Coach the Person First, Which Will Coach the Hitter Automatically with Kevin Wilson

Welcome to The Baseball Awakening Podcast, where we dive into the raw, unfiltered, unsexy side of player development.

Guest Info and Bio:

Kevin Wilson is a hitting consultant to many professional hitters, helping them become the best version of themselves. He also created what he calls the KWB Experience where he takes amateur hitters and coaches through the process that he uses for his professional clients. In addition to that, he also has KWB Radio on ITunes, which is one of my personal favorites, where Kevin and Joe talk hitting. Lastly, he has written two books, The #GoodBatting Book, which is an Amazon Best Seller and Finding Clarity.

Twitter: Kevin Wilson

Email: info@kwbaseball.com

Summary:

On this episode, Host Geoff Rottmayer sits down with Kevin Wilson of KWBaseball.com, where we discussed his approach to coaching the player first, which will coach the hitter automatically.

Show Notes:

Kevin talks about the following:

  • Meeting the hitter where they are, and not starting at ground zero for everyone.
  • What he learned when he first got into coaching and how he evolved as a coach/instructor.
  • Knowing himself as a coach/instructor and how he knows he isn’t for everyone but he is for someone.
  • Gaining the trust of the guys and hows it’s a process.
  • Being flexible and being willing to make adjustments if something isn’t working.
  • How things get easier over time if you have the players trust and get them into a routine.
  • His opinion as to why he thinks there isn’t enough attention focused on a persons emotions.
  • Letting the player vent and just being a world-class listener.
  • Asking questions and seeking to understand the hitter instead of barking orders.
  • About breaking the season down into weeks and reflecting every week by developing next week game plan.
  • Talking about how to prepare for the worst case scenario so that when it does happen it’s not a reaction.
  • Talking about routines and how important they are.
  • Understanding your why and purpose to why you do what you do.
  • Dealing with hitters that are doing well but you as a coach can see it heading the wrong way.
  • Studying the pitcher and what he is doing to you as a hitter.
  • The coach’s role in the dugout to assist hitters in their at-bats.

Website: www.baseballawakening.com

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Email Address: geoff@baseballawakening.com

Transcibe:

Geoff:      On today’s show, we interviewed Kevin Wilson, a professional hitting consultant to many professional hitters, and we talk about his approach to coaching the person first, which coaches the hitter automatically.
Intro:     Welcome to another episode of the baseball awakening podcast where we dive into the raw, unfiltered, unsexy side of player development. Get ready for some knowledge bombs with your host, Geoff Rottmayer.
Geoff:     Welcome to the Baseball Awakening Podcast, I am Geoff Rottmayer. Today we’re sitting here with my good friend Kevin Wilson of kwbaseball.com. Again, that’s kwbaseball.com. Kevin has quite a long bio, but to shorten it down, Kevin is a professional hitting consultant to many professional hitters, helping them become the best version of themselves. He also created what he calls the KWB experience where he takes amateur hitters and coach you through the process that he uses for his professional guys. In addition to that, he also had KWB radio on Itunes, which is one of my favorite, where Kevin and Joe talk hitting. And then lastly, Kevin has two books, the good batting book, which is an Amazon bestseller, and finding clarity. So with all that, Kevin, how are you sir?
Kevin:    I’m doing great, Geoff. Thanks for having me.
Geoff:    Yeah, man, thanks for coming on. So listen, I want to jump right into the to know you and I have talked before and there are guys that teaches the swing and then there are guys that teach hitting and if we went by the industry standard, if there is such a thing you would be classified as an approach guy or a mental guy. How would you define what you do?
Kevin:    Yeah, that’s a great opening question, man. I think you’re right. I mean there were, there are swing coaches and then there’s hitting coaches. I certainly love to talk about that and the difference. I’m not saying one’s right or wrong. Certainly like my good friend Jeff Miller is a mental skills coach for the Philadelphia Phillies. He says that hitting is 100 percent mental and 100 percent physical. You certainly need both. Right? But I think you’re correct in saying that I lean more towards, the approach and the mental side of things, doesn’t mean that I discredit the, the swing mechanic. I think you certainly need it. We certainly work on it. Um, but yeah, I’m more interested in you as a person, uh, as a hitter, I’m more interested in how you tick, how your mind works, what’s important to you, where you are in your life. Um, you know, if you’re 17, if you’re 25, if you’re 30, you know, and so for me, I’m a big believer if you coach the person first, uh, the player in this case to hit her shows up second kind of automatically. And so I’d love to ask questions. I love to, uh, dive into the person, really get to know them because I’m trying to meet them where they are at in their life and their career. Know I don’t like starting at the ground zero for everybody because everybody is not there. Uh, everybody’s at different stages. So yeah, I am definitely one who loves to dive into the person, understand their language, understand the way they learn, and then build out from there.
Geoff: Yeah. Over the years I’ve been doing this, talking with you and following your work with, with your blog. I’m kwbaseball.com, your podcast, KWB radio on Itunes as well as your book, the good batting book and, and finding clarity. I started to really kind of appreciated this side of it, but I’m curious, how did that start? Did that start when you got done playing and you started working with guys or did you kind of evolve into an understanding of trying to get to know the player and, understanding how important that is?
