Let’s Talk Pitching, Let’s Talk Getting Guys Out with Darrell Coulter Part 1
Welcome to The Baseball Awakening Podcast, where we dive into the raw, unfiltered, unsexy side of player development.
Darrel Coulter is the founder of STARTT Pitching. Darrell is Pitching Strategist helping many profession, college, and amateur pitchers be the best version of themselves and develop top notch game day strategy, approach and routine.
Website: STARTT Pitching
On this episode, Host Geoff Rottmayer sits down with Darrell Coulter of STARTT Pitching, where we discuss pitching and how pitchers need to get hitters out.
In Part 1 of this Conversation Darrell talks about:
- What a pitching strategist is.
- About the disconnect between what is going on with today game and what he does.
- About how we tend to put the wrong label on things.
- How pitchers need to be intellectual, emotionally, and personally interested in being the best they can be.
- If you are not playing for right reason, how tough the game will be.
- Where and how the shift in mindset happens.
- How mechanics has nothing to do with inability to throw strike.
- How the comparing game has killed lots of careers.
- and more.
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Geoff: On today’s show, we talked with Darrell Coulter and we talk about the numerous of different conversation we need to have with pitchers, to get them to understand how to pitch.
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 Wakening Podcast, I am Geoff Rottmayer. Today we sit here with Darrell Coulter, of STARTTPitching.com again, that’s STARTTpitching.com. Darrell, the pitching strategist, working with many professional and college guys develop a strategy to help them become the best version of themselves. Darrell, I’m excited to have you here, man. How are you?
Darrell: Doing Great, Geoff. Man. I’m excited to be on The Baseball Awakening podcast and I’m looking forward to our conversation today. Man. Every time you and I get together, we have some super deep baseball conversations and I always learned something. So I’m excited to share with your audience today and, uh, and let’s get this going.
Geoff: Yeah, I agree. We, we do get deep and man, I learned a lot as well. So look, you and I, we talk a lot and, and what we talking about is their guys that teach throwing and then there are guys that teach pitching and getting guys out and to me you’re a pitching coach, but if we had to go by the industry standard, if there is such thing, you would be classified as an approach guy or even a mental guy. How do you define what you do?
Darrell: Oh, that’s a great question. I think, uh, I think a couple things. One is, is I try to look at baseball almost kind of deconstructing what it would take to become a major league pitcher. And, and again with a lot of my clients, I don’t even want them to look at it, what it takes to get to the big leagues. I want them to look at it from the perspective of what’s it gonna take that has a 10-year major league career. So it’s not just about getting to the big leagues or are what is going to take to get to the big leagues, but it’s really about how do we redefine what it takes. And then how do we really super individualized that and so I took a different approach the last 13 years I’ve really started studying why first, second, third round picks don’t consistently make it to the big leagues. And so through a couple of studies that I’ve gone through from Simpson and Karcher that went back into basically studied the percentage of the first round, second round, third round and, and basically the whole draft from 1960 on. And what’s ironic about this is over the last 60 years of the draft, the percentage of players that drafted by a round that make it to the big leagues is almost exactly the same. And when I started with and so with all the advances that we have in baseball training and all the medical research has done on arm injuries. And again there are some fantastic guys out there doing some awesome stuff. But when I sat down and started going through and interviewing these pitchers and really digging deep into why they thought they didn’t have more success than they did when they were projected as the top players in that year’s draft. It was. It was an interesting conversation and dynamic that kind of came out of that. A lot of the times they thought it was a physical thing, but yet they couldn’t put their finger on it and so when we started going through this and started having a little deeper conversation and we’re baseball guys. I did the same thing. I got drafted out of high school. I played four years in the minor leagues and honestly it was a good experience, but there were some huge regrets that I had coming away from it and being a small town guy that just never really had that kind of baseball knowledge around me. It was one of those things that you just learned by playing. You just learn by going out there and compete in, in the backyard or on the playground and then eventually into summer ball or high school ball. But what