191 episodes

Host Jonathan Gelnar and an array of guests from differing backgrounds discuss how to develop the complete baseball player. This will be your source for the most up to date coaching strategies for baseball player and coach development.

Ahead Of The Curve with Jonathan Gelnar Jonathan Gelnar

    • Baseball
    • 4.8, 154 Ratings

Host Jonathan Gelnar and an array of guests from differing backgrounds discuss how to develop the complete baseball player. This will be your source for the most up to date coaching strategies for baseball player and coach development.

    Hunter Mense- MiLB Hitting Coordinator, Toronto Blue Jays

    Hunter Mense- MiLB Hitting Coordinator, Toronto Blue Jays

    Today we have on the Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Hitting Coordinator, Hunter Mense. Born in Liberty, MO, Hunter attended the University of Missouri. And was drafted in the 17th round by the Florida Marlins. After his playing career, he went back to Missouri and served in several roles- undergrad and graduate volunteer assistant coach, and color commentator on the team’s radio broadcasts and then made the jump back to pro ball with the padres for 1 season, then the bluejays as the AA hitting coach and now as the hitting coordinator.
    On the show, we discuss what the process of making changes with players looks/sounds like, we go over the process of experimentation coupled with communication, and we discuss his role as a coordinator  which essentially coaches coach’s. 
    You’re gonna love this episode with Hunter Mense!
    Range- David Epstein
    Instagram and Twitter Relationships
    Show notes courtesy of Zach Casto
    The passion for the game can influence how others can fall in love with the game as well.
    You can also help out players by sharing your experiences and shortcomings and help them adjust through your experiences.
    Empower your players as much as possible to help them learn how to figure things out on their own.
    You want them to be their own best coach.
    Relationship communication is the most important piece to have to create improvement.
    You want to have constant communication that is clear for minimal problems to occur.
    We have to get buy in from a player before the adjustment will be successful.
    Before there is a change have a conversation with the hitting coach and head coach.
    Ask the player questions to see how he feels and what his opinion is on the change.
    “If analytics are used right, it can help create the buy in of the player.”
    Therefore, use analytics to be the evidence to create buy in with the player.
    The analytics can allow the hitter to formulate why he’s not having success.
    Have the player discuss the reason why he’s struggling. This can help everyone involved to help create a process to where the player will improve.
    This helps them buy into the process and to be invested.
    This puts the player in the role of taking accountability for their careers.
    It takes a lot of listening and learning about the athlete to help the player grow.
    Go through a set of drills with each player and find out what drills would work best for each player.
    This is an ongoing process.
    This process can create a common team verbiage through the drills as well.
    Video each player’s swing.
    Watch it with the coaching staff.
    Find out things the player does and doesn’t do well.
    Find out what to change.
    Follow this up with metrics for evidence along with the video.
    This gets all of the coaches on the same page and helps the athlete understand that the coaches are caring for the improvement of the player.
    The changes made are movement or process made changes than overall swing changes.
    “You may have to prepare 6 months for a 6 minute conversation.”
    The goal for a staff is to simplify the information given to the players.
    The information given to hitters is:
    Velocity and what kind of fastball (rising, flat, or sinking).
    We want our guys to have success with doing damage to a fastball.
    Once this has been answered, then find out the offspeed pitches thrown.
    “Be a master of yourself.”
    The player needs to know where they do damage and where they swing and miss.
    This helps the player creating a plan based off of the information given.
    This also helps the athlete find out what pitchers he hits well and what pitchers he struggles with.
    When a player struggles it’s often not about the pitcher the player is facing. It’s about one thing that can remind the player of what he did when he was doing well.
    It’s a nugget or cue that can help the player realize w

    • 1 hr 9 min
    Chuck Box- Head Baseball Coach, Hartfield Academy HS (MS)

    Chuck Box- Head Baseball Coach, Hartfield Academy HS (MS)


    Today we have on Chuck Box, Head Baseball Coach and assistant athletic director at Hartfield Academy. We flipped the script a little today, and so Chuck takes us through an entire year of what they do at Hartfield. We go over individual player development plans, schedules, culture building and so much more. If you want a practical episode, this one is for you. Here is Chuck Box!
    Show notes courtesy of Zach Casto

