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Ep. 70: UCF Pitching Coach Nick Otte | A Baseball Podcast

Geoff Rottmayer March 16, 2020 15


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UCF Pitching Coach Nick Otte

Welcome to The Baseball Awakening Podcast, where we dive into the raw, unfiltered, unsexy side of player development

Guest Bio:

Nick Otte – University of Central Florida Pitching Coach

Summary:

On this episode, Host Geoff Rottmayer sits down with Nick Otte, Pitching Coach for the University of Central Florida.

Show Notes: In this conversation, Nick talks about:

  • His transition from being a player to a coach.
  • What his pitching philosophy is and why it works well for him.
  • Advice for young coaches who are drowning in information.
  • What he looks for in pitchers.
  • How is watch and expect guys to play catch.
  • How is get his pitchers present.
  • What it means for incoming freshman to come ready.
  • and much more.

Website: www.baseballawakening.com

Facebook: Baseball Awakening Podcast

Twitter: Baseball Awakening Podcast

Instagram: The Baseball Awakening Podcast

Email Address: geoff@baseballawakening.com

Geoffrey Rottmayer
On today’s show we have on University of Central Florida picking code Nick Adi, and we’re talking about his transition from playing to coating. If it had been on coaches, it picked him philosophy and why it works so well for him and Mark Mark Moore.

Intro
Welcome to another episode of the baseball awakening podcast where we dive into the raw, unfiltered unsexy side of player development. Get ready for some knowledge bombs with your host, Jeff rottenmeier.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
Welcome to the baseball wakening podcast. I’m Jeff Rottmayer. And today I’m sitting down with the University of Central Florida pitching coach, Nick Adi. And I’m excited to learn from him today and we’re gonna talk some pitching. Nick, how are you sir?

Nick Otte
I’m doing well yourself.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
I’m doing great man. I appreciate you coming on. You know, I had a couple people reach out and they would finally able to make it happen. So we really appreciate you coming on and listening and learning from you.

Nick Otte
I’m excited to do this.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
Awesome. You know, Nick, you had a pretty good Playing career at Indiana University. And then from there, you Tran you went into your coaching career. So let’s talk about that transition for you. When you went from a player to a coach, talk about that and talk about where you’re at now and then kind of how you evolved as a coach over the years.

Nick Otte
Absolutely. I was, you know, moving from Indiana University to the My first time. first job I was given a lot of responsibility early. I was fortunate enough to meet Billy Vernon at a at a camp at any Indiana University. As an overnight camp, we stayed up late talk shop for for a while. And he said, Man, I might have an opening coming up, would you be interested? So my first My first job was in charge of the teachers here you go go run with it. So really give an opportunity to, to have responsibility, that opportunity to fail, see what works, what doesn’t work was was probably really really big especially when you combine that with just getting done playing. So I have some some ideas of this is what really, really helped me what really shaped me into the player that I was and here’s some of the things that you know what that didn’t work for me. So I was able to jump right into a position responsibility with those thoughts fresh and really start to learn, you know how to connect with the with the pitchers with the players and try to get the best out of them.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
Very cool. So when you say, you know, this is something that a lot of young coaches have that you know, kind of struggle with is you know, you want to do good work, you want to do good work for a player you want to help them and but when you’re young and you’re trying to figure something out, you know you sometimes you can kind of had this little self doubt of maybe balancing players. But you know what, what advice do you have for the young coaches on that are kind of going through that Baker, we all go through it and maybe we still go through it that we develop on and learn more?

Nick Otte
For sure. I think you want to do what you think is is right. I think you’re a lifelong learner, you’re on constant trying to grab information from every podcast every, every video that comes out, I want to see what what do I believe in and it looks really good or, or what grabs me and says, You know what, this might be another way to do it. But when I’m in the moment with the player, I get about them and what’s going to fit for them. And I’m going to, you know, I’m going to do what I think is is right by that player. I think where you can get into a lot of trouble is when you’re in that in between stages, like well, I just heard this and maybe what I was teaching, maybe that’s not right, maybe I should be doing it another way and then you just do nothing to To help that player so, you know, not that you need to be a bull in a china shop, but making sure that that you are helping and encouraging. And, you know, I would hope that our philosophies aren’t so rigid that we, you know, that we we do end up doing more damage than good.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
Yeah. So let’s talk about your philosophy a little bit. What, what is your philosophy? And why do you think it works to welcome you’ve had a lot of success. So why do you think your approach would work?

Nick Otte
You know, my philosophy is I want I want to have the best throwers in the field. We recruit the athletes first.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
You know, and from that point, we’re developing them to do that.

Nick Otte
alongside with just that personality, you know, who’s, who’s the guy that looks like they just love being out there love competing. You know, I think that’s getting those things together is is critical. But that first part, I think, got a bad rap. Really I mean we can’t we got a pitch we got to do this and but for me, it’s like we got to be great at throwing the ball and I think those are the guys that hold up the best and this year converted shortstops, you see your converted catches that end up being some of the best pitchers, at least for me that I’ve had. I know, throughout my career as I’ve recruited a lot of duel guys. And I think a big part of that is you know, what, what attracts me to them and it’s just the athleticism, the durability of their their delivery, that that lends itself to being able to play multiple positions at a high level. But I think that’s that’s what that’s what I’ve seen work really, really well in the past and kind of build my philosophy around that.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
That’s, that’s awesome. And you know, it’s interesting, you say you’re looking for thrower, you know, that that’s what it is and pitching it. Just the the are getting gunned down. So, so interesting. And you talk about you know, when you’re going to watch a kid that you’re recruiting you know, players don’t really realize how much playing catch can help them or hurt them. So can you kind of talk about what you are looking for in when you go see a guy play catch him and, and what needs to happen. When you go out to guy like me

