Defining and perfecting in game coaching roles to increase offensive efficiency
Coaches in high school baseball can play an integral role in the gameday offensive performance of a baseball team. High school coaches are not often armed with the advanced scouting reports, tendencies, and metrics stockpiled by MLB teams (and some college teams), so high school coaches have to take real time data and spin it into digestible and usable information to create the most effective offensive plan possible.
TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE DURING A GAME! From pitch #1, every coach should be performing their role and working towards the execution of a cohesive and effective offensive game plan consistently communicating with one another to shift the game plan to match the opportunities presented by the opposition. Much of this coordination comes from the data presented to the coaching staff by the game itself!
Most teams operate with their 3rd base coach directing the offense on the field with the 1st base coach helping to direct the baserunners with little to no offensive coaching happening in the dugout between at bats or during time in the hole or on deck and little to no in game data being collected to help drive strategy.
In our system, we utilize our coaching staff a bit differently than most other teams.
On offense, our 3rd base, 1st base and hitting coach all coordinate with one another to implement strategy and all play a unique role in the implementation of the strategy that is all based on real time data.
Our 3rd base coach operates essentially how every other one does, deciding how to allocate the teams outs and deciding when to be aggressive and passive in terms of baserunning and putting pressure on the defense, but our 3rd base coach does this while closely coordinating with our hitting coach between innings and even during innings in certain circumstances to ascertain the relevant data for the game.
Our hitting coach coordinates the collection and dissemination of the data, charting EVERY PITCH to churn out percentages for our hitters, 3rd base coach, and 1st base coach. With the data provided by the hitting coach, our players can decide how to build their offensive approach and understand when they need to be aggressive in certain counts or patient in others. Our hitting coach is able to provide our hitters with ever changing information about the umpires strike zone, the movement of pitchers pitches / pitch types, and pitch tendencies.
Our 1st base coach can utilize this information to remind players of when to expect a likely dirt ball read, when green light runners can expect an offspeed pitch and 1st base coaches can make informed decisions when to take chances on the bases based on consistency of pitches and pitch count.
3rd base coaches can feel confident about their in game decisions because they have sound reasoning as to why they are making the decisions they choose to make based on the flow of the game and the opportunities being presented by the opposing pitcher, opposing defense, and the Homeplate umpire.
GETTING THE DATA OUT IN EASILY DIGESTIBLE WAYS
Chunking data to create clear mental representations is of the upmost importance to concise and clear transmission of information.
For example, a slow throwing pitcher who heavily utilizes offspeed pitches is often universally referred to in the baseball world as a JUNKBALLER. The universal term "junkballer" automatically provides lots of information to baseball players / fans throughout the baseball realm and many things about the pitchers repertoire and how he utilizes his repertoire automatically stream into the players mind.
In this way, if our players knew they were facing a "junkballer", they could call upon their “junkballer” hitting approach and our 3rd base coach could tailor his game plan to competing against a “junkballer”.
Having a “hitter language” made up of multiple similar mental representations is key to disseminating in game info efficiently. If our hitters / coaches were told they were going to face Pitcher A, B, C, Etc….. they would be able to call upon previously learned knowledge to automatically understand the locations the pitches were likely to come, the % of strikes on FB / OS the pitcher was going to throw, and the general velocity the pitcher was going to throw.
By creating mental representations in practice and giving these representations meaning, incredible amounts of data can be transmitted in very few words and our players can recall their pre-practiced approach for the pitcher representation they were facing that day. Just as an MLB or college player can prepare for specific pitchers, our team can prepare for specific "types" of pitchers that fit into a category of mental representation. The key is to create effective categories for the pitchers you are likely to face.
Our program memorizes these mental representations and is quizzed on these through a paper and pencil test as well as drilled on these daily in practice.
Once a hitter arrives in the hole, the hitting coach can give the hitter information such as umpire strike zone and pitch tendencies per count all the while the hitter understanding what location the pitches are going to be and the general velocity.
Likewise, by implementing these representations and understanding the arsenal of the pitcher and how he uses this arsenal, the base coaches can choose the best way to implement a sucessful game plan.
- For this system to work a coach (preferably the hitting coach) should remain in the dugout during offense to collect and disseminate data.
* Coaching roles should be discussed during the offseason and coaches should understand their gameday responsibilities and how to carry out those responsibilities.
- The coach in the dugout needs to have a system for collecting this data that he can easily recall and answer questions about on the fly.
* Our team utilizes a charting system for opposing pitchers
* Our team has an umpire strike zone chart
- The players and coaches need to understand how the mental representations will be transmitted and how the necessary data will be displayed.
* Our hitting coach brings a table to every game and positions it adjacent to the on deck circle to disseminate real time data.
* Our program uses a large dry erase board to display count tendencies
- The 3rd base coach, 1st base coach, and hitting coach (data collection coach) must regularly communicate to be sure all coaches are on the same page during the game.
* Preferably, the same coach collects data the entire game and in an ideal situation, makes this his job throughout the season as he will generally improve at data collecting and deciphering correlations as time goes on.