Coach Brian Bogda is someone who has used the 1PW System, Books, and Coaches Clinic to help him reach the peak within his state. He was able to win the 4A State Championship with Crystal Lake South High School. I asked him if he could give us an insight into his program and give other coaches further help with transforming programs like he has been able to do into 1-Pitch Warriors. The following are his answers to questions I had posed to him. I wanted to thank him for taking the time to help readers and other passionate coaches out there.
What is your baseball background? Resume? Talk about your program.
I played at Elmhurst College P/OF, 1998-2002
Worked for Chicago White Sox Training Academy 2002-2005
Assistant Baseball Coach at Huntley High School 2003
Assistant Baseball Coach at Crystal Lake South High School 2003-2007
Head Baseball Coach 2008-present 227-109 record
3 Conference Championships, 3 Regional Championships, 1 Class 4A State Championship (2017)
52 players have gone on to play in college since 2008
I am really proud of our program. First of all, I have been very fortunate to work and coach with some terrific athletes over the years. I really have enjoyed working with all of them and getting to know them and their families. I have had the privilege to work with some great coaches along the way that helped mentor me as a coach, as well as provide excellent instruction and feedback to our players. I have been fortunate to coach with seven former players of mine as well. That is a neat experience to have them come back and give back to the program as a coach. We play in the extremely competitive Fox Valley Conference in Illinois, so we need to provide our guys with the best practices on a daily basis in the spring and summer months.
What are some of the biggest factors in your success?
I think some of the biggest factors have been trying to get the players to “buy-in” and believe in the process. We have been able to do this from a physical and mental/emotional (see mental game below). Once we started tracking and using the 1PW tools, for in-game process goals, our players were able to see the immediate results. We track BASE2, QAB, QAB%, and TPI on all playing levels. These in-game indicators provide a great starting point for our post-game discussion. Those tools are also terrific to help design and implement the portions of practice that you want to coach your players up on for the next day.
What role has the mental game played in your success? How have you implemented the mental game in your program?
The mental game is certainly an important part of any sport. This is something I would say over the past couple of years I have spent more time on with my teams. I really like the 1PW- Lessons in Leadership. In particular, I have used the 6th Sense, Jetership, We over Me, and Actions Louder Than Words lessons with my teams over the past several seasons. Some lessons we do every year, some I used every other year, so I don’t repeat them. Other times, I use them when we need a boost in the leadership or team area. The guys have really enjoyed them. I really like pre-pitch routines and pre at-bat routines in the on-deck circle. Our pitching coach, Mark Tschappat, goes through some pre-pitch cues, thought process, and visualization techniques in the classroom with our pitchers. He talks about success and failure and how to maintain composure throughout each outing. They go through a “Grab an Anchor” lesson with him, where each pitcher comes up with some individual visualization to get themselves back on track. I know this is also very similar to the positive self-talk techniques that Brian Cain discusses. I really like a lot of Brian Cain’s ideas and information. I would highly recommend following him on social media and taking a look at his books. Lastly, all of our athletes at Crystal Lake South have a One Word, which is inspired from Jon Gordon’s book One Word. Each athlete picks a word that is important to them for the year. Each athlete writes that word down and then displays the word in a spot that they will see it each day (locker, mirror, door, etc.). Instead of creating a goal or resolution for the school year or season, they are picking one word that will help drive and inspire them throughout the year. It has been great and I credit our athletic director, Jason Bott for bringing this to our athletic department. Our guys like this and it is a great way to engage the guys, especially when they are having a rough day. Sometimes, our coaches will ask the players about their word and that is a way to get them back on track, find common ground, and help coach them through a tough time.
How have you created a program of excellence? What advice can you give to others about making those strides from good to great?
