3 Ways To Coach a Better Bullpen

Identifying Strengths
Positive Reinforcement
Ask the Right Questions
Final Thoughts

Ask the Right Questions

Questions redirect the mind and help you as a coach control the priorities of a pitcher.  Rather than strict positional do’s and don’ts, or rights and wrongs, pitchers learn by ‘feel’.  You want to be able to ask questions that elicit a ‘feel’ rather than a right or wrong answer.  

For Example:  

1. How does the ball feel coming off your fingers?  

2. How high does the top of the zone feel?

3. Does arm side feel better than glove side?

4. What did you feel on that pitch?

These types of questions and responses to an athlete gives them the ability to gain awareness and self regulate their own maintenance.  Helping athletes become more aware and make better decisions is the core of coaching.

One pitch at a time 

Creating a script for pitchers should keep their mind active on the task at hand, rather than repeating a pitch that is missed continuously.  A script should be followed and tracked for it’s overall execution rather than trying to execute each pitch perfectly in the script before moving on.  A key question that coaches can use for athletes that tend to let one pitch leak into the next is, “When does one pitch end and the next pitch begin?”.  This question helps athletes separate one pitch from the next which keeps the overall priority of the bullpen at the top of their minds rather than what immediately needs to be corrected.

Two huge Coaching Questions

How did that feel?

Use open ended questions to get a sense of where a pitcher’s priorities are and where his head is at. Yes/No questions have their place and are valuable at times, but the feedback from an open ended question allows you insight and understanding of whether or not there needs to be an adjustment made. This is a great question for pitchers who are implementing new delivery changes or developing pitches.  The listener is always in control.

So what?

This is another terrific open ended question, a serious question that forces the athletes to use his imagination.  This question typically comes after an emotional response in the form of bad body language or use of words in general.  Practice the way that you want to perform.  If a pitcher has emotional outburst within a bullpen setting, then it is inevitable that they will have an outburst within a game setting.  The most important pitch is the one in your hand, if a pitcher’s mind is caught up in the emotion of what just happened then it can leak into the next pitch if not properly armed with self evaluating questions that control their priorities.