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Understanding the Recruiting Process – While Enjoying It (Part I)

The recruiting process is an exciting time, or at least it should be. In my experience as a Division I Softball Coach, I found a lot of the potential student-athletes I spoke with felt stressed about the process. The recruiting process can be daunting – or so it seems. In this three part article, I will address the do’s and don’ts of recruiting, what a college coach is looking for, how to better enjoy the experience of recruitment and the timeline of recruiting. 

Part I: Simplifying the first five steps in the recruiting process: from making your dream list of schools to evaluations at recruiting events. I will be taking you step by step through the process and answering commonly asked questions.

Part II: Breaking down the importance of the recruiting video and how to maximize your views by coaches (what to include in your video and what to omit).

Part III: Simplifying the last three steps in the recruiting process; pre and post-campus visit etiquette, attending camps, and receiving offers from schools. I will also go over the overall recruiting timeline for D1, D2, D3, NAIA, and NJCAA. 

1. Finding the Right Fit as a STUDENT.

First and foremost, education is the number one priority.  You want to ultimately choose the right school for you and your future – athletics is an excellent bonus. As a potential student-athlete, you need to take a moment and eliminate the athlete component from the equation. Grab a pen and paper: on one side of the sheet write down potential areas of study you are interested in and on the other side write down your top 10 schools of choice. This is a great place to begin.  With this short list, begin to research if your schools of choice have your major. At this point, you have been able to eliminate some options from your list. You never want to limit yourself, so your next step would be to research schools similar to your top choices academically. I advise you to consider ALL divisions at this stage in the process. In the early stages, I suggest you begin with a list of 15 schools with your major and that meet your needs academically – such as ACT/SAT score requirements, GPA, and academic scholarship options. 

Image result for studentImage result for student

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Finding the Right Fit as a PERSON.

Are you looking for a university with 30,000 students or 2,000? Would you want to be in a more rural location? Do you want to be close to home or far away? Do you want to go to a school where it is warm year-round (or for a season)? Would you prefer a private university or state? These questions are all important in making sure you make the right decision for you and your happiness with the college experience. It is a great idea to write down your wish list and what are deal-breakers for you vs. traits of a university you could look past. With this list, you can continue to do research on the settings of the schools on your list. Putting in the front-end work will make the official/unofficial visit process much easier later on.

Image result for factors in choosing a college

3. Creating a Recruiting Video/What to List on Your Player Profile

The creation of a recruiting video is a hot topic. In my article next week, I will discuss the content that is crucial to include in YOUR video. For now, let’s discuss the relevance of the recruiting video. The recruiting video is a snap shot of who you are as a player. In your video, you want to highlight what makes you stand out, all in a relatively short amount of time. This snap shot allows coaches to get a glimpse of you before they add you to their list of players to watch at recruiting events (camps, showcases, clinics, etc.) It is important that you treat your recruiting video as such. With this being said, it is also important to create a player profile with important information about you to attach to your video.

Below is an example of a player profile done well. As you can see, the PSA (Potential Student Athlete) has listed her name, graduation year, position, L/R information, high school information (athletic and academic), travel information, specialty coaches (slapping, catching, hitting, pitching), and accomplishments. It is important to attach a sheet like this to your emails to coaches so they have all the information they need about you to make sure you are the right fit for that particular university and program. 

 Image result for softball player profile sample

4. Communicating with Coaches (Key information they need to know)/Knowing NCAA rules

So, now you know you should attach a player profile and recruiting video to your initial contact with a coach, but what should you be talking to them about in your emails? It is important to make sure ALL of your information is accurate – correct coach name, correct university/college name, personal message (show that you have knowledge of the school), and list your travel ball schedule. Coaches like to work early! As soon as you get your information from your travel coach, send it over to the coaches you are in contact with. If there are any updates in the schedule be sure to share that with the coaches as well. Communication is the key to forming any great relationship – keep an open line of communication with the coaches you’re contacting. Also, notice how I have not once mentioned having someone else send these emails for you? Coaches want to hear from YOU…they will be coaching YOU. Please do not be shy, communicate with them often and genuinely. 

It is important to brush up on the rules (D1, D2, D3, NAIA, NJCAA). You will be sending more emails than receiving from coaches – a major component of this is from the rules. Do not let this deter you from sending emails with a purpose. When you see that coach at an event be aware of the rules in which they need to follow (contact, evaluations, etc.) There are many times when players have tried to make in person contact with a coach in person when it is not permissible for the coach to do so. They are not ignoring you, they are following the rules for the safety of their program and you! 

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5. Attributes Coaches Look for at Tournaments

I will keep this section simple. When coaches attend recruiting events, they not only are evaluating athletic performance but your interactions. How do you respond to failure? How do you interact with your coaches, teammates, umpires, and opponents? The best way to view this is to see the game of softball as a game of opportunity – train hard, work hard, be compassionate towards others, be a good person, and the game will reward you. This does not just apply to NCAA Division I – there is a place for everyone and there is no shame finding your home at a D2, D3, Juco or NAIA school. All coaches at all levels are looking for quality people with softball skills that can better their program and culture. 

Image result for sportsmanship softball

These are the key steps to get you to the point before coaches invite you on campus for unofficial and official visits. In my next article we will discuss recruiting videos in more detail (providing a sample recruiting video), pre and post-campus visit etiquette, attending camps, and receiving offers from schools. Until then, good luck on the recruiting trail – remember this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and this experience is supposed to be fun, so enjoy it!