Kevin: Yeah. I, I did not start that way when I started KWB in 2011. I, I just thought that, um, and it wasn’t necessarily wrong. I’ll say that I, I started kind of just teaching guys the way that I did it, you know, I was a switch hitter. Um, I had two different swings, two different approaches, but that’s Kinda all I knew and I think anybody can relate to this as you start teaching, whether it’s baseball or school or whatever you’re teaching, I think we just kind of rely on what we know at the moment and uh, because we don’t know what we don’t know. And I certainly was in that place. I didn’t, I had only worked on me and I was kind of unique in that, in that right, because I was a switch hitter. There was only a few of us out there. Um, but as I started to do lessons, I was doing a ton of lessons. I did that for 10 plus years. Uh, and I tell people a lot. I said that was a blessing and for any of those listening that are doing lessons and grinding it out, God bless you. I’ve been there. There’s a kind of a love hate relationship with it at times because you’re grinding in the cage, but you’re also pulling in the people and helping guys. And for me, those 10 plus years of helping, whether it was an eight year old, a 10 year old, 15 year old, a college player, uh, I learned so much from just observing, trying different things, throwing things against the wall. And as I, as I started early on, I realized pretty early within the first year that not, you know, not everybody’s the same. And there are so many nights I would go home frustrated because, uh, I wasn’t good enough in my eyes because that player just didn’t get it and I didn’t blame the player. I see. I see coaches sometimes they’ll blame the player for not getting it. I blamed myself because I was like, man, I want to want to help them. And I couldn’t. So at the beginning it was a, I had a small Rolodex of information and all throughout those years. And then fast forward to now, I’ve just been so blessed to, to be around so many guys. And through that journey I said, you know what? The more questions I ask and the better listener, I become the player. The hitter in this case will teach me how to teach them.
Geoff:     Yeah and that has evolved into what you are doing now as a professional hitting consultant you work with pro guys. Do you still do some work with some amateurs guys? Kind of talk about what you’re doing now.
Kevin:    Sure. Yeah. I’m just so grateful. I, I, I get to work with major league and minor league players. That’s my main job on behind the scenes in the shadow they, they hire me. Um, most of the teams don’t know I exist, which is perfect because it’s not about me. Um, it’s about, uh, helping those guys have been in that, in those trenches with them. And like we mentioned before, it’s more so not the hitting piece of it. I’m there more of a life coach, mentor 10 percent is the hitting that we cover, but we, but they need me for the 90 percent to allow them to perform. So, um, you know, for me, uh, you know, that’s my main thing. Uh, so, uh, actually this past week I had a client in for the first time he flew in and we had some work to do. He was a new client, so it was fun to kind of start his off season off most of the off season, um, stuff, it’s all tailored to them. Um, all of it actually is all tailored to them. But in terms of the off season, some guys will start November, December, and some guys will start in January depending on where they’re at in their stage in their career and their skillset. So that’s my main job. I also have the KWB experience, which I go across the country and I worked with high school programs, college programs, um, and uh, baseball academies and travel programs where they bring me in for two days or three days and work with not only their hitters but they’re coaches and uh, and really just talk through things. And again, before I go in, it’s the same thing I do with the pro guys is say, hey, listen, what are your, what are the things that you want to work on, you know, whether it’s a, hey, the team needs better, two strike approaches or whatever the case may be. And I tailor the experience to what they need at that moment. So those are the two main things that we do. And you mentioned that. The third thing to that is we have KWB radio or podcasts. So with my best friend Joe Ferraro. So, uh, those are the avenues we try hit people and try to impact and influence them.
Geoff: Very nice. And you can find more information on kwbaseball.com. But, and why I’d like to talk about all of the I’d like to do is start with the work that you do with your pro guys. So to get an assignment like this, there’s a, there’s a period where you have to build the trust and get guys to feel like that they can open up to you and talk to you about what they’re feeling. So a lot of what you do is the conversation where you ask questions and listen. So can you talk a little bit about what that process is like? You know, you got a guy that reaches out to you and uh, you got a little bit of time to kind of gain their trust and then for you to kind of work, work, do your work and work your magic.
Kevin:    Yeah, it’s a, it’s a process for sure. Like you mentioned, I, I, for me trust is huge. You hit it right on the head and to gain that trust, it’s kind of funny. I tell them, I may not be for you and it’s not in an arrogant way. I just know I’m not for everybody, you know, and there are some guys that come to me and say, listen, I want to work on my launch angle. I want to work on this and that, and I’ll tell him, I said, I may not be your guy, but I can forward you to a couple people who seem to be pretty good at what they do and really smart about that kind of stuff and they may be able to help you. So sometimes I actually, um, you know, divert them there because it just not, I’m not into all the complicated stuff and trying to manufacture swings on here for you as a person and hey, let’s figure out what’s best for you. So, you know, at the moment, sometimes you know, we go through a little consultation process to figure out if I’m a fit for you as a player. And at the same time, if the player feels like guy could be a fit for them, you know, it’s a two way street certainly. And like I said, I’m not for every body, but I’m from um, for somebody. And so we start with that and say they go and they see Kevy I still want to work with you. And I say, yeah, I think I can help you. And then when we, even before we start in the off season, I don’t like to start during the season because I want to gain trust and I want to the off seasons a great spot to be able to, to, uh, build from where they’re at, like we talked about, meet them where they’re at and build out from there. So when we start, we, we make sure that we, uh, we have multiple conversations before we ever begin. There’s video that’s sent back and forth mainly sent to me so I can see the visual and matched their audio with the visual because sometimes it matches is and sometimes it doesn’t. And that gives me a pretty good idea of what we’re going into. And before we even start to, there’s a process of putting a plan in a player plan in place, I should say, a practice plan in place is very detailed and, and not so much like detailed, like breaking the swing down at 27 parts. It’s planning out the entire off season. It’s like, hey listen, here’s what we’re doing, here’s first couple of days we’re going to work on this, we’re going to have. So we had a plan going in, but I’m always flexible within that plan, you know, depending on what they pick up pretty quickly or what’s a struggle or perhaps we find something totally new. I’m kind of like a light bulb moment and we have to, we have to make an adjustment and be flexible and go this route or that route because this route over here is way better than the one we originally thought. So. So that’s the, uh, that’s the beginning piece of that. And then as we walk through the off season and into the season, it is, like you say more of a conversation and, and we both get to know each other better. And I’m just, every opportunity we have, you know, we, I get to know them better, they get to know me. And again, the more questions I asked and the better listener I am, the more I’m able to help them.