happens is that there’s a little piece of this that I tell these guys all the time that it took me about five years after I got done playing, that I finally realized that there’s more to it than what I call the prerequisites or the scout skills. But yet there’s such a huge emphasis at an early age to develop these fiscal skills to develop the philosophies is to develop mechanics that we’ve missed. This huge part of it, which is at the end of the day, baseball and especially pitching are about getting hitters out. And so what we tried to break this down to is how we, uh, really figure out how these pictures choose what pitch they’re going to throw. And so when I started breaking that question down to them and I really started digging deeper into the psychology or the mindset on why these pitchers chose the pitches they were choosing, then we have a totally different conversation about baseball. And that was kind of my Aha moment, right then that we’ve always, as coaches, we’ve got this tendency to want to label things. We want to go back through and identify why we think things are happening because we’ve, we’ve used to managing teams or we’re used to trying to manage pitching staffs, so we’re trying to come up with these ways, these drills, these skill development of things that we do to try to sit here in, in kind of mass-produced pitchers, but what I’ve taken away from all this research and these conversations and worked with these guys that were, you know, at the top of the draft was at the end of the day, it came down to that they got released out of pro ball because of what I call the indecision problem and when we started, when we started really digging deep into what the issue really was, it was the choices they were making when they were standing on the rubber. It wasn’t a matter of physical capability. These guys were the most physically capable players in the world. They were a lot of them through 94, 95, 96 miles an hour. So it wasn’t a mechanics issue. It was an indecision issue. And so whenever we start talking about the mental game or we started talking about the psychology piece of it, then it kind of scares people off because from a scout’s perspective, the way we graded these kids out is that, hey, we think he’s mentally tough, or we give them kind of these surface level projections are projectability that we try to gauge their pitches and their mindset and the intangibles. Again, it’s just a series of labels that we’ve given these kids, but at the end of the day, it always came down to their inability to effectively choose the right pitch to throw. And so when I took that approach with, Geoff is kind of changed the way we do it. So I try to again, to give you a quick answer for a long drawn out question, is that it was about how we choose the pitch. And so I would define my job as a pitching strategist. I try to really take it past the prerequisite past the scout skills into a series that I call the strategic pitching process, which is a breakdown. I break it down into four different areas, which is the idea assessment. I really want to get to know this pitcher on an individual basis. Why? What is their intellectual interests? So the idea is an acronym for intellectual interest, desire, their emotional connection or investment in wanting to be a pitcher and then do I think it’s authentic and that’s where I started all these conversations at and so that is my number one basis on whether I choose to work with a client or not. They got to be intellectually interested in playing baseball and especially pitching and then what is their personal desires? What do they want to take away from the game? What are they hoping to get out of baseball itself? Big Picture, purpose wise, and then what is their emotional connection? Why do they really play and not just because they’re good or not because God gave him some athletic ability? I want to know really why do they play and so once we get to that piece of it, now we get a chance to build that relationship with this with this player and that’s why a lot of the consulting I do is not. It’s not scalable because it’s a one on one business and it’s really getting these guys to open up and take it to a deeper level and really start to really focus on how they choose what they throw and that’s where we kind of start the process. So I kind of, again, man, I try to give these guys a big picture view of what a tenure major league career would look like and then we kind of deconstruct the process all the way to the mound to how they decide what pissed are. Gonna throw
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Geoff: Yeah, that’s awesome. And you and I talk about that quite a bit and I agree with you that this is kind of the, the, the missing link and I think in based on the conversation that you have with these guys, how much of this is due to the way they were growing up, you know, not being able to make the decision that they need to be able to make and, and, and now not being able to do the trial and error to figure out who they are.
