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I've got a local ex-minor leaguer that instructs in the area telling me basically that if you've never played pro ball and went through the drills you'll never know how to teach baseball. The way he put it was "All the books and videos along with the clinics and seminars aren't worth anything". I offered him some info on a particular drill that I thought would help him and he took it the wrong way. This is what started this discussion.

Am I wrong to say he is wrong?. Does that mean that no coach should be teaching baseball unless they've played pro ball because they dont know what they are doing? I am lost! Help me!

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No u are not wron. I'm a minor league player myself. We have plenty of top hitting coaches that never made it to proball. Furthermore I know of many coaches in pro ball that have not played at the major league or pro level. I also feel that every hitter learns in their own way. Some videos and books do give some good insight on different styles and techniques. Most players I play with listen to what the hitting coach says take what they understand from that and try to implament it during drills and if doesn't work u tell them it doesn't work for me. Then u move on and try different things. As for saying u don't know cause u didn't play or someone didn't play is not right from my point of view. Some of the greatest hitters in the game ie Ted Williams were terrible hitting coaches. Some people just know how to get a lessons or technique across in a more understanding way for each individual person to understand.
Well, there might be something to that if you are supposed to prepare your players for pro ball, but if your job is instead to teach them how to play baseball well or better, resulting in more victories, less injuries, better play and all on the level you are with them, the statement does not even start to make sense.

If you would be training new baseball players, say people switching from softball or another sport or young kids, pro experience could actually be a handicap, as it may make it harder to go back to the grass-roots starting level and forget that you are playing and teaching baseball on the level you are actually working on. Just imagine, for instance, having this Pro-Ball is All attitude AND having to coach a girl team.
As a training facility and one who has had to let go quite a few "Pro" players who wanted to be trainers....all I can say is that this minor league player has some issues if he is not willing to learn how to train others using different methods.

Communicating and helping your student to understand what needs to be done to accomplish their goals is the key to being a good trainer. Books, videos, clinics, and seminars can enhance your knowledge...but it certainly helps if you have played the game to some degree! And you certainly cannot use the same methods for each player you work with. You need the knowledge to know that everyone is wired differently, their bodies are different, and they process information differently.

Sadly, there are many coaches, player/coaches, trainers who just think they know it all. Given time, they will learn they don't and their students will figure that out too.

I continue to look for and study new information, drills, give to my "pro" trainers to make sure they are up on the technology and developments of the game. When you think you know everything and become complacent in your knowledge, you will not last long as a trainer.

Did you do wrong? Absolutely not! Hopefully this trainer will choose one day to listen to others and learn to eat the meat and throw out the fat!
Here's my 2 cents. I think neither of you are wrong. I think their are plenty of people that can teach the game of baseball that have never dawned a professional team uniform. I know my Little League Coach (RIP-Bob Selna) and my college coach current University of Arizona Head Coach Andy Lopez never played pro ball and they taught me some valuable things about the Game.

I also see the point of view of the ex-pro player. I'm in the instruction business and I see lots of people profiting off baseball that have no baseball background. Basically these guys are "used-car salesmen" (nothing against people who sell used cars for a living). They have a fancy website and uniforms, but can they tell your kid how to make an adjustment at the Plate or on the Mound.

What it comes down to is parents should do their homework before spending their hard earned money. Contact people that have used the instructor, visit their facility, and find out who does the instructions etc.

Hope this helps.

Jalal Leach
Baseball Mentoring Program
My favorite quote is from the immortal Socrates, who stated, "Knowledge is knowing that you know NOTHING..."

The neverending pursuit of baseball knowledge lies not only in the nuts and bolts of skills and drills, but in the experience playing and coaching over periods of time. As we are in the information era, more and more people who've never played baseball past high school are becoming more knowledgable about the mechanics involved in pitching, hitting, fielding, etc. It is actually a breath of fresh air to see the game's knowledge base widening so greatly that its fun to watch younger 11-13 year olds playing "big boy" baseball. (leadoffs, picks, steals, etc).