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Baseball Rebellion Pitching Breakdown: Masahiro Tanaka

Baseball Rebellion Pitching Breakdown

Masahiro Tanaka

Masahiro Tanaka is struggling in his last 4 starts of the 2017 season. Baseball Rebellion breaks down his pitching mechanics and gives insight on Tanaka’s troubles.  He throws a four and two-seam fastball, slider, curveball, and a nasty split-finger. Tanaka was an All-Star his first Major League season in 2014. Much of his success has come from throwing low is the zone and mixing up his fastball and off speed. He is having to throw more fastballs this year and he is leaving balls up and over the plate. In this breakdown, I mention that these balls left over the plate can be due to a lack of efficiency with his hips and his front leg bracing up. Split-finger fastballs put tremendous stress on the elbow when thrown. This can also be a case of having to throw more fastballs because of his partially torn UCL that was never repaired. Either way, Masahiro has a few things to fix mechanically or he will continue to struggle. Thanks for watching this week’s pitching breakdown.

If you are interested in having your swing broke down by Dave, click here!

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Baseball Rebellion Pitching Breakdown: Hunter Greene

Baseball Rebellion Pitching Breakdown:

Hunter Greene

Hunter Greene is a senior at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, California. He is 6’4″, 210 pounds and has reached 102mph on the radar gun. He is projected to be the first right-handed pitcher taken overall in the 2017 MLB draft.  Greene also hits, and is rated one of the top shortstops in the country.

Brendan McKay, a two-way player at Louisville, is in a similar position and will most likely be drafted as a pitcher. Whatever team decides to draft either of these guys should consider doing so as position players first. Both Greene and McKay have flaws in their deliveries and limiting them to being only a pitcher could devalue their athletic movements, making them worse as they throw a higher valume of pitches.  Going into into a full season and throwing as much as a starting pitcher does puts a lot of stress on a pitcher’s arm. Flawed movements and/or a lack of a quality throwing coach can play a big role in creating injuries.

In this breakdown, I explain how Hunter can pinpoint and correct a few things to help his delivery, keep him healthy, and potentially brighten his future.

Try one of my online pitching evaluations to find out how I may be able to help your mechanics

Thanks for watching.

Dave Shinskie – Baseball Rebellion Pitching Instructor

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How To Stop Kids From Throwing Sidearm

The most common problem I see in both online and in person evaluations is a lack of body awareness through the throwing delivery. Many kids are seemingly taught to just lift their leg and then throw. There is a gap in instruction on how the lower and upper body should properly be used together. These teaching patterns persist for one reason; parents and coaches were never taught proper throwing mechanics themselves.

Why Do Kids Throw Sidearm?

The number one reason why kids throw sidearm is their shoulder rotation is on a horizontal plane instead of a directional plane toward the target. Horizontal rotation happens because young throwers are trying to hit a target by simply aiming and, by doing so, stop the rotation of their shoulders and trunk. The arms follow the path of the shoulders toward the target causing the throwing arm to move away from target while struggling to maintain a consistent arm path.

Fixing The Pattern

The quickest way to transform a poor throwing motion is to gain control of upper body movements. Additionally, the more the player embraces the difference in the feeling of how to control their arms together the faster the changes happen. When teaching repeatable movements I focus on the player using more of his or her body to propel the arm forward. We train the player to allow their arms to move around the head and instead of letting their shoulders fly open. Teaching players to allow their body body to move purposefully significantly increases accuracy and velocity.

Nathan G. Before

These videos are about a year and half apart. The video above is of 10 year Nathan G. throwing sidearm from 46ft. Nathan is now 12 years old and pitches from 50 and 60ft. The movement changes we made with both his lower half and Directional Rotational are clear in the video below. He now has the confidence to be the player we knew he can be thanks to his hard work.

Nathan G. After

Drills To Help Directional Rotation

A better timing pattern of movements is the key to having and efficient and fluid delivery. Flying open with the front side is usually related to a delayed trigger. A common reason associated with a delayed trigger is “Sitting Into The Back Leg.” This does not allow the body to be properly synced from the start. A proper back leg drive starts the chain of better movements. Keeping your shoulders closed, through the initial drive and into front foot strike, will help create a more repeatable throwing motion. This also creates a “rubber band” effect in the body that is called Hips to Shoulder Separation.

This is the position evident in all hard throwers when their front foot hits the ground. Training the brain to work with the body in order to hold on to this feeling until the shoulders are ready to release is another key factor in avoiding throwing sidearm. Staying committed to a constant flow of energy from lower half drive into proper shoulder and truck rotation, while  staying connected to the mound, can be learned with proper repetition. At Baseball Rebellion, we have a variety of drills to help throwers learn how to feel this movement. Below are few basic and effective drills to introduce consistent positive movement dynamics.

Focus is the Key

The best part about learning these patterns is they do not have to be done with a ball. Starting out by learning to concentrate on repeating the throwing motion, by using more core strength, will create a more whip-like in the arm allowing the player to stay strong through the entire motion. Focus is key when trying to feel the changes happening in your delivery. The younger you can start a player working these drills with tempo and consistency, the more it will pay off in the long run. I hope you enjoyed my article, thank you for reading. Please leave your comments below.

Dave Shinskie – Baseball Rebellion Head Pitching Instructor


*Join the Rebellion Today $40 / 1 time pitching/throwing analysisBaseball Rebellion Delivery Analysis

Sign up today to see and hear Dave’s breakdown of your baseball players pitching delivery with a 1-time delivery analysis. If you like your pitching analysis you can sign up for one of our Online Pitching Memberships
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MLB Draft 2016: Baseball Rebellion’s Prospects to Watch

2016 MLB Draft Baseball Rebellion Prospects to Watch

MLB Draft 2016: Baseball Rebellion’s Prospects to Watch

The 2016 MLB Draft is starting tonight, Thursday June, 9th, and all of us here at Baseball Rebellion couldn’t be more excited. There is a large amount of talent in this class, and with some BRrebel’s potentially drafted tonight through Saturday, we are all anticipating a great next few days! In honor of the 2016 MLB Draft starting, Baseball Rebellion is writing this joint article, to break down some of our favorite swings, and pitching deliveries, as well as share some of our thoughts and insights on players / outcomes.

