ABCA Clinic Recaps - Steve Smith


Liam Carroll

Coaching Pitchers: My Basics
Steve Smith – Head Coach, Baylor University

Clinic Topics

1. Pitcher Development
2. Staff Building
3. Game Management

Coach Smith has racked up over 600 wins in his 18 seasons at Baylor and has served as the head coach of Team USA.  It was clear how much information he’s soaked up and that his “basics” for coaching Pitchers have developed throughout his extensive experience.  He said that “if you can coach, you can coach” and that you don’t need to have been a Pitcher to be a Pitching Coach.  The same can be said of any position.

To develop his Pitchers, Coach Smith talked about functional training, comparing the Pitcher’s arm to the sprinter’s leg.  His programme includes three main components: long toss to build a base, drill work to refine mechanics and Bullpens to practice at game-speed.  Coach Smith uses a workload chart to track the type and quantity of throwing, conditioning and lifting that each Pitcher does.

He coaches mechanics in three main phases, Load, Lead and Land, focusing on balance, direction and timing throughout.  Other key aspects of his Pitcher Development programme included:

• Plan your work.  Work your plan.  Adjust your plan.
• Ask good questions (especially around “feel”).
• Be demanding without demeaning.

Coach Smith outlined the six roles that his Pitchers will fill:

1. Starter (most consistent competitor).
2. First Up (most durable competitor).
3. Finisher (plus competitor, plus makeup).
4. 1 Inning Guy (capable but needy).
5. Match Up (speciality).
6. Developing Starter (Sunday/mid-week starter).

He said that coaches should label Pitchers “in pencil” meaning that you should frequently evaluate each Pitcher’s role.  For example over the course of a season or a career, your Developing Starter may become your ace.

Speaking about game management, Coach Smith compared the Pitcher to a Quarterback and the Pitching Coach to the Offensive Coordinator, because at Baylor (like many if not most college baseball programmes) coaches call pitches.  Just like a Quarterback can “check off” if he wants to run a different play, the Pitcher can shake-off – ultimately he is the one who must be confident to make the pitch.  This approach helps his Pitchers stay in the moment.  Coach Smith wants his Pitchers to be “one pitch warriors.”  Baylor’s approach is centred on quality pitchers to “make bats move.”

My Most Important Thing

When speaking about staff building, Coach Smith challenged coaches to find a role for all of their Pitchers.  He reminded me of the first ABCA clinic I ever saw, when Augie Garrido said that “winning is a result of everyone giving 100% of himself to his role on the team.”  You can’t expect that of your players if you’ve not given them a role.

Last Up: Sal Fasano

On Deck: Bob Keyes, Jerry Haugen, Gary Pullins


tagged under: baseball, coaching, softball, pitching

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John Mills 12:24

Really enjoying these blogs Liam.

About Liam Carroll

Liam Carroll

Liam was a Regional Coach and then Development Coordinator for BaseballSoftballUK until May 2014. He returned to his hometown of London to work for BSUK in 2010 after stops in Somerset, Bristol, Cornwall, California and Nevada. Growing up playing in Britain, Liam made the move to America to study and play university baseball. After figuring out that his future would be brighter as a coach rather than player, he moved to the University of Nevada Las Vegas to finish his degree and coach college baseball. Since then he’s coached youth and adult teams on both sides of the atlantic and with the Great Britain Baseball National Teams.

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