Geoff:   Yeah. Kevin, I love how you said that you were willing to make adjustments. You know, this isn’t a 12 step system in that. Do the same thing with everyone. You know, if something isn’t working, we’ll make the adjustment and all we’re trying to do with help guide be the best version of themselves.
Kevin:     Yeah. You have too and one of the reasons that I have found over the years, I guess one of the constant reasons guys are searching, at least for somebody like myself. And again, I don’t know everything. I’m not the best hitting coach out there, but you know, the, the, the most common thing is that they don’t trust the guy they are with and he’s not as flexible or it’s a cookie cutter system where the organization has a drill package that they, they’re doing drills that the player doesn’t even need or want to do because it doesn’t help them at all. So again, that flexibility piece is huge because everybody’s different and unique. And um, you know, some coaches will say, well, you can’t do that for all of these players. I got 13 players on my roster. I’m in terms of hitters or I’ve got 100 players in the system and, and I always pushed back with, okay, I understand it takes work, but it doesn’t take a lot of work. It’s just again, ask them questions, be a good world class listener and, and then, uh, again, be able to be flexible and have a good feel for that process because, you know, if one way doesn’t work, it’s okay. It’s not the end of the world will find another way to do it. And um, and again, I think a lot of players like that because when we do try something, they know that there’s an audible in place just in case the defense lines up a little bit differently. Um, and we had the flexibility to do that and number two, we got the time to do it. Um, and it doesn’t take two years. It might take two hours, it may take two swings or may take two weeks. But either way we’re, I think a lot of feedback has been that they like that flexibility piece that we can just go on the road and if we have to move around a, a pothole will do that.
Geoff:    Yeah, man. I mean for the guys to say I have too many guys and too hard to work it in. Just remember that it’s harder when you don’t have the guys trust. So work hard in the beginning and get the guy to trust you and it will get simpler over time. But the trust part has to be there.
Kevin:    There’s no doubt. And the one thing that you said, I’ll, I’ll repeat because I love it, is. And it’s true. You got to do the hard work at the beginning because it as it goes on, it gets a lot easier. It does because my job also with that hard work at the beginning is a teach to hit or to teach themselves and they laugh when I say like, listen, I’m working with you so you don’t work with me ever again, and that’s a terrible business model if you’re looking for that, but at the same time it’s, it’s the truth. My job is to help you be your best coach and as as the days and the years go by, I’m on there for emotional, mental, moral support, all that kind of stuff and I’m just. As a reminder, guy and I kid, I said, I become your ball flipper because you’re figuring this out and just my presence. A lot of the times I think it’s just they just want my presence, not so much my information because we’ve already gotten that part work out of the way early.
Geoff:     Yeah, I can understand that. You know, kind of work yourself out of work. So Kevin, let, let. Let’s talk emotion and I feel this is the topic that doesn’t get talked about enough. You know, there’s the physical and the mental side of things that get discussed, but the emotion play a role in player development and player performance. Now, what your approach to getting a guy to be in check with his emotion and try to limit the up and down and to stay more neutral with his emotions.
Kevin:   Great question. It is a piece that is glossed over or not even. There’s not much credit given to it, and I’ll start here and we mentioned it before, but there are people first to human beings. You know you’re a person. You’re a human being. That gets to play. Baseball gets to hit, and certainly our identities can be wrapped up in, in, in that. In terms of being a baseball player. Mine was certainly. That was one of the things I struggle with in my career was I was Kevin Wilson, the baseball player, not Kevin Wilson, the person that gets to play baseball and there’s. There’s a lot of dark times, especially in a professional game. I always kid. I say, you sure you want to play pro ball because it is not all that cracked up to be. And certainly, um, you know, like all of us growing up, you see the money, you see the fame, you see the travel, you see, you see the surface, um, but it doesn’t take long to dig underneath to really find out like, wow, this is kind of a dark place. And so if you’re not focusing on the emotional piece of this, you’re not focusing on the personal piece. Like where is your identity in what, what is making you do a, an emotional wreck at times or what is, what are your triggers that gets you off? Uh, and in going down this road where you just don’t want to go, um, that doesn’t get talked about enough. Certainly it gets talked about a little bit more today. And in this day and age, um, I would go back even 15, 20 years and it wasn’t, um, and you almost were considered soft if in the game, if you were going to talk about that. I’m just as example. We mentioned Jeff Miller earlier, mental skills coach for the Phillies. I remember when I first met Geoff I was with the pirates and he was our mental skills coach and that was in 2005 and he was kind of one of only a few and now he’s with the Phillies in. He’s the head of the department and he’s got this wonderful woman Hannah doing a, doing a lot of work for him at the lower levels. They’re about to hire another person. Uh, he told me the other day a, so they’re building out an entire system and a lot of other teams have mental, a mental skills coach for each level. So there is a more attention being paid to that. The emotional piece. But in terms of my work, man, I can’t tell you, like I said before, 10 percent of what I do is hitting 90 percent is a lot of this lifestyle. And, and in this case, the emotional stuff. I love to take walks with guys and I, I love taking walks and just removing them from the stadium, removing them from the toxic environment, the hotel. Anything that reminds them of a, where their blood pressure rises, uh, for example, and just get them out and just talk about life, grab coffee, let’s go walk, let you on load on me what’s going on your mind. And most of the time I don’t say a word, but I want to provide that avenue so that they can just unload and vent and get it off their chest. And certainly there are times that we have discussions back and forth, but I’ve found most of the time I just walk alongside them, their coffee is full and mine’s finished because they’re doing all the talking and I’m just trying to be the best listener in, in, sympathize and empathize in some cases with them. And, and then they’re good and they go back and then they crush it because what do we do? We just took a walk. So the emotional piece, long winded answer to your question is an emotional piece is something that, yeah, it doesn’t get enough attention and I don’t know why I’m not smart enough to figure out that answer or put a pin on it. Um, but you kind of touched upon, we just kind of touched upon a little bit, just know some people either don’t want to go down that route where they don’t know, they don’t think that it’s that important, um, you know, or maybe it’s uncomfortable for them to have that conversation, but it is, it’s a huge piece that’s missing in development today. And if you have that boy look out, your player starts to take off.