Nick Otte
I just looked at the rhythm that they’re able to do things. So if I’m throwing the ball at, at 50% at the start, that there’s still that smooth acceleration to release that it’s not a guided throw that it’s a bet it’s a throw. And the ball is working through your through your target or, you know, we’re putting some mark on it and the balls falling where generally where you want it to and seeing the feet line up with that are actually the feet deliver that arm action. Now some guys aren’t particularly good at that. You At the start, but that’s also where you see your infielders. And your catchers are generally able to throw the ball at the appropriate speed for the distance that they’re, you know the distance of the target. And I look for that when I go to scout a game I want to make sure that I’m there early enough to you know, always ask the coach beforehand Hey, what time did you start his his whole warm up process and maybe he’s decompilers maybe he’s doing you know, some some sprints and this kind of stuff so I can watch him move there. But then ultimately, you know, the watch him throw and play catch and see him be able to throw the ball accurately without guiding it. See him throw the ball accurately at distance be able to change change the arc on the baseball, I just think that all goes plane to the full picture. And generally the guys that can play catch really well. They, they, they’re able to hit the mat when the when they get on the slope and then go with that catcher.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
Very cool though. You mentioned getting there and watching them warm up, you know, what if do do the due to certain things, they do matter, like you mentioned a plyo ball, like, if they’re the program that, you know, they strictly believe in, I don’t know. Not not they don’t believe in the plyo ball or the way to ball or, or they believe more in the core velocity, but whatever I mean, whatever it is, there’s so many different things out there to help them guys do that any of that kind of playing the factor of what you’re looking for, like, maybe this part brought to the bit what we’re doing, but the kid could throw.

Nick Otte
Right? So in the case control the kid can throw and you know, I know when I was growing up there, there certainly wasn’t a lot of the training implements that we have now or they weren’t presented in the same way that they are now with some of the science and research behind it. You know, a lot more anecdotal stuff that hey, try this. Just what I did back when I like to see what they’re doing, and then that next phone call, I like to see, Hey, why are you doing that I can see if they have a good idea of, you know, when I use the core velocity belt, this is what it helps me do this, what it helps me feel when I’m doing that my cloud pair drills, what, here’s what I’m trying to do with them. Just see if they have a general understanding of what their body’s doing. With that, I think it really makes for a good conversation that way. And certainly I get some guys that I don’t know that’s what a coach told me to do. And, and we’ll talk about it a little bit and kind of go through the the different mechanisms that they might be creating before that game and I think a big part of my job. Now especially with being at UCF, we’re able to recruit a really high caliber player, that it’s important for me to understand a lot of the different philosophies, whether it’s drive lines, whether it’s baseball thing tank and some Atlanta stuff or whether it’s one way performance Florida baseball Ranch, Texas baseball Ranch, like have a really good understanding of what these places are doing how they train their athletes. These I don’t, I don’t want to have them come here and then say, you know what, you were really good. You were ahead of your peers that you belong here. But everything that you did before, we’re not doing any of that, like I, I don’t think that’s the best way to, to get that smooth transition to allow that kid to compete at the highest level, that that first time that he steps on campus. And then from that point, he’s going to talk with the guys in the locker room and a, hey, I saw you doing this. Why do that and then keep it keep it open that way. That’s where my job becomes in really managing their workload, managing the concepts, making sure I’m educating on the concepts, but not dictating that, hey, we need to do 10 reverse throws and 10 pivot takes on these three days and on the other days, we have to do these other five Five drills for school we’re gonna throw football as well. Like I want the athlete to come up with what makes them what makes them feel great. What allows them to compete at the highest level on bullpen day, what allows them to get back to baseline after bullpen or game day as quickly as possible? And if we don’t come up with that, that week one, then hopefully by week two, we’ve Billy’s crossed something off that didn’t work. And by week five, we have a good idea of how to how to best set up a week for the for the athlete.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
Now, I love that, you know, I love you know, I mean, there are there’s so much stuff out there. And I would tell people I don’t think anybody’s wrong. I think you know different things for different people based on what they’re trying to do, how they’re built and everything like that. But but it does force you to have to be educated on all that and then that could be that could be where I think young coaches will get really overwhelmed with there’s so much out there. What Do we pick? What do we choose? Yeah, I think you know, that’s where that’s where you know that having the dialogue with the player are important, you know that they’re saying, Hey, this is not how we do it, having that dialogue, get them to understand and if they do understand and that’s great, I might help you out a little bit. But yeah, no, I think I think all that education part, it’s a lot. But it’s important that we do go through all that.

Nick Otte
For sure, for sure. And there’s nothing wrong with having a comfort zone or, or having a place that you use in your safe place to go back to a philosophy that you go back to. So certainly, if you want to, I think if you want to get the best out of your athlete, you have to at least have an understanding of what they’re trying to do and not that they’re they’re not going to move closer to maybe where you’re where your teachings are. But yeah, I think just wholesale changes early on in their career for for no other reason, then. This is the way everybody should do it. I don’t think that’s probably the best approach. Yeah.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
So what about what about injuries when, when a guy’s arm hurt, and, you know, that’s, you know, they the kid don’t want to get their arms hurt which you understand that you know, they’re the mental the mental part too, but we also want to make sure that they’re doing movements that can reduce the injury and hopefully prolong their career a little bit. When you’re recruiting a guy and he, you can tell cuz you can tell when a kid’s arm hurts. But you but you really like him? What what that conversation like, do you pass up on a guy or what what is what is that whole dynamic for?