Don't be lost! This is someone telling you that if you didn't go to Culinary School, you can't bake a cake!! Hogwash. I've seen parents immerse themselves in video, books, internet to educate themselves enough to create great baseball players. Heck, if Chris Lincecum had listened to this bozo, I'm sure his son wouldn't be having the career he is having today. Turn around and ask Vladimir Guerrero about hitting mechanics...I'm sure you'll get a blank stare and an explanation that it's all about "see ball, hit ball".

I do feel that there is (or can be) too much "surface" instruction. Instruction that is done based on information that is read or watched but without fully being able to understand and explain the concept of what they are teaching. Mechanics are taught that are not fully understood (like throwing a curveball), and then the danger lies in not being able to closely observe flaws that may arise...what experience can teach.

However, playing pro ball in my opinion is not a pre-requisite to coach this sport. It can provide more credibility when charging for lessons, teams, etc., but I've seen college coaches who've NEVER played pro ball become successful, revered college geniuses who have sent many a player to fame and fortune in pro ball.

Just out of curiosity, what drill info where you giving him?

Hope this helps,

Coach Corral
Hi Coach Corral, thanks for replying.
First of all this x-Minor Leaguer is not a bad guy, after I posted it in his facebook page I realized I should have confided in him off the front page. He thought I was calling him out, which if you know me I wasn't. I think he was offended. He is a good guy.

The drill I'm refering to is the "Towel Drill". I've done a ton of research on pitching over the years and have went through the trial & errors of every expert pitching guru from Thurston, Mills, House, Strom, Wolforth, Marshall,Fletcher to Peterson, ect...ect...(I just signed up with Peterson & 3Psports) I have all their programs. Through those years there was a lot of "Mudsslinging" going on as you know. Each pitching guru telling everyone the other guy didnt know squat and....... his was was the only way.
Well early on the towel drills became popular in a way that House was endorsing them to be used everyday. Now these drills were explained to get you closer to the plate through extension of the throwing hand and getting closer to the plate would give you more deceptive velocity. In the correct throwing motion your hand goes through a motion called " pronation" where the hand actually turns, thumb down, away from your body ( you probably know this already, just letting you know that I know). With this towel drill you actually delay this arm action to get extension and with the elbow being considered a "Hinge Joint" it consequentially bangs on the growth plate and puts excessive stress on the Ulnar collateral (tommy john). Boom arm problems!

I do use this not as a drill but a measurement of what the chest is doing and contolling the front side and its not more that 5 to 10 times

Let me know if you're on the same wave length. I'm all about teaching kids the correct way.
Thanks for your input.
Rich Dunno
Coach Ruben that was one of the most direct, clear and well versed comments I have read. I completely agree with each and every single assesment you have made. I did not have the opportunity to play pro ball but I certainly did everything I could to get there. I spent 10 years at one of the finest Baseball Academies in the country from the age of 7 - 17. I played 5 years of college ball and two in the Jayhawk summer league and have spent my entire life as a student of the game. I have been giving private instruction since I was 17 and started full time after I stopped pursuing my own Baseball career 4 years ago. I will be coaching baseball for the rest of my life and although I did not have the opportunity to play pro ball, I expect to do big things in baseball.

