Rich Jordan has been coaching baseball for a long time. He has helped more than 80 players move on to college baseball during his 30-plus years of coaching.
His last group went 30–9 during the American Legion summer season and sent eight players to different levels of college ball.
Now the 63-year-old is on to a new project.
Jordan is bringing his coaching philosophy to the Tri-Cities Titans 16U team in Kingsport, Tennessee.
“We’re going to play in a more advanced [schedule] than they’re used to,” Jordan said. “It’s going to be an interesting year. The brand of baseball they play is what I call slow.”
Taking over a new team is never easy. Getting players — and parents — to buy into a new philosophy and new ideas takes time.
Jordan knows this. He’s been patient as he’s installed his style during a short fall season in preparation for this summer.
The Titans will face tough competition in several different tournaments — Net Elite, Perfect Game Super 25 and Prospect Select — this summer. To get ready, Jordan is introducing some new ideas to his new team.
“The greatest piece of advice ever in my life was when I was a high school coach,” Jordan said.
Jordan spent seven years coaching at Colorado Springs’ Doherty High and worked at Air Force Academy camps with coach Paul Mainieri.
“[Mainieri told me] ‘A good coach borrows from everybody,’” Jordan said.
Some of Jordan’s borrowed new ideas included:
Have a tryout
“[The Titans] had a core group of kids,” he said. But a tryout discovered a homeschool player throwing in the 80s. “That’s the kind of kid you don’t find anymore unless you do something like that.”
Arm velocity program
The Titans went through a six-week program before Christmas, using weighted balls. “You could see the kids improve and it just blew their minds,” Jordan said.
The Titans will return after winter break to a speed course taught by a professional. The players will work on footwork, mechanics and running against resistance — all in hopes of improving their sprints.
Run the bases
That speed work will help Jordan’s team steal more bases. He doesn’t understand why this age group doesn’t attempt more steals. “The biggest difference I’ve made is I’ve turned them into a running [team],” he said. “It opens up the game a lot more.”
Let the players think
Jordan believes in teaching his players to make decisions instead of having rigid rules or signs from the coach for every play. This applies to defense, base running and hitting.
“The ball puts you in a different position,” Jordan said. “Our [defensive] philosophy is let the ball take you to the play. Too many coaches teach there’s one way to get the ball to second base. That’s not true.”
Jordan doesn’t use a steal sign. He teaches his players to understand situations that are good to steal against.
It’s the same plan at the plate.
“I teach hitting with a purpose instead of just going up to hit,” Jordan said. His philosophy also includes not taking a pitch just because the count says 3–0.
“I’m teaching the brain power behind the game,” Jordan said. “I’m putting more in their hands.
“We’ll talk about it when they made a bad decision, but I let them make the decision.”
It’s a slow process sometimes. But then something works and the lightbulb goes off.
Jordan saw his new catcher always threw to second base on a steal attempt, even if other runners were advancing. He explained the need to analyze the situation and look at all the options. For example, if you have runners on first and third with a left-handed batter at the plate, the throw to second base will be blocked. He encouraged the catcher to take a shot at the runner on third instead.
“And when he picked the first guy off, he just looked at me like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me,’” Jordan said with a laugh. “And I said, ‘See how easy that was? It was there all the time.’”
Jordan hopes there will be more lightbulbs going off as his new team adapts to his old ways.