Social Distancing Training: The Challenge, The Solution, The Feedback
Like everyone else, Pitching Coach PRO has faced challenges as a result of COVID-19. I am not a computer guy and have spent the majority of my life on a baseball field, so I knew that if the stay-at-home order was a challenge for me, it was likely a challenge for the pitchers I train as well. It was time for us to do something for these kids who were missing the normality of school, friends, and baseball in their lives. As my wife, Jennefer, and I struggled to figure out the best way to help our pitchers, we debated on developing a virtual coaching program.
Initially, I was hesitant to begin coaching virtually because my style of coaching relies on hands-on and demonstrative instruction. However, I came to realize that this was just another test of adaptation for myself and the pitchers I train. I want to instill a mentality that pushes the pitchers to think “Why not take advantage of the stay-at-home orders to develop and get stronger mentally and physically?” By deciding to continue with virtual training, Pitching Coach PRO hopes to provide structure to our pitchers’ lives, which will be beneficial to their physical and mental health during these challenging times.
When stay-at-home orders went into effect, I sent out a general program for all the pitchers I currently worked with to help them stay in shape, as well as to let them know “We’re here, we care.” After sending out this general program, Pitching Coach PRO received a large amount of feedback that helped us to stay in touch with our pitchers and to develop programs personalized to the individual needs of existing pitchers in the program, as well as pitchers new to the program. Pitching Coach PRO is running three basic programs: Live Virtual Training, Recorded Virtual Training, and Virtual Strength Training.
Live Virtual Training
Live Virtual Training allows me to work in real-time with pitchers on FaceTime or Zoom. It is the most “hands-on” virtual training that Pitching Coach PRO is able to offer during the stay-at-home order. In this situation, one person catches, one person films, the pitcher throws, and I coach. I am able to provide live coaching to the player over the call, which allows the pitcher to make adjustments throughout the session. We even had one pitcher whose dad attached a truck bed mat to the back of their garage, and the pitcher was able to throw his bullpens there. Don’t worry, there was only one small dent left in the garage door! Ultimately, Live Virtual Training sessions have been really successful and have allowed me to provide coaching, most close to normal for our pitchers.
Recorded Virtual Training
For Recorded Virtual Training, I work with pitchers in a less personnel intensive model. The pitchers go out to a park or field and record themselves throwing their bullpens. After the player sends me the video, I am able to analyze them and schedule a follow-up session with the pitcher to discuss their pitch. Together, the player and I can go over delivery checkpoints and grips, as well as maximizing power from the lower half, stabilizing the back foot with the rubber, and staying connected. There are so many aspects of a pitch that I can analyze and help them to improve on just through Recorded Virtual Training.
Virtual Strength Training
Virtual Strength Training gives pitchers with more restrictive circumstances the opportunity to continue to grow and develop their strength, mobility, and balance. Strength training workouts have been modified to require no equipment, which gives access to all players. We are able to use stair steps for them to do a balance and load drill for pitching mobility and balance. Pitching Coach PRO customizes these weekly workout plans that can help the players to get in shape or stay in shape throughout the stay-at-home order.
Pitching Coach PRO’s goal is to provide virtual training that is actually beneficial to the pitcher and their progress. Since the stay-at-home order was put into place, we have had 100% positive feedback from our pitchers and their parents. Both pitchers and parents recognize that there are major differences in throwing by themselves, versus throwing with the help of my guidance and instruction. Some parents are even having to ice their catching hand after their player’s throws!
Throughout these difficult circumstances, I have seen growth in my pitchers and in myself. I’m learning how to communicate and explain effectively, clearly, and specifically on how pitchers should adjust their stance or hand position since I am not physically there to guide them. The pitchers, parents, and I have all adapted to the circumstances of this time. We are excited to see the pitchers’ progress and consistency throughout this challenging time! With that being said, I think it’s safe to say we are all ready for baseball!