Here are 3 student of the game baseball quotes:
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
- Robert Frost
“This is a game to be savored, not gulped. There’s time to discuss everything between pitches or between innings.”
- Bill Veeck
“Baseball is the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good performer.”
- Ted Williams
HEADS UP PITCHING
A successful pitching coach helps the young pitcher understand the pitching process and gives him the necessary mental tools to compete. He helps the pitcher develop mental toughness. The pitcher is the person with the ball on every single play and needs to be the mentally strongest person on the field at all times. The pitching coach must teach their pitchers the fundamentals and tools to help them to play “1 pitch at a time”.
Baseball and pitching are a confidence game. 80% of college and pro ball players will say confidence is everything. The goal of the mental game is to keep your confidence as high as possible throughout the game and season. The pitching coach teaches their pitchers to take responsibility for their thoughts and actions. A confident pitcher has positive thoughts running through their mind about their abilities. Strong mental skills will lead to a pitcher being confident. When pitching slumps happen, and they will happen, having daily routines and developing consistent preparation skills build the confidence that gets you over the bumps in the road.
A great pitching coach will ask their pitchers to answer the question of “why they play baseball” and “what their mission is”. The pitching coach should make sure their pitchers daily routines match up with what their “mission” is.
I tell my pitchers all the time to “control the controllables”. The only things that a pitcher can control are the thoughts in their head, the routine they have and the pitch they are about to throw. Many actions are out of your control as a pitcher (umpires, bad defense, great hitters, weather, coaches, parents, the last pitch, etc.), but what you can control is how you react to them.
The more the coach gets their pitchers to focus on the process rather than the outcome, the more success pitchers will have. A pitching coach can teach their pitchers mental skills to help them get a routine and rhythm going. One tool that is very powerful for pitchers and all baseball players is the deep breath. This skill should be part of every pitchers “pitch by pitch” routine and will allow a pitcher to consistently perform near the best of their ability. Another tool is the power of visualization while pitching. Pitching coaches must teach their pitchers to visualize their body doing what they want it to do and where they want their pitch to go. By giving your pitchers mental toughness and relaxation & visualization tools, they will have “something to go to” during times of adversity on the mound.
Another heads up pitching idea for your pitching staff is to have your pitchers practice they way the will play in the game. The coach should stress the importance of side work to create a game like routine. It is also important for your pitchers to learn something new each day.
The last thing to remember is to not overload the pitcher with too much information at one time. Keep your teachings and drills simple so they can understand and retain what they have learned for the game. Information overload with too many skills, drills & tools won’t allow them to grow as pitchers.
A pitching coach should never make velocity a goal. The goal is to improve mechanics to the point that velocity will take care of itself. Velocity will come when all parts are working together. You should never ask a pitcher to throw harder. Command, movement and mental toughness are a much higher priority.
Pitching coaches want their pitchers to be bull dog competitors on the mound and have the burning desire to win, but don’t want the pitcher to have a macho attitude that they need to throw harder than anyone on the field. Executing “1 pitch at a time” is the job of the pitcher.
Young pitchers need to focus on other important things like letting the body help the arm throw, gaining command and movement, and improving mechanics. I am not saying velocity is not a powerful tool. It is. What I am saying is that developing pitchers to reach their full potential, whatever velocity or level, is more powerful. Pitchers win ball games and throwers throw games away.
Pitch command and the muscle memory that comes with it are easier to develop when you are not throwing at full speed. It also helps protect the arm while developing that command and extend your outings and career. So pitching coaches should regulate that effort.
The job of the pitcher and pitching coach is to give their team the best chance to win the game. The team with an experienced and knowledgeable pitching coach, along with a pitcher who can execute his motions and control his emotions will be able to compete in any game they play.
LESS IS MORE
Making sure pitchers don’t overthrow or throw too hard is an important job for the pitching coach. Pitchers may have their adrenaline flowing before a pre-game bullpen session and have a tendency to expend too much effort, miss targets and fatigue too early. A pitching motion under control is vital to developing muscle memory for good mechanics and maintaining a healthy arm over a season and career. It is very important for pitchers to get the “feel” of their pitches early in the bullpen session so they can locate their pitches in warm ups and the game. Overthrowing prevents that.
Other Pitching Coach Duties:
Many intelligent college and professional baseball people say if they could change anything in baseball, it would be the over emphasis on winning versus the development of players at the youth level and the lack of good coaching at the youth level. We agree with them.
Some youth coaches are so single-minded to win at all costs that no thought is given to the development and well being of the kids. How many times has a big pitcher controlled a game because he throws fast, but when he gets to the next level, he fades away. The question remains, Why? Maybe it was because he was never taught the correct pitching fundamentals, mechanics, mental skills and differences between being a thrower and a pitcher. With all the potential in the world, he reaches the big field and never develops into the ace he could have been because of the lack of good coaching.
