of coaching is understanding and coaching each player their best way as an individual.
  • Understanding when to talk and when not to is an art and takes a lot of experience.
  • To create any adjustments with a player, trust has to be there.
  • To create trust there must be a relationship.
  • I’d there is trust, ask questions to have them go through in their head to find out that they need to make a change.
  • You want it to be their idea. If it’s their idea there will be a better chance of buy in.
  • As a coach break down information of who they are facing.
  • Understand what pitch mix they have and the speed of each pitch.
  • Break down the pitchers and find out what information each hitter on your team wants to know.
  • You can either plan against the pitchers strengths or plan around the hitters strengths.
  • “I’d much rather plan around the hitters strengths.”
  • Planning to the pitchers’s strengths puts a defensive mindset to the hitter.
  • Ask each player what they want to know.
  • Some players don’t want to know anything. That’s okay if it works.
  • If it doesn’t work then have a conversation with the player to create a plan.
  • Allow stretch time for the player to get ready for the day.
  • After that allow the players to go through their feel good/ game preparation routine drills to get ready for the day.
  • Understand each of these drills to help each player get ready.
  • Allow the player to use whatever will help him get prepared for the team hitting section of pregame.
  • One of the hardest things to do is freeing the player to do what works for them and to find out their process.
  • To be able to truly help the player, a strong relationship must be there.
  • Players have to trust you in order to trust themselves when you give them that freedom.
  • Being observant as a coach and modeling that will help the players become interested in doing the same.
  • Model what you want your players to do.
  • To be a good coach: understand what the player is feeling when hitting and playing and how they are seeing the ball.
  • Look at timing, are they doing any preparation on the pitcher, do they look under control in their forward move.
  • If a player doesn’t look smooth, odds are he won’t see the ball well.
  • The best coaches make their players feel like an equal to the coaches.
  • You want everyone all in together.
  • Tennis Ball Hitting Drill:
  • Toss into a strike zone.
  • The hitter will either hit the ball in the air or let the ball bounce.
  • The objective is for the hitter to hit the ball on a line.
  • It’s a competitive drill that makes the players better.
July 20, 2020  

Chris Gimenez- MLB Game Planning Coach, Los Angeles Dodgers and Michael McCarthy, MiLB Pitching Coach, Minnesota Twins


Today we have on Chris Gimenez from the Los Angeles Dodgers and Michael McCarthy from the Minnesota Twins. 

In parts of 10 seasons, Chris appeared in 386 Major League games and tallied 1067 plate appearances between the Indians, Twins, Mariners, Rays, Rangers and Cubs. While the bulk of Gimenez’s work came behind the plate, he was versatile enough to spend time at first base, in the outfield corners and, more briefly at third base. Beyond that, Gimenez took the ball for 11 relief appearances in his career.  He is currently the game planning coach for the LA Dodgers. 

Mike went from mowing lawns, dragging infields and “just trying to be a part of” Cal State Bakersfield’s first baseball team to being 14th round selection by the Boston Red Sox in the 2011 MLB draft and he spent parts of his final three seasons with Triple-A Pawtucket. His final season came in 2016. and is currently the pitching coach for AAA Rochester in the Minnesota Twins organization.

On the showOn the show we dive deep into the pitcher/catcher relationship, we discuss how we can break down data for players into a tool thats most relevant for them, and we go over game-planning and in dugout conversations. You’re going to love this episode with Michael McCarthy and Chris Gimenez.



  • Smart baseball
  • MVP Machine
  • Make your bed 
  • Jocko Willink 
  • Fortitude