Geoff:    I agree, Kevin, I like what you said that sometimes, you don’t say a word sometime we have to realize that when they talk they’re not always looking for an answer. Sometimes they just need to just simply talk.
Kevin:     Yes. Yes. And that’s, that’s the thing, it’s, you know, again, I’m blessed, I’ve been around so many different, uh, you know, schools and a batting cages and baseball academies and I’ve seen, I’ve seen a lot and uh, I’ve learned a ton of good and bad and part of the thing that I’ve seen a lot, way more than I haven’t seen unfortunately is, um, uh, like I like to say power coaching where a player takes a swing and then there’s a, just a downpour of cues and this and that. And it really is just kinda like, just talk rather than like, if you’re working on one thing, let’s let the dudes swing five or six times, even if he rolls over five or six times and then walk out from behind the screen and say, Hey, what, how does that feel? What’s going on? And, and, and again, continue to push the ball back in their court, uh, to try to figure things out. So to your point, yeah, silence is sometimes the best teacher.
Geoff:    I agree. And that’s one thing that I’ve learned from you, instead of when, when we’re in the cage working with a guy, instead of just firing things off and telling them, start asking questions instead of giving them the answer all the time because what I’ve learned is what we see or what we perceive. It’s not always what’s really happening. So asking questions because because something different could be going on. It’s not always mechanical, which, which is always the, the, the typical default when, when it, when it could be just as simple as, what are they looking at are, what are they thinking?
Kevin:    Yeah. Because it goes back to you got to teach in the way they learn and you gotta you gotta figure out because none of us are mind readers, you know, but there are, to your point, there are some guys and just kind of pass by that. And they did it. They don’t take an take that into account that uh, you know, just because what it looks like, it doesn’t mean that’s what they’re thinking. And that’s the whole swing debate to on social media, right? This guy is doing this. And but not once have they asked the guy, um, and not once have they been around him in the cage and now you have all these guys, these young guys that are trying to swing away, that the guy on the video, he isn’t even thinking about doing is just emotion. So you’re right, it’s, it is you. It’s dangerous to teach without knowing what’s going on in that mind.
Geoff:    I agree. And Kevin were sitting here with Kevin with the Kwbbaseball.com And KWB radio on itunes. So let me ask you a question, Kevin. You got a guy, for example, lets just say he is in AA kind of knocking on the door. What’s the conversation like with him on say The day or night that he goes o-ver and he kind of feeling like he’d blown the whole season, you know, they’re starting to kind of have a lot of self doubt, you know, they’re going to send him down there and take them out of the lineup for what this conversation like because bad days are going to happen, but the nature of the game. So what is the conversation light to keep them positive and focused on the task at hand?
Kevin:    Yes, that’s a great question too, because it’s really relevant to any level you’re at, right? But you know, you’re just talking about this as an example. AA, I love to break the season down into weeks, Monday through Sunday. Um, I love small sample sizes. I love stuff that you can control, that you can manage. It’s a lot easier to manage seven days and 140 days, at a time. And so, uh, I, you know, Monday’s always opening day because even think about it, the, the beginning of the season, we’re always optimistic, right? We’ve been working out, we’ve had spring training or we’ve been just working out and getting ready for the high school or college season and we got no stats. Um, you know, we feel good. Uh, we’re just optimistic. Well, you know, if we start to season one for six, then we’re like, Oh man, now I’ve only got, you know, 50 games left or an oh man. I got 137 games left and I got to make this up because the board says I’m an hitting .167 or whatever, and we go into panic mode. I raised my hand because I did the same thing. We’ve all done it and so I liked the breakdown the season into a seven days. So Monday’s opening day and on Sunday like you go into the week having a plan. Yeah, well, whatever’s playing, I’m going to hit as many fastballs in my zone as I can in a very simple plan. Something that’s for you. I’m not saying that’s for everybody, but just as an example, and on Sunday let’s look back and see how you did. Meaning that, how many fastballs did that square up in my zone I’m in. It could have been. I did that four times a day or maybe I did it four times on Monday. Twice on Tuesday. Three on Wednesday. None on Thursday. One on Friday, four on Saturday and two on Sunday and on Sunday night look back and say, okay, did I execute my approach? And in that case you did, that was pretty good week, you know, that was a lot of fast balls being squared up. That’s almost like a player of the week type of week right there. Um, and then you say, okay, what did I do well this week? How did I do that? And then on Monday you go back and you continue to execute the plan, learning a little bit more of how you did that and just say the next week he didn’t have such a great week. You know, maybe you had a couple o-vers, right? And um, but you still executed your approach. Or Man, I missed that fast ball change, change, change, change up in the dirt, whatever. On the next Sunday you go back in again, you figure out why. So the initial day of going for as an example doesn’t sting is bad because you’re playing the long game, but you’re also playing the long game of seven days, which is pretty manageable. You’re not trying to play the long game of 26 weeks or seven months. And so I like to do that. Whether you’re playing twice a week in high school where you’re playing seven days a week in pro ball, either way, I love breaking it down Monday through Sunday because you can manage that and you can kind of keep check with what you’re doing in terms of your intent, your purpose to your approach and just executing approach because you know that we can’t control what the ball does once it leaves our bats. So an 0-4 To me the big question is like, what was that? Oh, he was a genius, was a four K’s swinging at balls in the dirt, you know, that obviously will tell us the story there.