We believe most youth coaches have their hearts in the right place, but they just don’t know enough to properly teach pitching. A summer baseball camp or a couple pitching lessons won’t turn your child into a great ball player. Baseball is much too hard of a game to master that quickly. The body needs to build the right kind of muscle memory and that comes only from practicing your craft. Quality coaches are needed to help sharpen their skills by teaching them correct fundamentals, baseball concepts and mental toughness needed to improve everyday on the field.
Youth coaches have to replace the “win at all cost ” mentality with the desire to learn something new every day they step on the field. They need to take advantage of the abundance of information available about coaching, baseball and important mental game theories.
In the Little League manual, it states that the volunteer coach is everything to youth baseball. The big question is: Why don’t more dads try to learn more about the game? It would do a great deal for the kids and it would do a world of good for baseball as a whole.
Michael Nassisi, 2nd season as an assistant and pitching coach at S.U.N.Y. Purchase College under head coach Bill Guerrero. Nassisi helped Purchase achieve their first 20 win season, their best record (12-4) in the Skyline Conference and their first trips to the Skyline Conference and ECAC semi-finals. With Nassisi on his coaching staff, Bill Guerrero won his 1st Skyline Conference Coach The Year.
Nassisi helped the Purchase College pitching staff to lower their team E.R.A. from a 6.24 to an impressive 3.46. Two of coach Nassisi’s pitchers threw no-hitters in 2013, the first and second no hitters thrown in Purchase’s program history. Miller Lulow (7-0) of Nassisi’s pitching staff finished #7 in the country with a 1.07 ERA, made the Skyline Conference 1st team All-Conference and won Purchase’s 1st ever Skyline Conference Pitcher Of The Year. Under coach Nassisi, freshman RHP Adam Brant received the Rookie Of The Year honor with a 2.37 ERA. The Purchase pitching staff has also reached national ranks in W.H.I.P. and Hits Per 9 IP.
During most of 2013 season the Purchase pitching staff would remain in the top 10 nationally in team ERA and would also enjoy a scoreless innings streak of 30 consecutive innings during the spring season. Offensively, Eight of the nine Purchase starters batted .290 or better to help the team average to a program best .317. Under Nassisi’s tutelage four Purchase players were named 1st team All-Conference and three named to the 2nd team for a total of seven, most in program history.
Coach Nassisi recruited 2013 Skyline Conference Player Of The Year, Ronald Echavarria. Echavarria highlighted the Skyline All-Conference 1st team and is Purchase’s 1st ever Skyline Conference Player Of The Year. Echavarria finished # 2 in the country for D3 batting average, hitting .495, along with 7 HR’s, 7 SB’ and 8 2B’s.
In 2012, Nassisi served as pitching coach and utility player for the Las Cruces Vaqueros in Las Cruces, New Mexico of The Pecos League. The Pecos League is an independent professional baseball league headquartered in Houston, Texas, which operates in cities throughout New Mexico, Colorado and Texas. Nassisi would enjoy a dream summer in New Mexico and a season that was deemed “the most successful baseball season in the history of Las Cruces,” the brilliant campaign ended with the Vaqueros falling to the Alpine Cowboys in the deciding game of the championship series. Las Cruces’ hosted it’s first ever home playoff series and would go on to sweep Roswell and make its first trip to the Pecos League Championship Series.
With Nassisi on board the coaching staff, the team went 9-5 in May; 16-12 in June; 16-12 in July; and 3-2 and August, and were the first Vaqueros team to not have a losing month for the length of the season. An even bigger accomplishment was that the Vaqueros were the only team in the entire Pecos League that did not have a losing record against any of their opponents finishing with a 6 and 4 record against Alpine, a 7 and 6 record against Roswell, a 10 and 6 record against Santa Fe, a 9 and 7 record against Trinidad, and an incredible 13 and 7 record against White Sands.
Las Cruces broke many records in a variety of individual and team categories. Pecos League MVP Steve Rinaudo set league records for RBIs (86), runs (99), doubles (24), and triples (9). 2B Randy Wells broke the Pecos League record for hits (113) and team record for batting average (.386), RF Logan Lotti hit 23 HRs to break the Pecos League record. Las Cruces broke Pecos League team records for runs scored, hits, RBIs, 2Bs, 3Bs, BA, SLG and OPS. In the process, Las Cruces set team records for wins and home fan attendance.