Darrell: I don’t like blaming coaches or different things. I think people, people grow up and they are what they are and they, they learn what they learned. I think what happens at the end of the day, the emphasis of the coach and what they think is important, whether it’s a philosophical interest or whether it’s strength and conditioning or a throwing program. Whenever we take a label and we try to get all these kids to fit within that philosophy, then it creates a, almost this filter. The kids that fit into it naturally stand out. The ones that don’t, then they feel like there’s something missing all the time. And so what’s happened is with these kids that have some athletic ability or the kids that have some talent at a young age and physical capabilities, then we start labeling them and then we start putting them into some kind of training program or some cam training process and what happens then is the emphasis while that kid, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 years old is more in the physical development and then they’re in this constant state of convincing compare as well. So they’re always trying to convince and compare, a college coach or recruiter or whoever it is that they’re physically talented enough and they’re in this constant state of comparison themselves against every other player that they see play. And so what happens is it creates this mindset that that pitching is really about, okay, so I do the things that get them recruiters and the scouts’ attention and then how do I compare to everybody else? And within that mindset is where the trap happens. Because that mindset is what permeates all the way up through the minor leagues and is the single greatest problem I see in baseball with minor league players. If not physical capability, again, these guys are the most physically talented players that we have available to play in the minor leagues, or at least we hope they are based on what the scout’s opinions of them were. But what happens is when you’re trapped in that, that convinced and compare to mindset, you never convert over into how do I individually get hitters out and so the hardest thing I have to do with these pro guys that are so physically talented is tried to convince them that, hey, you got the physical capability. You have the ability to execute these pitches, these two-seam sinker, so this slider, this nasty curveball, but the but the the real deal is, is how do you learn how to read a study hitters and then how do you learn when to throw what pitch and what situation and count and it happened in real time against the best shooters in the world and see now that takes a mindset shift, Geoff, because it means we have to go from this convinced and compare mindset into what I tell these guys, that you’ve got to have this mindset shift. If you’re going to pitch in the big leagues, you’ve gotta go from this convincing compare into what I call this a complete and contribute mindset that now you finally feel like I’m physically capable. I got the pitches. Now it’s a matter of how do I compete against every hitter, how do I decide what I’m going to throw, and then how do I contribute to my team, whether it’s an AA, AAA, or the major league team, and so when we start talking about deeper conversations about what it really takes to get to the big leagues, the truth is most of these major league decision-makers are trying to figure out some way to give a sense on. Now whether you’re physically capable of pitching in the big leagues, that’s the easiest thing to identify why you’re in the minor leagues. The hardest. The hardest thing to identify is whether these guys intellectually can adjust to major league hitters who are studying them. Kind of the sophomore slump things I call it. You know, you have the sophomore slump once a week just to see you once or twice. How do you? Well, how do you intellectually adjust and then the emotional stuff, how do you, how do you handle that emotional, uh, the adjustment of pitching in that environment? How do you respond to the pressure? How do you respond to the things, some of those things you don’t ever get to realize that to you actually experienced that environment, but what you can see and what they tried to sense is do they have this time that I call situational awareness that, that it’s just this moment that they see and they understand when they’re standing on that rubber getting assigned from the catcher that they since the situation account and it helps them decide intellectually and emotionally and mentally to physically be able to execute the absolute best pitch to throw in that situation and count. And that’s deep, man, I get it, but that’s, that’s the heart and soul of why we need to learn how to read the study hitters and master our pitches. But as long as we’re in that, we’re in that convinced and compare mindset. We never do get to the point of mastery because we’re always thinking there’s something missing or there’s more I need to do, and man, that’s a hard conversation with these guys had already thrown 94, 95 miles an hour and for somehow they think that my physical capability is going to magically somehow turned into this strategic process and I’m going to learn how the honestly throw my pitches by velocity movement to a specific location on purpose and see that’s the. That’s the shift has got to happen, Geoff. That’s it. That’s the hardest part when I talk about trying to convince these guys that they have the fiscal talent already and now it’s it. Now we got to move deeper than that. That’s the hardest piece to convince them because all of the positive things that happened to them up to that point has been based on their physical capability and from the. From the time they were 12, 13, 14 years old, and showed this little spark of having, the athletic talent to do it. Then that’s where it’s been pushed. They’d been going to the best pitching coaches or they’ve been buying the best strength and conditioning programs they could get, and a lot of this time it’s not information that’s missing is honestly, how do you get hitters out?
Geoff: Yeah, I agree and let me ask you, Darrell,, you talked about the intellectual interests and the personal interest and the emotional interest so when you are sitting there and you’re talking with the guy, how deep does this conversation have to go for you to say, Yep, we checked it, the intellectual interest. He personally interests interested in any of the emotional interest. How deep does this conversation have to go for you to say, yeah, but he checked it? He checked the box and all the mark. Then he had the chance.