By no means do I think I have it all figured out. I try to keep learning and improving each year. I would say that building a program, building coaching staffs, adding to your field and facilities, and developing your players all takes some time and cannot be done overnight. I would like to think that we add a little something to these areas each year. Our coaching staff meets numerous times in the off-season months to prepare for the year ahead. These meetings are never the same as we try to come up with ideas, practice plans, and share information with each other to customize it for the athletes that we have in the program. I am big proponent of going to coaching clinics. I learn so much from other coaches. I really enjoy going to those clinics with my coaching staffs, but I also really enjoy connecting with other local coaches having discussions about drills and practice ideas. I would highly recommend following the ABCA podcasts and Twitter Q&A sessions that they provide throughout the year. Something else that I have done on occasion is to go and visit a collegiate practice in the fall. If you are lucky the coaches will share the practice plan with you, let you walk around the field during the practice, and then have some discussion about the practice that you watched. It is really neat to watch and come up with some ideas that you can implement with your guys back at the high school.
What are the things you love most about coaching? What keeps you motivated?
I love that each year is different and trying to put the pieces together of a larger puzzle. I love working with players and helping them attain their individual goals. I love seeing them work hard, struggle at times, work hard again, and achieve success. I love the competition and camaraderie of coaches in our area. I enjoy talking baseball, picking the brains of other coaches, and trying new things in practice.
What is your favorite practice technique, drill, or game that you use at your practice that others can use right now within their program?
I have 2 drills that I really like and have shared in Illinois at last year’s clinic:
Little League Bunt Game Drill
Objective: To work on bunting, bunt defense, and promote competiveness all at the same time.
Set-up: This can be performed in a gym or on a field. Move bases close 45-50’. Split your teams equally into 2 teams. All players compete, catchers get geared up, we use outfielders. We have 1 coach pitch, 1 coach umpire behind the mound, and 1 coach umpire in the field. If you don’t have that many coaches, you can eliminate the coach in the field, but we added it because the plays are very close most of the time.
Rules: Offensively, you have to create your own inning and runs by bunting. You cannot slash, but we do allow push bunts. Runners cannot lead off. They can advance at their own risk on over throws, they can also try to take extra bases on defense. Bunters only get three strikes, so this forces guys to bunt with 2 strikes at times. It also reinforces bunting and placement of bunts depending on the situations. Once 3 outs occur, we clear the bases and keep offensive team up until everyone has bunted. We predetermine how many innings we will play before the game begins. We usually go 2-3 innings, depending on time. Defensive players may not charge until pitch crosses homeplate. This drill reinforces bunt coverages and situational defense. It also forces all the players on the field to move with the play and rotate throughout the field.
Results: We keep the same teams throughout the year and usually end or open up our practices with this drill. We keep track of the records and the losing team usually has some sort of consequence (cleaning up after practice, running, etc.). You could also keep a scoresheet for each individual bunter to provide feedback on how they are bunting within the game. I like to do this at times to determine who might be a good bunter in late inning situations or a key bunting situation in the game.
21 Outs PFP
Objective: Most are familiar with the 21 outs drill where you try to get 21 outs in a row from a coach fungo without committing an error. If they commit an error, you go back to 0 and start over. In 21 Outs PFP, you are doing the same thing, but you are involving the pitchers in every single play.
- Set-up: Position players on field, catchers are geared up. Multiple players can play a position, but they wait their turn behind the player that is “in” the drill. Coach will fungo the various situations. I usually have a script that I follow, but sometimes you have to come up with the situations as you go. I have provided a sample script below.
- Use base runners
- Basic PFP, but now in a game-like situation
- 1st & 3rds, bunt defense, pitch outs, pick off plays, backing up bases on balls hit to OF, moving over on balls hit to right side, run downs
- If the pitchers don’t execute, then go back to zero
Results: I have enjoyed using this drill to really focus on the small things in games. These are the things we expect our pitchers to know, and if they do them in practice, then we are going to be in the right places in games to make plays. This is a tough drill, so I would recommend having a time limit or a set number of “chances” to complete the drill. If they don’t complete it, then there is consequences and I would immediately put this drill back on the practice plan for the following practice.
Thanks again Coach Bogda for opening up about your program and being a teacher to others in the coaching profession! You are awesome and I wish you the best in the future. If you are looking to contact Coach Bogda about anything you may have questions on you can do so at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks again Coach!!