This blog is a running update on our fall program and a look inside the ins and outs of what we do with our teams. Colorado Rogue Baseball Club is a player development focused program, which provides our players with game reps and next level exposure opportunities on the weekends, and supplements those games with high level, position specific practices during the week. We believe in doing the majority of our coaching during practices, and using the games to let players show their skills, and learn from their successes and failures in order to continue to drive development process forward. This is especially true in the fall as we devote our coaching resources to accurately recording important game data to use in future practice sessions. For the fall of 2020, we have two teams which we have labeled Upperclass (primarily 2021 and 2022 graduates), and Underclass (2023 and 2024 grads). Below is a daily rundown of what is going on in our program.
END OF FALL COACHES MEETING
October 30th, 2020: Ryan Serena – Program Director/Upperclass Head Coach/Infield Coordinator
To wrap up the fall season, our coaching staff made it a point to get together and discuss the fall season, going over what we felt went well and things that we may need to adjust for next fall. Because the fall is such a fast paced and often hectic season for us, we rarely get a chance to all together put things on the table, so this opportunity was great as it facilitated a lot of good discussion about the positives and negatives of our approach. In addition, it allows coaches to offer their perspectives on ares of the game that may not be their responsibility. This piece is especially important because our coaches work so diligently and take so much ownership within their areas of expertise, that we often don’t get the perspectives of the other guys that may be seeing things from an outsider’s perspective. In my specific case, many logistical or organizational items that I feel are the best way to do things were brought up and suggestions were made on how these things could be adjusted. It is important for us within our coaching staff that we create a culture where we can make decisions and trust that there is buy-in throughout the fall, while simultaneously taking ideas for improvement in order to get better in the future. This is the reason for the growth of our program and the growth of the coaching staff, because we are always looking to improve upon what we are doing. Below are the notes that we kept during this coaches meeting, with topics ranging from specifics on charts and data we can adjust, to general items like improved communication or better implementing pre-game routines. It is all of these little pieces that hold our program together, so making sure that they are discussed and adjusted as necessary is extremely important to me.
FINAL HITTING REPORTS
October 29th, 2020: Brandon Baeckel – Assistant Hitting Coordinator
As we wrap up a successful 2020 Fall season, players will receive hitting reports from Hitting Coordinator Jordan Serena and myself evaluating their performance from the beginning of the fall to the conclusion of the fall. These reports contain comprehensive feedback to the players through practice and game data, along with feedback from coaches. Here’s an example of what an end of the year Hitting Report looks like.
A player’s movement is evaluated by hitting coaches and is scored on a grading scale of 2-8 (2 being unsatisfactory and 8 being exceptional). Along with a grading scale, players can see additional comments in the “notes” section to elaborate on that grade.
- Ball striking- how hard a player hits the ball from a data driven perspective as well as a visual perspective.
- Efficient Sequencing- how well the body works as a unit from the time the swing starts to when it finishes.
- Bat Path- how well the player gets his bat on plane with the baseball and how efficient that plane is throughout the swing.
- Posture- how well the player puts his body in a strong, solid, and balanced position from start to finish.
- Timing- how well the player creates timing with his load to make solid contact with all pitches.
Players were also evaluated on their movement skills at the beginning of the year and have the ability to compare this feedback to their end of the year results.
The Rapsodo machine mainly compiles data in a practice setting. Most of the time the player compiles this data off the pitching machine. This data includes numbers such as launch angle, exit velocity, ball rotation and more. It also tracks the ball’s flight path in the cage and predicts the outcome of where the ball will be hit directionally and the distance.
This section of the report shows a chart compiling data recorded from the blast sensor in a practice setting. This data includes bat speed and efficiency sequencing of a swing.
Throughout the fall, hitting coaches were responsible for compiling data in a game situation. This chart shows the results of that data. Players can look back and see their results on a deeper level, rather than looking at the more conventional numbers such as batting average or slugging percentage.
Bringing It All Together
Players then can see the comments that coaches leave that elaborate on all the data compiled in the hitting report.