Darrell: You know, that’s an awesome question, here’s what it’s not. It’s not an IQ question. How they will do on their act sat. That’s what college coaches need for you to get to school. That’s not what I’m looking for. What I’m looking for is can they tell me, you know what? When we started asking them when they started baseball, how old were they when they started pitching and you can tell the way they talked to you, the way they explained it to you, whether it’s something that they were just forced to do or my dad made me do it, or my uncle thought I was a good player, so he kind of took me here, which is all good ways to start, but when I take a back to the beginning and we started having real conversations about when did you start pitching? How’d it felt, man? What’d you think about it? What, what excited you about playing the position of the pitcher? And then we started going into and I asked the man what up to this point, what’s been your best baseball experience? And then I asked them what’s been your worst baseball experience? And I asked him those two questions because it will tell me where they’re currently at and it will give me some kind of gauge on what. What they really feel that when they’re in this circumstance, here’s what’s happened. When they. Then when the coach pushes this button, here’s how they’re going to emotionally react and so when we get to that point, man, it just gives me a deeper insight of whether these guys are really playing for them is what? Is there an again, what is their interest? Honestly in playing, if it’s somebody that constantly talked about velocity or talks about their physical skills and talent than I know right then that once they, if they have the ability to get drafted or even go to a D1 school that when they get into that environment with other kids that are just as good as them or better than them, they’re going to struggle because what the, what they thought to the physical skills and ability to scout skill of I call it that it took them to get to that level is not what makes you a great picture at the D1 level or in the, in the pro ball. I mean we’ve got to start getting guys out. You know, we can project these guys all day long, but when they turn 20, 21, if they ain’t getting guys out, then guess what? We got a deeper problem than physical capability. They truly don’t understand it and that’s why again man, I know this is a step on some of these guys toes, but that’s why I will not recommend any of my guys to go to a college that the coach calls pitches and then so I’ve had. I’ve had some sensitive conversations with some good coaches about this and again I get it from, from the perspective of that it’s their job and it’s all the business piece of it as them, but from an from an individual picture development that if that kid being out there and he intellectually deciding why he still won the pitch, the absolute best pitch to throw in this situation account, then one, he’s not emotionally attached to the outcome, which I don’t try to keep my pitchers emotionally neutral. I tried to keep my pitchers emotionally connected and invested, which is different. See, one thing is, one thing is I’m trying to calm this guy down. No pitching. Every decision we make is an emotional decision. Every decision, I don’t care what part of life it is. We make a decision based on past experiences and then we’d label it so when I’m teaching these guys pitched command and when I called mastery, what I want these guys to do is I want them to literally see that picture in their mind, build that pitch in their fingertips. Then execute that pitch. That’s the three steps that I want them to see, but the deal to get them to see that it has to start with an image and a pattern and an experience. That’s why we throw bullpens. That’s why we practice. That’s why we have the fundamentals, so we create this image in this pattern and experience of having a baseline on how it ought to be done, but once we get physically developed, once we get physically mature and we get into college and in the pro ball where these guys are now, men, we got to start basing our decisions on not whether we’re physically capable of, but what pitches have I mastered? What do I know about this hitter that I’m pitching against, and then white? Now in this situation account, what is the best pitch that I could throw by velocity to and movement to a vocation that I have mastered and that’s that’s why pitching so emotionally drained. The truth is that the decisions that these pitchers have to make, every pitch is what drains them and if they’re doing it right, they’re doing it based on the preparation before the game, what they’re reading and studying about the hitter in the empire during the game, and then what they trust, what they know, these pitches that they could master. When we seat those together, just that’s where we have the most competent pitchers ever, right? Then when we have the, when we have the intellectual, the emotional, the mental and the physical all together and so with my consultant, with my consulting piece, that’s what I go through with these guys. The strategic pitching framework that I use with these guys is based on a mindset shift. It’s based on mastering your pitches, reading, studying hitters and game day strategy and so that’s what I do with most of my pro and college clients and getting them ready to play at the next level because when a major league decision maker, that’s going to have any kind of impact on whether you ever pitched in the big leagues. When you sit down with them and they start asking you questions, you know what I want you to do? I want my guys to give them the intellectual interest answers, not the, Hey, I throw 94. I do this and do the same cookie cutter answers. They’re going to get everybody. I want them to blow these guys away with not only in my intellectually interested, but you know what? I know that your job depends on how I pitched to and in this kind of that maturity, kind of that respect kind of. And it does. It’s just that alone, Geoff, could be the differentiator between getting from AAA to the big leagues and from the Big Leagues to have a 10-year career and a lot of it is a relationship. A lot of it is not physical talent, man. It’s relationships and being able to communicate and really, really dig deeper into the business aspects of baseball too, brother.
Geoff: Right. Let’s go back to the conversation of the intellectual, personal and emotional. So you have a guy, so you have a guy and he and he, and I’m sure you’ve had plenty of this, but he is playing because he’s good and his dad wants him to and that kind of start to lead the natural progression of Hey, I’m pretty good so I might as well pursue it, but we know that the end result this guy probably not going to be emotionally invested in now to get to the big prize and maybe it’s not a big prize. So how did that conversation go?