Nick Otte
Sure. I mean, it’s all part of the, you know, as we’re trying to put together, the whole picture of this athlete and how, how they’re going to be able to perform when they’re when they get on campus. That’s That’s certainly part of the picture. I don’t like to think his arms are hurting, but also don’t like them. Seeing them underperform. So It’s up to them to certainly weigh that out. But I see the way some of these kids are being used at the youth level, you know, 1516 years old, and they’re being asked to do things that the Major League Baseball doesn’t ask 2425 year old men to do, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. So some of that is, is predictable that, like your arms gonna be sore, you know, you got the shoulders of a 14 year old, but you’re being asked to attack them like a, like a man. So I certainly have a soft spot where that guy, I really don’t. I’m not going to talk to the kid about that, because if they feel good, I don’t want to plant that seed that Hey, man, you really shouldn’t be doing this. I don’t want to start planting that seed but I will talk to the high school coach, I’ll talk to the to the summer coach, especially if we have a pretty vested interest in the kid or he’s already admitted us that, hey, we need to, we need to slow this down like here’s, here’s what my philosophy is on, on how to use guys. You know, I get it you you’re trying to win the tournament that you know is at what cost?

Geoffrey Rottmayer
Right? Well what are your thoughts on on on all this stuff you know with guy after their season you know they just had a you know, I don’t know they want to hit 1015 games in high school fleet and then they go and summer ball and ramp it up some more to what what are your thoughts on? I mean, you mentioned a little bit but what are your in depth thought on the summer box circuit and guide you lighten it?

Nick Otte
Sure I, you know, it’s it’s the toughest thing. I understand the struggle that that they’re going through because for the majority of these kids, the last tissue that they throw is going to be in that high school or summer ball, Jersey. It’s not going to be it at our level. For sure, so should should that kid be? Should he have any things taken away that that he’s never going to get back because, you know, we talked to our guys and more majority of our guys aren’t going to get to pitch beyond the level that they’re at right now. And they never get to compete at that level against another set of or another team that is training with the same intent, the same schedule the day are the days for periods what they are and just able to go out there and lay it on the line like men’s league softball doesn’t, doesn’t fill that void. Golf doesn’t fill that that void later on in their lives. So, you know, I certainly respect it. There are a lot of kids that you know that he’s probably not those extra miles aren’t going to necessarily impact them because by the time they you know, June of their their senior year, they’re never going to throw a ball at that intense Again, but I do look at the responsibility of the summer coaches to in the high school coaches to take care of their take care of their best guys because they want the best for them as well. And, you know, if you’re throwing this kid on every fifth day, and he’s not as prepared as what he could be or withdrawing them, you know, that amount early on in the in the season and, and now he’s not going to be as ready for you during that state championship run. So just looking at it and having having a really good idea of how to maximize this kid’s 30 innings or this kid’s 40 innings over the course of the high school season, or over the course of that summer season. And it makes sure that there’s communication involved between Okay, you, you’re going to pitch at this perfect game event or this PBR showcase. I get that like that’s your that’s your outing that week. That’s not a bolton that day. Hundred percent plus outing for you that week and and putting that in in your weekly calendar that way. That’s not a that wasn’t the bullpen you know, so now he can’t throw until you know six days later on that

Geoffrey Rottmayer
yeah no that’s all all good point there what you know the guy that coming in let’s kind of jump into guide getting into your program and showing up freshman year. Let’s say we’ll we’ll start with the freshmen more so than Juco grads can the Juco guys kind of get it? But you get the freshmen that comes in and he you know, all you know all worlds and he started and he gets there and he finally has to compete a little bit. Maybe struggles a little bit, you know, maybe it’s first time you’ve ever struggled what you know, first let’s talk about guys showing up ready? What when could Just say that what are you talking about? Because, you know, for the people that are listening, you know, a lot of kids show up and they’re not ready, and that the coaches want that they want you to show up ready to go and ready to compete, though. Can you talk a little bit about what that means and what and what you’re seeing?

Nick Otte
Yeah, I mean, we start this. And I’ve been doing this for for a few years now, just because of the point that that you’re bringing up of what does it mean to show up ready? And when we have the kids and on their official visit, start the conversation of you know, here’s what, here’s what the mental game really looks like. Because for most of them, they haven’t had to use it. Or the real caution that that we put in front of them is that they’re so much more talented than the than the players that they’re playing against. Our pitchers are so much better than what the hitters are that they’re facing. That even with a bad mental game, they’re still going to have success. So Where that really hurts their development is when they get here, they’re going to go through those same tactics I’m going to get, I’m gonna slam my glove, I’m gonna get pissed. And, you know, I’m just gonna try harder and Oh, look at that I had I had more success. So that must work for me and they get this, this negative feedback loop going. And now when we bring them here and there, they’re facing hitters that are three years older than them. And we tell our guys all the time that we recruit to get better, like we’re not recruiting to stay the same, we’re recruiting to get better and that means that we think that you’re more talented than the last class we brought in, but those guys still have a better chance of getting on the field that that coming year because a little bit stronger, and they’re a little bit tougher and not glitches teeth tougher, but they’re just able to stay present a little bit better. They’re able to be the best version themselves a little bit more consistently. than what that that athlete transition from high school to high school game to the To the college game is so that’s that’s where we talked about them being ready is can they apply the mental skills that we’re going to ask of them that we’re going to present to them before their high school season and then they get their rest of them to carry those on as they get into the end of the college ball.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
Very cool. The whole theme present parts it it needs to be talking about more I think the only more distracting the days. Can you talk a little bit about how you guys work on your guide, but that the whole you know, being present part you know, and you can see you can see when you want to guy, whether he’s there or not, you know, so can you talk a little bit about that?

