The pitching coach that may have impacted me more than any other was only my coach for a few short months. However, in that short time span he taught me a ton, and maybe more importantly shaped how I would go about being a pitching coach after I finished playing.
Jon Christian showed up kind of out of nowhere at the end of the summer my junior year. He was young – having just finished his own playing career at Centenary College – a Division 1 school down in Louisiana. He could really relate to us, and he was INTENSE. I remember three minutes into our first practice he absolutely lit us up for how we were playing catch. He was demanding. It was awesome.
Here are three big lessons he taught me.
1 Fuck ’em.
I can’t PG this post. This was by far the most important thing I learnt from him and he was all about it. I wrote it on the inside of my hat, and kept writing it on the inside of my hats all the way through college – and even as a coach later. It means ignore the doubters, the non-believers, and the naysayers. But far more importantly it means to ignore that little voice inside your own head that doubts you. He used to say, “pull your hat down and fucking deal.” Maybe it sounds silly now but as a 17 year old it really lit a fire under me and made me understand that for me to succeed I needed to compete with some serious intensity on the mound, every single pitch.
To me, Scherzer, epitomizes this mentality
2 Do Everything With 100% Effort, Intensity, & Pace
I already talked about how he lit us up three minutes into our catch session. I don’t think we lasted even that long before getting torn apart the first time we did PFP’s. I’d never had a coach be that demanding to bust your ass full speed to get a bunt. He laid out every single PFP a pitcher may face and his attention to detail was excellent. It’s an important lesson to any young pitcher: how you do one thing is how you do anything.
3. From A Pitching Mechanics Perspective: Take Care of the Big Things and the Little Things Will Fall Into Place
I remember him telling me: be athletic, stay back, stay closed, and really finish. Take care of those things and the rest will pretty much fall into place. I still agree with this. It’s easy to get into the minutiae (and there’s time for that) but take care of the big rocks first!
I remember when I was 25 or so I got an e-mail from Jon (I hadn’t seen or talked to him since I was 18) telling me he had been reading my blog and was proud of the coach I was. He was a massive reason for how I coached and to receive that message from someone I looked up to so much at such a pivotal point in my life meant a lot.