The end of the year hitting report is one of the best visual and analytical tools for players to look at at the end of a season to become more successful in the future.
ROGUE UPPERCLASS VS. ROGUE UNDERCLASS
October 24th, 2020: Ryan Serena – Program Director/Upperclass Head Coach/Infield Coordinator
For the final day of our fall this year, we decided to pit our Upperclass and Underclass teams against each other for bragging rights within the program. Seeing as it was the last day of the fall and snow moved in immediately this evening, it was great for our guys to get one more good day out on the field! We made it a lengthy day, with both teams taking on field batting practice prior to playing 14 innings worth of Baseball. Instead of playing this game straight up, we decided to create a “Skins Game” (not shirts and skins like many players initially thought). The following rules allowed for each inning to be treated as a separate entity, and for the game to stay competitive throughout the day.
3 outs or 6 hitters per half inning
Offense awarded a point for the batter reaching base, and for scoring a run
Multiple runs scored creates a point multiplier (ex: 4 runs = inning’s points x4)
Each inning is worth one skin, with the total points winner that inning receiving the skin.
If an inning ends in a points tie, the skin rolls over to the next inning
Two 7 inning games, first team to win four skins wins the game.
If games 1 and 2 are split, the tiebreaker is the team with the highest total point score on the day.
The format above, while very non-traditional, forced a few different focuses.
- Resetting the point total each inning allowed for an environment where each at bat held importance, even if one team was dominating in the total point score. The fact that each game could at max end up with a 7-0 skins score ensured that things were kept competitive throughout the day.
- Awarding points for baserunners made each at bat important for hitters, as well as forcing the defense to make routine plays.
- Awarding points for runs emphasized aggressiveness at the plate and on the bases, and creating a multiplier for 2+ run innings rewarded the team that drove balls and did damage.
- Maxing each half inning out at 6 hitters also served as a way to encourage aggressiveness on the offensive side of the ball, with the teams that attacked and capitalized early able to do more damage. This also ensured that the game moved along if innings got out of hand.
In all honestly, this format was mainly adopted in order for the Underclass team to keep pace with the Upperclass team, however they did more than that! The young guys dominated in Game 1, winning by a score of 6-1 and playing a very clean game defensively while putting together a ton of quality plate appearances. In Game 2 the upperclass rebounded and won by a score of 4-3, earning a split on the day. The day came down to the tiebreaker of total points scored, which went to the Underclass team by a score of 110 to 95 on the day, earning them the victory. Overall it was a competitive and enjoyable day to finish up our fall season.
ROGUE HITTING PRACTICE
October 20th, 2020: Jordan Serena – Hitting Coordinator
Each Rogue hitting practice has a goal to simultaneously improve players’ hitting ability and movement quality while preparing them for the game environment. The plan routinely consists of movement work, both with medicine balls or other implements, and using constraints off the tee to induce a positive change with a challenging variable to begin. From there, we move to blend what we are working on early in practice to a more game environment.
The middle section of practice introduces baseballs in the air, always to include some added constraint to shrink the feedback loop. One of the two cages will have overload/underload trainers with short toss or BP to improve bat speed ability and proprioception. This cage is often paired with hitting plyos, balls that must be squared up in the middle well to see good flight providing hitters with instant feedback on their contact quality. This section, hitters often see mixed rounds of fastballs and off speed to begin blending our work to the game environment.
The most difficult part of team hitting training is blending new learned skills into the game. We tackle this issue by showing hitters live at bats every session they have in the cage using our coaching staff as our pitchers alongside facing game speed pitches off the machine. Hitters compete daily against their teammates to achieve Quality Plate Appearances (QPA’s) in an innings format. Three at bats in the half inning switches the cages to give the other team their chance off the live arm. This gives us the opportunity to evaluate their game skills in a low pressure environment where we can take our observations and apply them immediately after without risk of affecting a ball game.