    Your work is a melting pot of a ton of great things.
    10 Phases in a year.
    2 Phases are rest and recovery.
    The fall has 3 phases.
    Phase 1: Movement, Strength, and Toughness.
    Total body assessment and hitting assessment during this time.
    It’s the time to assess.
    Start your throwing programs during this time.
    The goal should be at their best in May.
    “Get better everyday. If we get better everyday we will be pretty good in the end.”
    The first 5-6 weeks is strength testing.
    Then progress into throwing and skill work.
    After Thanksgiving is a mini camp.
    Install all of your stuff during this time.
    It allows the first time in spring practice to go into the drills without having to re-teach.
    Lifting 3 days a week and throwing progression 5 days a week.
    You want your guys to throw over the winter break to be ready for the spring.
    “If you have to talk about culture a lot, you probably don’t have it.”
    Culture looks different for everyone.
    Culture involves everything that you do.
    As the leader of the program you have to model and hammer what needs to be done.
    Ask your players what these four areas look like: Succeeding Academically, athletically, socially, and spiritually.
    If the players can define these four areas, then they will have a better picture of what they need to do to help the culture.
    Once everyone has an idea of the culture that you want, it will be in everyone’s DNA.
    The standard is: “If you want to be mediocre, don’t come here.”
    Create a program to help your players learn how to become quality young men.
    Bring in guest speakers:
    1. Specific speakers: Example: speaking on nutrition.
    2. Successful leaders. (Successful coaches).
    Discuss with your players how to be polite and treat women well.
    Have your players use journals to take notes.
    Give the notes back to the players so that they can continue their lifelong learning.
    Meet 3 days a week in the classroom setting.
    In the beginning of the season discuss leadership and life skills.
    As you get closer to the season focus on baseball skills.
    Allow the guest speakers to come and throw out the first pitch and be on the guest pass for all home games in the season.
    Give your players opportunities to learn about different jobs.
    Also give players conditioning week goals to challenge the players.
    This helps the players become stronger mentally in order to win games when the young gets tough.
    Words matter. What we say can go over the heads of our players.
    Take a few classroom sessions to go over team verbiage and standards.
    Assign words to the players to present to the team.
    Example: Find our what the term “What you permit your promote.”
    When the players start saying what you say that means they are all in with those terms.
    The players and coaches must adjust to the standards of the culture.
    Talk with the players and have them define when practice begins.
    If the players don’t meet the standard of that the locker should look like give them an eviction notice.
    Give them 24 hours to clean out and get out.
    Give them 2-3 days to not have a locker to value what they had.
    If you don’t stay on the culture with the players, then the players will settle to be mediocre.
    When players pout, give them a 25 pound vest to wear.
    Body language matters.
    Measure toughness and body language.
    Follow Blast Metrics for hitting.
    For high school assistants
    Look at community volunteers, student assistants, and retired people.
    Be the kind of

    • 1 hr 15 min
    Tony Vitello- Head Baseball Coach, University of Tennessee

    Tony Vitello- Head Baseball Coach, University of Tennessee


    Today we have on the Tennessee Volunteers head coach Tony Vitello
    Vitello arrived on Rocky Top following four seasons as assistant coach/recruiting coordinator at Arkansas. His rise to the head coaching ranks also included stops at Missouri (his alma mater) and TCU. After leading the program back to the NCAA Tournament in 2019, Vitello and the Vols looked poised to take another step forward in 2020 after a strong start to the season. The Vols were ranked as high as No. 11 in the nation after a 13-0 start to the year and were 15-2 heading into SEC play before the season was halted and eventually canceled due to COVID-19) global health crisis. 
    Prior to the season being canceled, Tennessee led the country in total runs and runs per game while ranking second in home runs, slugging percentage, walks, and on-base percentage. 
    On the show, we discuss what he looks for on the recruiting trail, how to get players to own their career, and we go over what they do for competition everyday and how that propelled them into leading the country in runs in 2020. 
    Here is Tony Vitello
    Heads up baseball- Ken Ravizza
    Mind Gym- Gary Mack
    Joe Rogan Podcast
    Trevor Moawad

