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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 25, 2011 – 2:05 pm
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That would be a great book, Darrell.  It's my experience that when players get together they talk about how dumb coaches are, and when coaches get together they talk about how dumb players are. 

Z – One of the things I take pride in is a realistic appraisal of myself.  I'm a business man who coaches baseball in my spare time.  I figured out a long time ago that you can learn a lot about anything by being intellectually curious and seeking knowledge from as many sources as possible.  Because of my love of baseball I've spent an enormous amount of  time studying it – especially pitching.  But, I learned a long time ago that there is no better way to learn the game than to coach it every day – and the higher the level, the more you learn.  When I'm around professional, college, and high school coaches (the ones that are still trying to learn) I'm amazed at what I can learn by just keeping my mouth shut and listening.  I can learn a lot about the big things at my level – but what they know that I don't is all the little details about the game.  And little details are more important in baseball than in any other sport.  I couldn't begin to go into all that I've learned from them, but I would recommend to anyone involved in the game to spend as much time with those guys as you can.  (With the caveat that as we discussed above, I haven't met many of them who know anything about pitching mechanics.)

I never pretend I'm something I'm not.  As I said, I'm a part-time baseball coach.  But, I would put my knowledge of the pitching theory and instructional material available out there up against anyone's.  I'm not saying that makes me an expert or necessarily a good coach – but I know who the experts are and what they teach.  That's how I know that Brent's stuff is legit.  I've never met him – never heard of him until a couple of months ago – and have no reason to say this unless I believe it.  When someone else came on this site and presented himself as an expert, I went to his site and spent an hour looking at everything on it.  There was nothing there and I let him know on this forum in no uncertain terms.  (Money talks and bull**** walks.  He walked.)  That's how you learn – by studying everything you can find.

Brent does the best job I've ever seen of explaining how lower body mechanics produce velocity.  He backs it up with research and presents his ideas in a way that can be put to use with actual pitchers.  And he doesn't promise a magic bullet.  He makes it very clear that implementing his program requires commitment and effort that most pitchers won't make.  You'd have a hard time naming a pitching program that I don't own or at least know about.  And right now if I was recommending the best program on the market for pitchers, I would recommend 3x.

And by the way, Darrell Coulter is putting the same kind of thought and effort into the mental game that Brent has put into his program.  These are the kinds of coaches you can learn from – because they're still trying to learn themselves.          

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

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Brent Pourciau USAW Certified
Mandeville, LA.
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September 25, 2011 – 2:25 pm
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Coach, you are probably one of 3X's biggest supporters. Thanks again!

You bring a lot of value to this site because of your many years of pitching instruction education. I know those visitors of this site would really benefit from your knowledge of pitching mechanics. If you wouldn't mind, I would really like to learn from you. I get this question a lot and I thought you were probably the best one to answer it. How would you advise those pitchers, coaches or dads who are searching the web for pitching advice and are bombarded with hundreds of sources of information, from all different types of approaches to the game? Where would you tell them to start and what easy steps would you give them so they can make sense of all this chaos?

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Coach Robo
Broken Arrow, OK

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September 25, 2011 – 5:18 pm
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    Since the only people who will read this have already found the TopVelocity site, the easiest way to start is with the 3X program.  There are other good programs out there – but 3X is the most complete and the most concise I've found.  I would say the same thing if I wasn't writing on this site.  If anyone wants a longer answer about the history of pitching instruction and all the other programs out there, I would enjoy writing it.  But, since we're already here there's no point in reinventing the wheel.  Brent understands through both research and personal experience how velocity is actually produced and his program both synthesizes the best information out there and presents some original ideas into a program that is simple – as opposed to easy – to implement. 

     Brent specifically asked me how to evaluate all the advice, information, and programs pitchers, parents, and coaches are bombarded with.  There is one sure-fire way to separate the contenders from the pretenders:  The best instructors aren't shy about sharing and backing up their specific beliefs.  They don't hide behind fantastic claims that make you buy the program to find out what they teach.  Quite frankly, you can learn most of what Brent teaches for free on his website.  His site – both the forums and the articles – are a fountain of information on many subjects.  The value of his program is the specific instruction of how to learn, train for, and implement his teachings.  Any program or instructor who isn't that forthcoming about what they teach should be avoided as a potential snake oil salesman.  That eliminates about 90% of the sites out there.  I track down almost every advertisement I see on pitching programs.  Most of them are at best unoriginal and at worst worthless.  In short, don't buy anything from anyone if their free stuff isn't valuable.  I wouldn't have bought Brent's program out of all the ones I look at if the information on his site wasn't so good. 

     Make sure the program is comprehensive.  Mechanics and drills aren't enough.  Strength and conditioning aren't enough.  They all go together.  (Most programs won't include the mental side.  See Darrell Coulter about that.)  

