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  • Visiting Pitcher on the Mound??

    So the pitcher is struggling in some way shape or form. A mound visit is expected. What does the coach say to the pitcher? Is it about mechanics? If so, what would be some examples of what you would say?
    Major Figure

  • #2
    I would say all types of things. As a coach, you should have some idea as to why the pitcher is struggling. Sometimes, they are making great pitches, getting groundballs etc. but the defense is not making plays. You say that and tell them to keep doing what they have been told to do. Then, you make sure to let the infield know that they are not playing up to potential. At times, it might be a mechanical problem. For example, flying out with the lead shoulder. So, you give the pitcher some cue that you have used with success during that pitcher's bullpens. Most often if they do it in a game, they have shown tendencies to do some poor mechanics in the bullpens. At times, they are overmatched. At those times, you have to pick them up some, let them know that you will get someone ready and ask that they do the best that they can.

    Now, there are other potential issues as well. For example, feeling some strain or injury. That is a no brainer. They are done. You don't ask a kid to pitch through pain. Also, it might be that they aren't comfortable with what is being called or in a certain pitch on a given day. While that is communication that should be done before the game or in between innings, that has to be addressed in these meetings. I'm sure others can think of others circumstances as well that occur during those mound visits.
    Granny said Sonny stick to your guns if you believe in something no matter what. Because it's better to be hated for who you are than to be loved for who you're not.

    I am an ex expert. I've done this long enough to know that those who think that they know it all, know nothing.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Cannonball View Post
      I would say all types of things. As a coach, you should have some idea as to why the pitcher is struggling. Sometimes, they are making great pitches, getting groundballs etc. but the defense is not making plays. You say that and tell them to keep doing what they have been told to do. Then, you make sure to let the infield know that they are not playing up to potential. At times, it might be a mechanical problem. For example, flying out with the lead shoulder. So, you give the pitcher some cue that you have used with success during that pitcher's bullpens. Most often if they do it in a game, they have shown tendencies to do some poor mechanics in the bullpens. At times, they are overmatched. At those times, you have to pick them up some, let them know that you will get someone ready and ask that they do the best that they can.

      Now, there are other potential issues as well. For example, feeling some strain or injury. That is a no brainer. They are done. You don't ask a kid to pitch through pain. Also, it might be that they aren't comfortable with what is being called or in a certain pitch on a given day. While that is communication that should be done before the game or in between innings, that has to be addressed in these meetings. I'm sure others can think of others circumstances as well that occur during those mound visits.
      Yes, I hear you on all of the above. You are saying that there are a number of possibilities with a mechanical flaw being but one possibility. Ok, I'm still with you.

      But I want to focus on the mechanical flaw part. You say, for example, it could be that the front shoulder is flying open. What I'm skeptical about is how often do coaches visit because of this type of thing and how accurate are coaches in determining this, even at the mlb level. I'm dubious.

      I'm with you on the emotional/concentartion stuff: kid's overmatched, fielders making errors, umpires making bad calls, etc. and I'm with you on the tired arm/injury part. But are you really confident that when you go out there and point out a mechanical flaw that a) you are accurate with the flaw and, b) the flaw is the cause of the problems?
      Last edited by omg; 11-25-2012, 06:36 PM.
      Major Figure

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      • #4
        OMG, while I understand you are skeptical, I felt that I could watch a pitcher throw and determine when/if they were deviating from their typical mechanics. We did film work and talked about bullpens etc. We filmed work against hitters in bp while we noted in audio what we were working on and then we tried to listen to the pitcher and understand what they were thinking. A part of a visit might be mechanics focused and you might be right that a coach such as I am wrong. Still, I'd speculate that many of my pitchers wanted me to come out and they bought what I was selling right or wrong. Sometimes just to have a coach come out and help refocus them is enough.

        OMG, what are your other options? Would you just let them struggle? I've read enough of your posts to suggest you wouldn't!
        Last edited by Cannonball; 11-25-2012, 06:46 PM. Reason: typo
        Granny said Sonny stick to your guns if you believe in something no matter what. Because it's better to be hated for who you are than to be loved for who you're not.