Nick Otte
Yeah, we coach Lovelady does an amazing job with the mental game. It is He talks about it daily with our guides, he’ll do 30 minute dedicated sessions throughout the fall with the guys, he’ll do 10 minutes at the beginning of practice, with our guys just going over, going over different books and different readings and making sure that that’s very, they have a plan for how to handle different things that are going to happen in the game. So there’s, there’s one way that we’re training them. I believe in meditation, I believe in visualization. So we’ll take our guys and our pitchers through different meditation practices, different breathing practices, to practice being present in a really sterile setting. The next transition is we’ll do we’ll do yoga with the guys at least twice a week. So now we’re doing this, this integration piece where stress equals breath. Stress doesn’t equal get tight, like they’re having to move and put their body in some what can be some intense positions for learning how to relate into those positions, as opposed to tensing up, which is ultimately what we’re looking for when we get to the field, we’ll talk about our different warm up techniques. So the massage work restriction, that again, that same concept that stress equals breath, we’re not going to, you know, make silly faces when we’re, when we’re rolling on some, some different tissue that might be all bound up, we’re going to take advantage of that opportunity to, to learn how to be a little bit tougher to learn that that scrunching up our face and, and looking ridiculous, doesn’t doesn’t actually help the muscle at all. It actually goes in the wrong direction, but it’s also something that’s going to transfer to the field and I’m not actually to do something that’s natural, by all means, like, right, I’m asking you to override that, that limbic response to to basically crumble under that, that little bit of of discomfort. So then we’ll take that in The biggest common combination of all of it is when we get to do our scrimmages that when we look at video review video when I send the guys out my comments on the video, very rarely am I talking. Never am I talking about their delivery in the competition. I’m talking about how they’re handling that gap time how they’re handling the time in between pitches. Do they look like they are somebody? Are they handling the mound? Are they giving off the presence that they want to? How How would the shortstop identify what that presence is? You know, it’s one thing to think that I’m giving off a certain image, but also, what would the shortstop say what would the centerfielder say about my body language? How would he identify who I’m trying to be? during that? I would think they all learn it at a different rate. But I think they have the different programs. Been at, whereas intentional about it is anywhere.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
Yeah, I love that, you know, because it is true when you get them to see how they are reacting, they start to kind of agree and that doesn’t really look too good or they look silly. So, I love that because I do the same thing in my facility and and, and it does help for them to see it themselves.

Nick Otte
For sure and also to show them when the day this is what it’s supposed to look like. Because I think that’s, that’s okay coach, we identify the lies done wrong. Like, well, yeah, here’s here’s, here’s what it looks like. Here’s what this athlete looks like when he’s competing. Here’s what this athlete looks like when he’s competing. And I think the toughest thing for him is, hey, what does it mean what is competing look like? What is playing with confidence? What does it look like? How can we identify it and making the bet then put that down and in writing something I took a it’s been a couple years ago, but To put it all down on note cards, like, here, write, write, write down what it looks like to play with confidence write down what your, what your routine is, what’s your self image, when you’re out on the field and have them put that down in writing. And, you know, from that point, they don’t need to collect them. Like guys just keep those from your back pocket, put in your locker. But we’ll do that consistently throughout the year, at least weekly, if not each game, to to allow them to continue to continue to repeat that in a sterile setting. To give them a chance to visualize that later on in the afternoon. And then they act on it when they get to that moment.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
Yeah, no, I love that because that’s when things go wrong. They don’t know how to get back there. So when you have it in writing, they can they can actually see that reminded and then that bring that back. So I love that. I know. I think the whole writing stuff down the journaling part is huge, and I love that you got to do that. So the name of the game the good guy down for pitchers what the key part in your mind what’s the key part and getting really good at that part?

Nick Otte
The most important part by far is identifying our pitchers strengths, what what are the weapons that we have not, and we’re in this video game age video game generation where, you know, I can go on the, on the Nintendo and, and push a baby up down and and it’s a slider on the black each time right so our guys can’t do that. In particular guy that has a average of this slider and a really good fastball. Even if the guys set up for a slider. Like I’m probably gonna throw that slider early in account. That fastball is the that’s the wind to check something. The sliders not the mistakes is the basketball that’s that’s what I’m going to get the guy out with. So maybe this guy is going to be history. is going to be I can, I can flip that thing over there and get that steel striker land account. But then I’m going to win with that fastball, and really identifying you know bullpens. What does this athlete? What can he do? What are the weapons that he’s going to take to to the battle with him. So we’ll spend a lot of our time and in bullpens, working outside the zone, you know, a number that gets thrown around a lot is the idea that 50% of abs are going to be with two strikes. And I want to make sure that when I have two strikes on the hitter, that I’m going to go to a place of strength, I’m not going to go to the hitters weakness necessarily, I’m going to go to my strength and we tell our guys all the time, like I got 17 options right now to choose from. And right now we have you in the game. So we feel like as coaches, we’re trying to win every game. We feel like as coaches you give us the best option to win right now. So with that being said, Only if you’re doing you’re going your strengths. So making sure that they’re we’re doing that. And then that’s like that’s the pitch calling like they, they have a really good idea of what pitch is going to be called.

