The duration of spring camps for 10 professional baseball teams has been shortened since 2017. The club has accepted the request of the Professional Baseball Players Association to observe the inactive period until the end of January.
Private education fever has been sweeping the Korean pro baseball league as a culture of spending inactivity has taken root. Last month, Kia sent young pitchers to the Seattle-based Drive-Line Baseball Center, which leads them to improvement of their ball speed through biomecanic pitching programs. Son Ah-seop (NC Dinos), a leading hitter of the league, became the batting champion for the 2023 season based on the batting mechanism he established while training with Kang Jung-ho, a former big leaguer who runs a batting academy, in Los Angeles last winter. This winter, many hitters including Kim Jae-hwan (Doosan Bears), and Han Dong-hee (Lotte Giants) visited Kang Jung-ho School.
Short-term Study abroad Effect, Baseball People’s Opinions Are Dividing
Success stories are not the only ones. Lee Jung-hoo (San Francisco Giants), who ranks first in overall batting average in the KBO League, changed his batting posture with Choi Won-je, his personal coach, last winter. However, Lee returned to normal after having a hard time in the early part of the 2023 regular season. None of the young Lotte pitchers who trained in the driving line themselves ahead of the 2020 season have proved their growth.
Baseball players’ opinions are divided over short-term study abroad or the effects of outside tutoring.
The positive theory is to highly value players’ spirit of challenge. “I don’t think the way I coach myself is always the answer. You don’t have to look at things you haven’t experienced in a negative light. It’s meaningful just to know that there are new ways to improve your performance.” “Players who need to show results right away will have to stay still for a long period of time,” said C team’s pitching coach. “Even if you spend your own money, making a new attempt will have a positive effect on mental management.”
“It is desirable to try ways to improve ball speed and ball control,” former SBS Sports commentator Lee Dong-hyun said. “Even players in their early 20s would have played baseball for quite a long time since elementary school.” It is worrisome to see side effects or injury risks that could occur when the mechanism is suddenly changed. “Short-term outside training could have immediate effect, but there seem to be not many cases where players maintain good performance consistently yet,” said Lee Dong-hyun. “A player’s batting and pitching training should also be consistent. It is desirable to get help from a leader (team coach) who can keep an eye on and communicate with players as much as possible.”
It is said that quite a few players are confused when the actual stage (regular season) starts because they do not understand the mechanism learned in foreign countries, and are reluctant to communicate with their team’s coaches. MBC Sports Plus commentator Jung Min-cheol emphasizes that it is up to players to make choices and develop. “Golf Emperor Tiger Woods and Major League Baseball’s flagship hitter Bryce Harper are also cared for by their own coaches. There is no harm in experiencing different types of ways to improve skills,” Jung said. “You should not blindly believe that you have experienced a training method that suits you well. There is absolutely no value in baseball. Outstanding players continuously repeat themselves with their bodies to remember good senses for a long time and learn their own ways. That is up to individuals,” he said.
What is the issue of trust in field leaders?
There are concerns that the revitalization of private lessons could undermine the standing and credibility of a leader who is guarding the field. From a coach’s point of view, if the way a player learns from outside is different from what he or she pursues, he or she has no choice but to hesitate to give guidance. When communication is cut off, conflicts arise. Some critics naturally undermine a leader’s capacity. “It is obvious, but energy is as important as the number (record) in the field. A coach’s role is not all about transferring skills. He should be a supporter who gives trust in the mind,” he said, stressing the presence of a coach on the field.
Baseball players generally shout that they have to adjust to the trend of the times. “In the past, a high-ranking official of the team asked me about the rush of players to educate themselves outside, ‘Isn’t it hurt your pride?'” A team’s pitching coach said with a smile. “If a player does well, it will also help the coach give high scores.” “But I still ask the players to tell me, ‘What do you want to find outside and what you found?’ That’s how I can study and approach players from the perspective of players,” he said.
“When I was a player, an instructor who trained at a famous pitching academy in the U.S. came and introduced advanced culture,” said a baseball player who was once a great pitcher. Most of the existing coaches were skeptical. “If you can’t control yourself, you’ll feel rejected (as coaches),” he said. “However, leaders must accept any changes.” Notably, technological areas such as the introduction of high-tech equipment do not revolve around fashion. All that remains is to be better. We need to prepare with flexible thinking.” 꽁머니
SBS commentator Lee Soon-cheol, who is well known for his cool-headed perspective and speech, emphasizes that leaders should be prepared enough to cope with players’ changes without conflict. “No matter what theory an athlete approaches, they should study so that they can give appropriate advice. These days, players can grasp the competence of a coach by just throwing a word,” Lee said. “Even if we understand the batting theories of these three, from Ted Williams, who emphasized hip rotation, Charlie Law, who often spoke of the importance of weight movement and level swing, and Tony Gwynn, who cared the most about angles from power position to heating point, we can talk to anyone.”