Swing and batted ball data is collected using Blast Motion and Rapsodo over the course of the fall and used regularly to get a better clue where players could improve from an objective perspective. Full reports are offered to players who request them who may be familiar with the specifics or who would like to send their data to colleges.
Rogue hitters are challenged likely more than they ever have been on a daily basis. Success in the game is typically much less common than hitters are used to finding in practice. We believe exposing them to the challenges of game hitting will give us a better idea of how to help them and increase their chances of finding success in the game.
A QUICK CONVERSATION WITH 2021 GRAD ELIJAH BORJAS
October 18th, 2020: Colorado Rogue Baseball Staff
Elijah Borjas joined our program this summer after training with us last winter, and has made a huge impact on the field in his two seasons. Elijah has been a stalwart in the Rogue lineup, breaking multiple program hitting records this summer, as well as displaying his ability on the mound touching 87 MPH and continuing to become more consistent. Elijah has drawn some interest from a number of different schools this fall, so we asked him to dive into the recruiting process a little bit deeper, as well as describe how being a part of Rogue Baseball has benefitted him.
Colorado Rogue: You have received interest from multiple schools, including an offer from a school just this past weekend. What are the main things you have done this year in order for that to happen?
Elijah Borjas: Some things that I have done to get to the point I am right now is work hard and listen to the coaches. They can see things that I can’t and they know more about mechanics than me. Also the weight room has been a big part throughout my high school career.
Rogue: How has Rogue helped you to accomplish your goals of playing at the college level?
Borjas: I wouldn’t be where I am today without Rogue. They have helped me so much in so many ways. Physically, mentally, the way I play etc. They have put 10 mph on my fastball in just a year. I used to not hit at all for my highschool and I hit .425 this past season. And it’s all thanks to them.
Rogue: What would you tell a younger high school player that has aspirations of playing college baseball?
Borjas: I would tell a younger high school player to put work into the weight room if you want play at the next level. I never listened to my coaches telling me to lift becasue I thought it would mean anything. But once I started going everyday, I started to notice little changes. That is the only thing that I did going into sophomore year. Everything else will come has you get older. Lifting is the most important thing.
Rogue: Tell us more about the recruiting process and some of the things you have learned throughout your high school career and into this fall.
Borjas: After my sophomore year I had a highlight video of a game that I pitched in Arizona and it was my best outing so far. Every night me and my dad will send it to 2-3 colleges. Some nights it would only be my dad sending it out. Some colleges emailed back but nothing too serious. Then we made a mid-summer video this year and that’s when colleges really started to show interest and I got my first offer. We still sent them out and colleges started wanted me to visit their schools.
Individualized Throwing Programming with TRAQ and Motus
October 16th, 2020: Dillon Moritz – Pitching Coordinator
We have been using a variety of tools this fall to help our players work on their personal development while competing in games. The fall is a busy time for our athletes. They are dealing with online/ in-person school due to COVID-19, working out, practicing 3 times per week and playing games on the weekend. We use Driveline’s TRAQ software to help schedule our players throwing each week.
We program for each day of the week whether they are practicing at our facility, practicing at a field or practicing at home. They will always have something in their TRAQ to help keep their arms in the best shape possible while navigating their personal schedules. We also use Motus Sleeves to track arm health and workload. Motus sleeves allow us to accurately decide how much our pitchers can throw each day and keep their arms safe while doing so. The sleeves have a chip that sits on the forearm, which measures arm speed, arm slot, shoulder rotation, and arm stress. The sleeve counts how many throws were executed and keeps track of daily load (valgus stress on the elbow), acute workloads (weighted nine day average of daily load) and chronic workloads (rolling twenty eight day average of daily load). This data creates an A/C ratio (acute to chronic workload ratio). We use this number to program safely each week.