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Geoff:   I love that. You know, break it down into weeks, you know. So, so that brings me into this, you know, if you’re barreling up baseball, you know, like you said, you can’t control what happened when the ball leaves the bat and the guys that understand that are a little more neutral or their emotion and then there are guys that understand that, but just let it get to him and I don’t know, maybe maybe you can, is it because they don’t have a mental checklist that they go through and recognize that they executed their approach, but the result more than what they wanted.
Kevin:       Yeah. And that’s a difficult fine line you walk, right? I mean, but it Kinda goes back to being able to navigate. That goes back to our, what we were talking about earlier here in our conversation is, you know, again, having those conversations with the players and in the off season building a great plan. So we don’t build a swing. Um, we don’t just build a, an approach at the plate. We build it all and say, hey, listen, during the season, here’s what your, here’s what you’re going, um, you know, here’s your approach, here’s your purpose to what you’re doing. When you get into these, when you feel at your thoughts and your emotions are going this way, uh, how are you going to correct them? We prepare them for it all and you know, we make sure that, um, we, you know, we can’t come, you can’t prepare for all of the things that are going to happen, but for the most part, there you go. I don’t want that 0-4, for being the first time they think about being 0-4, in fact, I want them to understand how to navigate all that because I’m a big believer in how you respond to a situation can totally change the situation itself. So if you’re prepared, um, you know, like the military saying, embrace the suck. Like they’re in there, they’re prepared. They, that’s all they do in the military. They prepare for the worst case scenario so that when it does happen, it’s not a reaction. They just respond. So we try to do the same thing with our hitters.
Geoff:   I love that man. Let’s talk. Let’s talk now a little routine. I know you’re big on them. I’m big on them. What’s your process like to helping a guy to start thinking about developing routines?
Kevin: Well, number one, you need a routine. Even if it’s a bad one, just just have one hell of a lot of guys don’t have one. Um, but certainly if you have a bad routine, that’s not a great thing either, but at least she got something, at least she got started. So for me routines is huge because again, this is a life thing. I love using baseball as a platform to teach life and uh, even these pro guys, they got to stop playing at some point. I mean this is not the PGA tour where you can play until you are 70 and make some money. Um, you know, once you hit 30 and today’s game you’re, you’re kind of on the way out, which is unfortunate. So your windows even smaller than even 10, 20 years ago. Um, so. So the routine is huge because the routine for me, it covers a couple of things. You have to have a purpose for everything you do and you have to understand why you do what you do. And so whether it’s a routine off the tee routine before the game, your routine, uh, you know, what you, how much sleep you get the night before, what food you’re putting into your body. Are you doing yoga? Do you need to stay away from heavy weights, do you under, do you need to know what your body needs? All that and all that’s important for hitting, I mean and, and, and kind of like what are you doing off the field? What’s your routine off the field? Are You thinking about baseball 24/7 or do you have to go get yourself a girlfriend or something like that. Do you need something or you got to paint or read or create or do something that gets your mind off the game. And so all these routines, both on and off the field are important. And for me the routine does not have to be complicated. It’s simple. You don’t have to spend a ton of time on it, you just have to be, um, you know, disciplined in that routine to do it every single day in a routine is um, you know, again, the habit is one thing, but to understand why you have it and the, and have tremendous purpose in everything you do within it is going to lead to that success and lead did that confidence, uh, over a long period of time.
Geoff: I agree. And I guys that started to really kind of understand their routine and understand why it was important and why they were doing what they were doing. And you start to see that they’re actually working much smarter and then with that, there they’re much more consistent. So because right now, you know, a lot of times if we’re struggling we think we’ve got to go hit 400 balls off the tee and do something physical when really keeping in check with, with our routine, we know everything kinda been checked. So am I, am I right?
Kevin:   Yeah, you’re right. And that goes back to Kinda your purpose, right? And really understanding what this is all about. You know, if I go for it doesn’t mean that at my swing is jacked up, now you’re swinging may not feel great and that’s fine and some guys will certainly go in after the game and work a little bit more. I’m not saying I’m not against it, right? But, but as a coach, if we put our development hat on, our, our hitting coach hat on or manager hat on, it’s, you have to monitor those guys so some guys can do that and it’s a detriment to them. And again it goes back to knowing your personnel, know that if a guy doesn’t do it that much and you can trust them a little bit and he doesn’t feel right. Even if there’s some guys I work with, even if they had like a couple of hits, they just didn’t feel right, but I can trust him to go into the cage after the game and spend 5-10 minutes by themselves in a cage, you know, just on the tee and just do their thing. Oh, that’s it. That’s what it was. Pulmonary it, they fixed it right there, right. And then they go home, another guy’s like, hey, listen, you’re not going in the cage because I can’t trust you because you’re going to spend those three hours in there and you’re going to take a thousand swings and you’re going to get even more tired and more ticked off and worse. Pack it up, let’s go home or let’s go take a walk or have dinner or you know, whatever. Play fortnight, I don’t care. Just do something else outside of the game to get it away. And then tomorrow when we come back, let’s address it, because sometimes all you need is just asleep on it, you know, or just to chalk it up to like, Hey, it’s baseball man. This is life. It’s never perfect. It’s gonna be messy. I like to say hitting is messy. It’s going to be messy. Um, and you have to embrace both the good and the bad with it.
Geoff:      Nice. Nice. I love, I love routine. So, Kevin, I got a question. So you got a guy that you know well and he trusted you and he are going really well right now. Um, he’s hitting the ball well, days are good, but as a coach you see something that’s off, you know, based on your understanding of him, the question is, do, do you tell him or do you kind of did let him go and ride hot streak out?