Bo Bichette Swing Breakdown: Chas Pippitt

I’ve known Bo Bichette since November of 2015.  Bo came in, he was quiet, but goodness gracious his bat was LOUD.  The main things we worked on with Bo was his stride direction and his ability to adjust to off speed pitches.  He evaluated at 99.9mph with wood off front toss and left with a 105.4mph exit speed which was the Baseball Rebellion HS record at the time.  Bo’s brother, Dante Junior, is a Yankees Farmhand and a good friend.  Dante Senior played for the Colorado Rockies for many years and almost won a triple crown. Bo Bichette has a chance to be the best of the bunch with his spectacular movement patterns and upward extension in his upper body, one of the toughest things for any HS hitter to support.  His amazing lower half actions allow for tremendous power and adjustability which he showcased all year long in Florida, earning Gatorade Player of the Year in the state.  From all of us at Baseball Rebellion, good luck Bo, we hope this day is one you remember fondly forever! Drafted Overall: 66th Round: 2nd Pick: 25

*I wanted to thank Bo Bichette for sending me his game footage.  Always great to see what real players do in games vs highlights or HR derby settings. 

Blake Rutherford Swing Breakdown: Gabe Dimock

In Baseball America’s latest 2016 MLB Mock Draft, Blake Rutherford is slated to be picked in the middle of the first round. Rutherford is a 6 foot 3, high school, outfielder who weighs in at 195 pounds and displays five-tool potential including the ability to hit for contact and power. In the video above, I explain why Rutherford’s hitting mechanics give him a great chance to realize his potential and meet the expectations set for him based on a likely 1st round draft pick and a lofty signing bonus. Drafted Overall: 18th Round: 1 Pick: 18 

Jameson Fisher Swing Breakdown: JK Whited

Jameson Fisher was called “the best hitter in college baseball” at least 5 times in the game I saw him play last weekend. From Southeastern Louisiana, Jameson just had himself a great Junior year, especially after a rough injury the year before. Fisher’s swing is well above the “college swing standard” and is a lot of fun to watch if admire smooth and powerful swings.  His 11 home runs and 16 doubles are only overshadowed by his outstanding .424 batting average with only 31 strikeouts.  Jameson’s upper body fluidity and timing is one of the more impressive moves I have seen out of a college hitter and his lower half mechanics are just as good.  I really look forward to seeing where Jameson Fisher’s swing will take him in the next few years and hopefully the injury bug won’t follow him to the MLB. Drafted Overall: 116th Round: 4 Pick: 10

Gavin Lux Swing Breakdown: KC Judge

For my First Baseball Rebellion Swing Breakdown, I chose to analyze the hitting mechanics of 2016 MLB Draft prospect Gavin Lux, a HS middle infielder from Kenosha, WI. Gavin’s swing consists of very solid lower body mechanics, utilizing a sway back load then moving forward into a bent front leg. Another aspect in Gavin’s swing I like is the movement in his back elbow and how both elbows move/work together as he starts to accelerate the barrel.

Gavin Lux has a very high level swing, and while there is not much I would change, but “to be nit picky” he could do a better job with how his back foot moves. While his back foot does a great job moving up / pulled forward, it doesn’t move forward enough, leading him to finish on the outside of his pinky toe. If his back foot moved forward a little more, he wouldn’t finish on the outside of his foot.

*I wanted to take this time to thank Gavin for sending us this video. Candid video is very cool to break down, and I really appreciate him sending Chas and Baseball Rebellion the video so we could take a look at it.

All in all Gavin Lux has many, very high-level qualities in his swing and I’m looking forward to watching him play in the future. Good luck in the draft Gavin! Drafted Overall: 20th Round: 1 Pick: 20

Riley Pint & Justin Dunn Pitching Breakdown: Dave Shinskie

In my 2016 MLB Draft Pitching Breakdown I chose to look at the pitching mechanics of Prospects Riley Pint (HS Senior from St. Thomas Aquinas, KS) and Justin Dunn (Junior at Boston College) “my alma mater!” As two of the top pitchers in this years draft, I wanted to compare the similarities and differences in their deliveries. As you will see in the video above, I really like Pint’s upper half and Dunn’s lower half. Due to his mechanical advantage, I believe Justin Dunn will have more success and will experience less arm trouble, however both will be offered huge contracts and have a big decision ahead of them. I wish both guys good luck in the 2016 MLB Draft and their playing future! Id love to help either of these guys and hope they can make the changes I address in the breakdown to help make them the most dominant and durable pitchers in the draft! Riley Pint – Drafted Overall: 4th Round: 1 Pick: 4 / Justin Dunn – Drafted Overall: 19th Round: 1 Pick: 19

I also did a Pitching Breakdown on 2016 MLB Draft Prospect AJ Puk Last week! Click Here to Watch the Breakdown!

Thank you all for reading, and Good Luck to all the players in the draft over the next 3 days!