Chris Gimenez


Michael McCarthy



Show notes courtesy of Zach Casto

  • Seek to understand your players so that you can teach them better.
  • in other words be empathetic.
  • If you don’t have a direct and correct answer to a problem then you have no business talking to a player about it.
  • Further your education if you do t have the answers.
  • You have to lead with empathy.
  • Sometimes you need to be a therapist for the player to get off the pressure they’ve put on themselves.
  • Cultivate and create relationships with all players.
  • When you’re telling players information you need to understand who is in front of you.
  • Example: Some players want data and information. Some do not.
  • “Understand who you’re working with and understanding which button to push.”
  • “A lot of this is trial and error.”
  • Understand their knowledge of analytics and educational background.
  • Understand how each player learns best.
  • Simplify data down to simple language.
  • “Make data normal in everyday conversations.”
  • Lean on the relationships you have with the players to have conversations with information/data in them.
  • When talking to guys and you have to tell them something, tell them when they have the time to come talk to you.
  • Data is a tool.
  • Tell the player what the data is telling them to do.
  • Example: throw more curveballs because the data is telling us for you to do so.
  • Data gives suggestions, it doesn’t mean you have to follow it.
  • Data doesn’t have regency bias whereas we do as human beings.
  • Data will tell your the truth.
  • Be patient with the players.
  • Always be available to your players.
  • “Your players are always their best coach.”
  • Players need to be open and honest with themselves.
  • The teacher will appear when the student is ready.
  • Giving players the space they need to figure things out and learn is crucial.
  • When pitching it’s about executing a pitch and focusing on the present moment.
  • Create a level playing field where the coach and players can open up to each other and get things off their chest.
  • Explore and look at different experiences of people so that you gain more knowledge and challenge the norm.
  • Use trial and error to see what sticks and what doesn’t.
  • “Empower your coaches to be smart and make good decisions.”
  • Review the thought process of each individual and learn from mistakes.
  • “If you’re unsure about your decision making ability then ask questions.”
  • Good people will provide good results.
  • Empower your people and allow them to try things out.
  • That’s how people learn.
  • When players are in an uncomfortable environment they will become comfortable in uncomfortable situations.
  • Hire people you trust and help them understand what makes the culture special. Also let them know what they bring in that is special.
  • Give players a heads up so that they have their schedule and the team schedule for the day.
  • Give them options so that they have ownership over their career.
  • “The more information the player can take in, the less work we have to do.”
  • Have a meeting early in the season and show how we use scouting reports.
  • Y’all your catchers and pitchers through the scouting reports.
  • Doing this builds a knowledge base for the catchers and pitchers.
  • The coach will come in and make suggestions to the plan the catchers and pitchers have planned.
  • “Stick to your strengths.”
  • This is a tried and true plan for a player.
  • Let the pitchers know what their strengths are.
  • Players must be aware of their strengths.
  • When the opposing lineup is in, create wrist bands for your catchers so that they have a quick scouting report for each hitter.
  • In between innings go over who the pitcher is facing and what to expect if a batter gets on base.
  • Example: If this guy gets on realize he’s quick and a good base runner.
  • Understand the best matchups for each pitcher and opponent.
  • Understand the limits of your starting pitchers.
  • Look and see if our pitcher is tipping or not.
  • Look for adjustments in a box. Sometimes the way a hitter takes a pitch will tell you if he can pick up a pattern or any tips.
  • Fingers are important when picking up tipped pitches.
  • Check for the stiffness of fingers and different looking wrists.
  • Some pitchers will wiggle the ball and pick the pitch in their hand.
  • Some pitchers will wiggle and pick the pitch type in the glove and the glove will move for different pitches.
  • A fastball has little to no glove move whereas off speed may have movement.
  • Sometimes pitchers will tap in their glove before they throw differently for different pitches.
  • Sometimes pitchers throw specific pitches in counts.
  • To help players improve give them tips of what you see needs improved along with things they do well to build awareness.
  • Keep detailed notes on what is happening in a game.
  • Try and learn the language of the player who is an ELL.
  • When you try, respect is built and you improve speaking the second language.
  • “This creates the culture of we are all learning together.”
  • Check in with how the players are doing in their personal life every day.
  • Trust is built when you ask those questions.
  • Be authentic and honest with your players.
  • The ELL player and Spanish speaking coach will help you learn Spanish.
  • The best coaches challenge and push their players.
  • “Stress is where things grow.”
  • Players need stress so that they can improve and build knowledge.
  • Don’t let your players settle.
  • You want to grow your players as a human being not just a player.
  • Whatever you do in practice make it fun, bring energy, and be enthusiastic.
  • “If you take pride in what you do and do it right the first time, you won’t have to do something over again.”
  • Appreciate this pandemic time and understand what is really important in life.
  • “The greatest thing you can do in life is leave the world better than you found it.”
  • “Go serve and love the world around you.”
  • The best coaches have no egos.


July 13, 2020  

Aaron Bates- Assistant MLB Hitting Coach and Director of MiLB Hitting, Los Angeles Dodgers