Kevin:   This is a great question and one that um, you know, I, I don’t get a lot, but I think it’s very important is the simple answer is you just put it in your back pocket. If a guy is going, well let him ride that out. You know, because in the big leagues, the guys that are really good, really good, they go on about two to three at the most, maybe hot streaks a year. So if you’re getting 700 at bats, if you’re playing everyday, you’re only going to go on two or three hot streaks the year. And those hot streaks usually last about a week and a half to two weeks at a. that’s it. And so if you’re going to be good and like let’s break this down, 700 at bats, if you’re really good, you’ll get 200 hits. So how you handle the 500 at bats of those 700 allow you to have an opportunity to get 200 hits and so when you’re going through your thing as a coach, as they’re going through and they’re on this hot streak and you can kind of see it before they do, right? Because that’s the part of the coach that is where the visionary, where are the guys that’s kind of been there and done that. We can kind of see a couple of steps ahead. So was very, very hard to stay silent on that. I understand. Totally understand, but I promise you it will be well worth it because one, it allows them to ride that out as long as possible because again, they’re only getting a couple of them and even if you play a shorter season, you might get fewer than that. Right? Or your hot streak might be your high school season might be. It might be that, right? Depending on where in the America that you play or the world, whoever’s listening to this. So you know, um, so let you. Right. Let them ride it out. Second, the reason why that you keep mum on it is because once they start going in the other direction, you have something to give them. Once they start going bad and they come to you, it’s not like, well, let’s go in a cage and try to figure this out. No, hey listen, this is what I was thinking. What do you think about this? This is what I was seeing. What do you think? Go and the because it’s in your back pocket because it’s the thing that you’ve seen that was glaring to you that was going to Jack them up at some point and I finally did. Now you’ve got the key that unlocks that problem. And, and now you’ve got the, the uh, the solution for that problem is probably a better way to say it. And he thinks you’re a genius because he thinks you just came up with it. But no, you’ve been sitting on it for a couple of days or a couple of weeks.
Geoff:   Yeah, man, that’s tough. You know, it, it, it’s frustrating. You know? Could you go to the ballpark and you see a guy that’s on an absolute tear and the next thing you got it, you got the coach saying something and it could be mechanical and stuff that he shouldn’t be talking about. And then it’s like, come on man, let him play. He is going well.
Kevin:    It is. And there’s a lot of feel that goes into coaching, right? Like it’s, and not everybody has that feel and that feel, um, is learned. It’s not like you just have a bag of feel you can buy at target, you know, like it’s, it’s, it’s part of it. And some guys have it and some guys don’t. To your point. Um, and so having that feeling that patients piece like, listen, we’re playing the long game here, I get it when guys are trying to help. You’re trying to fix him. But in this case, in this example of what you’re talking about is a dude is going fine. Like he may have his B swing, he may have the one point, oh, version of himself, but he’s getting, he’s getting it done. Let them live that out, let them enjoy that. Because like I said, if it’s 700 at bats, 500 of those are not enjoyable, you know, and so why don’t you let them have some enjoyable moments and then when things start going the other way, you’ve got that solution. So yeah, it’s a feel to it. Um, it’s a communication. We talked about timing as the number one thing to hitting. If you’re on time, everything else works. But there’s also a timing to your communication. And this is a great example of that timing. Hold it, put it in your back pocket. The timing is not right now when you see something, any still going good at the timing of it is when he starts going bad, you have that solution to his problem.
Geoff: Yeah. So coaches, dads, players when things are going good to just ride it out, just enjoy that moment because you don’t get that option very often. So again, we’re, we’re sitting here with Kevin Wilson with kwbaseball.com and KWB radio on itunes. So Kevin, what is the conversation like with a guy that had been demoted or release? And he get no interest from any affiliated ball and maybe he’s playing independent ball. And what’s the conversation like when it gets to a point where getting to, the Big League guy at reach, it’s kind of so far out of sight. You know, what, what’s that conversation like?
Kevin: Yeah. That’s, that. Those are interesting conversations because like most of the other conversations are all individual and unique to each person in their, in their walk and where they’re at in their life. Um, some guys are like, well, I gave it a shot. It was good while it lasted. I did my best. I’m ready to move on. Um, you know, in some of those guys might be starting families, maybe they just got married, maybe they have kids or maybe they’re just older and they just want to do something else because, you know, like we’ve talked about earlier that it’s a tough pro ball is not for everybody. So you do get beaten down a lot. Some guys just want to change the scenery and they just said I’m done and move away. Um, there’s other conversations where, you know, they still, that they have it, um, whether they’re correct in that thinking or not, I would never tell a guy, um, you know, say like, listen, you don’t have it. I’ve been in that situation myself, um, you know, so to each his own, I rather you kind of run out the tank, run out of gas, just run it till it dies. Um, so you don’t have any regrets and can kind of leave it if, if that’s where you’re at in your walk. Um, and then there’s other guys that say, you know what, I’m just gonna I still liked doing it. I really don’t know what I want to do. Maybe I’m 23, maybe I’m young, we’ve as a high school draft and I just really don’t know what to do and I’ll do it for a year or two and see if I’d get to pick back up and we just like to play. And uh, certainly not doing it for the money. Um, so, um, so all those conversations, I wish I could give you a better answer, but, uh, all those conversations are unique. But again, it goes back to the theme of I’m just going to try to meet them where they’re at and try to give him sound advice to where I, you know, what they want, not necessarily what they want, but what I think they need to hear at the moment to whether you know for them to make the best decision for them.
Geoff: Yeah, that would be an interesting conversation. So let me ask you this, as hitter studying the game part. So understanding how they’re pitching to you, understanding what the pitcher throwing when they’re behind in the count or when, when you start talking to a guy and start and start bringing this awareness to them, it kinda starts to be an information overload for them. So they’re, they’re, they’re the, they’re the tough time starting the process of identifying what guys are doing. So what’s your advice? Instead of saying you need to pay attention and, and yeah, you need a walk the game. What’s the first thing you would do a to get them to the start this understanding?