The sleeve also uses all of this data to give the athlete a daily WORKLOAD (total sum of valgus torque on the elbow that day). On top of all that, we can figure out a workload unit for each individual type of throw (Long toss, bullpen, game, plyos). This allows us to prescribe accurately how many different types of throws they can do each day. Here’s an Example: John is on our fall team. John has a safe A/C ratio of 1.0 (Safe stress level A/C ratios are between 0.8-1.3) before practice starts. His chronic workload is 11.3 (in-season chronic workloads should be between 10-14). meaning he has thrown consistently over the last two months. John throws safely each week because his A/C ratio is in the correct range. His prescriptive one day workload is 25. He is safely allowed to use 25 workload units to keep him on the right track.
John has a bullpen today. Here is John’s prescribed program:
–Plyo throws x 30 (.14 wl units per throw) 4.2 wl units
–Longtoss throws x 40 (.20 wl units per throw) 8 wl units
–Bullpen – 45 pitches (.26 wl units per throw) 11.7 wl units
–Total = 115 throws, 23.9 wl unitsBenefits from using the motus sleeve: We know John is safe because he stayed below 25 total workload units, and we were able to accomplish a lot in the bullpen since he was able to throw 45 pitches. In addition, we know what to program moving forward to make sure he is feeling his best by the weekend games. Motus takes the guesswork out of safely programming and TRAQ makes programming extremely organized/simple.
THE ROGUE BASEBALL CULTURE
October 15th, 2020: Brandon Baeckel – Assistant Hitting Coordinator
Iron sharpens iron. Most people attach this saying to athletic programs, weight lifting programs, teams, etc. Often times it gets thrown around to the brink of being considered cliche. Indeed, iron does sharpen iron, but when it comes to programs being a step above, Colorado Rogue Baseball most certainly has that “it” factor. I’ve been coaching since 2017 after a calling to better my knowledge of the game and pass it on to the next generation. Playing college baseball really puts, what a few of us call, “the eye test” to the test. When you roll up to the field off the bus or you see the opposing team roll off the bus, most players can tell right away what they are in for. Rogue Baseball most certainly passes “the eye test.” As an opposing coach or player, it is somewhat intimidating. When it comes to your program, you want to be the one doing the intimidating.
I had the opportunity to coach against Rogue Baseball in the summer of 2020 and from the get go I knew there was something different about the team. I showed up to the field at the usual time, an hour and thirty minutes before an 8 am game time. By the time 6:45 am rolled around Rogue was already stretching, doing weighted ball throws, and band work. It’s something as simple as promptness and efficiency that really catches the eye of any baseball coach, player, scout or fan. I immediately wanted to be a part of what was going on at Rogue.
I was lucky enough to have Ryan Serena as an assistant coach when I was transitioning from high school to college baseball. I took a shot asking Ryan for a job opportunity and it took off from there. I am now the Assistant Hitting Coordinator at Rogue Baseball Performance.
Being a part of three separate college programs allowed me to get multiple perspectives on how every program is ran differently. Rogue Baseball, regardless of the age group we target, gears towards preparing kids for that next step: college and pro baseball. When you walk into the facility any time from 8 am-8 pm there is never a point where someone isn’t weight training, going through their throwing program, hitting in the cage, getting individual/group training in, or getting treatment. That goes from nine year olds to current professional players. As a coach or player nothing makes you feel more confident in your program then young kids working along side college and professional athletes. Hard work breeds hard work. Leaders breed leaders. Success breeds success.
As coaches, we have the pleasure to watch young men develop into exceptional players and young men. We put a lot of that on the players themselves to find ways to become successful, along with our help, throughout the whole process. They have the tools, the technology and the talent to play the game for a long time. Each practice or game on the field is focused on growth. That growth may come right away or it may take some time. Regardless, the process is something that we focus on the most. This includes tracking statistics, next gen stats and tendencies. Along with that, we teach kids how to apply that to practices and games to become a better player.
The culture that Rogue provides is unmatched. Whether you’ve been around the facility and coaches since a young age or have just begun like myself, the feeling that you’re going to get better every day you come in is unavoidable. A kid can look up at the banners hanging around the facility as soon as he walks in the door and most certainly say, “I can be a part of one of those baseball clubs one day.”