Today we have on Aaron Bates. The Dodgers MLB assistant hitting coach, and he’s also the director of hitting for the minor leagues. 
Aaron was a third-round pick out of North Carolina State by Boston in 2006, and played eight professional seasons — he logged 12 plate appearances with the Red Sox in 2009 — before joining the coaching ranks. His final swings came with the Dodgers in 2014. From there he served as a hitting coach in the Arizona, Midwest, and California leagues. In 2018, he became the assistant hitting coordinator for LA’s minor league system.
On the show, we discuss the process and what that means to the Dodgers minor league system. We go over game planning, simplification, what he has learned during COVID and so much more. 
Favorite books
Culture Code- Daniel Coyle
Talent Code- Daniel Coyle
Show notes courtesy of Zach Casto
  • “The best way to gain someone’s trust is not saying anything at all.”
  • Be a good listener.
  • Watch players and how they compete and learn.
  • Get to know the players and build quality relationships with them.
  • “Ask them how they feel first instead of throwing information at them.”
  • The strongest organizations have the strongest cultures.
  • The strongest organizations have strong communication and share a vision.
  • “If you have good people you’ll have a good culture.”
  • Have progress reports for hitters to focus on quality at bats over results.
  • “Teach process so that the Manager can trust you to put together good at bats.”
  • “If you stick with the process the results will come.”
  • Example: QAB is lining out and squaring the ball up. That’s a good process, just had an unlucky result.
  • A good coach takes a lot of information, funnel it to the player, and the player understands it.
  • “Simple wins.”
  • Ask the input of your players on what they like and what their process is.
  • Ask the player what happens when things are good or bad. Also ask them to think out loud their adjustments.
  • We need to show we trust the player first before they trust us.
  • Try to remember how things were when you played.
  • Be the coach you wanted to have as a player so you can improve the experience for your players.
  • All players have good swings.
  • But the best of the best swings are more consistent.
  • The best of the best can control their mass and control their body. Their best swing and worst swing are similar and can adjust easier.
  • Whereas the average have more of a difference between their best swing and their worst swing. (Therefore more inconsistent).
  • Making a mechanical change with a player depends on how open the player is to it.
  • Be prepared with video and data (evidence).
  • Keep in mind what could be changed in season and in the offseason.
  • Have video of good swings and bad swings and have reasons as to why the player will struggle with what’s going on.
  • Give evidence that is relevant to probe the point.
  • Use a movement assessment to find solutions that will actually work based on how the athlete moves.
  • Say things as simple as possible that will have the most impact.
  • “Treat the cause (of the problem) not the effect (of the problem).”
  • Treat the players like they were your teammates.
  • Be respectful and offer things the right way.
  • Do not treat people differently.
  • You and the players will understand when the situation will be serious.
  • “When you’re real the players will sense it and respect it.”
  • Players respect authenticity.
  • Work with ELL athletes and learn each other’s languages together.
  • “The best conversations are the ones where the players lead the conversations.”
  • As a coach start the conversation and let the players lead the discussion.
  • Ask them what the pitcher has pitched each hitter.
  • This will help the hitters find out any tendencies for all hitters that are being faced.
  • Once through the order the offense should have a plan of adjustment to the starter that the lineup is facing.
  • This is why having team verbiage and clear communication is key.
  • Find your best way possible to get the message across.
  • In the first 5-6 hitters you’ll have an idea how a pitcher is pitching an offense.
  • Hitters want to know velocity, what the pitcher has, and how each pitch moves.
  • Then they will focus on how they are being pitched.
  • When players are struggling pull up videos that show them when they are having success, when they are struggling, and allow them to get their mental anxiety out.
  • “Tell the players that they aren’t as bad as they think they are and they aren’t as great as they think they are. It’s in the middle where the truth lies.”
  • You want the player to be even keeled.
  • The player just has to focus one pitch at a time and take control of the moment.
  • “When you’re struggling do less not more.”
  • You don’t want the player to add pressure to them.
  • Allow for the players to have early work.
  • This may be their routine and will help them be successful.
  • Have challenges during BP for players to compete and get better.
  • Throw situations with them.
  • You can create point systems.
  • You don’t want your players to take mindless swings.
  • You want intentional decisions in batting practice.
  • You want your hitters to be tough outs and consistent at the plate because they are competing.
  • Be an egoless coach and always keep learning.
July 6, 2020  

Rick Franzblau- Director of Olympic Sports Strength and Conditioning, Clemson University (SC)