Stay Tuned for updates to the article with outcomes and recaps of the Draft and Tweet at us @BRrebellion during the draft any questions or thoughts you may have about or breakdowns or the actions that unfold. Also Tweet at us if you see any hitters or pitchers you would be interested in us breaking down in the future! #JoinTheRebellion #BaseballRebellion #MLBDraft

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Baseball Rebellion’s Coaching Clinic In Pleasanton, CA

Baseball Rebellion PLL Baseball : Softball Coaches Clinic

Baseball Rebellion Goes to Pleasanton, CA, The Snow, and Chas’ Ankle…

In early December, Chas flew to California to meet with the Pleasanton Little League (PLL) board members about a training partnership with Baseball Rebellion. This partnership was designed to inject Baseball Rebellion’s teachings, methodologies, and philosophies into the heart of Pleasanton’s Little League: The coaches! Very soon after, we received the exciting news that PLL had chosen Baseball Rebellion as their partner for team training. This included our detailed, online hitting, pitching, and catching clinics as well as the Baseball Rebellion staff making a trip to Pleasanton, California in January. We began to see our vision for changing the way baseball is taught and played becoming a reality on a larger scale! We booked our flights and hotels for January and spent the next few weeks preparing for the clinic. Then, Winter Storm Jonas hit the East Coast…

With thousands of flights cancelled, only Chas, Justin, and Gabe were able to make the trip. JK, Dave, KC, and Ryan worked tirelessly to find flights but the storm won out. While already shorthanded, Chas happened to slip on a wet curb and this happened…

Chas Pippitt's Hurt Foot

Chas fought valiantly through a lot of pain and instructed extremely well. Needless to say, he was going to need some help with the demonstration aspect of teaching hitting. Luckily we were able to have professional players, Mark Canha and Maxx Garrett, there to help demonstrate and instruct. These guys are well-versed in our program and added a valuable element as players who actually perform the hitting movements we teach at a very high level. I want to give a special thanks to Mark and Maxx as the quality of this clinic was greatly enhanced by their instruction.

The Hitting Clinic

While the Baseball Rebellion Staff was waiting for the coaches to arrive, we were given a very clear reminder of why we do what we do. One of the worst hitting lessons I have ever seen was taking place (Note: The instructor was renting a cage and was not associated with the facility.) The instructor was clearly trying to help the student, but used a combination of the worst information and drills found in the baseball hitting industry. Consecutively, we saw one handed drills with the Insider Bat, Hitting with big cement blocks to ensure the feet remain still, Balance Board training, and some irrelevant jumping hitting drills that I honestly don’t even know how to describe. I sincerely hope the instructor overheard some of the Baseball Rebellion information and that she would begin to question the content of her lessons.

The Baseball Rebellion hitting clinic consisted of two sessions. In the first session, we gave a detailed overview of our hitting flaws and fixes clinic model. In this model we explain seven of the most widespread hitting myths, which include the following:

  1. Passive Approach
  2. Static Stances and Stride Removal
  3. Stay Back Hitting
  4. Hips and Shoulders Rotating Together
  5. Upper Body Dominant Teaching
  6. Swing Down Approach
  7. Lack of Vision Training

Within each of the hitting topics above, we explained the fix for each flaw and discussed why our hitting methodology gives batters the opportunity to see dramatic improvements. We also showed common hitting drills to avoid, hitting drills Baseball Rebellion uses, good coaching cues to use, and coaching cues to stay away from. The largest amount of time was spent on the stride and turn portions of the swing, because these are the foundational components of our teaching. We had a lot of fun taking the coaches through our hitting movements with the Rebel’s Rack. While some coaches were skeptical at first, this portion of the hitting clinic really allowed the coaches to feel the learning process that their baseball / softball players would undergo. This feeling was far more important to the development of their players than the coaches ability to perform the movements perfectly.

Baseball Rebellion at Pleasanton Little League

Baseball Rebellion at Pleasanton Little League

The first session of the Baseball Rebellion hitting clinic ended very loudly. This was because Mark Canha put on a laser show. During his rounds of BP, Mark and Chas discussed many of the hitting concepts talked about during the clinic and showed how the movements translate to a real MLB swing.

In session 2 of the hitting clinic, the coaches returned with their own kids. The goal of this session was to turn the reins over to the coaches and support them as they taught the methodology themselves. This session allowed the coaches to see some of the practical issues that come up when kids are first learning. They identified flaws fairly quickly and asked great questions regarding cueing. The kids caught on extremely fast and helped the coaches to see the immediate impact Baseball Rebellion’s Hitting Program can have. We used four kids as examples, all of whom were under 10 years old!

Baseball Rebellion in Pleasanton, CA

For the last segment of the hitting clinic, we allowed the kids to begin implementing their new movements into some swings off the tee.

Baseball Rebellion in Pleasanton, CA

While there were a few swings taken at the end, it was amazing how much improvement we saw without a bat or ball being involved. Movement was / is the key! At dinner that night, we even saw these two ninjas practicing their rack moves…

The Pitching Clinic

The pitching portion of the clinic followed the same overview of implementation of concepts and movements to coaches in session 1 with an emphasis on the current status of the overall throwing culture.

Coaches Clinic Structure Day 1

  1. Overview and Purpose
  2. The Current Throwing Culture
  3. Role of LL Coaches
  4. The BR Pitching Methodology
  5. Upper Body Rotation
  6. Lower Body Movement
  7. Blending
  8. Finish

I decided to get the coaches moving early and often so as they began to understand our throwing / pitching movements on a conceptual level, they could also feel the differences within the body.  I may have overworked them a bit, considering I had several coaches tell me how sore their legs and back were the next day, but I was pleased with the their overall willingness to engage and ask questions.

Baseball Rebellion in Pleasanton, CA

Just like Mark Canha hit in front of the coaches, I wanted to make sure I put on my own version of a pitching display.  I started with portraying common throwing movement patterns seen throughout youth baseball and progressively worked towards faster, more advanced throwing movements.  I’m pretty sure I threw hard enough and well enough for them to see how the full movements come together.

All of us at Baseball Rebellion want to thank Pleasanton Little League for having us and give a special thanks to Tony Cisneros for helping facilitate and coordinate the clinic! We had a great experience teaching Baseball Rebellion’s hitting and pitching coaches clinics and look forward to working with more Little Leagues and organizations who want to implement Baseball Rebellion’s methodology on a greater scale!

