Pitching is as simple as red, white and blue.
University of Louisiana at Lafayette baseball coach Tony Robichaux captivated his audience for an hour Tuesday afternoon with a talk about how to teach pitchers to hit the strike zone.
Robichaux, who coached the Cajuns to a 58-10 record and a super regional berth, was a featured speaker at the Louisiana High School Coaches Association Coaches Clinic at the Crowne Plaza in Baton Rouge.
Robichaux displayed a colored home plate he uses when training pitchers. Home plate is 18 inches wide. He uses three six-inch wide sections with white in the middle and red and blue on the outside. The plate extends another six inches wide on each side with green and yellow to teach pitchers to throw inside or outside balls.
“We use the colored plate from the first day of practice to teach our pitchers how we want to lane out a plate,” he said. “Seven baseballs fit across the plate. If a pitcher gets really good, he can lane out the plate by the width of a ball.
“It really helps young players to throw to a visual.”
Robichaux said every throw gives a coach feedback on a player’s delivery body motion. He forces players to hit each of the five spots before moving to the next spot. Good catchers who buy into this training are also important.
“Pitchers need to learn to evaluate their throws,” said Robichaux, who has a 995-646-1 career record in 28 seasons at McNeese State and UL-Lafayette. “We ask them was the pitch good, could have been better or my best. This all leads to executing on command.”
Robichaux also incorporates competition between pitchers into bullpen practice. For example, pitchers can play “HORSE” to certain zones (outside curveball, etc.). He also has pitchers throw blindfolded and asks them where the ball went.
“We’re trying to compete, yet at the same time we’re trying to teach them a feel for what is going on,” he said.
“Intent is everything at practice. If you can throw a ball with purpose, you can throw a strike.”
Robichaux said he enjoyed participating in the clinic. He also had a morning talk.
“It’s always great to be with high school coaches,” he said. “We’re all trying to slay the same dragon; to make a kid better.”
UL-Lafayette won the Sun Belt title last season and had a magical season.
“We had a bunch of special kids,” Robichaux said. “We lost eight good seniors and eight good guys to the draft. We do have some good athletes coming in, but it’ll be a challenge for us next year. We’ll have to do a lot of teaching.”
Wave the flag. Robichaux has teaching covered.