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Do the pros know anything about teaching pitching mechanics?
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Coach Robo
Broken Arrow, OK

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September 23, 2011 – 5:00 pm
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     Brent and Darrell – you guys have a level of experience I don't have because I didn't pitch professionally, as both of you did.  Here's my question:  Do the pros know anything about teaching pitching mechanics – or do they even think that's their job?  I don't mean do they know how to teach guys to throw pitches and get hitters out – I mean do they have any understanding about how to teach the actual act of pitching a baseball?

     In my years around and coaching baseball I've been fortunate to get to know quite a few guys who played or coached at the professional level, including quite a few at the major league level.  When they talk about hitting, or defense, or positioning, or all the little tactical things about baseball I can hardly take notes fast enough because I learn so much.  But, when they talk about pitching, quite frankly they seem pretty clueless.  I suspect that they draft guys based on the radar gun and don't think it's their job to try to teach them how to throw.  One of my pet peeves is that when parents tell me who their son has worked with, they always tell me where the guy played – as if that's an indication of what he knows.  It's my experience that the level he played at is more an indication of the talent he was born with than of what he knows. 

     Brent Strom is a parner of Ron Wolforth and has a lot of progressive ideas about momentum, pelvic loads, etc.  As far as I know, he's been the St. Louis Cardinals' minor league pitching coach for a couple of years.  I don't know if he's able to teach what he really believes or how it's been going for him.  It strikes me as a pretty closed-minded, cliqueish profession.  Just wondering if you guys had any thoughts on it.

Proud father of a U.S. Marine (HOME from Afghanistan)

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Brent Pourciau USAW Certified
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September 23, 2011 – 8:08 pm
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Coach, you are right on. Professional pitching coaches are not in the business of velocity development because they usually get pitchers without velocity issues. I had some well know and respected coaches in my short minor league career. Terry Kennedy, Gary Templeton, Tim Blackwell and Charlie Hough, I don't think I learned a damn thing from them about pitching except how Charlie Hough threw his knuckle ball. They actually picked my brain when it came to pitching mechanics and strength and conditioning. This is when I realized this was going to be a tough road in minor league ball. This is a big reason I didn't have the desire to continue on. I knew that I wasn't going to learn much about pitching except that I better not screw up or it was my job!

This is why I get tons of calls from minor league guys who are dieing for velocity help. I have even received a call from a Major League guy who was just released because of his velocity decline.

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Coach Robo
Broken Arrow, OK

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September 23, 2011 – 8:38 pm
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Art Fowler was Billy Martin's pitching coach on the Yankees.  One time a pitcher on the Yankees was struggling and he asked Fowler to pay close attention to what he was doing and see if he could help him.  Sure enough, the guy started having trouble on the mound one day and Fowler came out to visit him.  The pitcher greeted Fowler eagerly and said “What am I doing?  What am I doing?!”.  Fowler said “You're walking people and Billy's pissed.” 

Proud father of a U.S. Marine (HOME from Afghanistan)

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Darrell Coulter
Bonne Terre, Mo

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September 23, 2011 – 8:48 pm
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Coach,

This a touchy subject with me.  But I don't want to come across as bitter because really I'm not.  I had one pitching coach that ever really spent 5 minutes with me on mechanics, .  The reality of Professional baseball is based around drafting the most Major League ready players that they can find.  With there only being 350+ MLB Pitching Jobs, Most Major League Pitchers are trying to keep theirs.  That is why you don't see many Current MLB Pitchers out with “How to Pitch Like Me Video's or DVDs.”  They consider them jobs sacred and they are.  

Here is the real dilemma as I see it.  MLB baseball will never admit it but I am going to.

They Draft

Prospects, Suspects and Roster Fillers.

Prospects get the most opportunities.  They get all the starting pitcher positions, and will get to pitch every five days whether they are pitching well or not.  They also get the most attention from the pitching coach. 