Today we have on Rick Franzblau. Rick is in his first year as the director of olympic sports strength and conditioning. The previous three years he served in the capacity of assistant director of olympic sports strength and conditioning. He is responsible for the supervision of the assistant strength coaches, graduate assistants and volunteer interns. Rick oversees the strength and conditioning for all 14 of the Olympic Sports an he is directly responsible for the strength and conditioning efforts of the baseball, men’s soccer and track and field teams.
On the show we discuss how to match hardware and software, in both hitting and pitching. How what we find on movement screens affects in game performance. How to communicate and collaborate with on field staff and strength staff. We talk deceleration training, proper breathing and so much more. 
Here is Rick Franzblau!
Understand basic concepts of postural restoration institute
Basic anatomy 
Show notes courtesy of Zach Casto 
  • Do everything you can to help your athletes achieve their goals.
  • Hardware: the body and how it naturally moves.
  • 1. Lever System: Ratios of the length of your femur to your spine to your tibia
  • These can dictate are you a squatter or a hinge.
  • This will dictate how your forward move is.
  • 2. Wingspan
  • 3. Your structure such as your hips.
  • Humans are born and have a specific way that they will move.
  • Look at passive and active range of motion.
  • Passive: How much I can push you back to.
  • Active: A move back from the passive motion.
  • 4. Movement Capabilities: Movement screenings.
  • 5. Static Posture: How the body’s posture is.
  • All of this will tell you how the athlete is supposed to move.
  • When making a change the athlete needs to know why and how.
  • Possible solutions:
  • 1. Improve an output (exit velocity) or productivity.
  • 2. Improve their efficiency: How hard the athlete is working with success.
  • Example: Effortless velocity throughout time.
  • 3. Health
  • Two options:
  • 1. Once you determine their hardware, perhaps their software needs adjusted.
  • 2. The longer option is the hardware.
  • The older the athlete is the harder it’ll be to change their hardware.
  • “At the end of the day pass and fail doesn’t matter. The three above questions are what matter.”
  • Software is the understood movements and solutions with the hardware (body).
  • Extended postures
  • Example: Ribs are oriented more to the sky.
  • This happens for breathing patterns (not using the diaphragm).
  • This means that these guys lose their glutes in the side to side frame.
  • Changes the forward move and load.
  • These athletes have a lag in their forward move.
  • Players have more of a knee strategy forward move. This creates a problem for balance.
  • This can cause problems in vision and seeing the pitch when hitting.
  • These individuals struggle with the hinge test.
  • “These individuals don’t trust their hips so they don’t hinge.”
  • This effects how you teach stretching and weight room exercises.
  • It’s hard to change hardware but if you get buy in it’ll be an easier process.
  • Have a common language with the player so that both sides have a clear understanding of what to do.
  • After the strength and mobility assessments have a meeting with each athlete.
  • The meeting will be about hip anatomy (this will determine movement solution of the athlete) and parts of the body that determine the athlete’s current movement solutions.
  • “The answer comes down to the skill coach.”
  • With the players who have breathing pattern problems look at how their hips thrust and hinge.
  • You want to make sure that the player is balanced throughout the athletic movement for success.
  • It’s important to talk with the coaches to find out how the athlete is performing.
  • Use data, video, and movement tests.
  • At the younger levels, the players are perpetuating these extended postures because they are trying to get stronger at younger levels.
  • Pitchers have the same problems as hitters.
  • “We are looking at a lot of the same things.”
  • Start with the hips and assess those.
  • If the player doesn’t have a range of motion with their hips then the player is going to have problems with how they move.
  • Check out how the hips go back and how they turn.
  • When you load into your glutes then you’ll create free energy that will go into getting more out of the delivery and more onto the pitch.
  • The players who get more out of their glutes will be able to perform efficiently longer.
  • How you load the hip and stride down the mound is so crucial.
  • You want to have pelvic rotation just like the best hitters for pitchers instead of pushing off the rubber instead.
  • Pre-throwing use J-bands.
  • Post-throwing stretch.
  • Diet is crucial for success for all athletes.
  • Sleep schedule is crucial as well.
  • Look at the arm at front foot strike.
  • Is it up 90 degrees or behind?
  • This will effect how the arm spirals.
  • How does the arm unwind?
  • Is the arm unwinding at the same time that the trunk is rotating.
  • Before every bullpen or game the pitchers are in the weight room for 20 minutes to warm up and get their body and arm prepared.
  • Arm care needs to be holistic.
  • A cookie cutter approach to things is more harmful than good.
  • Example: weighted balls are good for a certain population, but not good for all.
  • Find what cues are valuable for each athlete.
  • Look at each program and see if they are helpful for all athletes or each athlete.
  • You can decelerate by kicking back or scissor movement.
  • Players to do the kick back scissor movement is that players need to be strong physically and tissue wise as well.
  • We have to understand the deceleration pattern of all athletes so we can improve it.
  • You can use medicine ball exercises to bring out the deceleration patterns for each athlete.
  • Single leg strength is important for kick back guys.
  • For pitching it’s about timing your pelvic rotation properly.
  • As the foot plants then the pelvic needs to turn.
  • Understand what deceleration strategies to use.
  • Then you can select drills to help these strategies to work well.
  • When hitting you want your guys to work on trunk and pelvis deceleration.
  • Some guys who decelerate well will counter rotate their hips.
  • Watch the belt buckle of the hitter.
  • If it’s level throughout they are moving pretty well.
  • Breathing needs to be used for mental game and postural related.
  • Long exhales are key.
  • When you let all the air out at the end you feel loose and your abs turn up.
  • It takes the tension out of their body.
  • Players need to understand how to take a deep breath as well.
  • Long exhales will make you more relaxed and help your posture.
  • Breathing through your nose helps the player aerobically.
  • When we are more mobile we will have more slack in our muscles.
  • When we are less mobile we have less slack.
  • You want to have less slack so you’re more athletic in the muscles.
  • You can stretch to gain less slack.
  • Shoulder range of motion: hold them at the elbow and put pressure on the wrist to get an idea of the shoulder range of motion.(passive external shoulder range of motion).
  • To get an idea of a players active range of motion you can have them put their hand on the ground and push up to understand a players active range of motion.
  • For players who are hyper mobile ask and see if that actually bothers their performance.
  • Natural maturation will tighten up the hyper mobile players as well.
  • On a RHH: Fascial accelerators: right shoulder to left hip fascial line. Left shoulder to the right hip.
  • Fascial breaks: left hip to the right shoulder. Left shoulder to the right hip.
  • “It’s like an X.”
  • Fascia is connective tissues that protects organs.
  • It is a supporter in the body.
  • It’s important because it’s trained through elastic movements and patterns across multiple planes.
  • Testosterone helps with explosive movements.
  • It’s something we want to optimize in the afternoon and evening.
  • Explosive workouts before a game will prevent decay in testosterone.
  • Elite explosive athletes will be flat if they don’t do anything.
  • They have to do something every day.
  • Tuck jumps and Plyocare push ups are helpful for pitchers.
  • Small doses of this with position players. Since their workload is quite a bit.
  • “Challenge yourself with everything you do.”
  • Be open minded and continue to learn about things you don’t know.
  • As a coach spend as much time learning about strength as you do content of sport.
June 29, 2020  

