The Expertise Assumption: Where Private Coaches Fail their Most Talented Clients

Written By: Chas Pippitt

The Expertise Assumption: Where Private Coaches Fail Their Most Talented Clients

When an 8 year old walks into Baseball Rebellion for a hitting or throwing evaluation, the process is simple and the same every single time.  First, we let the player warm themselves up how they 'normally do', then they are evaluated in their skill. The instructor videos each player, sometimes from multiple angles, puts on the Hittrax or Rapsodo, and then a comparison occurs between them and someone their age and size and the video and metrics their swings or throwing mechanics delivered.  Normally, we find some pretty significant swing problems from bat drag, to bad footwork, to closing their eyes during the swing or pitch (which is much more common than you think). Thousands of amateur baseball and softball players have been through this process, and due to their age and the fact that they pay to play instead of getting paid to play, its assumed there are things we can find and fix to elevate their game.  No instructor would assume an 8-year-old is an 'expert', because obviously, they are not.

Now, what happens when a MiLB, MLB or high-level college baseball player walks in?  What if an All-American Softball player comes through the door?  What if a possible softball Olympian comes in?  What happens now?  In most facilities around the country, there is an assumption that a high-level player is already an expert.  What generally happens is the player just uses the facility.  An instructor throws them BP or they use the pitching lane to throw their bullpens.  Some of these professional-level players go back to colleges that they either attended or live near and just go hit or throw and lift amongst themselves.  This relationship happens for 2 reasons:

  1.  The player thinks he/she doesn't need any help.  They're already at a top 15 school or were a high draft pick or MLB player, what could this local facility possibly provide to that level of a player in terms of help?
  2. The instructors/facility owners also are unsure of what they can actually do to help a player of that level as they don't have much real experience working with young men and women with that level of talent. In most cases, they usually don't also have the technology that the top players look for to measure and track their improvement over time.

At Baseball Rebellion, we do NOT assume a player is an expert when they walk in the door regardless of their past accomplishments or current playing status.  This allows us to take a fresh look at each athlete as they enter our program and run them through our entire process of intake.  Exactly as the 8-year-old we referenced earlier in the article, the player will warm up his/her way.  Perform their skill in front of an instructor, be measured using Hittrax or Rapsodo, and then be videoed from multiple angles.  The elite player now goes into a video room where their metrics and video are broken down vs players of similar skill levels and size.  Now, here's where the difference lies between the 8-year-old and the high-level player. The 8-year-old does not have much track record of success while the high-level player (HLP) does.  The HLP is usually much more reluctant to change their actual swing.  They should be reluctant and skeptical of people offering 'advice', especially if it costs money.  These players are the ones with the careers, the ones who throw the pitches, swing the bats.  These players are the 'men in the arena' and they have to perform.

I've said this before, and I'll say it again.  Baseball Rebellion instructors are much closer to movement improvement specialists than baseball coaches.  Yes, we played the game, and we coach skill specific training to improve game performance.  But HOW we do it is drastically different when compared to what most players are expecting.  And, once they allow themselves to try the movements, they realize their swings and throwing mechanics aren't being changed...the player's understanding of creating and exerting force, and therefore how to execute force production the best way for them, is what's changing.  Baseball Rebellion instructors can literally tell a hitter or pitcher 'we're not going to change your mechanics, we're going to show you how to improve your rotational speed and power or simply show you a few movement drills to do before you throw or hit'.  Then, the player throws or hits from their exact same stance, setup, stride or delivery that they had before.

Then, a Fascinating Thing Happens...

The player's movements inside of their own swing or delivery changes.  Their bodies absorb the movements perfected away from their specific skill...and feed off the new speed and power.  Yes, their swing or pitching delivery has changed...but the athlete's body CHOSE the change.  The HLP was not manipulated by drills during their training or forced to 'swing or throw' a different way.  IF an instructor can show an athlete a faster way or a more efficient way, the BODY of the athlete will want it and want it, over and over.

None of this discovery can happen if the High-Level Athlete is assumed to be an expert.  Dave Shinskie just wrote an article, you can find it here, where he mentions 'Unconscious Competence' which is where many athletes live their playing careers.  The goal of instructors working with HLP's should be to get them over to 'Flow'.  Build movements that keep their athletes clear-minded, calm and trusting in their own processes.  And much like the Katas I referenced in my last article, these movement progressions help build a movement solution that is, in itself, adaptable.

Rebellion Real-Time Example

A great example of this adaptable movement quality is Ronnie Dawson.  Here is his initial intake video and his HitTrax numbers that he generated with his swing and no Baseball Rebellion Turn Training at all.

Obviously, Ronnie is a former Big-10 Player of the year, a high draft pick, and someone with obvious athletic gifts.  Hitting the ball 100mph is not surprising at an evaluation.  What IS surprising is how much velocity and distance he added after our Turn Training and no other drilling or changes whatsoever to his swing.  Ronnie's evaluation video and baseline numbers were taken on 1/18/18 at 12:28 pm.  Here are his 'post-turn work' session details, taken at 2:03 pm 1/18/18.  Notice the date and time of these two sessions in relation to each other, less than 2 hours have passed, and the results of the work are stunning.  Ronnie made gains of 5 mph in exit velocity and 102 feet in distance gains.  He pulled more balls, and drove balls high in the air at high exit velocities.

Now here is Ronnie's Video from a few days later, we did not video his 2:00 session on the 18th.  As you can see and hear, he's very happy with what he's worked on.

What you're seeing above is real turn driven adjustability.  I'm throwing him fastballs, curves, and changeups and he doesn't know what's coming...and it doesn't matter.  (Ronnie also said that "You have the best BP curveball I've ever seen." which was kinda cool as well.) He knows the feeling of being 'able to turn whenever he wants', again, his words not mine.  And now, after dominating in the spring he's never been more excited about the possibilities of this upcoming season.  You can follow Ronnie's progress HERE and watch as his numbers develop over time.

Conclusion

While we do not assume high-level players are experts, we also approach them with an ample amount of respect for their unique abilities.  Ronnie, like most pros, didn't need to be 'fixed'.  Ronnie needed help finding a faster solution to the problem of hitting in games.  Mentally, Ronnie has a much improved approach to how he trains.  He can go back to movement rules of how the body rotates and generates power instead of anecdotal 'evidence' about how someone else 'felt' when they hit years before.  Ronnie can head to his hotel, do a few minutes of movement, and maintain his body strength and mobility and energy much easier than if he headed to the cage to hit dozens of balls after a game.  Learning to Turn appears to be a turning point in Ronnie's career.  He can elevate more balls to all fields and has developed the pull power the Astros wanted him to find.  Listen to more of Ronnie Dawson here on the Baseball Rebellion Podcast.

Chas Pippitt, Leader of the Baseball Rebellion

Just for fun, he's another video of Ronnie on his last day here of his 2nd visit.  Again, he does not know what's coming...Yikes.

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