Suspects get the spot starter roles and maybe closer.  They get attention based on performance and some will get real opportunites.

Roster Fillers are the long relievers.  They get a little attention and rarely ever get out Low A-ball.

Most pitching coaches teach exactly how they pitched or whatever the MLB Club's pitching philosophy is.

I had one pitching coach that ever taught me anything and ironically he was from my home town.

The reality is they are trying to get a Big League Gig just like we were.  

Most of the kids that want the help don't get it and the ones that do get it most times wish they wouldn't have.

That was the single most biggest disappointment I had after I signed out of High School.  I really needed the help and didn't get it.

That's the reality of professional baseball, wish I would have known, I would have went to college first, then took a chance at Pro Ball.  

No regrets though, I loved the opportunity to play against the best players in the world.

The truth, I was probably at best a suspect and more than likely a 4 year roster filler.

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Coach Robo
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September 23, 2011 – 9:11 pm
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     My son's lefty teammate/roommate was drafted in a very late round by the Astros a couple of years ago.  I told him “I hope you do great and get rich and famous.  But, if they release you tomorrow you'll be able to say for the rest of your life that you were drafted by the Houston Astros.”  Wish I could say that.

     You two – Brent and Darrell – are unique.  Not only did you have the talent to get a shot the rest of us mostly just dream of – but, you still want to learn the game and pass it on.  There are way more guys who can say they played a couple of years in the Phillies or whatever organization than there are guys who can say that they did that and that they're a serious student of the game.  You can't be a great teacher unless you're a great learner.  Thanks for what you guys have to say here.   

Proud father of a U.S. Marine (HOME from Afghanistan)

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Darrell Coulter
Bonne Terre, Mo

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September 23, 2011 – 10:32 pm
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Coach,

Your Art Fowler story has more truth to it than you would know.

What is amazing to me is the technology and research that is available to every Major League Team and yet you see so many pitchers make the same mistakes over and over.  I will tell you one story that  a former Big League Pitching coach said,  The pitcher's first couple years in the bigs some pitchers will listen, after they sign that first multi year deal, everything they do wrong is the pitching coaches fault.

Who is usually the first one fired?

The Best MLB pitching coaches are great at creating specific pitching plans for their pitchers.  The biggest problem is they have convincing the pitcher to actually use it. Most aren't mechanics specialist.

That is why former catchers make good big league pitching coaches, Ex. Cardinal's Dave Duncan.

I tell pitchers all the time if they want to be a great pitcher start thinking like a catcher.

A catcher is mentally in every play just like the pitcher.

They have to think through every pitch just like a pitcher.

They want out the that equipment, so they would just assume you throw 3 pitches and get back into the dugout.

27 pitches and 27 outs what catcher wouldn't love to catch the pitcher.

Every pitch we throw should be to try and get an out.  There are no wasted pitches, in the Catcher's eyes.

The ability to mentally and physically execute a pitching plan is the key to every Major League Pitchers success.

Their mental preparation is a big reason for their success.

Coach,

The problem I have with most pitching coaches you see today, all they care about is the sale. They will teach whatever it takes to make the sale.

That is why I reached out to Brent, he put himself out there and explains his pitching philosophy.  What he is selling is his philosophy and his pitching workout plan.  That gives you the opportunity to judge it based on results, not on some odd ball theory just to be different.

I didn't invent pitching, but I sure love the challenge of trying to learn everything I can so I can pass it on the young men who just want to get better, no matter what level they play at.

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Darrell Coulter
Bonne Terre, Mo

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September 23, 2011 – 10:32 pm
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Coach,

By the way I would love to hear the stories that some of these MLB pitching coaches could tell. That would be a book I would love to read.

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Zedoryu
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September 24, 2011 – 5:45 am
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Yes Coach, tell us about what these coaches have told you about the other positions. It may not be related to pitching, but it’s something good to know as I know you get the important info on these other positions. I’m sure it would be great to read ;D

       

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