Nate Fish- The King of Jewish Baseball

This episode is brought to you by Marvbands. Use code AOTC for 10% off of team sets!
Today we have on The King of Jewish Baseball Nate Fish. 
We go over what he has learned in playing and coaching in 20 plus countries. He also has experience in the world baseball classic, in Cape Cod and starting the national baseball program in Israel. And one of the coolest things about Nate is his experience coaching from little league, to coaching in the minor leagues with the Dodgers. 
Show notes courtesy of Zach Casto 
  • Fast pitch softball can clean your swing up because the reaction time is less than in baseball.
  • In practices you want high energy and fun experiences.
  • When you’re having fun is where learning happens.
  • When you’re working with fear, the result is not good.
  • Within a stretch routine it may be the only time of the day where everyone on the team is together.
  • When you are stretching you can add in a clap after a stretch.
  • This is similar to football.
  • “You can’t be scared to be a little bit stupid.”
  • “You want to build a program around a shared vision.”
  • When building relationships with players the trust comes first and the love comes second.
  • “Player development is just human development.”
  • People often just need support and understand what their role is so they can do it well.
  • What you know isn’t going to be the difference in player development, it’s the relationship piece.
  • Allow your players to tell stories in the stretch to make a fun environment.
  • The batting cage is where relationships really grow.
  • When coaching in the summer leagues allow your players to find out their routines and processes.
  • It’s like a Professional format.
  • Players can find out a lot of career changing things during that summer.
  • Teach your players to stay rational. Baseball will bring out a ton of mental stress.
  • Don’t dive into telling your hitters to swing one way.
  • Work on them feeling specific movements in the swing and finding out solutions in their own way.
  • Players have to be on time and have a stabilized movement throughout the swing.
  • Commonalities are athleticism, timing, and having the ability to stabilize the pelvis, and staying through your legs.
  • “Get on time for a heater.”
  • Use objectives for your players to do when they are hitting.
  • This allows them to self organize and work on the feels they are searching for.
  • Every athlete’s movements will be unique and different.
  • Technology has allowed for external cues to be the way.
  • Visualization is important to do if you’re in a pandemic, injured, or before you are hitting.
  • It helps build confidence and a plan.
  • Before practice have your players step into the box and have them feel comfortable in the box.
  • Allow them to get set up.
  • As a coach be the pitcher (show a righty or lefty).
  • Have them see the ball out of the hand.
  • Have them visualize taking pitcher.
  • Have them visualize taking swings on pitches.
  • You want them to feel comfortable in the box and feel that they are in control and not the pitcher.
  • “This is hard to quantify.”
  • With that being said it can help prepare the players to have success and put the pressure on the pitcher.
  • When building a culture discuss what’s important, model it, discuss it every day, and explain the importance of everything.
  • “Stars make kids want to do things.”
  • Players are influenced by baseball players who are role models.
  • When introducing baseball to someone, have them go to camps and find those role models.
  • Practice design is super important.
  • Practice design has a lot of variables.
  • You have to factor in age group, amount of teams, amount of time.
  • You need to make sure players are being healthy with their arms.
  • “Any defense is about playing catch.”
  • Spend less time on bunt plays and 1st and 3rd play.
  • You want your players to hit a lot and work on game speed practices.
  • Play the game as much as possible.
  • Do game like situations and live batting practice.
  • “Culture is a by product of your values.”
  • So how you do everything is a showing of how you value things.
  • State what you are about and model it to your players.
  • How you do things is super important with a culture.
  • Don’t teach hands behind the ball. Teach barrel in between your hands and your body instead.
  • Players enjoy energy, enthusiasm, and good BP out of a coach.
  • As a coach a goal of ours is to not over coach.
  • “It’s okay to agree or disagree on things as coaches.” You can learn and grow from each other.
  • Don’t be afraid to fail. You learn from failure.
  • “If we haven’t failed lately then we haven’t put ourselves out there.”
  • “The game itself is the best teacher.”
June 21, 2020  

Joe Espada- Bench Coach, Houston Astros

This episode is brought to you by Marvbands. Use code AOTC for 10% off of team sets!
Today we have on Joe Espada, Bench Coach for the Houston Astros. Joe grew up in Puerto Rico and attended college the University of Mobile before being drafted 45th overall in the 1996 draft by the Oakland A’s. Joe played 10 years in the Minors before retiring and getting into coaching. He got his first coaching job in 2006 with the Marlins and was named the big league 3B coach in 2010. In 2014 he was hired by Brian Cashman and became an assistant to the GM and the infield coach with the Yankees, and in 2017 he was hired by the Astros to be the bench coach. On the show we discuss lessons learned throughout his professional career, we discuss how working in the Yankees front office helped him become a better on field coach and we dive deep into how to learn about and build the culture in the clubhouse.
  • Extreme ownership- Jocko Willink 
  • Measure what matters- John Doerr
  • We’re all in this together- Mike Robbins