Darrell: Well, you know what, usually Geoff, I tell them that after I get done with the idea assessment, I just tell them and I don’t say it mean I don’t see a judgemental. I just say it for real. I asked him, Hey man, what do you really want to do? I don’t get the sense that that playing professional baseball or making it to the major leagues is really that important to you. And sometimes that’s enough to shake them and say, oh yeah, it is. And you know what? As men, we have a hard time opening up period and we surely don’t. We don’t want to admit that we’re afraid of anything. We don’t want to admit that we don’t know what we don’t know and so, so we created this culture of fake it till you make it, which I hate it. I hate that analogy and I tell them and you’re just faking it till you fail because if you don’t intellectually understand something, you’re not going to go compete against the best players in the world and it magically appear one day and so we got it so we can have all the physical skills and talents in the world, but the truth of it is, Geoff, these guys that really get it, these guys in the big leagues that dominate that, not only do they know what their physical capabilities are, they know what their limitations are, so when they, when they’re throwing pitches, they’re throwing pitches within their capability and their limitations because that is what the brain trust. That is what we can master and that’s something that becomes repeatable. Now it’s a matter of when do I throw that pitch by velocity of movement to a specific location and so if I was a pro scout or if I was running a pro organization, the the physical capabilities is the easiest piece to see and a believer or not, if the easiest piece to teach the hardest piece, the hardest piece to honestly evaluate is whether this guy is really intellectually interested because if he is, when he gets in that pro ball environment in the minor league environment and as much as they try to sell it, that it’s a team. It’s a team. It’s a team. No, it isn’t. They release guys, they released guys every day out of the organization because they can’t play. Has nothing to do with what kind of teammate that was now, uh, is that being a good teammate? Something that they should strive for? Yes, but if you want to pitch in the big leagues one day, you better be pretty good at getting hitters out to and so and so that’s the that’s the shift that has to happen in that. But when we were working with guys that are really, they don’t know whether they want to play baseball or not. That’s okay man. I’m not mad at them. I just want. I just want them to understand that if you want to be committed to the pro baseball, which is where most of my guys work in them, if we’re going to be committed to that, then you got to understand that when you saw people get fired and at the same time you could get fired too. And so we got to vote. We got to emotionally get past that so we can really get into what I call it, the strategic piece because there’s a strategic gap, I call it. We focused so much on the scout skills, what it takes to get drafted, what it takes to the scouts’ attention, what it takes to get the attention of the major league manager and GM and we forgot about how do we individualize how these guys honestly pitch. And it’s not the. It’s not these guys fault man. It’s not these players’ fault because, from the time they were 12 or 13, we’ve been granted in their head through showcases and select ball and all this other stuff that, hey, if you ain’t doing this, you’re not going to get noticed if you ain’t doing this. If you don’t throw this hard, you’re not going to get noticed and we de-emphasized actually get hitters out and then we get them. Then we get these kids drafted or we get these kids that show up at some big-time college programs and I don’t care what program it is. You can go in bullpens. That’s the best schools and there’s a bunch of 90 miles an hour arms down there and there in that open because they can’t get hitters out, has absolutely nothing to do with physical abilities. And so I think what’s happened now is every time a kid struggling that there were 93, 94 miles an hour, everybody just takes their hands off of him because they know it truly isn’t a mechanical issue because how we choose our pitches isn’t a mechanical issue. It’s not a kinetic issue. How we choose our pitches are going to be based on past experience with this hitter and it and what they literally you’re thinking while they’re standing on the rubber and the catcher plus the sign down and that’s. That’s what we got to grow these guys into, man. That’s the piece that I think is missing and it’s not this blue psychological motivation, you know to jack up uptime of stuff. It’s really just about to do they intellectually understand how they do what they do and do they intellectually prepare for the other team’s hitters based on the patterns and tendencies and habits and the things that we see and then can we correlate the two together? Can we sync that information together to create a game day strategy based on the pitches that this kid has mastered and that’s what I try to do with these guys? I’ll try to give them the master their pitches, teach them how to read and study hitters. Again, man, this is not rocket science, but when you got a sense of what that hitter’s looking for and then you can explore what that with your pitches. Now we have the chess match efficient that we love. Now we’re pitching now it’s the playoffs. That’s the kind of stuff and I love it that way.
