“A coach should never be afraid to ask questions of anyone he could learn from.” — Bobby Knight, former Indiana University basketball coach
HOW I BECAME A HITTING (AND PITCHING) COACH
Back in 2012, my seven year-old son got into a hitting slump while playing coach pitch baseball. I was baffled because he had always been a very good hitter for his age. He became discouraged and I became frustrated because I wanted him to enjoy the game and be successful. I tried to help by giving him well-meaning but useless advice like “see the ball hit the bat” and “get your back elbow up.” I bought gimmicky training aids like the Insider Bat and Swift Stik. He did get out of his slump, but I still felt my son could be a better hitter. The question was, how could I help him improve?
I began doing research on the internet and kept coming across the name Mike Epstein and something he called “rotational hitting.” The information I found online convinced me that rotational hitting was worth a closer look. So, I ordered all the Epstein DVDs and books I could find and studied his ideas. I was blown away by Epstein’s detailed understanding of the swing and how much of the batting advice people gave to kids was wrong. I wanted my son to learn rotational hitting. I looked for and found a local instructor, Rick Stiner, who taught rotational principles. My son started taking lessons and, with hard work, his mechanics and hitting improved dramatically. By this time, I had become very interested in batting mechanics and wanted to learn more.
I continued my research on batting and carefully analyzed the systems of other instructors who taught principles that complemented or reinforced rotational hitting. I studied Dr. Chris Yeager’s Iso-Hitting System, Chris O’Leary’s hitting webbooks, and Justin Stone’s Sequential Hitting program. I talked to local and national hitting instructors whenever I had the chance. As I became more confident in my understanding of rotational hitting, I began working with my son and players on the travel team I coached.
After six years of studying batting and working informally with players, I decided to learn how to be a hitting instructor. So, in 2017, I flew to Denver, Colorado, completed training in the Epstein Hitting System, and became an Epstein Certified Hitting Instructor. I chose this certification program because it emphasizes video analysis and uses a proven method to teach rotational hitting, which is the basic way most MLB players hit. The Epstein method combines slow-motion video analysis and time-tested drills to correct flaws. There is no doubt in my mind that the use of slow-motion video and targeted drills is the most effective way to help players improve their hitting and reach their potential.
My interest in pitching was the result of coaching a 9U travel baseball team. This is the age group where players first begin to pitch. The 9U season made me realize how little I actually knew about pitching. So, I decided to educate myself. I began attending regional pitching camps as a coach to observe two of the best pitching coaches in the country, Tom House (National Pitching) and Ron Wolforth (Texas Baseball Ranch). These camps included teaching demonstrations and detailed explanations of their pitching systems. I also purchased supplemental materials to help me with the learning process. I have taken what I think makes the most sense from their two systems to develop a program to help players maximize their pitching potential.
COACHING TRAINING AND EXPERIENCE
Certifications and Memberships
Epstein Certified Hitting Instructor (2017)
Member of the American Baseball Coaches Association
US Soccer Federation Grassroots Coaching License for 4v4, 7v7, 9v9, and 11v11 (2019)
Youth Protection Training certification, Boy Scouts of America (valid 2020-2022)
National Pitching Association Pitcher’s Camp with Tom House and NPA regional directors (three-day camp) – coaching audit (2015)
Elite Pitchers Boot Camp with Ron Wolforth and the Texas Baseball Ranch staff (three-day camp) – registered coach (2015, 2016, and 2017)
Selected Self Study Programs:
Do We Teach What We Really See?, Mike Epstein (Epstein Hitting)
How to “Hit” Your Potential in Just 7 Days, Mike Epstein (Epstein Hitting)
Fixing Bat Drag, Chris O’Leary
Sequential Hitting, Justin Stone (Elite Baseball Training)
Elite Swing Mechanics, Bobby Tewksbary (Tewksbary Hitting)
ISO Baseball: The Science of the Perfect Swing, Dr. Chris Yeager (ISO Baseball)
The Dynamic Pitcher, Kyle Boddy (Driveline Baseball)
Hacking the Kinetic Chain-Youth, Kyle Boddy (Driveline Baseball)
Lower Half Development, Ron Wolforth (Texas Baseball Ranch)
The New Athletic Pitcher, Ron Wolforth (Texas Baseball Ranch)
Mastery Approach to Coaching, self-study program (2015)
Baseball – Coaching and Administration:
Head Coach: Irvington Community Middle School (2021)
Head Coach: Oaklandon Bombers (2030) – 9U and 10U (2021-2022)
Head Coach: Oaklandon Bombers (2023) – 7U, 8U, 9U, 10U, 11U, 12U, 13U, and 14U (2012-2019)
Travel Baseball Commissioner, Oaklandon Youth Organization – 2019-present
Plate and Base Umpire, Oaklandon Youth Organization Rec and Travel Baseball – 2019-present
Recreational Baseball – Head Coach:
YMCA Harrison Branch
– 2010, Tee Ball (5 years-old and younger)
Oaklandon Youth Organization
– 2015 and 2016, Tee Ball (5 years-old and younger)
– 2012, 2013, and 2019, Rookie League (7 and 8 years-old)
Head Coach Basketball:
Indianapolis Public Schools – 5th Grade IPS League (2003)
YMCA Harrison Branch – 4-5 year-olds (2009-2010)
YMCA – Jordan Branch – 6-7 year-old All City Travel (2012)
Panther Youth Basketball – K-1 and 2nd Grade (2011-2013)
Growing up on the Alabama Gulf Coast, I played youth baseball, football, and tennis. I earned varsity letters in high school for football and tennis. I also played junior varsity baseball and basketball. Unlike many baseball instructors, I did not play college or professional baseball. That lack of experience, however, turned out to be an asset for me. I understood that I didn’t know anything about batting mechanics. So, when I started doing research on hitting, I was ready to learn. I had an open mind and no preconceptions or biases about the proper way to bat. I read extensively and watched a lot of videos. When I was around professional coaches, I always took the opportunity to ask questions about mechanics and teaching strategies. This same approach also applied to my study of pitching.
My professional background in research (Ph.D. in political science) and the physical sciences (BS in chemical engineering) helps me understand the “science” part of hitting and throwing a baseball. I took an interest in the physics of both hitting and throwing with a focus on concepts like the kinematic sequence, axis rotation, ground force production, energy transfer, bat path, etc. As a result, I can give good explanations for all the mechanics I teach and all the drills I recommend.