    • 1 hr 9 min
    Head Coaches- Rob Cooper, Penn State University and Steve Owens, Rutgers University

    Head Coaches- Rob Cooper, Penn State University and Steve Owens, Rutgers University

    Today we have on Head Coach Rob Cooper from Penn State and Steve Owens from Rutgers
    In this episode we have over 40 years of bead coaching experience between the two, so we dive into lessons learned, how to communicate with players, how to build relationships and how the formula for recruiting and the process of building culture changes year to year and especially program to program.
    Here is Rob Cooper and Steve Owens!
    Rob- rjc40@psu.edu
    Steve- baseball@scarletknights.com
    Show notes courtesy of Zach Casto

    We need to realize the mentors that helped shape us into wanting to coach. 
    “I want to impact young people and baseball is a great vehicle to do that.”
    Some of the best learning environments are one-on-one questioning environments. 

    You can learn a lot in group settings, videos, podcasts, and books but one on one settings can give you feedback to your questions. 
    Be a role model for your athletes. Expect that out of your assistant coaches as well. 
    If you love what you do, you will never lose your passion. 
    Understand the circumstances of the area and program you are joining/taking over. 
    Depending on your career and relationships, you may be able to bring your assistants with you to the new program. 
    The hardest thing to do is on the transition is saying goodbye to your players from your prior program. 
    “Do this with as much class as possible.”
    “It’s okay to look back, but don’t look back too long.”
    Dive into the new program and find out your players first. 
    “You can’t change a lot in the first year.”
    During the first year get to know your athletes as people, their strengths, and their weaknesses. 
    The most important thing is getting to know the players, then understand the operating sequence and schedule of the school you are at. 
    Little by little you will make changes. 
    “You need to watch, listen, and learn a lot before you start making changes with athletes.”
    Have patience during this time. 
    Don’t change what works well for the athlete, change what needs to be changed. 
    “The games are the test.”

    Practice provides the homework and the lessons. 
    Some of the things you learn come from experience. 

    Take a step back and reflect upon some of the challenges of the situation you are in. 
    Recognize the strengths you have at the place you are at and maintain those strengths. 
    Try to strengthen the weaknesses of the place as best as possible. 
    You are going to have a culture with whatever you do. It is up to the leader to ensure that the culture is a strong one. If not, the culture will be weak.

    It comes down to the players. We can set them up for the best situation possible, but it is up to the players to execute the plan and give 100% effort. 

    “You have to find out what you are working with and find a way to win with what you have.”
    “You have to be authentic with who you are and to be consistent for your audience.”
    “How does the athlete learn best? What motivates the player?” (Find these out and pay attention to answer these questions).

    Be simplistic with the terms you use when you teach. 

    Have your players email back what they took away from the conversation with you. (Give them 24 hours).
    You learn: 1. The interpretation of the athlete. 2. What got lost in translation. 

    “We want our players to learn how to be their own best coach.”

    “If you have to try to do things like someone else, it is not going to work.”
    Take pieces of information from others that you like, but make it your own so it works out. 

    As coaches we have to be a motivator and effective communicator. 

    “Surround yourself with people who are as motivated as you to succeed.”
    “You want to be able to allow the athlete to grow.”

    “You are not doing a great job if you have to motivate every day.”

    Players need to come to practice and provide energy. 

    • 1 hr 30 min
    Alon Leichman- MiLB Pitching Coach, Seattle Mariners

    Alon Leichman- MiLB Pitching Coach, Seattle Mariners

    Today we're talking with Alon Leichman, Milb pitching coach for the Seattle Mariners. Alon has an interesting background, being born and raised in Israel and then playing college baseball in the States. So we talk about his journey to the Mariners, which includes volunteer coaching in Cape Cod during his first summer after playing. What he learned as a bullpen coach in the World Baseball Classic, coaching with Jerry Weinstein. And we also dig into how we can get to better know our players and why that is vital to everything we do as coaches.

