Coach MacDonald lives, breathes baseball. His enthusiasm is contagious. We got to campus early, as is usually the case with Coach Mac. The whole morning was spent going over recruiting materials, catching up on office work, and getting ready for the afternoon workout/practice. We spoke about offensive strategies, and Coach Hourigan waxed poetic on the virtues of "Guerilla Offense." Good stuff! The coaches also spent some time filling me in on the nexus of NCAA rules and regulations regarding the recruitment of players. This week happens to be a "dead period" which basically means little to no recruiting contact with players. NCAA uses this description:
"During a dead period a college coach may not have face-to-face contact with college-bound student-athletes or their parents, and may not watch student-athletes compete or visit their high schools. Coaches may write and telephone student-athletes or their parents during a dead period."
After lunch we got ready for the Strength and Conditioning workout. From the beginning I knew this was something I wanted to see, especially in-season. Once again, the UConn staff was incredibly welcoming. As soon as we walked into the room, conditioning coordinator Maureen Butler introduced herself to me and encouraged me to take as many photos and ask as many questions as I like. The room was all open for me to see, and to inquire. Everything about their program is based on pair work, and on a system of stations. Each player had their own personalized plan within a larger system of stations and routines, and pitchers altered their workout depending on their rotation schedule. The focus of their program is all about explosiveness, and the workouts are designed with this as the main goal. Medecine ball work, free weights, plyometrics, and ladders. It was great to see, and everything moved like clockwork. These players are focused, and the guidance from the staff was both stern and encouraging.
On our way over to the field we stopped off to check out their indoor facilities they use in the winter... I was blown away with how state-of-the-art this place was. I mean, really impressive...
|Coach Jeff Hourigan|
We set up for practice, as the guys came out from the gym. Another warm and sunny spring day in CT, and a perfect afternoon for Baseball. Pitchers divided into two groups, one group throwing some long-toss, and the other working in the bullpen. They needed to get ready to throw live for later in practice. IF and OF split up. The OF worked with Coach Hourigan on throws home while the IF worked with Coach Podeszwa on trusting their glove. Here are some of the drills from the IF work.
Then the practice shifted into team work and live situations. Pitchers threw live BP, while coach Penders put runners on the bases in different situations. Much of the work was with a runner on third, getting runners to read the ball off the bat and work on their leads, and getting batters to focus on pitch selection and execution.
After the live work, the regular rounds of BP began. The rounds were identical to the pregame routine in the last post, and again pitchers and coaches were hitting fungos to IF so everyone worked. Standing around on the field is just not an option. It was excellent to see how UConn Baseball works out, and tomorrow I'll be heading to the University of Hartford with coach Steve Malinowski (a UConn Baseball alumnus) to see their program in action. More to come. Here are some final shots from practice.
|Coach Penders and BIG Penders. Great to see!|
|Big Guy taking some cuts|