show notes courtesy of Zach Casto

  • When you get into coaching, put your ego to the side and focus on helping the players with your experiences and things you’ve learned.
  • “Share your stories so that others don’t make the same mistakes.”
  • “The best coaches put their players first.”
  • “It’s about the players, not about you.”
  • Players want to see you as genuine and they want to see empathy and humility.
  • The most important thing is to earn the trust of the players.
  • If your patient and your timing is right you’ll earn trust of the players.
  • The best leaders listen well and speak last.
  • The ones that do that earn the trust of the players and people will follow you because of that.
  • “Players want to know how you are going to bring the best out of me?”
  • When players know you care about their careers and the team then they’ll understand that you have their best interests in mind. They’ll trust you because of this.
  • “Do more listening than talking.”
  • Don’t break the ice on how you played.
  • A lot of players don’t want to hear that.
  • Without trust teamwork cannot be built.
  • Listen to the players and their stories so that you can relate to them better.
  • “When things aren’t good at home, they aren’t going to be good at the field.”
  • We need to take time to understand the language and culture if our players.
  • You want to have a human connection so that you can help the players grow and get away from their anxieties at home.
  • Have a conversation about personal life will help grow relationships and help them feel better because it unloads the weight of the world off of their shoulders.
  • Allows the player to perform the best of their ability.
  • Culture is talked about a lot, but are we actually doing things to help create and continue the culture that we want.
  • You need more than talent to win a championship.
  • Three things that create championships:
  • 1. Embrace technology and use new ways to develop players.
  • They adapt quickly to changes in the game.
  • 2. Hire smart and can understand technology and the human side of things.
  • Make sure we put our egos at the door and provide the best data to our players so when we go to the field we are prepared and on the same page.
  • The best teams have a culture of openness to where you can voice your opinion.
  • When we are shifting we must be able to sell what we are teaching.
  • We cannot sell our teaching unless there is trust.
  • When communicating it must be crystal clear with everyone.
  • The best way to sell shifting is to see the results.
  • Balls were hit and people were in front of the ball.
  • Players were able to make more routine plays.
  • Less balls were in the outfield.
  • Hitters hit into tendencies.
  • Hitters are stubborn and don’t change so much.
  • You can’t let the one ball that gets away from the shift to have you change from the plan.
  • We must be rational and not emotional.
  • In the season make sure your players make throws in the shifted positions.
  • Do bunt plays and pickoffs to show shift coverage.
  • Have presentations on cuts and relays as well.
  • Do the presentations before the season starts.
  • As a bench coach get there day ready.
  • Type of the lineup from the manager.
  • Get the pre game schedule ready.
  • Put out any fires before it gets to the managers office.
  • Watch film and find out a relief rotation.
  • Have visualization an hour to an hour and a half before the game.
  • Have a set routine for your guys so that they have something to look forward to every day.
  • Put things on your schedule if its important.
  • Try learning how to learn Spanish with ELL athletes.
  • This creates friendships and respect.
  • “Challenge the players to teach the coaches in regards to a foreign language.”
  • If you prepare well before a game it will slow down the game for you as a coach.
  • Do homework prior to the game.
  • Visualize good and bad scenarios so you are prepared.
  • As a bench coach you get to ask the manager and position coach on decisions to help both groups.
  • The bench coach is often the swing vote.
  • Timing is crucial to understand adjustments.
  • Players adjust when they are ready.
  • The way to go to the next level is to put players first and dominating your role.
  • Put your ambitions to the side and live in the moment.
  • Be yourself, do your job, and be honest.
  • “Do your job today and tomorrow takes care of itself.”
  • Have your players doing game speed drills.
  • Don’t be afraid to have your players re-do a rep they misplayed in practice.
  • When warming up between innings, have the players make one long throw just in case a throw they will need to make in that half inning.
  • “The best investment you can make is yourself.”
  • “You can always improve yourself.”
  • Use Zoom to teach mechanics and fundamentals of baseball in a quarantine situation.
June 14, 2020  