    Hoops Whisperer
    Alon Leichman
    Show notes courtesy of Zach Casto

    Alon Leichman: MiLB Pitching Coach (Seattle Mariners)
    Surround yourself with good people. 
    Relationships with your players are the first part of success. 
    Get to know your staff the same way you get to know your players. 
    This creates whole team trust. 
    Pick the brains of the members of your staff, friends, and others. 
    This time is a great opportunity to learn. 
    You are either learning and growing or you are getting passed up. 
    Take a step back and appreciate what you have during these circumstances. 
    Have gratitude for all the blessings you are given. 
    Spend time with the players and be yourself. 
    Be your authentic self so that the players will trust you. 
    When coaching players they are ELL’s don’t be afraid to mess up with Spanish. 
    This allows the ELL athlete to be vulnerable and trust you as well
    One of the biggest problems players have is overthinking. 
    Have a strong enough relationship to allow players to come to you to talk about it. 
    The sooner you recognize this the quicker the problem will be fixed. 
    Reassure them they it’s okay to struggle and they we are all in this together. 
    You want to get them out o an athletic mindset and not struggle with over thinking. 
    The more we can use external cues and give the players a goal the better chance the athlete will self organize and accomplish the goal. 
    The more we think about our mechanics the more the mechanics will break down. 
    Without data, we must use an educated guess to help the player. 
    When you see video: see if the delivery is fluid. 
    When at foot strike, is the arm in a good position?
    Is the elbow and shoulder level? 
    Deficiencies: body limitations. 
    Talk to strength coaches and have them help you find out these deficiencies. 
    The arm recoil isn’t necessarily a bad thing. 
    For some players it is natural to do this. 
    It’s natural with some hard throwers. 
    Recoiling is a natural deceleration for the throwing arm. 
    Take the strengths of the player and give data based off of the technology of what you have. 
    The data can show you where you’re at with accomplishing your goal. 
    Individual plans and goals provide clarity for the player on what to do to dominate their role. 
    “Process over results.”
    Individualized plans provide buy in for the player. 
    If you don’t know the player and the his strengths the. You won’t be able to help develop the player the best way possible.
    Involve the player when making decisions on their goals. 
    Don’t change without asking the player’s side first. 
    Give evidence as to why you want to make a change. 
    Learn to listen but don’t switch super fast. 
    You have to know how to tell evidence to your players. 
    “It’s not the content that you speak, it’s the way you speak it to the player.” 
    You want to be engaged with your guys. 
    Example: one way to be engaged is to throw with the pitchers every day. 
    Throw different pitches with each guy.
    Have your catchers try out different stances in bullpens. 

    • 1 hr 8 min
    Nick Winkelman- Head of Athletic Performance & Science for Irish rugby and author of “The Language of Coaching"

    Nick Winkelman- Head of Athletic Performance & Science for Irish rugby and author of “The Language of Coaching"

    Today we have on Nick Winkelman, Head of Athletic Performance & Science for Irish rugby and recent author of “The Language of Coaching.”
    Nick's primary role is to oversee the delivery and development of strength & conditioning and sports science across all national and provincial teams. Before working for Irish Rugby, Nick was the director of education and training systems for EXOS and oversaw the speed and assessment component of the EXOS NFL Combine Development Program and supported many athletes across the NFL, MLB, NBA, National Sports Organizations, and Military. Nick has his Ph.D. on motor skill learning and sprinting. 
    On the show we talk mainly about the role communication plays in coaching, and here’s a hint, it's a big one. More specifically we get into internal and external. Cues, how we can use coaching feedback loops and we discuss the role of attention and so much more
    Here is Nick Winkelman!

    Julian Treasure Ted Talk

    • 1 hr 5 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
154 Ratings

154 Ratings

TONation ,

Very informative

A very informative Baseball Genius. Sad that he not making anymore episodes

Andy Harris 03 ,

Thank you!

Appreciate what Gelnar has done for the game of baseball, thank you for this podcast!

JGold94 ,

Ahead of the Curve

Jonathan Gelnar provides great content through his podcast. I especially enjoy his solo episode where he talks about ways he himself has done things with his program and teams. The blast motion episode is one I keep saved on my podcast page because of how simple but effective and helpful his ideas and insights can be!


Jon Gold

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