Geoff: Yeah. So how do we make this shift?
Darrell: I think the. I think there are guys out there, I think there’s are Major League teams that starting to get it. I’m starting to see it on their questionnaires that they’re given the players. You’re starting to see them ask better questions and some of it is is, and I do it. I got guys that I’ve prepped to these interviews and I know agents are prepping their guys for the interviews, but what we got to get to is, is the business of minor league baseball is a numbers game. You know the percentage of kids that get drafted to get to the big leagues, it’s very little. It’s maybe 10 percent. So 90 percent of these kids that got the physical capability or at least have enough capability. They signed a pro contract. Most of them are never getting out of A ball and some of that is, some of that is a numbers game, but most of that is because they don’t get hitters out. It has very little to do with their physical capability. It has to do with the fact that they’re playing 140 games a year. They’re getting 20, 30, 40 times opportunity, chance to pitch, and during the times the team just ain’t seeing what they need to see to keep them in the organization. That’s the reality of the baseball side of it. Now, the opposite of this, this is the change is going to happen when coaches decide that I’m going to have better relationships with my kids and I’m not gonna force a force, a training or a mechanical philosophy down this kid’s throat. I’m going to let him instinctively physically developed and that doesn’t mean we don’t do strength conditioning or throwing programs or that, but what we’re. What we’re not going to do is force kids into an unnatural movement pattern at an early age. I honestly believe that that’s the number one reason why we have so many youth pitchers hurt is because they show a little bit of athletic ability and then we put them in with this coach who thinks that every pitcher or the throat like this, and maybe that’s not that kid’s natural arm slot at 12 or 13 years old, but we sit here and we take him to pitch and lessons two or three times a week they foresee meant to an arm slot that’s not instinctive or natural. And so now we’re putting all kinds of force on this kid’s arm and shoulder before. He’s probably at lower half strong enough to stabilize. And so now we’re just like poured gas on a fire. And so really at the younger age man, I want guys to be instinctive. And then once they start getting into high school and we see them grow and mature and into, you know, getting closer to the man that is going to be then. Then we can start adding some really specific stuff that we see. And there are some good coaches out there that have got that capability of doing these biomechanical assessments, doing the stuff. I’m all for that, but I think if we start at 13 or 14 years old before these kids even really get to puberty or get to a point and then we forced them into an unnatural movement pattern at anyway, whether it’s a lower half movement pattern or whether it’s an upper half move, a pattern. Then I think we’ve created the foundation for an injury. And so once we get past that piece of it, I think there is. And there are some good voices out there that are trying to explain that. But I think the business of youth baseball and the marketing and youth baseball has conditioned parents and these kids that if they can’t throw 90 miles an hour by the time they’re 14, 15, 16 years old, then they’re not going to a D1 school or they’re not going to get drafted. And part of that might be true. But also part of that is the reason we have a problem. Just because now we’re forcing kids to go ahead and try things that don’t feel natural or instinctive to them or they don’t even honestly trust or believe it, and so that’s the piece. When I started talking about the intellectual interests, I started talking about what is their personal desire and what’s their emotional connection to it. If those three things in place when they get into high school and we start making it about something that doesn’t feel instinctive or natural to them, then they’re going to quit. They’re going to walk away and that’s where we lose a lot of guys, men, and it has nothing to do with baseball itself. It has to do with how we make these kids feel, what kind of position we put them in and this not some woo woo baby macho crap. It’s the truth, Geoff, is the way we. The way we make them feel, how we make them think that what we make them think baseball is going to be like, and if it’s going to be this miserable, unnatural force thing. The why would I ever want to go to college and do it for four more years and under a different level of pressure.
Geoff: So what do we say to the guy? This arm slot is exactly the reason why you’re not throwing strikes.