October 14th, 2020: Joey Widhalm – Underclass Head Coach/Outfield Coordinator
This fall we have been working hard on improving individual outfield play. Outfield is often overlooked in the younger years and a lot of players/coaches are happy with just making a catch in the outfield. Beyond that there is not much work done with outfielders on individual skills. We are teaching outfielders to break down their individual performance and giving them tools to become better players in the outfield. Here are some of our big foundational skills we have been working on:
1) Meaningful 1st step:
We want to settle into a good position for our 1st step. On contact we have worked hard on getting a read before we take our 1st step. Often outfielders will panic with their first step before they get a good read and end up having to correct that mistake which takes more time/more steps. If we get a good read and take a meaningful first step, we end up saving ourselves time and getting a direct route.
2) Depth on our first step:
Building off of our meaningful 1st step, we are working on gaining ground with our 1st step. When we can gain ground on our first step we get to balls quicker and are able to take more appropriate angles to ground balls and fly balls.
3) Routes/Momentum to target:
Whether we are attacking a fly ball or a ground ball, we want to give ourselves the best chance possible to make a strong throw. This is done by taking an angle that allows us to start our momentum towards the base/cut we are throwing to. Our goal is to attack the backside of the ball where we are fielding so that we have direction toward where we are throwing.
4) Running to a spot:
We have also been doing a lot of work on running to a spot. A lot of beginners in the outfield do a lot of drifting to catch fly balls or field ground balls. The problem with this is that if we make a bad read and are drifting, our chances to make a play are lower. Another big issue with this is that our momentum is continuing on that angle you took to the ball so to make a throw to a base you are having to completely stop and redirect your body. We are trying to run to a spot BEHIND where the ball is going to be so that we can start our momentum towards where we are throwing before we catch/field the ball.
5) Fielding while moving THROUGH the ball
We are focusing heavily on catching/fielding while keeping our body moving. We do not want to catch or field with “dead” feet. If we can field and exchange all on the move, our throws will get where we need them much faster.
6) Low throws- Long Hop No Hop
We have put a big emphasis on keeping throws below a “ceiling”. Not only do high throws not give our infielders much of a chance, they look bad and allow runners to more easily advance. If we are throwing through to a base, it needs to get there in the air, or have a good long hop that infielders have a great chance to handle. We are trying to keep our throws below a ceiling and in a “window”.
These are some of the “big ideas” we have been working with and drilling this fall. With these big ideas we have become better. more rounded outfielders!
COACH ROLES DURING FALL GAMES
October 9th, 2020: Ryan Serena – Program Director/Upperclass Head Coach/Infield Coordinator
Our approach to games in the fall is different than anybody we have run into this fall (or any other fall for that matter), however we are big believers in this process. Our general philosophy in the fall…
Coaches do the majority of their coaching in the practice setting, so that players can play the game more organically, without relying on coaches to dictate what should be done during the game.
During the games in the fall, we feel it is the role of the coach to step back and be a very careful observer of what is going on during the games, in order to dictate what the training environment needs to look like for each individual player, and the team as a whole during the next week of practice. Below are the roles that our coaches take on during the fall season in order to gather as much useful information about our guys as possible.
Head coaches Ryan Serena (me) and Joey Widhalm take on a couple of different roles during the games. The first is to write out the lineup prior to, as well as move players in and out of defensive positions throughout the course of the game. In the fall, we use a rolling lineup where we try to get all of our guys a very similar number of at bats, and we freely substitute our guys on defense throughout each game, working to keep those inning relatively even as well. This keeps everybody involved and getting their reps each game, which is ultimately the most important part of the fall. The head coach keeps a detailed innings played sheet in order to facilitate both the lineup and the defensive positions that our guys are playing, and uses that to influence lineup decisions. When our teams are on defense, the head coach will set the defensive alignment for the next inning, so that the guys can check when they come off the field.