Andy Haines- MLB Hitting Coach, Milwaukee Brewers

This episode is brought to you by Marvbands. Use code AOTC for 10% off of team sets!
Today we have on Andy Haines, MLB hitting coach for the Milwaukee Brewers. Andy is in his his second season in the Brewers organization. Prior to joining the Brewers, spent one season as assistant hitting coach with the Chicago Cubs...Under Haines (and hitting coach Chili Davis), the Cubs led the National League in batting average and ranked second in on-base percentage in 2018...Served Chicago as minor league hitting coordinator from 2016-17... Spent eight seasons with the Miami Marlins, where he joined the organization in 2008 as Rookie GCLMarlins hitting coach. On the show we discuss the differences in working with big leaguers and minor leaguers and amateurs, we go over gameplanning, pre game routines and it all ties back into gaining trust with players. You’re going to love this episode with Andy Haines
Intangibles- Joan Ryan
Its your ship- Captain D. Michael Abrashoff
Obstacle is the way- Ryan Holiday
Show notes from Zach Casto
  • The best coaches are good teachers.
  • You will grow along with your players.
  • The more an athlete plays, the game will teach the athlete about himself.
  • The player will understand himself well the longer he plays.
  • “The problems the players has when younger are the same ones he will have when he’s older.”
  • You need to strengthen the weaknesses and maintain the strengths.
  • This is difficult so it requires patience.
  • Ask for the players to want to get better each day and be willing to be coachable.
  • One of the best things you can do for an athlete who is struggling is to ask them about experiences other than baseball.
  • This shows that you aren’t worried.
  • Think about on a daily basis on ways to improve each of your group of players every day.
  • “The teacher will show up when the student is ready.”
  • Understand your players when they are at their best and worst.
  • This helps you ready their body language and actions.
  • If you don’t have an answer to a question, tell the athlete you aren’t sure but tomorrow I will be.
  • Be authentic with players and honest.
  • You want to show confidence.
  • Allow the players to provide answers and their opinion on things in order to help them become their own best coach.
  • Players want an impactful coach and someone who is in there with them.
  • Great leaders are great communicators (verbal and nonverbal).
  • Great leaders are also authentic.
  • Be willing to tell your players that you don’t know and you’ll find out.
  • Follow through with finding out and give the answer.
  • Players will trust you more if you do this.
  • Test your players by asking them questions to gain their input.
  • This shows that you’re invested.
  • The hardest guy to help is the athlete who is an elite player.
  • Data tells you what direction to go, but it does not tell you what to do.
  • Data will tell you where the player is at and where he needs to go. But we need to realize what to do next to help the player go in the right direction.
  • You can improve a player based off of player comparison.
  • Example: Show the top 10 players in one area and compare it to the player you’re with and ask them why they are struggling in that area.
  • We also have to have a lot of content knowledge in order to give a prescription and piece of advice that is going to help the player.
  • As coaches it is our job to keep pushing our players to be their best as consistently as possible.
  • Understand that hitting is reactionary so it’ll be different for each player.
  • Technology tells a story and which direction to go.
  • Find the most consistent mistakes based off of data and work on that.
  • Players need to find ways to solve problems that the game presents.
  • Find out the area of where the hitter hits the ball the hardest.
  • If there is data on a hitter’s weakness then the pitching staff will pitch to the weakness and not mess around.
  • On the other hand, understand the pitch profile of the pitcher and work on that in the cage to work it off of the machine.
  • Players have two choices, hit to his strengths or fight based off of how the hitter will be attacked.
  • Ensure that one on one discussions have intent and helpful.
  • Players need to have conviction, sticking with that, and also letting the last pitch go and have a plan to go for the next pitch.
  • Hitters and always turn around a two strike count into a hitter’s count.
  • “When guys are going well challenge them. When guys are not going well coddle them more.”
  • Players need to focus on their timing, rhythm, and pitch selection when struggling rather than their swing.
  • “You can’t let the results dictate everything.”
  • Don’t back off on them either. Always keep the energy.
  • Hitting the ball in the air is prevalent due to shifts.
  • Try to hit line drives over the infielders heads and into the outfield. Trying to hit the outfield grass on a line.
  • Watch how the defense is playing you. This can tell you how you’ll be pitched and how to keep the inning going to get a hit.
  • “Getting on base is king.”
  • Find a way to get on base no matter how it is.
  • On base percentage is super important.
  • Hits go up when hitters aren’t shifted on.
  • Players need to be invested in their process and routines.
  • Have the players show you the routine and process.
  • Let them perform their routine until they struggle. When they struggle go in and adjust their routine to help them.
  • “Have clarity every day regardless of the results.”
  • Don’t overwork to create problems that aren’t there.
  • Be available for your players and let them know your hours so that they can come in and get extra work in.
  • It takes everyone to develop a hitter.
  • Be holistic about it.
  • Find out the best way for each hitter.
  • Each body is different than the others.
  • Stay current but also make sure the new ideas used are clearly understood.
  • You can’t underestimate the importance we hold with our athletes.
  • “Treat a person as they should be and watch who they become.”
June 8, 2020  

Anthony Iapoce- MLB Hitting Coach, Chicago Cubs

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





Today we have on the Chicago cubs major league hitting coach, Anthony Iapoce. Anthony was named the Cubs major league hitting coach in October, 2018 after three seasons as the hitting coach with the Texas Rangers ... prior to joining Texas, he spent the previous three years in the Cubs organization as a Special Assistant to the GM while overseeing the club's minor league hitting program from 2013-15 ... Has been in a coaching/player development capacity since the 2006 season. On the show we talk about working with some of the best players in the world and how we can be an advocate for them. We talk about daily routines, which includes game planning and preparation and we get into how we can best serve all of our players. This episode is so good with Anthony Iapoce!
Creativity inc
Show notes courtesy of Zach Casto
  • As a coach be able to talk and help out everyone in the program that you work with.
  • Be preparedness and patience will create trust from the players.
  • You don’t want to change a swing at first.
  • Listen and watch.
  • “Players will tell you about how they want to be coached.”
  • Be patient enough for when players ask you for help, then you have a plethora of resources to help them.
  • You can learn through the honest conversations that you have with the players that they will tell you how they want to be coached.
  • This helps the athlete become their own best coach.
  • When players talk to you, you want them to be completely honest.
  • When things go well, congratulate the player.
  • Players need to trust their process and not focus completely on mechanics.
  • It’s a one pitch at a time approach with adjustments.
  • Before, after, and during the the game have a stream of communication from the whole team.
  • “Don’t underestimate that players know how to practice and can manage their thoughts.”
  • “The drill doesn’t help the player, it’s the thought process during the drill.”
  • It can be a thought process or a target on the field.
  • In practice help the player think properly.
  • Don’t ever assume that your players have heard what you’ve said constantly. Go in every day expecting that they know nothing.
  • “The more accountable a player is the quicker they will improve.”
  • What a player feels is the most important thing for them.
  • You manage this by a certain set of drills.
  • Again, the focus is the thought behind the drill.
  • Players need to practice getting hits when they aren’t on time.
  • This is possible.
  • What your thoughts are and what they are actually doing are two different things.
  • Celebrate the little victories such as a good take, a walk, a good swing.
  • Baseball beats up the player enough.
  • The hardest thing a player goes through is letting the team and themselves down.
  • Have the player focus on helping the team win and being selfless.
  • Get back to when the player feels the most confident. Get back to that place and start a connection there. So the player can feel that great feeling.
  • Preach to players to buy into a team concept of hitting.
  • Example: teach the importance of selfless at bats. Such as hitting the ball the opposite field.
  • The routine starts as soon as you get to the field.
  • What they eat, what they do, and how they prepare for the game has to be set for the player to feel confident and comfortable.
  • Each player has their set routine.
  • In the cage with a tee, Cubs player would hit off of a high tee first to get prepared for the mass amounts of high fastballs that they will see in a game.
  • Being thrown BP, work on low in the zone and working your way back up in the zone.
  • Depending on preference, players will use a set of resources to get prepared for who they are facing.
  • Example: some players will use a high velocity pitching machine, do a short bat drill, tosses.
  • You want cage flow and a set of drills so that everyone isn’t just standing around.
  • Players will appreciate organization and preparedness.
  • All great conversations happen by players talking to each other.
  • This builds an understanding between players and coaches.
  • Get to know the players:
  • Give them an assignment of using Google Earth and take a picture of the town or city the player was from. The player will talk about the town he was in.
  • Respect everyone’s cage time because everyone has a tight schedule and wants to get better that day.
  • The next best thing for coaching is really good people who can coach in everything.
  • You have to be a hybrid coach and be able to do everything.
  • Learn from experiences and formulate how you want to coach.