Gabe Dimock and Justin Orenduff of the Baseball Rebellion

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The King Of The Mound 2015: An Inagural Pitching Competition

I.T.S. Baseball King of the Mound posterThe proudest moment in my teaching occurred Saturday January 24th, 2015 at 6:30 p.m.  Sam Whitt, a student here at I.T.S. Baseball, won our inaugural King of the Mound Tournament.  Sam was the second lesson I gave when I first started my teaching career at I.T.S. Baseball.  He has been a part of my pitching program for the last five years and has developed into the top overall pitcher at I.T.S. Baseball.

Sam will be attending college at the University of North Carolina this fall.  He has been on my schedule every week for the past five years.  If there ever were a student who I would solidify as embodying my full methodology, Sam would take the crown.  He has stayed the course in learning the art of pitching and now can communicate and perform his delivery at the highest level.

Sam was the #1 overall seed in this year’s The King of the Mound Tournament.  He was granted the #1 seed because he had the highest overall DVS Score of 21.  His score of 21 puts him in an elite class. Not only in terms of efficiency of movement, performance in games, but most importantly in his ability to walk into the building with continual healthy range of motion patterns.  His ability to recover quickly from training days such as games and high-intensity bullpens have propelled him into a new standard of pitching excellence.  He characterizes a new wave of pitchers I.T.S. Baseball and Baseball Rebellion are educating and teaching, to truly become a pitcher.

I was nervous watching my students compete against each other in this year’s tournament.  Felt like a parent watching their child compete. I had to have Chas do all the announcing.  I observed, kept score, and took notes.  Overall, I couldn’t be happier with the way my students competed against each other to earn The King of the Mound.  Without further ado, I present The King of the Mound Tournament!

The King of the Mound Tournament

I plan to make this an annual event.  Therefore, this post will serve as the official format and rules of how each tournament will proceed in years to come.  In 2011, I created the first official “Pitchers Pocket Competition”.  At our facility, we utilize the pitcher’s pocket, a training tool from Better Baseball.  I’ve always utilized a scoring system for use with students during bullpens.  The younger students have always enjoyed the competitive aspect, especially when they get to compete against me in the last 5 minutes of a lesson.

Scoring System and Tournament Format

The King of the Mound Tournament utilizes pitcher’s pockets for use as the official target scoring system throughout the tournament.  The official rules are as follows.

Pitchers Pocket Competition RulesScoring System Rules

  1. Each pitcher will have 10 total throws.
  2. Each pitcher will alternate back and forth between throws.
  3. Each pitcher will pitch from their league mound distance.
  4. Bonus Ball: On the 10th pitch, the pitcher is allowed to calls a specific pocket , if he  hits the intended pocket, he will beawarded 2 additional bonus points to the pocket’s point total.
  5. No points will be given if the ball hits the outer rim of the pocket.
  6. A 1 point deduction will be given if the ball misses outside or above the pocket. If ball misses below pocket, zero points will be awarded.
  7. Total Score will be added from all 10 throws. Pitcher with greater total score wins.
  8. In the event of a tie, two additional throws will be added to determine the winner.

Tournament Format

  • All pitchers were seeded from 1 to 16 and placed in a tournament bracket.  The bracket consisted of two divisions; Koufax and Gibson.
  • All first round match-ups take place in individual lessons. First round scores began Monday, January 5th and concluded Friday, January 23rd. The player with the highest pitchers pocket score advanced to the second round. • For Example: If Jordan scores 27 in his lesson, and Cole scores 22 in his lesson, Jordan will advance to the second round.
  • Play in Game:  In this year’s tournament, 9 pitchers were tied with a DVS Score of 16.  The 9 pitchers competed in an additional play in game,  for the last two 16 seeds. Each pitcher competed twice in the pitchers pocket competition during their lesson. The first score was used to determine if they earn the 16 seed and the second, for their potential first round matchup.
  • All second round games were held January 24th and held at I.T.S. Baseball.

Pitcher Eligibility and Ranking Criteria

The top 32 pitchers at I.T.S. Baseball are eligible to participate each year in the King of The Mound Tournament.  Regardless of age, the top 32 pitchers each year are ranked by their overall DVS Score (Overall Mechanics).  Tiebreakers are determined by a pitcher’s stretch angle (power) and accuracy rating.  In October 2014, I posted my initial list of the top 32 pitchers in the program and announced there would be a pitching competition in January 2015.  In the short 3 month period before the new year, the increase in dedication to moving into the top 32 among my students was amazing. Each week I had more and more students asking me to redo their DVS Score to see if they were eligible.  As December drew to a close, the final tournament bracket and seedings were listed below.

2015 Top 32 Pitchers (Bracket)

*Numbers in parenthesis denote each pitchers DVS Score.

King of the Mound 2015 Bracket top 32

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Round

Sample Pitcher’s Pocket Competition

To get an idea of how a typical pitcher’s pocket competition would go, you can watch #1 seed Sam Whitt’s first round below.

Bonus Ball!

Play in game hopeful, Austin Williams, called his pocket and nailed it on his Bonus Ball!

 First Round Results

*Players who automatically advanced, moved on to the next round due to opposing pitcher being sick, out of town, or other circumstance.

