Coaching Management 23.2

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BULLETIN BOARD Coaching Management PreseasoN 2015 5 Chad Bradford and Scott Sullivan. Both later became instructors at our camp." For Thompson, dropping a player's arm slot is a way to give an ordinary arm extraordinary value—especially against batters hitting from the same side the pitcher is throwing from. Identifying pitchers who might have success throwing sidearm comes down to fit. "One cue I look for is if a guy is natu- rally closed down and coming across his body when throwing over the top because that's the angle you're trying to accentuate should you have him drop down," he says. "If you ask a guy to try dropping down, you'll know almost immediately if it's going to work based on how they adapt to the change in delivery." Convincing players that they're better off dropping down can be much tougher, however. "The biggest challenge are those who think they're going to be high draft picks," says Thompson. "They don't want to alter their arm slot or change anything, no matter how effective it could potentially be. In those cases, I'll counter by asking them, 'Do you want to be one of 10 pitchers who all throw the same way or one of a kind?'" Once they've bought into the con- cept, Thompson says working with drop down pitchers requires a few key differ- ences compared to coaching traditional throwers. For one, there is greater empha- sis on developing core strength to prepare for the additional stress placed on the back during the bent over delivery. "The drop down guy uses pretty much the same arm mechanics as an over-the-top thrower. It's the back pos- ture that changes," he says. "If you stand a sidearm thrower up, their arm slot should remain the same—they're just not bent over at the waist. That teaching cue has helped me keep it simple when teaching guys to make the adjustment." Thompson also takes a different approach to long toss with his drop down pitchers. "When most pitchers throw more than 90 feet, they tend to pop up to generate more strength," he says. "We don't want our drop down pitchers to compromise their posture and develop a bad habit, so we rarely have them go beyond 90 feet when doing long toss with their drop down mechanics, and some won't drop down for long toss at all." What is the same for all pitchers, he says, is the importance of developing and fine-tuning a consistent release point, which can be tougher when dropping down because there are more places where timing can go astray. "Finding a consistent release point requires getting on the mound as often as possible," says Thompson. "It doesn't mean a guy has to throw 100 pitches, especially if he's a bull- pen specialist who sees only a few batters enough time to do that during practice. "Since everyone has a camera phone now, I realized the guys had the capabil- ity to make videos when they got home, and I could watch them the next day to make sure they grasped the material we had covered," he continues. "A lot of our kids have recorded other types of videos and posted them online, so I thought it would be a natural fit." Most of the videos consist of a player verbally explaining a concept, although Schreiber occasionally asks them to dem- onstrate a specific skill. He has the players record videos for the topics he feels are most important or that they typically have trouble understanding, doing so six times over the course of the 2014 season. "For example, after going over our team defense early in the season, I told each of the players to make a video explaining how they would teach some- one else their responsibilities in our vari- ous alignments," says Schreiber, who has written a book called The Millennial Mod- el: A Modern Approach to Coaching Today's Generation of Technology Driven Athletes. "Watching the videos enabled me to spot mistakes, such as misunder- standing their assignment on a play or being off on the timing. I was able to work one-on-one with players who need- ed help before practice and iron out any problems before we worked on our team each game. But, they may need to get up on a mound more often than other pitch- ers during the week, even if its just for eight to 10 throws." The development of the bullpen's drop down pitchers has been a huge con- tributor to Mississippi State's recent suc- cess. And it's been just as beneficial for the pitchers who have taken a chance on learning a new attack angle. "It's a great way to get pitchers to develop their own particular style so that they're not just another typical righty or lefty," Thompson says. "Our philosophy is for every pitcher to find a style that fits him the best to ensure that hitters face a very difficult and uncomfortable at bat. When a drop down pitcher can do that, they become a weapon out of our bullpen." CoaChing Methods Students Become Teachers AMOng THe TOuHgeST TASkS THAT COACHeS FACe IS MAkIng Sure plAyerS unDerSTAnD THe COnCepTS THey're BeIng TAugHT. Jason Schreiber, Assistant Coach at Alvin Community College, has found a way to do that by asking his play- ers to use their phones to record 20- to 30-second videos explaining what they learned in practice that day. "I heard a speaker at a coaching con- vention say we retain 10 percent of what we hear, 50 percent of what we do, and 90 percent of what we teach," Schreiber says. "I realized that we needed to get our guys teaching the skills we wanted them to master. But there simply isn't Jason Schreiber, Assistant Coach at Alvin Community College, regularly directs his players to make short teaching videos to ensure they truly understand the concepts they're being taught. Click Here to sign up for our free series of educational digital newsletters

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