In the moment I call the pitches, but we’ll talk about it throughout the week is okay, here’s probably a sequence we’re going to look at. Usually when this happens when we see the hitter, do this with your skill set, here’s the zone we’re going to go to, and that’s gonna be different for different guys. And certainly we have some guys that are in similar buckets, but how they’re how they’re going to go about it. And even from a psychology standpoint, some of our guides are really good at their arm side basketball, where we’ll start the game and just live with the arm side so that he can see himself hitting that glove before we know on that three hole guy. We’re going to want to get on his glove side so he got really good at that with some other guys. They want to go to that glove side early on, just because he like their delivery. Follow them And it’s figuring out that I’m in the bullpen setting in the scrimmage setting. So that when we go to battle we, we have all those things lined up.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
Nice. And you said, you mentioned that you guys will talk about what you would do based on what the hitters doing, though, though. So reading hitters a little bit Can you talk a little bit about maybe one of the things you’re reading and what if what are you looking for and how that dictate the pitch calling you’re gonna do

Nick Otte
for sure we’re gonna we’re gonna read swings Did you missing underneath the baseball is the missing overtop the baseball and if he’s missing underneath the baseball and I have a fastball that has a little bit of lift to it, then we’re probably going to keep on climbing the ladder. Once we get to the top of the ladder that we’re comfortable commanding the baseball, then we’ll probably switch pitches and go back down with with a guy that we’re missing underneath the baseball. We might start moving around sorry overtop of the baseball. We might Start moving in on on that guy. Before the series starts, we’ll talk about our flat bats versus our V shapes versus the outfield guys, some of the steeper swing like just what what’s probably going to play with this with this style of hitter? You know, where did the hands enter the zone? Where do they finish so they have some of that information before they go in. And like I said, we’ll go off to the foul balls, or the swing and misses from that point. With the non swings, we are reading tapes, if we throw a pitch inside, in a Texas some white, we see that hitter dancing out of the way, with a really good idea that he’s civilizer out over the plate like he, he wasn’t ready for that in there, there’s no reason he should be jumping out of the way. So there’s a good chance where they’re gonna stay in there with the fastball and they were going to expand a slider away because I know that his eyes are out there and if we can disguise that, well enough lie to them well enough that we’ll get a swing on that outside fastball. So those are just some of the things that we’re starting to starting to look at both from the bench as well as from the, as well as the teacher, gaining that information to capture game and information from the, from the mountain and from behind the plate.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
Very good, though. I’m stopped out in fear, you know, that, that creeped into everybody’s minds. It just did the natural thing you know. So what, you know, what are some of the things that we could do to kind of help pick your path, the the self doubt and the fear that’s keeping in mind throughout the game as he gives up a double and maybe give the burn and be thinking about crap, I don’t get this out. I’m probably gonna miss the start, you know, stuff like that, you know, all that. That’s the natural part of anything for anybody. And, you know, we talked a little bit about you know, that having a game plan and the men you know, meta Pain, having all that stuff in there, but is there anything else that you gotta do to help guide work through that part of it?

Nick Otte
Yeah, we validated, like, you’re going to think this, this is going to happen. And the only thing that I asked is that before we step on the rubber, that we that we’re back present, like have your moment had your little pity party if you have to, before you get back on that, on that rubber, we need to be ready to make this next pitch. So something that that I think that that our staff this year, in my staffs in the past has done a really good job of is their their catch clay looks different than than others. They go through their process, each throw, I want them to be so intentional with that the process and it should take no longer but they need to be so intentional with that process during catch play at 45 feet at 30 feet at 60 feet at 200 feet dead when they don’t attack that process when they don’t Have that that breath and they feel a certain way after that breath that when they don’t feel that on the mound that it’s so we don’t throw a baseball in that way. So it’s so weird at that point that they know okay, I’m not here, I can step off. I’m gonna get my myself collected and then try to create that the best possible version of myself that I can right now you know that I have, I have permission to not be upset like they’re not competing to show me that you’re tick that you gave up a hit. Everybody knows that you’re tick that you gave up the hit. Can you just be now can you keep competing with that being the case? Different mind tricks we’ll talk about, like, you know, during the scrimmage setup, you know, we’ll say let’s start with a gown first. Let’s start with a guy on second. And I just felt like that’s the same as the game like if, if you give up contact if the ball goes forward in play off the batter’s bat They’re going to be on base 30% of the time. Like, that’s what baseball says, and it’s been played for a long time. And we’re not going to be special to that. So regardless of how you what you think should have happened to that ball in play, man, we should have made that player wires in our guy playing there, you know, as a bleeder, like, you know, he hit it off the leather and is able to fall in like, regardless of what you think should have happened, and that play is irrelevant. So just think of up I guess there’s a guy on second I, you know, codes for the guy on on first now you get to compete in that moment. So it might change a little bit of your strategy. Certainly the the delivery setup, but other than that, like there’s you just now we’re here, and can we be? Can we be immediately indifferent to the past and just compete in the moment. So I think the number one thing is we started this, and I got a little bit wordy here, but just validate their feelings like this is normal, you’re probably going to feel this way. Like When we get back to whether it’s a release routine or just into my my routine and compete in the moment whatever that that situation is whatever whatever has happened is the way it’s supposed to be and let’s just let’s just go be the best version of ourselves in that in that moment.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
I love that you know the dartboard playing catch you know and being in control your thoughts the guy that’s struggling You know, he can’t he can’t hit the spy can’t can’t get out. What what’s your conversation like with those guys cuz everybody’s gonna go through through those areas. And, you know, they, again, they have more than that, that helped out and all that stuff. creeped in there. But what what is the conversation like with the guide, they’re struggling to get people out and trying to get them to focus a little harder and make some bitches