  • #1 Sam Whitt defeats #16 Carter Payne 26-21

    Will Walker First Round
    #13 Will Walker pitching during first round
  • #8 Eli Newton automatically advances
  • #5 Nathan Rogers defeats #12 Jacob Chupna 17-16
  • #13 Will Walker defeats #4 Tyler White 29-17
  • #11 Will T. Walker defeats #6 Leo Gartner 32-23
  • #3 Will Shields automatically advances
  • #7 Trey Cooper defeats #10 Ethan Goldstein 22-6
  • #2 Adam Riddle defeats #15 Eddie Altieri 27-14
  • #1 JD Burrows defeats #16 Pete Vurnakes 22-20
  • #8 Logan Jarosz defeats #9 David Waitt 14-10
  • #5 Trey Reese defeats #12 Michael Wessels 13-10
  • #4 Ben Rosenberger automatically advances
  • #11 Eric Zehnder defeats #5 Kaymin Matsko 26-19
  • #14 Maddux Smith defeats #3 Grant Meiggs 18-9
  • #7 Andrew Oakley defeats #10 Cyle Phelan 21-14
  • #2 Jordan Hodge defeats #15 Cole Leneschmidt 29-11

 Final Day: Rounds 2-5 at I.T.S. Baseball

The remainder of The King of the Mound tournament was finished at I.T.S. Baseball on Saturday January 24th.  The remaining sixteen pitchers showed up at their respective start times in an effort to take the crown.  Every pitcher’s shoulder range of motion patterns were tested prior to event and again after they had finished pitching.  To read about the complete shoulder range of motion study we conducted on this event, you can read about it here.

Chas breaks Microphone!

I let Chas be the official MC for the tournament, but in his initial attempt to announce the matchup, he got overly excited and broke the microphone.

#14 Will Walker wins on last throw

Of all the tense match-ups throughout the tournament, Will Walker’s epic back and forth battle with Nathan Rogers was the most dramatic.

Will Walker vs Nathan Rogers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both pitchers started slow.  Didn’t look like much of a game until the last 4 throws.  Watch below to see the game took a dramatic turn and resulted in a classic finish!

 Second Round Results (Sweet 16)

  • #1 Sam Whitt defeats #8 Eli Newton 20-8
  • #13 Will Walker defeats #5 Nathan Rogers 18-17
  • #3 Will Shields defeats #11 Will T. Walker 24-22
  • #7 Trey Cooper defeats #2 Adam Riddle 26-12
  • #1 JD Burrows defeats #* Logan Jarosz 27-17
  • #4 Ben Rosenberger defeats #5 Trey Reese 19-18
  • #14 Maddux Smith defeats #11 Eric Zehnder 19-16
  • #2 Jordan Hodge defeats #7 Andrew Oakley 14-10

Third Round Results (Elite 8)

  • #1 Sam Whitt defeats #13 Will Walker 28-14
  • #7 Trey Cooper defeats #3 Will Shields 18-9
  • #1 JD Burrows defeats #4 Ben Rosenberger 26-17
  • #14 Maddux Smith defeats #2 Jordan Hodge 19-11

Fourth Round Results (Final Four)

Perhaps the best moment occurred on the final day, our two #1 seeds Sam Whitt, and JD Burrows who are both in high school faced off against Will Walker and Trey Cooper, both in middle school.  You could see the look on both Sam’s and JD’s faces that they did not want to lose to the younger pitcher.  Watching all of them, you can see in the first few throws that Sam and JD felt added pressure.  Trey and Will seemed to love the moment.  They both stayed focused and aggressive and gave both Sam and JD a run for their money.

  • #1 Sam Whitt defeats #7 Trey Cooper 29-23
  • #1 JD Burrows defeats #14 Maddux Smith 19-13

The Finals

We honestly couldn’t have planned a better final matchup.  Sam and JD came into the tournament as the two top seeds because they were the only two pitchers in the program with DVS Scores of 21.  You could tell in the final game, both pitchers were both mentally and physically tired.  Both pitchers had a chance to win into the last throw which made for great drama and perfect ending to our first annual tournament.

  • #1 Sam Whitt defeats #1 JD Burrows 18-12

King of the Mound Runner Up: #1 JD Burrows

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King of the Mound Champion: #1 Sam Whitt

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We fully plan on making The King of The Mound Tournament an annual event each year at I.T.S. Baseball.   I’ve already been in conversation with several pitching instructors/facility owners who expressed interest in formatting similar events for their pitchers and possibly competing against us each year.   If you would like any additional information about our tournament or would like to become involved, fill free to reach out to us.

-Justin Orenduff, Leader of the Pitching Rebellion

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Baseball Rebellion’s “Old School” Mechanics Make The NEWS!

The Old School pitching delivery may begin to flourish in Raleigh/Durham.

Recently, Mandy Mitchell , a sports anchor with a local Fox affiliate WRAL, interviewed myself, Will, and Chas on the epidemic of overuse injuries within the game of baseball.  Mandy’s story titled “Pressure to Play”  focused primarily on the false pressure parents and players are feeling at a young age to perfect their skills in order to obtain a college scholarship and potentially get drafted.  The pressure leads to players playing more often, on more teams, with very little breaks.

“Pressure to Play”  Trailer

In my interview with Mandy prior to the broadcast, I wanted to make sure I emphasized the mechanical shift of the pitching delivery we have seen over the last twenty-five years.   It’s important Mandy realized the culture of misguided training practices our young players are being exposed to on an everyday basis.  In my latest article I talked about the Overhead Delivery, common among 94% of all Hall of Fame pitchers.  Mandy found this aspect of the story very interesting and decided to devote a separate segment on how valuable the pitching mechanics can be to avoid injury.

I want to thank Mandy for giving us the opportunity to continue to spread our message to parents and players throughout Raleigh/Durham.  The story comes at a valuable time with the alarming rate of throwing injuries at the professional level.  Parents of young players need to be aware of the pitfalls they will encounter if they begin to venture down the wrong path.

I have provided links to both broadcasts featured on last night’s WRAL Evening News.

“Pressure to Play”  complete story

Proper mechanics can reduce injuries

If you found this post valuable, please share.  Help us save more young arms throughout all of baseball.

Justin Orenduff, Leader of the Pitching Rebellion

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What do 94% of HALL OF FAME pitchers have in common?