        I am an ex expert. I've done this long enough to know that those who think that they know it all, know nothing.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Cannonball View Post
          Still, I'd speculate that many of my pitchers wanted me to come out and they bought what I was selling right or wrong. Sometimes just to have a coach come out and help refocus them is enough.

          OMG, what are your other options? Would you just let them struggle? I've read enough of your posts to suggest you wouldn't!
          No, really I am just curious. I understand that coaches go out to talk to their pitchers at certain times because it's traditional and it serves almost like a "timeout" in basketball. And I'm not suggesting to do anything different. The most common scenario, at least in amateur ball, is to go out when the pitcher is struggling to find the plate. I, myself, when I go out do not offer anything about a mechanical flaw, per se, because, one, I believe the cause is almost always mental and, two, I can't really detect a mechanical pitching flaw during a game when a pitcher goes from good to bad.

          Like I said, I'm also skeptical that mlb pitching coaches are finding mechanical flaws either, but maybe they are.

          Anyways, what seems to work on your mound visits? Relating to mechanical flaws.
          Major Figure

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          • #6
            Originally posted by omg View Post
            No, really I am just curious. I understand that coaches go out to talk to their pitchers at certain times because it's traditional and it serves almost like a "timeout" in basketball. And I'm not suggesting to do anything different. The most common scenario, at least in amateur ball, is to go out when the pitcher is struggling to find the plate. I, myself, when I go out do not offer anything about a mechanical flaw, per se, because, one, I believe the cause is almost always mental and, two, I can't really detect a mechanical pitching flaw during a game when a pitcher goes from good to bad.

            Like I said, I'm also skeptical that mlb pitching coaches are finding mechanical flaws either, but maybe they are.

            Anyways, what seems to work on your mound visits? Relating to mechanical flaws.
            For me it depends on the pitcher. I always ask how they're feeling and about 99.9% of the time they say they are fine. I then say, I ask because you can't throw the ball anywhere near the F****** strike zone.

            I also offer, at times, mechanical cues that we have developed through practice. I have one pitcher I have to tell to stay behind the rubber. This keeps him from running down the mound. I have one kid who, will at times, stride to short. I have to tell him to get down the mound.

            Most of the time it is scenario based stuff and I am talking to the rest of the infield and then I finish with, make a good pitch and we will make a play. So, pull your head out and compete.

            I coach older kids.

            For younger kids I just keep telling them to compete and do not give in.

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            • #7
              As far as mechanical things, you really have to know the pitcher. Some just have one or two flaws that they are trying to overcome but forget about during the game. You may even set up a code to call out to the kid so that he knows what's going wrong and you don't have to waste a trip to the mound. If you know your pitcher, then you are not guessing when you make that suggestion. Sometimes you don't know the problem but you can suggest a temporary fix (e.g., if the pitches are constantly high, you can suggest lengthening the stride).

              Apart from the mechanical stuff (or even just stalling to give a reliever time to warm up), sometimes you just want to break some bad momentum (particularly where a pitcher is overthinking or over-experimenting and digging a deeper hole), so it doesn't make much differense what you say. The "candlesticks" pitching mound scene in Bull Durham is an absolute classic, both as comedy and as something that indeed rings a little true.

              Just because it's probably been about five years since I've disagreed with Hyp about anything, I'll stick my head out and disagree with his advice on dealing with younger pitchers. Telling them to "compete and do not give in" is not helpful in most cases, IMHO. They usually do not know how to dig themselves out of a hole and are looking for some magic from you, and that advice is a little too vague. In many if not most instances, any problem other than pure fatigue is caused by their trying to find the plate by aimin/pushing/shotputting/shortarming the ball. Most times my advice to them is some variation on "don't throw the ball to the catcher --- throw it through him." In terms of shear mechanics, you might try to get a kid to either reach back further or to keep his front side closed longer as a means to addressing the shotputting. But, usually, there's not much you can do if they start to lose it, except that they can get a couple of pitches in so that one or two hitters hit the ball at a fielder so that he can get out of the inning with his head held hight.
              sigpicIt's not whether you fall -- everyone does -- but how you come out of the fall that counts.

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              • #8
                I went to the mound for four reasons ...