Nick Otte
Yeah, oftentimes, I think it’s the, it’s the opposite. You know, it’s, it’s figuring out, not necessarily focusing harder, but figuring out what their hundred percent is. And we talk a lot about that, it doesn’t always mean that I’m giving the most amount of effort. But when I’m when we use the Jaeger long toss program, and we talk a lot about you know that that 300 foot row or that 250 foot throw, when the glove doesn’t like you throw it out there, X amount of distance, and we get your partner right in the chest, like that’s a way harder throw physically than what than what’s on the ball, 60 feet right down in front of you, is, maybe not, maybe not mentally, but physically, it’s way harder to throw to throw the ball, you know, with our 200 feet away, to line it up to predict what the winds going to do. You don’t go to any of those, but you’re just There’s a glove, I’m going to throw it there. Now, can we think about what your concern for the target? Was? Was it 30%? Or did 80%? Was it 20%? You know, and most of the guys are in that 3040, maybe 50% range. But a lot of them are just saying, I’m just trying to get it there. And the ball ends up right where you’re looking. Yeah. So can we can we believe in that? Can we just see the target and try to put a hole in the glove, try to put a hole in the catcher and allow that to happen? And then can we practice doing that and right now it’s a little bit easier to ask the guys to, to practice competing that way, because we’re in a scrimmage season and as much as they’re, they’re playing for playing time and but they’re, they’re also learning how to compete. So that’s how I that’s how I want that conversation to go. You know, sometimes it’s certainly a little bit more pointed than that but ultimately that’s that’s what we’re that’s what we’re going for when I pull the athlete into the into the office maybe that next day and kind of hate break it down man you kind of you said some things or I looked at your your postgame report and you said this like what does that mean and have them kind of walk me through that pitch and then you know we’ll watch it on our on our video system and it never looks as bad on on the video it’s cut off you lose all the gap time you just see the pitch after pitch after pitch. Hey, walk me through Okay, it’s one Oh, now what were you thinking here to Oh, now, you know what, what are we thinking here? How did you how’d you go about your process and where some of those whose different demons and whatnot starting to starting to creep in. Now how would you How would you like to approach this? Because the foots rolling Yeah, like I don’t, I don’t need you to. Just because it’s too Oh, I don’t need you to try harder to to throw a strike and maybe maybe trying to The last heart about about that strike and just allowing you to be a great thrower is the better, the better method.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
Very nice. You said a couple things there. I want to elaborate on the postgame report. What is what does that look like? Yes.

Nick Otte
I’m asking them the questions of what I want them to focus on. How did you use your breath? How well how, how round up, were you? You know that that where you normally live at? We’ll do this after parents as well as after, as well as outings. What did you What do you feel you did really well today? What are some cues that you that you developed today that you think will help you later on? What’s one thing that you’d like to improve on over your next out before your next outing, what’s what’s a couple ways that you’re going to be able to make that improvement, but just some things that we’re trying To get them to look at more so than just, you’re not to the ball hard today and or gave up a couple of hits, you know, the just the performance measures that everybody knows, we’re trying to get more into the process. The process part of it.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
Yeah, I like it. So you altered that, you know, kind of asking them what they were thinking, you know, I, I look back and whenever I played, nobody really asked me what I was thinking. And I think when I look back now, it’s like, now the hitter so I think more I’ve gotten myself out more time than I should have, just by not being the aware of what I were thinking. So I think if someone would have asked me that, I don’t know how to how I would have answered it at the time. But I think to bring awareness to that is huge. Do you find that like you do to guide like, do they really know what they’re thinking or do do they get better with that and they become aware

Nick Otte
Yeah, you, you hit it, as you can imagine that that conversation doesn’t go too far. The first couple of times and then as they start recognizing it, you know, and I think, shoot the post 10 Records sometimes can, can start that where they’re having, oh, well, what was I thinking? Did I use my breath? how, you know, how intense was I during the during that and how do I feel when I when I play my best just start to to ask them questions that will heighten their their awareness so that ultimately those conversations can be that much more impactful. Yeah.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
Cool. Let’s, let’s talk a little bit about the like, my guided practice and stuff like that. What does the What does the fall look like for you guys?