WOW

71 pitchers are currently in the Hall of Fame.  I managed to find an image or video of 54 of the 71 pitchers.  Of the 54, 51 pitchers (94%) took their hands over their head in the full windup.

The Backstory

OH Common Thread
Hall of Famers taking their hands over the head

Recently, I had one of my students tell me “My high school coach told me I can no longer take my hands over my head in my windup.” He was visibly upset, worried he may not be able to do a motion he has worked so hard at over the last several months. I responded, “did he tell you why?”, “He said, it will make my arms tired and cause me to get off balance.” The high school also went on to say, “You don’t see pitchers in the Major League’s taking their hands over their head all the time.”

Is this fair for the High School coach to say to my student? OF COURSE! Most people stay within the comfort zone and are afraid to look outside of the box. If no one on TV has their hands over their head, it must be wrong right?

So, I decided to look back and see how many Hall of Fame Pitchers took their hands over their head in the windup. The numbers are staggering, but paint a very clear picture. The concept of bringing the hands over the head isn’t just for visual purposes, the concept serves a very real purpose that very few coaches, players, or parents understand in the game of baseball today. In simple terms, the movement forces the pitcher to create energy and timing in a rhythmic fashion that keeps the pitcher in a fluid motion and prevents tension within the arm and body prior to the release of the baseball.

The game of baseball has truly changed over the last 50 years.  Many things in life have a tendency to progressively change over time, but not the modern day pitching delivery has progressively declined.  Just ask Tommy John.

My conversation with Tommy John

First, after looking at Tommy’s statistics, I have no idea why he is not in the Hall of Fame.  The man pitched over 5,000 professional innings over the course of 28 years .  The ability to stay in the game that long should automatically enroll you in my opinion.  Either way, I had the pleasure of speaking to him about several facets of pitching recently, and I enjoyed every minute.  We talked about the current status of MLB injuries, youth baseball, long toss, mechanics, and various other potential factors surrounding the development of a pitcher.

One of the areas I found most fascinating, and continues to affirm my belief in his era,  is where Tommy John learned how to pitch.   While sitting on the couch watching baseball with his father, his father simply said, “If you want to learn how to pitch, do what the best do.”  According to Tommy, the best pitchers at the time and the pitchers he chose to mimic, were Robin Roberts and Whitey Ford.  I provided a clip of Tommy John below for you to gain a perspective of his delivery.

The conversation Tommy had with his father brings up a valuable reference point for ALL current players and parents. As mentioned at the beginning of this post, whether it be a high school coach, parent, or young player watching the average MLB pitcher on TV, they will see a style far removed from the one Tommy John witnessed with his father 50 years ago. Therefore, a young kid who has an interest in becoming a pitcher will be inclined to go out in the backyard and mimic what the best in the world are currently doing. The problem, although we have become bigger, stronger, and faster in EVERY major sport in America, a professional pitcher has moved less athletically with each new year. Why is this?

Well, both Tommy John and I agree more kids are worried about lighting up the radar gun from a young age instead of learning how to develop an efficient pitching delivery to truly pitch. Today, kids grow up learning how to throw weighted baseballs, long toss, or lift weights to become a better pitcher, instead of striving to repeat and become an expert in their own pitching delivery. The bulk of pitching instruction both online and in-person is geared just to throw harder. No wonder, we have so many pitching injuries.

I asked Tommy about his thoughts on today’s professional pitcher. He simply referred a problematic culture that involves a declining number of pitchers who know how to move their lower half in pitching delivery (resembling more of the UP, DOWN, & OUT), an overemphasis to throw curveballs to get hitters out from a young age, and too many pitchers long tossing as the source to build arm strength.

Through my research, I can now statistically prove, a pitcher who takes his hands over his head in the full windup, will be more inclined to utilize his entire body which will yield a better support system as the arm moves through its path of acceleration towards home plate. This forgotten move, once rampant through all of Major League Baseball, is outlawed by many coaches, parents, and players in the game of baseball today. Sad, but true.

Later in this article I will provide REAL stories from players and parents about incidents revolving around a  pitcher taking their hands over their head.

 FUN FACT!

Tommy John threw 2,581 innings before his first Tommy John Surgery.  Jarrod Parker, Brandon Beachy, and Kris Medlen COMBINED to throw 1,032 innings before their first Tommy John Surgery.  After Tommy John’s first surgery, he went on to throw an additional 2,444 innings before retirement.  Jarrod Parker, Brandon Beachy, and Kris Medlen COMBINED to throw ONLY 953 before their SECOND Tommy John Surgery!

1964 ERA Leaders vs. 2014 ERA Leaders

Lets imagine the kid watching baseball with his father 50 years ago.  50 years sounds like a nice round number and happens to be the era Tommy John was a young professional moving up the ranks.  If a dad in 1964 told his son to watch and learn from the best, his son would likely choose from the list below.

1964 ERA leaders

1964 Top Ten ERA Leaders

  1. Dean Chance
  2. Sandy Koufax
  3. Joe Horlen
  4. Whitey Ford
  5. Don Drysdale
  6. Chris Short
  7. Juan Marichal
  8. Gary Peters
  9. Juan Pizarro
  10. Jim Bunning

10/10 pitchers incorporated the Overhead Delivery.  

2014 Top Ten ERA Leaders

2014 Top Ten ERA Leaders (Current 6/27)

  1. Johnny Cueto
  2. Adam Wainwright
  3. Masahiro Tanaka
  4. Josh Beckett
  5. Felix Hernandez
  6. Henderson Alvarez
  7. Julio Teheran
  8. Yu Darvish
  9. Mark Buehrle
  10. Jeff Samardzija

1/10 pitchers incorporated the Overhead Delivery.

