The following blog post is by Josh Epstein, Division II pitching coach. I played collegiate baseball against Josh, and we reconnected when he began recruiting one of my players while at Bloomsburg University.
We hope you enjoy the read!
Before I get to the meat of this post, let me take a second to set the stage. I believe that if you are reading this, you are connected to the youth baseball scene in today’s world. Therefore, I don’t have to go deep into explaining what the summer camp and showcase circuit is all about. For those that are just breaking in, it basically looks like a bunch of players going through a progression of drills, receiving instruction, and then playing games while a bunch of college coaches evaluate every move they make. And it really is every move they make – how they are dressed (tucked in, belt, etc.), how they interact with the other players and instructors, and so on. These are usually all day events, and the coaches in attendance usually engage in some sort of banter about something during breaks in the action.
Now that we have a clear picture… I was at one such event last week, and during one of the breaks a friend posed the question to our group “which came first, good hitters or good hitting coaches?” Pretty deep chicken and egg stuff right there. But it really applies in today’s game. So many players have their own personal hitting and pitching coaches. And then every pitch they throw or swing they take is analyzed by their instructor. And then the players tries to make an adjustment based on what the coach is telling them, rather than what they are feeling themselves. My reaction to that question came after a few minutes of reflection. “I’m gonna say good hitters. I don’t think Babe Ruth had a hitting coach. Maybe he did, but from what I can tell he just picked up a piece of lumber and smashed baseballs.” Obviously, the same applies for pitching as well. Did Cy Young or Walter Johnson or Bob Gibson have a coach dissecting their every move?
So for my initial post in this blog (if Coach Banos will have me back), I really want to hit on the idea of getting out of the way and letting our players grow organically. This is easier said than done, because we all want what’s best for our guys – parents or coaches – and if we see something they are doing wrong we want to correct them. But I believe that in the long run, it is better to create a forum for players to succeed and fail , and – most importantly – LEARN on their own, feeling their mind and body, and making their own adjustments. Adjustments that revolve around the goal of the activity – getting guys out, throwing hard, hitting the ball hard – and not around having the perfect set of mechanics.