By STEVE KRAH
Mark Wasikowski sweats the details.
His baseball experience tells him that those things build a championship culture.
The new head baseball coach at Purdue University has been getting his Boilermakers to focus on routines that he expects will translate to success.
Wasikowski shared his ideas in presentation at the recent Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association State Clinic and said “we’ve got to do a good job of earning the trust of the people in that room … High school coaches are absolutely critical.”
Practice organization has been key during Wasikowski’s career as a player (the Seal Beach, Calif., native helped win a College World Series title for coach Andy Lopez at Pepperdine University in 1992) and college coaching stops as an assistant at Southeast Missouri State, Florida, Arizona (helping Lopez earn a national championship in 2012) and Oregon.
Why have routines?
“They let everybody in the organization know about the mission and how the mission will be accomplished,” Wasikowski said. “The purpose of all these checklists is to cover the routine items. As a player, thorough repetition allows them to become more confident. That’s huge for me.”
With routines, players are able to slow the game down.
Making detailed checklists of how the team will practice batting, pitching and defense is important to developing a championship culture.
“These are the building blocks of the program — the critical things we need to do on a daily basis,” Wasikowski said. “The idea is to teach the routine so well that your kids will not only understand why the routine is done, but how it’s done and for what purpose it will be used.”
With this calendar posted in the locker room, players will know the practice plan and routines that will allow them to get their work done even if coaches are not around.
“We’re going to put down on a piece of paper everything we want to accomplish,” Wasikowski said. “We know that throwing, fielding and hitting evaluations are probably going to be on Day 1.”
The idea is to hit all the checklist items multiple times during the preseason.
“If you’ve got five checks by each item at the end of the fall, you’ve probably done a pretty good job,” Wasikowski said. “If you’ve only got one check, you’re probably slipping a little bit.”
At Oregon, head coach George Horton’s practice plan took up five pages. If a period was out of place on the practice plan devised by his assistants, he knew it and handed it back.
“Bottom line is the details are critical,” Wasikowski said. “Our calendars us how much time we’re going to spend on things each day.
“Once the kids see the routines equals the details equals the wins, now those things actually start mattering to those kids.”
Wasikowski does not take any detail for granted. That might mean taking out a stop watch and timing a player as he takes a jersey top off the locker room floor and places it on a hanger.
He teaches the value of defense and of not shaking off pitches because the defense is aligned in a certain way behind the pitcher.
At Wasikowski’s first team meeting at Purdue, he talked about details with his players — things like going to class, living your life right and so on.
Last fall, he also learned how competitive Purdue graduates are in the working world.
“I don’t see why we can’t do that on the baseball field,” Wasikowski said. “We’ve got a good school, why not have a good baseball team? I didn’t move my family across the country (from Oregon) to lose … We’ve got to move forward. There’s a plan.”
It’s a detailed plan.