June 4, 2020  

George Lombard- First Base Coach, Los Angeles Dodgers

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





Today we have on George Lombard. First base coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers. George has been a member of the dodgers for 5 years, after previously serving various roles in the Braves and Red Sox Minor League Systems. George’s story is one word, powerful. His mom was a civil rights activist with Martin Luther King jr. His grandfather was the dean of Harvard business school for 40 years. George was an all American running back and signed at the university of Georgia before ultimately deciding to pursue baseball which led to playing 6+ years in the big leagues.

Show notes from Zach Casto
  • You want to be the kind of coach that the players know that you. Care and love your players.
  • These are the coaches who are difference makers.
  • Often times the most influential person in your life is a good model of a good coach.
  • Stand up for what you believe and always do the right thing.
  • “Always look to make a difference in the lives of others.”
  • There will always be people who will help you out. Try to stay as positive as possible.
  • Always recognize those who have helped you.
  • You want to be the kind of coach that is positive and picks up players when they are at their lowest.
  • You also want to keep those same players grounded when they are playing at their best.
  • “Everyone in baseball should have the experience of being a hitting coach”
  • Push your players and peers to go after their goals.
  • Example: Get their bachelors degree.
  • A coaches role is to make a difference in the lives of their players.
  • You can make a difference every single day.
  • “You can make a difference every day.”
  • Special players make special teams.
  • The best coaches allow their assistants and players be themselves.
  • They try to eliminate distractions so that you can compete and teach at your best.
  • Players trust coaches who are transformational coaches.
  • Getting guys to believe in you will run through a wall for you.
  • They will feel free and focus at their best.
  • We want our players to believe in you so much that they can grow to be their best version of themselves.
  • The game of baseball is a tough game. It has a lot of ups and downs. As coaches we need to always be that steadying force.
  • We have to be consistent with our actions to build the trust of your players.
  • You need to be reliable.
  • It takes time to build trust.
  • Example: It could take 5 years.
  • Team bonding experiences and asking the players how they are and their family consistently shows that you care about the person.
  • To be successful it takes the help of multiple people.
  • You need to find out how much information you need to give to each player.
  • Some players are sponges whereas some players only need a few pieces of information.
  • When you have player meetings keep things as simple as possible.
  • The coaching staff needs to do all of the data collection.
  • The better prepared you are, the better the information will be dispersed, and the more confident the players will be to compete.
  • You want your best players and veteran players to buy in.
  • That’s when a strong culture will start to be implemented.
  • Players don’t like the term rules. Use responsibility instead.
  • As a first base coach talk to the base runner on their right side.
  • Go over information on the kind of pitcher they will be leading off against.
  • Green pitchers are slow.
  • Yellow are in between.
  • Red pitchers have really good moves and are quick to the plate.
  • Keep the players updated on the pop time of the catcher and if he likes to back pick.
  • Follow the scoreboard and make the proper decisions based off of that.
  • “When a pitcher gets the count to two strikes there is a good chance he goes offspeed. Look for the ball in the dirt.”
  • You want your base runners to take the extra 90 feet.
  • You want to win every dirt ball read situation.
  • You want your base runners to be aggressive and to also do the fundamentals properly.
  • If the players do that and get thrown out so what.
  • Focus on the process and not the results.
  • The Best pitchers have a balk move. Let the umpire be aware of that move.
  • As a first base coach understand what the third base coach likes to do.
  • Stay on the same page with the other base coach.
  • Before we can help a player we must know the player.
  • We must understand the culture and background of the player.
  • This allows us to empathize and understand where the player comes from.
  • The great team are all selfless and have a common goal.
  • Example: you don’t run the bases for yourself, you run the bases for your teammates.
  • “Every play matters.”
  • To create selfless players, it starts with actions.
  • “Keep them on track with the process and controlling things they can control.”