                1) Strategy for next hitter
                2) Point out a simple instantly correctable mechanics flaw
                3) Give the pitcher a moment to stop his mind from racing and relax
                4) Provide additional warmup time for the pitcher in the bullpen

                If it was mechanics it had to be something simple like stride or not dropping arm. If it was to relax I made jokes.
                Last edited by tg643; 11-26-2012, 01:34 PM.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by tg643 View Post
                  I made jokes.
                  This is almost the first thing I do every time. This relaxes him and lets him know that I'm not upset about anything, which I think is a big cause of anxiety when they're younger. For me, this usually fixes something mechanically that he's doing. It's just my preference to wait until he comes in to talk about mechanics.

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                  • #10
                    Still, I'd speculate that many of my pitchers wanted me to come out and they bought what I was selling right or wrong. Sometimes just to have a coach come out and help refocus them is enough.
                    CB I'd say this is because you did that thing that a pitcher is supposed to do(As in about 80% of pitching is "looking like" a pitcher)...you "look" like a coach with a plan...this psychologically is all that is needed in many instances...TG's points are solid..my friend who was a catcher for the Cubs felt like it was a "level" determinant thing..at the MLB level the 1st thing he did was crack a joke to break the "spell" and get the pitchers head to a level where they could communicate, I've seen him give the instant mech fix that TG talked about..of course a catcher is going to have a bit different perspective than the hc on a given mound visit..the catcher has unlimited trips available where the coach doesn't.

                    Which reminds me of his favorite story about going to the mound...

                    Rick Sutcliffe was on the mound at one of those parks that have fireworks that shoot from the scoreboard, well it was the later innings of a very close game and Sutcliffe grooves one right down the middle.....WHACK...BOOM goes the scoreboard...guy trots around...next pitch WHACK....BOOM....Well Rick is this huge guy with a swashbucking red beard and he is PISSED OFF! guy trots around and Rick is just storming and digging holes with his cleats....The next guy...same result....well the manager is our good friend..Don Zimmer and Zimm's got time as soon as the guy crosses the plate and he goes a waddling out to the mound...Sutcliffe is just staring and before Zimm can cross the foul line, he barks out, "what the hell do you want"??!! Zimm finishes waddling to the mound...looks at him and said..."I just wanted to give them time to reload the fireworks" and turns and goes back to the dugout.
                    Last edited by jdfromfla; 11-27-2012, 05:10 AM.

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                    • #11
                      ^^^^^^^^nomination for post of the year!^^^^^^^^
                      Granny said Sonny stick to your guns if you believe in something no matter what. Because it's better to be hated for who you are than to be loved for who you're not.

                      I am an ex expert. I've done this long enough to know that those who think that they know it all, know nothing.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        JD - funny story.


                        Now that my son's in HS I sort of start thinking about what I'm going to say to him after games he pitches. He gets ticked off by false praise or too much praise, so I try to critique everything I see while he's out there as honestly as I can....keep it short and sweet and not so critical that I'm piling on or messing up his head. He was a freshman last year, so the stakes weren't really high. Still, I could read him putting too much pressure on himself at times, but then making mistakes because he wasn't focused enough. We both have put in a lot of ground work over the years, so what I say to him makes an impression. It's kind of weird having a kid that you know wants approval, but on the other hand not too much. Waiting for the day he does something so great that the silent treatment will actually be a joke rather than normal reaction to good play.

                        He pitched in a summer league tournament game against a team that will challenge for the state championship. They challenge for every state championship in every sport. One of those Christian schools that doesn't worry about district boundaries and they recruit very, very well. Our B team (kids who played freshman ball) were taking over for the A team that started the tournament, but left to play in another tournament. The starter for our team got shelled, and I mean completely lit up! We were in way over our heads. They left the kid in too long. Game was already a blowout in the 3rd inning with nobody out, bases loaded. The varsity coach came out to get the pitcher. In unison I heard 3 sets of parents say "Oh God - I hope he doesn't bring my kid in to pitch." Guess I drew the short straw with him on that one. The kid didn't look nervous though. I felt proud of him already. Heck, he wasn't even supposed to be in HS yet and he clearly was not intimidated one bit by this D-1 pipeline program. Warming up he looked confident and was really bringing it. Then...first pitch went behind the batter's back (??? He hasn't done that since he was like 8). All the runners moving up a base and a run coming in did make first base open though and the walk to his first hitter didn't force in a run. It was 100+ degrees out and I could see the sweat just flowing. But, he settled down and got a couple sac fly outs and a ground out to end the inning. Not terrible.