The numbers paint a very clear picture of the dominant style of pitching in the game today.  Young kids will likely aspire to be like the professionals they see on TV.  Coaches and instructors will refer to the dominant pitchers of the last decade, and the cycle will continue until a new wave of style surfaces.  A style that is reminiscent of 94% of Hall of Fame pitchers.  A style Baseball Rebellion aims to educate and show the many positive attributes attached to simply taking your hands over the head in the windup.

FUN FACT!

In 3 years, and nearly 500 initial pitching evaluations, I have had 10 kids take their hands over their heads in the full windup.  That’s  2% of the population on the youth level. 

Yu Darvish Starts out of the STRETCH 

Why is Yu Darvish starting the game out of the stretch?  Manager Ron Washington has no idea.

He says he figures it out in the bullpen.  When he comes in the game if he feels like his stuff is better from the stretch, he will just pitch from the stretch.  If he thinks it’s better from the windup he will go from the windup.  And certain pitches work better from the stretch than they do from the windup.  -ESPN Analyst, John Kruk

First, it’s apparent the Rangers let Darvish do whatever he feels like doing. Rightfully so, he’s been successful. But it’s also apparent; the Rangers don’t have anyone in place to help Darvish feel more comfortable out of the windup. I doubt Yu Darvish would consider starting out of the stretch 50 years ago. It could also be the case; Yu Darvish has never learned or felt the true advantage of any full windup. I’m not sure how certain pitches work better from the stretch than they do from the windup. I would argue you have the opportunity to enhance any pitch if the windup is executed properly.

I’ve had many students opt to take advantage of the Overhead Delivery because I presented options in front of them and let them decide what they feel most comfortable. One of my online students recently made the decision to take his hands over his head.

BR Student’s Decision to Go Hands Overhead 

In his words…

I never thought about it to much until recently while I was playing around with it during a catch. I felt that it was helping with my rhythm and timing and it made it easier to bring my hands down the center of my body more consistently. I have only been practicing it for about a week now but I will stick with it. By going over head it brings my body to a more consistent place where I can really drive my hips down the mound better.  -BR Student

The student above pitched through college without ever taking his hands over his head. He wasn’t told not to take his hands over his head, but the option was never introduced or taught to him as a prime way for him to efficiently move his body into the throw.

If you watched the video, you can’t help but notice the dramatic chance in his pitching delivery. Look at the momentum created by simply taking his hands over his head!!! Wow. I taught him the foundation of how to move his body but the decision to go over his head was ALL his.

If you are a young aspiring pitcher, it will be OK to mimic what you just watched above.

Now, here are some factual stories that materialize how ridiculous our culture has become and how little some individuals know about the game of baseball.

Horror Stories! Well, should be.

13 year old student, RHP

Yesterday, in my middle school game, I struck out the first six batters, and before I pitched to the first batter in the third inning, the umpire came out and talked to me.  He said, ” I need you to stop the acrobatics out here.  I was like, “OK”.

My guess is the umpire hasn’t seen a kid move like that out of the windup in a long time and had a hard time picking up the baseball.  Hard to define your strike zone when you can’t see the ball.

Baseball Rebellion Dad,

When my son was small we attended a baseball camp where a highly respected local high school coach advocated not bringing the arms over the head as it would “fatigue” the pitcher. I always thought that was ridiculous. If a pitcher gets worn out by simply bringing his hands over his head, he needs to get in shape.

I felt like I needed to hire this Dad to work for me after his email.  He hit so many valid points right on the nose.   He went on to comment the following below.

From my observation I tend to think bringing the arms over the head has several benefits.
1.   Tends to keep the pitcher’s shoulders back. It appears to me that today’s pitchers tend to not have their shoulders (and therefore their body’s) as far back as in the earlier days.
2.   Seems to create more of a rocking motion therefore builds up more momentum when going forward.
3.   Creates a “windmill effect” using gravity and acting as a fulcrum to generate more power  for the throwing arm.
4.   As the pitcher’s leg is “hooking the Rubber “ (think Koufax) with the hands over the head and shoulders back it naturally forces the pitcher’s weight to stay back.

Conclusion

The pitching delivery back in 1964 was far superior on so many levels compared to the average pitching delivery we see today. Why could so many pitchers throw far more innings on shorter rest 50 years ago? Why did Tommy John pitch for almost 30 years? Why have Brandon Beachy, Kris Medlen, and Jarrod Parker undergone two Tommy John surgeries with better nutrition, training, and physically bigger and stronger than Tommy John?

Take a close look and the answers are glaring. Don’t get blinded by the current culture. Do some research and make your own observations. If you are a dad, and sitting on the couch with your son, think twice about who you tell your son to mold himself after.

I have no problem at all if any pitcher wants to keep his hands low and never opt to take his hands over his head. But, I have a major issue with coaches who tell a kid not to take his hands over his head because it doesn’t look normal, or it will make him tired.

Best of luck to all rising young pitchers! Building and developing your own style. If you currently take your hands over your head in your windup, tweet me @justinorenduff and #overhead to become a part of a movement to bring back the style of 94% of Hall of Famers!

Justin Orenduff, Leader of the Pitching Rebellion

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Baseball Rebellion Store Open

Baseball Rebellion Store

BASEBALL REBELLION’S STORE
NOW OPEN

The Baseball Rebellion Store is now open! ITEMS LIKE, the Baseball Rebellion T-Shirt, the Rebel’s Rack, and even I.T.S. Baseball Apparel is now available at BaseballRebellion.com/Store/

Baseball Rebellion Performance T-Shirt

The Rebel's Rack

 

***Help Show How far the Baseball Rebellion has spread. Tweet @BR_REBEL or post on our Facebook a Picture of you or your Rebels in your new Baseball Rebellion T-Shirt out in the world and you could end up on our Website and receive a store discount on your next Purchase!****