Kevin:    Hmmm, you touched upon before I answer that you touched upon something that um, you know, a part of my second book, I’m finding clarity, um, hitters are, are drowning in information but starving for wisdom and you touched upon that and it’s a big problem. A lot of guys coming to me are just confused because there is so much information out there, so many big words and this and that and I really don’t know where to go. So it kind of leads to your question in terms of, um, how do you approach that, that, you know, how do you approach that conversation of trying to get guys to really pay attention while you’re not going to pay it, pay attention, Number one, unless you understand it is my experience. Uh, I didn’t pay attention school because I really didn’t understand half the school. Um, but there were some subjects in school that I really understood from the get go and I was thirsty to learn more about it. I knew, I knew I could understand it, but I knew like I didn’t know at all. So I was pretty thirsty to drink from that cup and so for me it’s a conversation in terms of, again, it’s a field to the situation. It’s like, okay, is this guy ready to learn? Um, because he’s, he understands it enough or is this guy need to understand the basics, the fundamentals of it. And a lot of guys, and this is not only a problem in high school and college, this is the problem in pro ball too. And these because all these guys playing for the most part, um, because Chase Utley is retired, you know, Joe Mauer retired. I just go down the list of guys that are 35 and above, um, you know, these guys are out of the game. They weren’t really in showcase baseball. Like my generation. We weren’t in showcase baseball. So most everybody from the big leagues down has been in showcase baseball and so they’ve been less than bout, um, they’ve been lessened up. I should say, go to a hitting coach like myself. Go to a lesson. I’m not saying it’s bad because I’m in it, but they haven’t also haven’t played wiffle ball in the backyard. They haven’t played stick ball or pickup baseball where they haven’t, they just haven’t played games, you know? Um, and so what you’re ending up doing is they don’t understand the fundamentals because they haven’t done the fundamentals and they could get by with showcase on just running fast, throwing hard and just trying to hit tanks and they don’t really know much of what they’re looking at. So if that’s the case, if they don’t know it’s overtime. Again, planting seeds every day and just being like, hey, did you, did you notice? Did you notice he threw a fast ball there now? Or did you notice that the field has shifted over here? Or just again, plant seeds for them. Like I can’t teach them anything but I can make them think and by making them think I can get them to learn. So they learn the fundamentals. Then they start getting thirstier for the details. So you can’t fire me, you can’t skip steps in that. And I think that’s sometimes what happens is we, and I’m guilty of it, still guilty of it, once you get excited and you’re like, Oh man, you know, like, because again we had the vision, but making sure that you understand the person you’re talking to before you had that discussion of what they’re looking at. Because most of the time they don’t even know what they’re looking at. Just like video kids are all on Instagram and they see tons of video. But if you ask 9 out of 10 kids, they have no idea what they’re looking at. They just go by whatever the calm and says to look at. And so they’re blind mice going into it. So if you can help them with the fundamental piece and build that platform, then your discussions maybe halfway through the year or if you’re really playing the long game and maybe next year when they’re a sophomore or next year when they’re a junior in high school or college or whatever. And then you can talk to them a little bit more because about what they’re seeing. Because now they have a fundamental idea of what they’re actually looking for. They’re not just looking for a picture saying, Oh yeah, his, his leg came up higher or yeah, he uh, threw that ball in the dirt. Well, you know, all that kind of stuff. So you, you try to help them with the fundamentals so that therefore you can teach them a little bit more at their speed, not so much the speed that you want them to learn at.
Geoff: Great answer. And I love what you said at the end, at their speed, you learn from trial and error and the more you do it, the better you will get. So we got to quit jumping all over kids as they go through the learning process. You know, I had a conversation recently with a, with a, with a coach there and we discuss, you know, the coach in the dug out, they need to be getting the guy on deck or in the whole thinking about the situation, pointing out things that needed to be aware of, you know, what, what are your thoughts on that? And we’re not talking mechanic. We’re talking approach. And in a plan
Kevin:   I love it when I was coaching and teams as a hitting coach, I would just set up shop right on the end of the dugout as they would go to the on deck circle and I would have guys stand next to me. It was mandatory. So you guys stand next to me before you go on the on deck circle. And so basically the guy in the whole always stand next to me now. It doesn’t mean that we talked. I wanted them to get into a routine of standing next to me because as we were going along I wanted the opportunity to say something or to just put my arm around him or for them the opportunity, whether it was the minute, 30 seconds, three minutes before they went onto the on deck circle, just to ask me questions or talk to me or whatever. So I’m huge on that because it goes back to what you’re saying before hitting his conversation. I wanted that to be an option. I didn’t want to force them, but I wanted to be a part of their routine. Like we talked about before, that before they went up, they had the stand next to me and uh, as the season would go each time it was great because I did a lot less talking and they were just telling me what to do. Um, I remember one year I had a young team and him beginning of the year, uh, one thing I did force them to do, um, and force is probably a bad word to use. But what I, I did highly suggest them to do as before you go up to the plate, before we even get on the on deck circle, tell me what your approach is going to be. For example, I’m hitting the fast ball and my zone Kev. Okay? And I told him, I don’t care if you, if you get out, I don’t care about that. I want to know that. I want to know that you can trust your own approach and you’re actually going to do what you say because you’d be surprised at how many guys said, ah, I’m going to go hit a fastball in my zone. And they take the fastball in the zone. They swing into two breaking balls in the dirt. So it was holding them accountable. So again, I was teaching them a lesson with really not even saying anything and, and even if I said like, man, you know what he’s saying, fastball, but there’s a guy on third base and last time you know, he was, you know, every time there’s a guy on third base, the guy that throws an off speed pitch, especially around the account, but right over the middle, like even if I, again fighting the urge, I wanted a teachable moment because I was playing the long game and especially during the regular season, I would play a long game. It was game seven in the world series. Yeah. I might be like, you might want to think about that, but again, if we’re, for most of us, uh, during the regular season, I wanted to get used as a, as a teachable moment and let him throw over the breaking ball for example. And then throw a couple fastballs high and it’s this, that, and the other thing. And all of a sudden now he thought it was a couple that he takes that and he comes back and says, you know what, man, he didn’t even give me a fast ball, my zone, but he gave me that off speed. Maybe I should hit that later. And then I would take the opportunity to say, you know what, George, that’s a great idea, man. You know what? Let’s try that next time. Next time there’s a guy on third base with this pitcher on the mound. I think that great. So you kind of trick them into thinking it’s their own idea because it kind of was. But at the same time you’re empowering them because all of us, if we think we came up with the answer, we’re going to retain that. We’ll probably gonna do it on her own.