Darrell: Well, again, I don’t think arm slot is ever why they’re not throwing strikes. I think there are times that we’re asking kids to do things that they’re not capable of doing yet and a lot of that might be strength and conditioning. Some of it is because they’re not thinking the right things when they’re standing on their rubber. They don’t understand how the grip, wrist and forearm angle, they don’t understand the release point. They don’t understand these stuff that we shouldn’t be training and that’s what we. That’s what we want to do, but we want it to be natural and instinctive. Every kid’s got different size hands. Every kid got different sides, arms and legs and strength, and so when we say here and put a cookie cutter program in place and we run all these different types of kids through it, some of them are going to be more instinctive and into that style and going to be successful, but there’s going to be this other group of kids that are just as talented as they are, but that is not the. That program is not the right fit for them and so we make them feel like that they suck or they ain’t any good because they can’t fit into our philosophy instead of the other way around, hey, let’s find some other way. Let’s adapt to something different and really turn it into. Instead of it being you being systematic into my philosophy, let’s turn it into how do we get hitters out, man. That’s why you see so many of these coaches and these-these old-timers talking about the playground. They just wished that summer ball was like it was back on the playground again or away. It wasn’t a sandbox when they were young and the reason that is Geoff is that there wasn’t any judgment, no going on. It was just winning and losing. They just played. They just went out there and played and there’s that emotional aspect of just going out there and play in because you know what happened when you’re playing against your buddies every day you learn their patterns and tendencies. You weren’t the things that they get hit and they couldn’t hit and then the next day you see them. They made an adjustment and that they made an adjustment. You tried something different. See, that’s the natural instinct that I want these pictures to have that at. The hitter does something different. They see it, they react and they try. They do something that they’re capable of doing, whether it’s changing location or whether it’s doing anything within that, and I think if you do that, then the mindset wise, I think we kind of give these kids permission to be themselves and until we can recreate that, Geoff, inside of either the academy setting are inside of the ball setting or inside of high school and coaches give these kids permission to be great athletes and do the things they do, but also give them permission to be themselves. Then I think that’s going to be the piece that kind of turns this around mindset wise because a lot of these kids are a lot more physically talented and I was when I got drafted out of high school. But mindset what mindset wise, man, they’re so stuck in that. That convinced and compare mindsets that they feel like they got to convince everybody. They meet, that they’re physically capable of playing and then they’re in this constant state of comparison against everybody else that they see or every showcase they go to or every trial they go to. And honestly, it just emotionally wears them out. And if they think that if they think they’re the best player, then they don’t have any problem. But the second that they see two or three other kids that throw harder than them and that’s what they’re all their competence, the source of their competence comes from their velocity. And now all of a sudden they go to showcase and the kids, two or three kids throw harder. Them, they feel like they suck and they ain’t no good anymore.
Geoff: Yeah. That’s a big problem at every level, the whole comparing part, you know, hell, hell, I did it whenever I played. I think most guys do. So how do we start working on the process? Because naturally, we’re gonna we’re going to run into someone who we perceive to be much better than us. And then we have kind of the self-doubt. So how do we re-frame the mine or player to say, Hey, don’t worry about them? Do you?
Darrell: Yeah, I think there’s parts of it that we got to make sure that when we, when we see here and in and start evaluating these young players, we got to be careful about what kind of measurements were honestly used it and I know nobody wants to hear that because now summer ball and select ball and all this stuff is a business and it really is. It almost mimics the minor leagues and the way that they approach it and the stuff they do except for these parents are playing a lot of money to go play and again, I’m not knocking it either decisions that parents need to make, but the reality of it is it’s that, well, we put them in that environment at 12, 13, 14 years old and we sell that as that. This is how you get recognized. This is how you get noticed. This is how you get respect from college coaches and pro scouts and we start selling that to coaches and kids and the parents and we do that and we’re a part of that system. Then we got to realize there’s a psychological effect that happens on 12, 13, 14-year-old kids that ain’t ready emotionally for that. You know, they’re still playing because they want to hang out with their friends. They’re still playing because they’d love it and most of the stuff that’s above and beyond that is based on the fact that these kids now are being judged. Just like we’re judging kids that pro-trade outs, just like we’re judging, just like we’re judging kids in spring training and we’re deciding who still make the teams and who one who’s getting cut and going home today and so we’re taking that kind of emotional consequences of it and put it on 12, 13, 14-year-old kids and the same emotional consequences that we put on 22, 23, 24-year-old men. Some of them are 30-year-old men and still, he still hates that feeling, that thought of not being good enough and getting rejected. And so again, man, we can sit here and talk about failure. We can talk about all kinds of stuff, but there’s a huge difference in trying something that didn’t work. Then try and something that makes you feel like a failure and being judged to the extent that you don’t even want to try it no more. And so we got to get past this macho crap man. This just not real. And again, is there a physical component to pitch and. Absolutely. Do I love do I love guys that can throw 94, 95? You Bet man, that is a group that is an awesome tool to have when you’re standing on the rubber. Decide what pitched to throw, but if you don’t know, if you don’t know how to use that philosophy, it’s useless. And some and sometimes Geoff, I have guys who tell me they wished they never even had that philosophy because now that now the expectations from the, from the fans and the of the scouts and the team and the parents are so great and honestly intellectually and emotionally, these kids have no idea really how to use it as a pitcher. And so man, I know that’s kind of deep and people don’t always like hearing it, but it’s the truth man is the reality.