     Don't be overly impressed with where an instructor or someone offering information played.  The pitching instruction world is full of guys who spent a few years in professional baseball who don't have a clue how to teach pitching.  Pitchers and parents waste thousands of dollars on worthless pitching instruction from guys whose only career choices are to give pitching lessons or sell used cars.  (Apologies to used-car salesmen.)  Evaluate what they know and how well they can communicate it – not how much talent they were born with.  Even former coaches should be evaluated by this criteria.  Leo Mazzone was a great major league pitching coach.  Brent Porciau's book is better than his.       

     Once you eliminate using that criteria, the next thing to do is try to evaluate what they teach.  Avoid instructors or programs that teach what I call “static” mechanics.  Static mechanics instructors teach a “pitch by the numbers” approach with emphasis on control and a slow-moving delivery featuring concepts like a “balance point”, a “high cock” position, and overemphasis  on upper body mechanics.  At every level of baseball the hardest throwing pitchers get the first shot at pitching.  Velocity matters.  You have to have control and eventually command – but a 16 year old pitcher is going nowhere throwing 70 miles per hour.  What Brent calls “speed mechanics” featuring dynamic lower body mechanics are the key to developing an elite pitcher.  Only consider programs and instructors who understand that the lower body generates momentum and velocity. 

     Once you pick a program to use, it is highly advantageous to work with a coach or instructor who is in the same ballpark with the concepts in the program.  Believe it or not, you will find it almost impossible to find a pitching instructor or coach who teaches what Brent teaches, for instance.  The world of baseball is a highly unintellectual and hide-bound-to-outdated-concepts world.  I would estimate that 90% of all pitching instruction is either useless, or only valuable on the some-coaching-is-better-than-no-coaching theory.  If you can find an enlightened coach or instructor somewhere, congratulations.  Go with him.  If not, I would recommend that you take the program you have chosen to your coach or instructor and say – this is what I want to work on.  What do you think?  Any good coach you show the 3X program to, for instance, should be amazed and want to learn it with you.  If not, find someone else.

     Any good pitching instructor should start any program with a new pitcher by shooting video of his delivery and sitting down with the pitcher to discuss what they're going to work on together.  They don't have to record every session – in fact, that's probably not practical – but an initial evaluation and occasional follow-ups are essential.  I would be suspicious of any instructor who thinks he can work with a pitcher without video.   

     Understand that there's nothing easy about becoming an elite pitcher.  Anyone who promises results without hard work is selling way more than they can deliver.  It takes a serious commitment to your own career and way more work than most are willing to put in.  There are no short cuts.  And never stop learning.  Either Aristotle or Earl Weaver said, “It's what you learn after you think you know it all that really counts”. 

     That was kind of long…  Here's the short version.

  1. Eliminate any program that doesn't fully explain the concepts behind it without your buying anything.
  2. Make sure the program is comprehensive.
  3. Don't be over-impressed by a playing career.  Look for evidence of teaching credentials.
  4. Look for programs that emphasize dynamic lower body mechanics, not a static pitch-by-the-numbers approach.
  5. Try to find a coach or instructor who's on the same page with your program to help you implement it.
  6. Insist on video evaluation.
  7. Commit to the program. 

       

     That's probably more than you wanted, Brent.  Be careful what you ask for…   

      

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

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Zedoryu
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September 25, 2011 – 5:41 pm
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Hey Coach, if you didn’t find topvelocity, how would you be coaching your team or pitcher? Would it be the same? Great stuff by the way 😀

       

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Coach Robo
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September 25, 2011 – 5:50 pm
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Hey, Z – I've been coaching for thirty years.  I only found Brent a couple of months ago.  I'm not going to give him credit for my whole career…Laugh

Actually, I recently turned my team and my lessons over to my son.  So, for the first time in over twenty years I'm not coaching right now – although I'll be back.  I'm a “consultant” for now.    Finding Brent comes under the heading of always trying to learn.  And yes, I've definitely added some of Brent's stuff to what I do with pitchers.

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

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Brent Pourciau USAW Certified
Mandeville, LA.
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September 25, 2011 – 6:36 pm
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Coach, Wow, I will send every pitcher, parent or coach to your post who needs guidance. This is amazing! It sounds like your pitchers are very lucky to have you because you are very good at cutting through the crap and getting down to business. I don't know how many calls I get from frustrated parents and players who are sick of being advertised too. They have heard so many different opinions and they don't know what to do. I hope this will help educate them. Thanks for a great post!

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Zedoryu
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September 25, 2011 – 7:05 pm
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Wow, i know that you have been coaching for a long time, but i changed my whole approach to pitching because i have been with conventional wisdom coaching to start with, of course you won't give him credit to your whole career because you have only met him a few months ago, like i did. Your son must be a great coach :D, and Brent, parents and players who are sick of being advertised?? or what do you mean by advertised? like having to many different options for advertisements?? well, i would like to be advertised all the time :D.

       

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Brent Pourciau USAW Certified
Mandeville, LA.
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September 25, 2011 – 7:46 pm
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What I mean by advertised too is they are not finding value on the web when they are searching for pitching information. They are mostly being bombarded with sales pitches to buy a product. This isn't only with pitching, it is the same with everything on the web.

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