Geoff: I love it. And for the coaches that are listening in, I would recommend doing this and teaching your hitters of what to look for when they’re on deck or when they’re in the whole heck, Kevin, let’s now talk about the travel work that you do for high school, college and baseball facilities.
Kevin:   Yeah, you’re talking about the KWB experience.
Geoff:  Yeah
Kevin:   Yeah, yeah. No, thank you for the opportunity to talk about it. Yeah, it’s, um, it’s something that’s really near and dear to my heart. I love doing it. I work with um, college high school programs as well as travel programs, a highschool and above. Um, and, and the reason for that is again, a lot of the stuff we’re talking about, I love to talk with them through the hitting pieces of it and, and have that conversation with them and really help navigate when they get to that point where I feel high school, it’s, you know, that’s the separator. That’s one of the first separators where you get the high school. We get that 14 age group, 15, 16 where you’re like, oh, now I’m playing in a against 18 year olds and I’m 14 and I’m 62 pounds. Still. Like I, you know, there’s, there’s, uh, there’s, there’s those limitations and also, you know, you may be the 200 pound freshman but you really don’t know what you’re doing out there. So I like to go in and again, before going in, I like to say, okay, what does that program need and how can I help? Sometimes I can’t help, but when I can, a majority of times I can say, okay, we need help with our mental game or emotional game. We’re gonna need some help with some of our guys who are swings and we certainly do that. But I spent a couple of days with them and, and we have classroom style sessions where we go over the purpose hitting. Um, we go over, we have checklists and we go over is a lot of this stuff we’re talking about today. Um, we’re, we’re talking about hitting and uh, and then we go out in the field or in the cages depending on what, where it’s at and the time of year and what they want and we’ll work through what they need to. And it’s a, it’s great because we spent hours together and I get to know them. It’s not just a fly in, fly out type of deal where it’s just like a talk and there’s nothing against that. Uh, that’s certainly have done that in the past, but I, over the years I’m like, man, I, I just found so much, um, there’s so much more that we can do when we do spend a couple of days together and in a lot of hours and the player gets to trust me, I get to know them more and I can make better suggestions because they get to know him better. And again, everything is molded and shaped to what that program would, that organization needs at that moment. Uh, and it’s just a, I’m just blessed to be able to have those opportunities and, and I’m just so grateful because I learned so much from the coaches and the program and how they do it. So they may think that I’m helping them, but at the same time they’re helping me because they’re opening my eyes to something that they do that maybe I’d never heard it before. And, and, and I like. And it works for them. And, and so I pick up on that stuff too.
Geoff: That’s awesome. And I know Kevin heart feeds off of this KWB experience in and again, you can find more information on the kwbaseball.com. I highly recommend doing it. I, I, myself hadn’t had to do yet, but I will and I know there will be a tremendous value.
Kevin: Thank you.
Geoff: Yeah. And then you have KBW radio. I love it. You know, I learned something every single time, you know, you, Joe and whoever the guest is now, be sure to check it out. You know, I love what you and are doing over there.
Kevin: Thank you. Yeah, I mean, it wouldn’t be what we have at KWB radio without my best friend Joe Ferraro. Um, you know, I knew that when I started it, I needed somebody that like him who knew what he was doing in terms of the communication piece, but we’ve got a great voice and he’s a baseball guy too, but he’s also a great interviewer and I’m, I’m just the guy who’s Kinda, you know, I’m just the guy, the sidekick, you know, and uh, that uh, you know, bring guests on. I’m kind of the guest booker. I guess that’s what we’ve, we’ve, we’ve turned into those roles. I bring the guests on and he helps me crush it with the guests. And um, um, uh, we always say the guests makes the show, you know, it was just me and Joe. That’s where we don’t have too many with me and Joe. I don’t feel like they’re our best episodes. I feel like, uh, we just, you know, we just sit there and we just talk about her father’s all day long. But when we bring guests on, we’re just so grateful that they come on and talk about what they do and yeah, it’s a hitting podcast sometimes turns into a food shows, sometimes talks about life and, and I think that, I think we’ve got a nice blend and our guests have been great to be able to talk about all those. And uh, you know, we, we just try to impact just like you’re doing. We just try to impact somebody when they listen and we don’t know who’s listening and we don’t know how we’re going to be impacting on. But we’re just grateful that they do listen and we’re just hopeful that one thing stands out and uh, you know, it changes something in their life.
Geoff: Absolutely. Kevin, it’s been a pleasure speaking with you, man. And a as always. I learned a lot though. I really appreciate your time.
Kevin: No, thank you Geoff. I really do appreciate you doing a great service to the baseball community and just so grateful to be on your podcast and continue to keep up the good work. And, and don’t stop man. I mean, podcasts are great and, and I’m just so grateful to be a very small part of something that you’re doing that’s so great in this game, man.
Outro: I am Geoff Rottmayer thank you for listening to our conversation on the baseball awakening podcast. Stay tuned for our recap show tomorrow.