While we are hitting, our head coach’s role is to get video of all of our hitters at bats. This has been an awesome way to provide our players and our hitting coaches with full view of the at bats that we take in game, so that they can evaluate and adjust. We utilize the Hudl Technique app to do this, which instantly uploads the video into the cloud and shares it with our guys, so they can look at their at bats immediately after games if they wish. This also provides us with great footage to use for recruiting videos. Our head coaches are also defensive minded guys, with myself working with our infielders and Joey working with outfielders. Prior to the game we facilitate defensive drill work, ground balls and fly balls, and during the game make detailed notes on the things we are seeing defensively, so that we can work on them the following week.
Our program has three pitching coaches, Dillon Moritz, Ryan Christian and Jordan Price, that alternate between the two teams. At every game we have one of those guys present and who is responsible for a few different things. Pitching Coordinator Dillon Moritz lays out our innings prior to the weekend, so that the head coaches and the pitchers know what innings they will be throwing. Presetting total pitch counts and innings allows the pitchers to be prepared, the head coach to lay out the lineup accordingly, and for us to keep our guys healthy (especially with a lot of two way players). The pitching coach that is at the game is responsible for getting the starter ready to pitch through his pre-game work and his bullpen, as well as talk through necessary adjustments in between innings, assisting in cool down protocols once they are done with their innings, and helping the next guy get ready to go if need be. While we are pitching, the pitching coach takes a player or two behind the plate and charts our pitcher, as well as getting game video on select pitches to evaluate later on. The chart tracks the count, the pitch type, the velocity, the result, and the quality and type of contact. This view from behind the plate provides great insight into what our pitcher is and isn’t doing, and we can take this data and use it in the practice setting later on.
We have two designated hitting coaches in our program, hitting coordinator Jordan Serena and hitting coach Brandon Baeckel. Similarly to the pitching coaches, we make sure that one of these guys is at each game to focus in on our hitters. The hitting coach’s job is to get our guys their swings in the cage before the game, which we can use as an extra practice instead of simply just a warmup. During the game, the hitting coach charts from the dugout so that he can have conversations with hitters. The hitting chart tracks almost the exact same information as our pitching chart takes. (See above). We are able to use that data to help our guys understand their at bats and influence practice sessions (see Jordan’s post below).
While at minimum we make sure to have three coaches at each game, most of the time there are more, including defensive coach Logan Serena who serves as a jack of all trades and keys in on what our infielders and outfielders are doing, and Zac Stout who is our catching coach and watches how these guys are translating their weekly catching work into game situations. Many times we have had both hitting coaches present, or multiple pitching coaches there, proving just how dedicated and passionate this staff is about player development and providing our guys with the best instruction possible. By staffing our games with the guys who are experts in each area of the game, we are able to tighten the feedback loop and build practices and training sessions in a way that reflect what really is happening on the weekends, instead of just guessing.
USING IN GAME HITTING DATA TO INFLUENCE PRACTICE SESSIONS
October 8th, 2020 – Jordan Serena – Hitting Coordinator
One of the most common mistakes made in baseball training is practicing to get good at practice. It is imperative that a training program works backwards from field performance to evaluate how a player is hitting and what needs to be adjusted to improve his play. At Rogue, we accomplish this in 2 ways: Diligently tracking game performance and how it relates to pitches seen and types, velocity, contact quality, and ball flight, and also programming practice to recreate what is required of us in the game environment.
Below is the spreadsheet for what is charted during the game.
- Pitch type: 1 for fastball, 2 for any offspeed pitch
- Result: Ball, Strike, or K for balls not in play. The number of bases earned for any hits or balls in play, including 0.
- Detail: Miss, Take, or Foul (to include Chase in the future) for strikes. For balls in play, the launch angle is used on a scale of 1-4 (Ground, Line, Fly, Pop)
- Contact: Contact quality on balls in play on a scale of 1-3.
This sheet is simple and easy to take during the game. A coach or player is behind the plate while we hit to gather the velocities of the opposing pitcher and relays a sign to the dugout to chart it.
