This is our view of the role of a pitching coach. The team with a knowledgeable and competent pitching coach will be able to compete in any game they play.
Making sure pitchers don’t overthrow or throw too hard at the beginning of a session is an important job for the pitching coach. Young pitchers especially, may have their adrenaline flowing before a pre-game bullpen and have a tendency to expend too much effort too early. Not only is that not conducive to developing muscle memory for good mechanics it is not conducive to maintaining a healthy arm. Don’t throw with too much effort until the body is ready. It is important for pitchers to get the “feel” of their pitches early in the bullpen session. Overthrowing prevents that. Gradually build to full velocity.
A coach should never make velocity a goal when a pitcher is pitching or throwing a bullpen. Velocity itself it not the goal. The goal is to improve mechanics to the point that velocity will take care of itself. He should never implore upon a pitcher to throw harder.
Pitching coaches should prevent a “macho” attitude with young pitchers. I have seen young pitchers take the bullpen mound and begin firing as hard as they could. “Look at me.”
I don’t believe that young pitchers should make velocity a number one goal. That focuses too much attention on the throwing arm and not on other important things; letting the body help the arm throw, gaining command and movement, and improving mechanics. Let velocity come in its own good time. I am not saying velocity is not a powerful tool. It is. But I am saying that it should not be the only focus of a young pitcher. You want to develop pitchers, not throwers.
It is easier to develop pitch command and the muscle memory that comes with it when you don’t throw at full speed. And not throwing at full speed helps protect the arm while developing that command. It gives pitchers more opportunities to work on things.
So pitching coaches should regulate that effort.
A good coach helps the young pitcher understand the pitching process and gives him the necessary tools to compete. He helps the pitcher develop mental toughness. He becomes a confidant because he needs feedback from his pitchers. He must have the ability to communicate and he must do it with short phraseology that the pitcher can understand quickly. When a pitcher is throwing his bullpen session, he can’t stop to talk about pitching theory. He has to have a phrase at hand; a cue that will immediately help put his pitcher back on track.
He understands what certain pitches are supposed to do and he teaches pitchers how to throw them and at the correct times in the count or in the game.
The pitching coach learns to understand how a pitcher uses his own abilities. He learns what he can and cannot do. Everyone is different.
He recognizes the faults in each of his pitchers and develops a plan to help them improve.
He should stress the importance of side work as well as game work.
He should introduce and monitor an arm care program for all his pitchers.
He should be pleased with the progress a pitcher makes as opposed to relying on “stats” as a way to measure performance.
The pitching coach should minimize the importance of the radar gun and its role in becoming a complete pitcher. Command, movement and mental toughness have high priority.
Learn the key points of each pitchers’ delivery; balance, direction, landing, arm slot.
He should see every pitch his pitchers throw; games and bullpens.
Make his pitchers feel comfortable around him and show openness and a willingness to communicate.
Demand conformity and 100% effort in all routines, drills and duties.
Always keep the health of a pitcher foremost in mind.