Nick Otte
We’re gonna in the fall, and I really like to get at least one pin in With the with the picture week and I like to get a one outing for that picture each week but I tell them is you’re going to be on schedules like starters but you’re going to pitch the volume of a reliever because there’s so much that we’re trying to put in there’s so many extra throws that we’re making with different you know, putting in different defenses and team defense and making the different pickoff throws and all that plus you’re adding to that the stress of the school year, you’re adding to that the weight room which is probably a little bit new for for some of the guys so so we’re getting one bullpen at least or one full bullpen at least and then and then one outing in a week. They’re going to have schedules set up. I I try to set I try to be very structured for them at the front of the fall, so that by the middle and the end of the poll, we can start having some conversations Okay, how do you want this week to look we talked about To start, you know, here’s the concept of warming up, like, let’s not, this isn’t a workout, this is a warm up. But, you know, we did this screen and that screen on you. And we noticed that might be a little bit lacking in this area and you’re, you have plenty of motion in this area. So maybe we should spend more time on the tissue quality on this side. But then, you know, let’s work on the stability on this on this other side. You know, give them some some freedom that meets them where they where they need to be that that gives them the best chance to continue to be healthy and strong. As those weeks go on.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
Very cool. And what are

Nick Otte
our fall this year was, you know, I think it was the best setup that I’ve had where, because the recruiting calendar, we pushed, we pushed the fallback all the way towards Thanksgiving break. So we had a really long development time. Build up time. Prior to the fall starting so the guys coming off of summer ball we’re gonna have a little bit longer a little bit longer breaks the guys coming in in the summer that didn’t play we were able to build them up and take them through a little bit of a veto phase but as much as anything we’re able to build them up and then get them in the in the team weight room setting and get our throwing to match and complement what we’re doing in the weight room. So that again, we’re getting the best results out of out of both of them cool

Geoffrey Rottmayer
whenever whenever you have a kid that you know like mechanically he like man, there’s no more worry, let’s move on from the mechanics. What’s the goal for them during during the fall like you know, I would assume that during the fall. Now not only are you getting Are you working but I’m the guy that maybe working on trying to improve them to movement, maybe develop another pit but when you got a guy that got needs He had what he is what what their focus

Nick Otte
is quality you know, can we can we enhance one of those pitches it’s certainly not the delivery that’s that’s holding them back. So can we can we improve one of those pitches can we can we match it better to one of your current stitches so we certainly very fortunate with some of the toys that we had to take advantage of here with with rap Soto and enter Kronos cameras where we can get all that high speed footage and that part of it’s a lot of fun I would say for for the majority of our guys in the fall. That is the that is the focus, it’s not a certainly there’s some some small delivery things that we might be honing in on and you know, for delivery comes from the ground up like we’re watching the feet right away and, you know, if we can, we might spend the whole fall just trying to get their, their feet a little bit better, better position or be able to leverage the ground a little bit better. As you’re moving forward, so that doesn’t get to, we don’t get too carried away mechanically, especially when we’re asking them to compete. So, we’ll worry a lot more about the, about the pitches and, you know, here’s what, here’s what you do that’s unique. Here’s what you know, it gives you a real, real chance of success. Let’s make sure we’re taking advantage of this. Yeah, here’s another picture of where you’re telling your current changeup. Let’s see if we can, can enhance that a little bit, either to movement or speed or both.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
Nice. The Rep. Soto, you know, used to be, you know, kid we get really hung up on on the video and what the video looks like and kind of get that, you know, paralyzed, you know, analog, you know, whatever, whatever the thing is, they will get paralyzed by that. Now, now, it’s more the date the data. Kids are getting wrapped up in the data and all that stuff. Do you guys go in depth with that? Understanding what this stuff means? Or do you just kind of use it for yourself and then do it to kind of build their game plan or help them build a game plan around what you know about it?