The data this simple chart puts out is immense and detailed and is most useful for creating a practice environment that closely mirrors the game. It also allows coaches to assist players individually with what they may need in addition to what is on the slate for team practice.
Below is a picture of the resulting data this chart gives us:
This chart has given us useful information already, as we have learned that we practice on the machine on fastballs that are much faster than our guys usually see in the games. The average velocity of fastballs that our Upperclass team has seen this fall is 73.8 MPH, our machine BP typically starts at 80 and works upwards to train skills that are going to scale, but adjusting to the environment players are seeing now is just as important.
This data has also shown the continuing need for hitters to be in a YESYES mindset as the ball is being delivered, shown by a strong correlation between strike-swing % and AVG, SLG, and ISO, something we teach on the regular basis noticing how passiveness commonly creeps into the box with many hitters.
Training and sticking to a process is of utmost importance, however, creating that process around what the game and our hitters need from us trumps all. Sticking to a process that doesn’t translate to the game for too long can create a worse outcome than not having one.
USING TRAQ TO SHARE MEDIA
October 6th, 2020 – Ryan Serena – Program Director/Upperclass Head Coach/Infield Coordinator
With all of the players in our program, we utilize TRAQ, which is an advanced player development platform from Driveline Baseball that allows us to share programs, track and store relevant data in all areas of the game, and share media that we think would benefit our guys. The ability to share information through a platform like TRAQ is very valuable for us in the “club” baseball setting, because we don’t get to see all of our guys everyday in the same location like you would in the high school, college and professional ranks. Especially in 2020, the guys having a virtual home base is awesome. More to come on the other awesome features that TRAQ provides us later.
I recently came across a great video of a young Dominican infielder taking ground balls in the street in the DR (above). This video is awesome because it really gives our guys a good close up look at the footwork, hands and quick and clean actions that we are looking to achieve as infielders. Many of the things we have spoken about this fall, like getting the hips on the side of the baseball on the approach, a good early glove, exchanging the ball in the center of the body, and quickly getting the hips in line with the target after the catch are all on display here. I am a big believer in the process of watching somebody perform the skill that you want to implement, and trying to repeat those actions on your own. Good close up video of infielders is not as easily accessible as hitting and pitching videos tend to be, and you almost never see infield video of non big league players, so being able to share a player close to our guys’ age is valuable as well. The hope is that our guys can keep this and refer back to it when they are evaluating their own video, as well as spark a conversation at our next infield workout on the things this young guy does that makes him look so “smooth”. Logistically, we have a Media folder setup in TRAQ where we drop videos like this for the guys, check it out below.
THE INFIELD MENU
September 30th, 2020 – Ryan Serena – Program Director/Upperclass Head Coach/Infield Coordinator
I had the opportunity to sit down with one of our underclass infielders Brayden Stufft, and talk to him more in depth about the fall season and how we run the training side of our program, specifically the infield practice portion. Brayden mentioned that he likes our approach of allowing players to have a large say in what they want to work on, and dictate how their specific practice looks. We as coaches have tried to provide our players with a basic template about how the practice progression should look, and introduce drills within those portions of the progression that players can work through, with our guidance. To us, this is the correct way to do it, especially in the fall, as it allows the players to take ownership in their own development and gain a deeper understanding of what their weaknesses are and how to attack them. As Brayden shared his understanding and enjoyment of this approach, he mentioned that it would be easier to remember and execute the drills we have talked about if he was able to see it. He then mentioned the word “Menu” and the infield menu was born!
As you can see, the menu is broken up into a number of different sections that guide players through the infield progressions that we believe in. Throwing progression, warmup drills, workup drills, position specific focused and live work. In addition, we remind the guys of some of the different implements that are available to them such as paddle gloves, small gloves, and ankle/wrist weights. We also have laid out different variances that can be used during drill and live work including hops, catch lanes, ball speeds and targets. This is by no means a comprehensive list of things that we can do with infielders, however this list gives our guys a bunch of different options while still keeping things relatively simple. The ability for them to show up, look at the menu, and start to design their own practice is an important piece of our infield work this fall, and allows us as coaches to put our focus into helping the guys master the pieces that they want/need to work through. Players also have this picture run their TRAQ profile, so that they can refer to it at any point they are doing work on their own.