                        No one on their team struck out the entire game. Start of the 4th my son throws their leadoff guy 2 straight sliders for strikes. Then he backdoors a 2 seamer that should have been strike 3. There was an appeal on the check swing, but it was clearly a strike whether he went around or not. Next pitch the kid got his cycle by hitting it so far that there's a real possibility that it may not have landed yet. My son got out of the inning with no further damage on the scoreboard. His team got a grand slam from one of the varsity kids who stayed at this tournament to help the underclassmen compete. They avoided a mercy rule defeat, and I think that it turned out to be almost an 'atta boy loss for his team.

                        His coaches were pleased with my son's pitching. The freshman coach told him the varsity coach liked him. I was ecstatic. I mean this thing had wheels coming off written all over it and he actually ended up looking like he belonged out there. However, that's not how I acted toward my son after the game. I gave him a convincing chewing out for trying to throw a fastball by the kid that parked it. Of course my wife and mother-in-law were all over me and I'm sure a lot of people thought I was a jackass, but I saw his face when he gave up the HR. He wasn't really interested in any 'atta boy loss pep talk. He felt like he could have pitched better. And I didn't want him to feel like I'd ever be happy with his lackluster pitching line in front of a bunch of people that were surprised at how well he competed.

                        By contrast, the last game of the year he came in to pitch in what was an epic combined meltdown by his team's pitchers. It was in the state summer league tournament, an elimination game. They had a big lead going to the 7th. The starter was great for them until he started opening the door in the 7th for the comeback. Another couple kids came in and gave up a bunch of runs but got them to within an out of winning. My son came in to finally nail it down and got the opponent down to their last strike. Then he hit the batter. Walked another kid after that to load the bases. Put one on a tee for the next batter and he cleared the bases with a double. They went up by 2 runs. He got pulled. They lost. Season was over on kind of a sour note.

                        I was really disappointed in him. He's usually the kid that finds a way to somehow get it done when the pressure's on. However, I simply told him, "It's one bad day. That's it. Don't worry about it. Every pitcher has them." Then I said, "Plus, how did the kid lay off that 0-2 pitch? [ball hit him in the neck I think] Good thing it hit him. If I was an umpire I'd have rung him up for letting one that close go by without swinging." He kind of forced out a smile and nodded his head like thanks Dad for not piling on.
                        There are two kinds of losers.....Those that don't do what they are told, and those that do only what they are told.

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                        • #13
                          in 99% of the time the coach wants the pitcher to stop thinking and just repeat what he does in training. however in many cases the coach makes it even worse by using phrases like "don't think", "just throw it over" or "keep it down". they are well inteded but psychologically that often causes the opposite.
                          I now have my own non commercial blog about training for batspeed and power using my training experience in baseball and track and field.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by dominik View Post
                            in 99% of the time the coach wants the pitcher to stop thinking and just repeat what he does in training. however in many cases the coach makes it even worse by using phrases like "don't think", "just throw it over" or "keep it down". they are well inteded but psychologically that often causes the opposite.
                            I think this is why I had a tendency to be sort of hard on my own kid when I coached him. Other people's kids, you have to be more careful with their psyche. My first assumption was that the least little teeny tiniest bit of pressure and that will be when the real meltdown comes.

                            This was not the case with my kid. I either went to the mound to either yell at him or for no real baseball reason, just to visit. I remember a time I went out there and pointed to the middle school gym. I said, they're having badminton tryouts this afternoon. You might want to get over there and check it out since you 'aint playing baseball today. He promptly struck out the side.

                            Fear, like it or not, is still the number one motivator of kids. So if the coach doesn't want to make it worse then maybe he should add an exploitative and harsh tone, perhaps a threat or two to his phrases. Turn the request of "Just throw it over" into an angry demand with the consequence of having to walk home. You'd be surprised.
                            There are two kinds of losers.....Those that don't do what they are told, and those that do only what they are told.

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