The Vaquero’s pitching staff was second in the league in overall pitching categories. Chris Peacock, Derek Johnson and Shawn Kale made up 3 of the top 5 Starting Pitcher E.R.A.’s in the Pecos League. Reliever Justin Yackee set a new team record for appearances with 36, and threw 38 innings with 40 K’s, a 4.19 E.R.A, while teammate Alfonso Cardenas was right on his trail with 31 appearances, 40 IP, 37 K’s and a 4.05 ERA.
13 Las Cruces players were moved up after the season, to teams like Normal Cornbelters, Abilene Prairie Dogs, Rockford Riverhawks, Gary South Shore Railcats, Florence Freedrom, Frontier Greys and Evansville Otters in the Frontier League, North American and American Associations. Vaquero’s CF Jimmy Parque was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals to play affiliated minor league baseball.
In 2013, Nassisi will serve as a northeast scout for the Las Vegas Train Robbers of the Pecos and for the seven other teams in the Pecos League. Nassisi currently serves as hitting, pitching & fielding instructor, along with personal trainer at Indoor 365 in Congers, New York, 10920. Indoor 365 is a 10,000 Square foot facility that will be home to the area’s top athletes. He enters his first season as head coach of the Rockland Astros, a highly competitive summer-collegiate baseball team playing in the N.J.A.B.L.
Michael served as the assistant and hitting coach at Nyack College in 2011 and was Nyack’s assistant and pitching coach in 2010. Nassisi served as hitting and pitching instructor at RBI Sports Baseball Facility in Valley Cottage, NY. He served as head coach for the Clarkstown Stars, 16-Under travel baseball team in 2010-11. He also was Player/Manager of 18+Over Men’s Wooden Bat League for the Nyack Yankees of the North Jersey Amateur Baseball League (N.J.A.B.L.).
At Nyack High School, Nassisi earned all-league shortstop as a sophomore and all-section SS as a senior. He went on to play at D-II Rockland Community College, where he switched from the infield to the mound, becoming the team’s closer as a freshman. He would convert 7-of-7 save opportunities with a 1.50 ERA. As a sophomore, Nassisi returned to the field and made all-region honors in center field, helping lead Rockland to back-to-back conference championships. Following his stint at Rockland, Nassisi moved on to Chico, CA to earn a B.A. degree in Kinesiology and a Teacher Credential in Physical Education.
He later served as an assistant coach for the Chico Suns, a 16/17-year-old American Legion team that finished in 2nd place in northern California. He also served as an assistant varsity coach for Chico High. That summer his resumed his playing career, winning Rookie of The Year honors for the Nor Cal Pirates.
The Pirates would go on to win the Chico League and the Pacific West Baseball League (P.W.B.L) Championships. The club finished the Spring/Summer season with a record of 47-21. Nassisi was the team’s starting third baseman, leadoff hitter and the fourth pitcher in the rotation. In 33 games, Nassisi hit .342 BA with a .420 OBP. He scored 26 runs and knocked in 18 RBI, with one homerun and 15 stolen bases. As a pitcher, he tossed 33.1 innings, posting a 5-1 record with one save, 16 Ks and a 3.24 ERA.
Here are some suggestions to remember about being a student of the game:
1) Baseball is the most difficult game to teach and play. Give the teaching of skills your highest priority.
2) The development of players and team is your most important goal. Don’t place winning higher than your player and team getting better every day. Strive to win every game, but respect the game while doing so.
3) Embrace personal growth as a coach and learn something new every day. (The stuff you can’t see in the scorebook) The details and mental nuances of the game can be difference makers.
4) Everyone likes to play the game, winning coaches and players love to practice. Practice is a great opportunity for coaches and players to learn. Prepare a structured practice where players learn and you can take something from.
5) As a coach you must remain in control of your emotions and be an example for your players during the game. There are many things you can’t control during the game, but many things you can learn from the game. Your players will react similarly to your attitude and effort. Stay positive and learn.
6) The more a coach learns the better their team will be. Teams play at a elevated level of competence when they believe their coach is superior to the opposition’s. If players think that their coach is more advanced then the opposing team’s, the team will play with more confidence.
7) Keep an open line of communication with your team. Make sure to discuss practices and games at their conclusion. This is a great opportunity for learning, to talk about what we did well, did poorly and what we need to improve upon. Always evaluate your teams performance and your coaching performance. Plan the next practice based upon your evaluation of both. Get a feel from your players through communication and never let your ego get in the way of learning from your players.
8) Become knowledgeable in all areas of baseball. You need assistant coaches, they help out tremendously, but make it your business to learn all you can about pitching, hitting, base running, catching, etc.
9) Baseball fundamentals have a variety of movements that are efficient and right. Coaches should learn what they are (just a few variations) there are correct ways to throw a baseball, pitch, hit, field and run. Learn the proper way that baseball should be played and teach your players the fundamentals that will give them the best chance to be successful, while still allowing for player’s individuality.