PATHWAY BASEBALL ARIZONA RECAP
September 22nd, 2020: Ryan Serena – Program Director/Upperclass Head Coach/Infield Coordinator
This past weekend had our underclass team with their first off weekend of the fall, while our upperclass team traveled to the Phoenix area to participate in the Pathway Arizona tournament. Pathway Baseball is the high school branch of Triple Crown Baseball, and their director Gino Grasso is a friend and does a great job putting these events together. We participated in two Pathway tournaments in the summer, and this most recent one in AZ this fall. One of the big draws is that Gino and his staff do a great job of getting college coaches out at their events, from schools that have been (to this point) realistic fits for our players. A list of attending schools is usually sent prior to the tournament, and we encourage our guys to reach out to these coaches with an introduction and a link to their SportsRecruits profile, in which they can provide all of their athletic and academic information, as well as game and practice videos for coaches to use as a reference. Below is the list of schools that attended the tournament in AZ this weekend.
Azusa Pacific University, Bakersfield College, Central Baptist College, East Los Angeles College, Lincoln University, Post University, Ottawa University (AZ), Benedictine University Mesa, Cochise College, Gateway CC, Glendale Community College, Chandler-Gilbert CC, Oklahoma Wesleyan University, Cerro Coso Community College.
Footnote: Scouts from all 30 MLB teams were in attendance this weekend to watch an outfielder from California who is a projected first rounder next year. Further proof that if you are good enough, they’ll come watch you play.
PRACTICE PLANNING AND ORGANIZATION
September 15th, 2020: Ryan Serena – Program Director/Upperclass Head Coach/Infield Coordinator
To this point, each of our two teams have played three weekends worth of games, while each player has been at about 12-14 practices depending on his position. It usually takes a few weeks to get a really good handle on where we do and do not struggle in game situations, and where each player needs to really put his focus. Armed with more accurate information, we are now working to tailor what we do in the practice setting to what each player needs. One of the biggest focuses on the infield and catching sides of things has been encouraging each player to take more ownership in understanding his strengths and weaknesses, and encourage him to drive the process forward by working in those areas. We have found that to be very beneficial on a number of fronts, both creating a more aware player and also a more motivated player. These young guys are so used to having coaches tell them every little thing that they are going to do that day, that the freedom to make some of those decisions on their own really seems to keep them engaged. While this approach seems to take a little longer to make specific changes, our belief is that by forcing the player to be the catalyst, the growth will be more sticky and their ability to coach themselves will be enhanced in the long run.
When developing players, we talk about Tools, Actions and Gameability as the three areas that we want to focus on in the training environment. To this point, our defensive practices have been focused on reps and skill development in a position specific setting, really keying in on the Tools and Actions pieces. While this will continue to be our overall approach in the fall, watching 10+ games for each team it has made it pretty clear that we need to spend some time doing some team defense and working on the Gameability aspect of things as well in order for players to truly get better at the playing of game. Today we will have the older group outside on the field, and after going through our warmup and throwing protocols, we will spend the practice simulating game situations with live hitters/baserunners, in order to actively coach guys through situations that arise. Myself and coach Logan Serena will be the primary coaches of the position players on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, while coach Dillon Moritz will facilitate the game and key in on the roles of the pitchers in the live game setting. This will be a great setup for us because we can stop the “game”, explain situations and field any questions from players who may be confused. If need be, we can simulate that situation and run though it again until guys are comfortable. Today will be a very good example of using the context of what we learn in games to create an environment that addresses drive the development process.
The last thing to share is our weekly practice plan. Each week has different things that come up, so this varies from week to week. Our players now expect this on Sundays or Mondays, so that they can plan their lifts (all players lift with Push Performance), schoolwork and social lives.
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