Vanderbilt pitching coach attributes pitching staff's success to yelling "Throw more strikes!" over and over
OMAHA, NE—The Vanderbilt baseball team won the College World Series for the second time this week, and the most obvious factor to the team’s success has been its pitching. Although they have a state-of-the-art training facility, utilize cutting edge video technology, and employ an intense throwing program, pitching coach Scott Brown attributes the Commodores’ success on the mound to his even more revolutionary in-game coaching style.
“Sure, all the other training helps a bit,” explained coach Brown, “But if you want your guy to really succeed on the mound, I’ve found yelling the most obvious thing over and over and over works better than anything.”
While most pitching coaches in the college and professional world still think pitching is all about mechanics, strength and conditioning, and mental training, Brown takes an unorthodox approach, and the results speak for themselves.
“The idea came when I was scouting a 9-year-old at a USSSA tournament a couple years ago. I kept hearing parents and coaches yelling at the kids to ‘throw more strikes.’ I thought it would never work, and that the kid would just get more frustrated it would have a negative effect. Turns out I was wrong.”
Although yelling, “Throw more strikes!” seems like an overly obvious demand of someone whose job is to throw strikes, the method has proven successful. The key, says coach Brown, is to yell so loud that the pitcher can only think of your voice. The more obvious the command—like “throw more strikes!” or “stop walking guys!”—the better as well. When baseball players get on the field and find themselves in a tough spot, they completely forget how to play the game of baseball, so its pertinent to remind them.
“One time I walked the first two guys in the eighth inning of a game and couldn’t remember what I was supposed to be doing on the mound,” said Kumar Rocker, a freshman phenom at Vandy. “Coach Brown just started yelling at me to throw to the catcher’s mitt and it clicked. I got out of the inning without giving up a run. I don’t know where I’d be without his unique coaching style.”
This coaching style is starting to become more popular amongst powerhouse college programs and will probably find its way to the MLB in the next couple years. The method is also being tried on hitters with phrases like “Touch the ball with the bat!” and “Quit swinging at balls!” The research is still in the beginning phases, but the results look promising.