The ability level of youth players is rising year by year because we are in the age of information and people that want it CAN go out and get it. Although there is alot of misinformation out there, all of the quality information is out there as well. The only problem is anybody that reads a book or watches a video can start doing there own thing even if they NEVER played the game and don't have an understanding of certain aspects because of that. I have had conversations with "coaches" who were aboslutely off their rocker and they are looked at as successfull coaches and then again I have spoken to travel ball and high school coaches who could be working at the college and pro levels. I myself had an EXTREMELY successful college coach who I will not name, that used to give us talks on hitting and state "If your weight is not falling over the plate after you swing, you are not swinging hard enough". Growing up in the Baseball Academy and learning from coaches like Rick Down, Larry Minor, Ed Blankmeyer, etc.. I was always taught that balance was the key to hitting because a pitchers whole job in life is to throw off your balance and timing as a hitter. This coach I am speaking of was a FANTSATIC recruiter and great manager but not a good coach or instructor. I also played with guys that ended up in pro ball that were FANTASTIC players and athletes, but could not communicate to you how to do anything because they had no idea how they did it themselves! It's not just about what you know, it's also about what you can get across. As you stated Vladmir Guerrero is a perfect example. Here we have a guy who was jsut born to play the game of baseball. Many people don't know why he actually swings like he does but I read a VERY interesting story of his youth. Growing up in San Pedro de Marconis in the Dominican Republic, they didnt't have money for bats gloves or balls, so they cut the end off of a broomstick and threw bottle caps at one another for pitching. I wonder why he has the ability to hit pitches that drop 2 feet and are in the dirt haha. Try hitting a bottle cap with a broomstick. If someone had tried to teach him the concept of the strike zone and change him he probably wouldn't be the player we know today.
I beleive that as people, we need to strive for excellence and Commit ourselves towards working as much as we can at what we want to be good at. It is that Commitment to Excellence that is necessary to achieve greatness in anything. To follow up with our greek philosophers and a student of Socrates' student Plato, Aristotle once said that "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, Therefore, is not an act but a habit!! I preach this to my students all the time. I was taught from a very young age that I could accomplish anything I wanted to in life as long as I put the time in and worked my but off, as well as the fact that the smartest people know that they don't know everything. I have my grandfather to thank for that.
As far as that minor league coach you spoke of Rich, he is insecure with himself and his knowledge. Due to that he is unable to accept any comments or constructive criticisms. Forget him and continue on your own path of knowledge and become the absolute best coach that you can be.
As far as the towel drill is concerned I have heard that it can cause arm problems but have not experienced that with any of my players because I personally do not use it. As for using it to extract other information, I don't see the harm. From what I've read it causes problems with repeated use.
Just throwing this out there for ya, but having strength in the back of the arm and lengthening out the ligaments is key to durability and velocity in the arm. The reason for this is because ALL players(not just pitchers) should pronate when they throw and it stresses everything on the back side of the arm. I recommend that you teach your players (not just pitchers) that when they lift weights, to always use free weights that are comfortably lifted and always pronate during the exercise ie. dumbell press, bring the weights down to the sides of the chest and open the hands up to the body. Then when pushing up pronate the hands. Band execrcises are REALLY important also. Not sure if you knew this already Rich but I figured I would include it!
Ok I'm done. No wait, Coach Ruben I would love it if you read my CCC'S to Success in Baseball. It is the mission statement on my website. I would love to know what you think, it is a philosophy that I developed and preach to my players.
Rich I really don't think your wrong for feeling the way you do. I played for 18 years professionally and would have never accomplished what I did without the instruction of numorous people who never stepped foot on the field. Just keep doing what your doing and as long as you feel that what your doing is benefiting the kids then that's all that matters! Best of luck.
I'm right there with ya brother!
Thanks to all! I feel like like everyone of you that has responded. I dont know everything and never will but am willing to learn. I have played since I was 7 with a year of college ball and am still playing to this day (46 yrs old but feel like 30).
I'm going down to Arizona to play in the Arizona MSBL tournament in a month to pitch. I havent missed a summer not playing or coaching.

One thing that I love is to learn and pass it on to my students. I'd have to guess I've had at least 1300 kids run through my camps and have NEVER TURNED AWAY A KID REGARDLESS OF FINANCIAL PROBLEMS.

Thanks or the replies.
Coach Rich

I've got my resume in with the Kansas City Royals scout school. If you have the time please say a little prayer for me to get in.
If he wants to argue that someone who has played at the pro level has been exposed to a higher level of instruction, and in so doing, is to be regarded as more informed than a coach at the high school or college level, OK, I'll buy that perhaps. But, if he is truly saying that any other instruction has no value whatsoever, simply because it was not taught by a pro level instructor - then no, I disagree.

Frankly, anyone that talks in absolutes (never, anything, nothing, no one, ever, etc) loses credibility with me immediately.

I understand his point. However, I know plenty of ex-ballplayers who know nothing about instruction and others who just can't instruct. Some never could understand or execute what they were told to do. Some never tried.

The old saying, "those who can't do, teach" is not always the case. Tony Gwynn can do both. Ted Williams had a hard time as a coach.

It sounds like he is just trying to prove how cool he is because he played ball. The greatest coaches were not successful players (Leo Mazzone for one) and only a few successful players were great coaches (see Dave Duncan) and even fewer greats were successful coaches (See Johnny Sain).


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