Why Video Can be So Important for Baseball

These days most pitching coaches and even pitchers use video to help better understand what’s going on with a pitcher’s delivery. In an attempt to find flaws or inefficiencies we use anything from high speed cameras to tablets or smart phones. Personally, I’ve used all 3. I never saw a need for a tablet until I decided to give it a Samsung Tab S a try for recording pitchers. I ended up selling it, but it worked pretty well with UberSense.

I have video on all of my pitchers, and not just a few clips. I have many clips for various situations so I can see if anything has changed from week to week, and even in various environments.

Recently I was speaking to one of my newer 12U players who started going to a pitching coach about the same time he joined our team. He was telling me how his pitching coach spent an entire session helping fix his glove side mechanics. Basically he said he was swinging his arm before ball release. I decided to take a look at the various film I had of this kid and, wouldn’t you know it…he didn’t do what this coach was saying. His glove side was actually pretty good, actually.

So I decided to ask this player if his new pitching coach was taking video of him. His response: no, with a look of confusion and concern. I asked him if he knew how the coach figured out how his glove arm was [allegedly] swinging the way he claims it was, but it was clear that the coach was just making assumptions based on what he saw with his naked eye, and most likely based on one pitch.

This type of “coaching” bugs me, because the coach has taken this kid’s money and it has gotten him nowhere, except now focused on a problem that did not exist in the first place. This player will now focus on his glove side during every throw he makes.

On top of this, he’s also being taught to square up to the plate. This is a kid who has been working on his velocity, which is now taking a back seat so that he can be “safe” (we know this really isn’t actually any safer).

To summarize: this coach is making money by giving this kid “something to work on,” even if it doesn’t need to be worked on. This is frustrating.

Any time you start working with a player you should have video of that player. Not one pitch/throw/swing, but several, preferably in different environments, if possible. This helps you see any real issues that may be lingering. It’s so easy to say that a player needs to be working on [x], but how can you be sure that the player does need to work on that? For most coaches, there’s an easy fix — video. Most people have smart phones, which means they can quickly and easily download apps for their phones, such as Coach’s Eye or UberSense/Hudl.

Having this video gives you a look at past changes and future fixes to see the progress a pitcher is making.

Do You Know What You’re Looking For?

Anyone can take video, but does that really matter if you have no clue what you’re looking at? Understanding mechanics is important when taking a look at video you’ve recorded of your player. If you don’t truly understand what you’re looking at, you’ll either a) find no issues at all, or b) find issues that might not be there.

This means that you could cause more harm than good.

It’s important that you watch plenty of video of elite pitchers (MLB) and see the movement patterns in their delivery, but also understand that not every person is the same. An 11 year old pitcher can’t pitch like Felix Hernandez, so try to be a bit realistic about this. It’s almost as annoying to see or hear about coaches trying to compare young pitchers side-by-side with guys like Aroldis Chapman. Stop. Don’t do that. Aroldis Chapman is a tall, very athletic pitcher who throws 106 MPH. Your High School son/client isn’t going to be able to accomplish those same movements, nor will be throw 105 MPH after you give him his fix to get 105 degree angles here, 65 degree angles there.

But you should understand what’s going on in the mechanics of guys like Chapman so that you can better explain what you’re looking for (flaws, ineffeciencies, etc.).

On top of video you should be taking notes. Not just mental, but physical notes, as well as data. Having a radar gun, command tests and things of this nature will help you get a better picture of what you’ve helped them accomplish. Video isn’t the be-all and and-all, but video will definitely give you a great “picture” of what may be going on with your pitcher (or you, if you’re a pitcher).