Geoff: It is, and we’ve talked about that, this is a missing link and we got to figure out how to help more kids be where they want to be. So there are, let me ask you, you know, you got a guy who is intellectually personal and emotionally interesting. He is in, and you know he’s in but he can’t get out. So, so what now? What do we do to get this guy to understand himself and understand what have to do to get guys out?
Darrell: Great question. I want him to think strategically. Everything we do from this point then is strategic. I want him to understand his capabilities and limitations. So the first thing I try to do with these guys has put them in a mastery mode. What pictures do they throw? What pitches can they consistently by a specific velocity range in a specific movement pattern execute to certain locations? So what that lets us do is know that we got two or three pitches that we can honestly trust every pitch that we have, man is just a pitch that’s by the velocity of movement to a location. And when we can consistently locate those pitches on purpose, now we can into a strategic mindset. So now it’s not a matter of when I’m standing on that rubber whether I can physically throw this pitch or not. Now it’s a matter what do I know about that hitter? And then is this the best pitch, five velocities of movement to this location to throw right there in that count. And so what we do is we sit here and we, we identified two or three pitches that they trust and they know that they, they have the physical capability to throw it. So what I want them to do then is go into what I called mastery mode are into strategic bullpens. Now we take those pitches and refined tuned to release point, just the move location. That’s it. I want everything to be also their fastball movement pattern. And then we have just a different group, wrist and forearm and going grip pressure and release point for our pitches. And so that way that first 20 feet are coming out of their hand, the tumbling or all this stuff, these guys talk about the hitter has to make a decision that first 20 feet and we’re not showing anything. I think you’ve seen it in the playoffs this year, man, pictures, tip pitches all the time. They, they. So, so one thing that we want is not just consistency, which is what I seek a lot of these trainers do with these mechanics and all this other stuff. We’re trying to create these repeatable mechanics so it’s not a habitual pattern to the point that a hitter can sit and find some cues and clues of what this picture is about the truth. And so when we identify that piece of it, now Geoff, honestly, we can throw mastery bullpens, which means that we track our bullpens by velocity and movement to a location. And now the next step in this strategic process is, is learning how to read and study hitters. And so it’s more, it’s more than just the data. You know what? I want to see how guys react. And in every count man, what do they do? First pitch second pitch, third pitch, where they do 0-1 and 0-2. What did they do in positive counts? Negative counts. What do they do second time through the order, third time through the order? Every one of us as human beings have got patterns and habits and tendencies that we have. And so what I want all I really want these guys to do is become more sensitive to notice, especially when they’re not pitching. And so when they’re watching the other team, even in BP or anywhere else, you can seek habits and patterns and tendencies. When you see guys do things a certain way, a certain time, certain place, if they get a hit, the first at-bat, what did they do to second at-bat? If they sold it to first met where they do the second at-bat, and I know it seems almost overwhelming with the information, but what that lets us do is when we start watching games, we watch hitters differently. We’re not watching it for that. We’re not watching it for the outcome. We’re watching honestly. What that, here’s preparing what he’s thinking in the box and we’re seeing it in how he responds and I think that’s what you see the best pitchers in the world do, man. I call it situational count awareness. They know what pitches they have mastered and now they go study these hitters the best they can. They take the data from the data guys, they take the information from the baseball guys and then they see the habits and patterns and tendencies that the catcher sees and they all take all this information and it comes into part of the decision-making process when they’re standing on the rubber deciding what pitch the drill. That’s what’s, that’s the information that I want to round up and get these guys thinking about and that’s where the strategic piece comes in.
Geoff: I am Geoff Rottmayer and thank you for listening to our conversation on the Baseball Awakening Podcast. Stay tuned for part two of our conversation with Darrell Coulter tomorrow.