Nick Otte
Yeah, we’re an open book so they have access to all their their rep sort of data and curriculum to look at it. We’ll meet at least once a week and in the fall, that was a lot of that was alright, you know, who’s who’s got a question on the, on this information? Like, what is this mean? And I would start it out with some different different bullet points on on spin rate, okay. The classic is, you know, is that bad or good? It’s like, Well, no, it’s kind of it just is now this is what what relates to you, this is why the ball moves the way it does. So we always start with the movement profile, and then start working from that point to the left of the, the information to start saying, well, this is you know, your your current fastball plays it, you know, 16.1 inches of vertical and 10.2 inches of work. On a movement, here’s why that’s happening. And if they’re already in a pretty good position, then you know, that’s, that’s gonna be one thing and now, you know, for trying to throw it to steam and it’s also a sticking point one into the vertical and 10.1 inches of of horizontal, that’s probably not a different pitch. And if we need to do something a little bit different with with grip on that, you know, then start looking at the changes in the, in the breaking ball off of that. So what’s been really cool with with that information is we’ll take the, take the information and look at the the high speed video as well as the live speed. And then they’ll start to understand Okay, there’s there’s hand position and see that Okay, we’ll do some overlays and I see that our x which is going up, and now they’re starting to put some, some information or get some feel to, okay, that’s what it looks like when the ball goes up out of my hand. Here’s the number that I’m looking for on on rep Soto and regards to that. So, you know, what’s my release angle to the, to the middle of the strike zone with the fastball, okay? It’s a minus two. So if I can throw a minus two or even a minus one breaking ball that’s probably going to look pretty good today hitter to swing at and my minus one break and I don’t care really where it goes, Oh, hey, look at that the catcher catcher catches it just off the ground. All right, that’s probably that’s probably matching up pretty well there and they can start having some of those those conversations. Same thing with the with the change of you know, we have some guys that you know, have this big 10 1012 hour spread on their their changeup and we want that movement profile to look really, really close to the fastball. That way we’re not we’re not giving it away that that it’s a changeup. We talked about lying to the hitter a lot with that, and we can show that on the on the high speed video with some overlay that we have some other guys that have like four or five monitors separation, but the movement profile is way different. So again, we can shadow that, that fastball that much better. And the guys, they liked the video to start. But we noticed that they didn’t need the video in the moment anymore. They just want to they started to understand what the numbers were telling them on the rap Soto so that they could utilize that. So now we’re only spending eight to 10 seconds in between pitches as opposed to having to go to the video and I think it just keeps a nice consistent taste to it. The other thing that I think the secondary part of that and always, always one of the guys, you know, we go from bullpen time where we’ve had you know, four or five bullpens before we get into competition, maybe some why VPS and then we go into the game. What happens in the game that is challenging for the guys at the start, just how much slower the pace is especially when runners on base. So the guy, the hitters getting signs that are stepping out or taking off, like, there’s times when there’s 3040 seconds in between pitchers in between pitches. I want our guys to be rattling off pitches, and I want the pace of play to be very, very fast. But I know that they’re going to be, most guys are much, much more comfortable in that realm, you know, being able to go pitch after pitch after pitch, it’s more like being on the driving range, you know, as opposed to, we have to be prepared for the golf course we have to be prepared for hitting a shot, dealing with whatever happened, and then walking up to my ball waiting on the group on the green, and then hitting that next shot, and still being in a really great place to make that pitch. So we want to make sure that we’re practicing with a little bit of time in between those pitches so that I am prepared so I have a place that I’m putting my head during that gap time. And then when I step on the rubber now it’s time to go through my process and deliver the pitch. So I think that you know, reps Because of the nature of the time in between the pitches, has helped with that, in some regard.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
Yeah, that’s awesome. I mean, it’s incredible what the what this stuff can tell us and how we can use it. So how do you do in terms of recruiting? Like, does that help you with kind of validate some thought or maybe even put some thought that you didn’t have on a guy?

Nick Otte
For sure, we’ll use it during our, during our prostate camps. You know, try to find it if there’s some some outliers in there. I think we’re some people do get caught up in it is that the the average of the average for a reason and just because a kid lives in that, in that average range doesn’t necessarily mean they’re bad, doesn’t mean they can’t get out. It just means that they’re gonna have to do something else a little bit better. Because the pitch metrics aren’t, aren’t saying that it’s going to be something different than what the hitters used to seeing. They have a big fastball like that’s, that’s still Going to play in some regard that forgot to have a little bit more command with it on a variable to locate their breaking ball for that thing for strikes, just because just because the spin rates aren’t aren’t off the charts doesn’t mean that it did it still can’t, they still can’t play it might just have to shape a little bit different or, or get to work off the fastball a little bit differently. But when we find that guy that has the unique fastball weather, really high really low. Spin rates are a different axis than what the hitters used to seeing. dimension is something that like you were saying validates what you’re seeing. For a long time I’ve been tracking swing and miss especially zone misses on high school kids, because it tells me Okay, you can throw the ball over the plate and a kid in his pure set misses the entire baseball game that’s probably going to even if that ends up being weak contact at my level in the current state. And that’s still better. You know, okay, really concerning when I see The guy that’s already with the above average basketball or break model looks good, but the hitter just never misses it. Because that’s probably not going to probably not going to change. So I you can take all the data you want, but if I’m constantly seeing contact after contact or contract, there’s something that he’s doing that the hitters just prepared for. And you’re talking about it. Again a hitter that shouldn’t be able to do those things against this. This looks to be above average stuff. So that’s where where we use it to try and find the outliers. But then also use your eyes to make some assessments as well.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
Very cool, though the rapid up Nick. What are what are some of your favorite resources book, you know, other instructors, coaches, whatever who are, who are what are some of your best resources?

Nick Otte
I mean, I I love talking about pitching to as many guys as I can in here all, all call coaches that I’ve coached with quite a bit, Hey, what are you doing with this? You know, I think that that stuff is awesome. Just to talk to the guys that are in there doing the same thing that we are, you know, I always couldn’t bother with any place that I’ve been like, we all have the same players they didn’t have different names no the same guys in the locker room. So none of us are unique as to what we’re dealing with. So just seeing how they’re how they’re going through it what their experiences are with those guys how they’re able to to make some some other change with their players. Cash that like I really like I listen to different podcasts. You know, I try to get off the the baseball side of it, listen to some more philosophy stuff. You know, I think those that can be really helpful in the sense that sports psychology can be really, really limiting, because we only play a sport for a few hours a day. But philosophy Can, can be more, you know, that’s the ability to practice it throughout the day to really help the athlete or myself, make some some positive changes.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
Cool. So if you were me and you were interviewing yourself, why would you have asked that I did that I don’t have a good one. actually did a good job with this one. I appreciate it.

Well,well, Nick. Man, I appreciate I learned a lot. I’m sure our listeners are too. So we appreciate your time and have an awesome day.

Nick Otte
Thanks, I appreciate I appreciate the opportunity.

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Geoff Rottmayer

Geoff Rottmayer is the owner of Athletic Mission Baseball Academy, a training facility in Tulsa Oklahoma. Geoff also host The Baseball Awakening Podcast, which was developed to provide content to the baseball community straight from the source. In addition that that, Geoff, is helping coaches and professional start their own podcast and find their own voice.

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