BY STEVE KRAH
Landon Hutchison is developing pitchers in a scientific way at the University of Indianapolis.
Heading into his third season as pitching coach at the NCAA Division II school in 2020, Hutchison uses the latest training methods while staying focused on the ultimate objective.
“It’s very tech-driven,” says Hutchison, who was learning more about his craft at the Jan. 2-5 American Baseball Coaches Association convention in Nashville. “But at the end of the day you’ve got to try to get guys out.”
To get his pitchers ready to do that, Hutchison pays close attention to health.
“Arm care is definitely the No. 1 point of emphasis,” says Hutchison. “Workload is managed. We’re not throwing too much. We’re not throwing too little.
“We make sure we’re recovering and moving the right way. We’re making sure we’re getting proper sleep, nutrition, all those things.”
Motus sensors are used to monitor throwing. It’s a seven-day workload that maps out to a 28-day workload.
“If you keep that on pace it helps ramp things up in a safe manner,” says Hutchison. “We use the Florida Baseball Ranch style of training as far as the cycle goes.”
The Greyhounds have heavy day followed by a recovery day, connection day (a time to work on movement patterns) and max intent day.
“If you keep repeating it, you don’t have to think about it out on the mound,” says Hutchison. “The last thing I want them thinking about is that. Their job is to get guys out.”
Flexibility are the mobility of the Thoracic spine (T-spine) are also deemed important.
With the help of Chad Odaffer, an instructor in UIndy’s Kinesiology, Health & Sport Sciences department, full-body assessments are performed.
If deficiencies are found those can be addressed by head strength and conditioning coach Steve Barrick.
To improve core strength, pitchers do plenty of yoga. There’s also chaos training and HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts to get the heart rate up.
“We want to make sure we’re athletic,” says Hutchison. “Pitchers are athletes.”
Hutchison notes that ABCA members are harping on how far golf is ahead of baseball in terms of movement patterns.
“The amount of video that we take on our guys is insane,” says Hutchison. “I don’t know if I have one video of me pitching when I was in college.”
As a right-handed pitcher, Hutchinson graduated from Liberty Union High School in Baltimore, Ohio, then played four seasons (2012-15) at the University of Rio Grande (Ohio).
After his playing career, Hutchison served the 2016 and 2017 seasons for the Red Storm as a graduate assistant. He received a bachelor’s degree in Educational Studies in 2016 and a master’s in Coaching Leadership in 2017 and joined the UIndy staff in the fall of 2017. Indianapolis went 31-23 in 2018 and 30-20 in 2019.
Since each pitcher on his staff is unique in his approach, cues won’t be the same for each one.
“Sometimes it’s best to tell them to change their aiming point or use their legs more because they have nothing to do with their mechanics,” says Hutchison. “If you’re glove side is flying open, you might be told to stay tight.
“Little things like that can help guys stay in line and stay true.”
D-II baseball teams are allowed 45 days of practice in the fall. After that comes individual work. That’s when the process of developing velocity and pitch design begins.
During pitch, Hutchison will create video overlays of all the pitches in a hurler’s repertoire.
“We want to make sure all those are tunneled and we’re going from the exact same arm slot,” says Hutchison. “We want them to mimic each other. Around the 40-foot mark is our goal for when they start to separate. That’s when the spin actually takes effect.
“I’d rather have later movement than earlier (giving the hitter little time to react).”
Each pitcher is given an individualized plan that begins when they arrive on campus in the fall. Hutchison asks them the last time they threw live
“I tell them to be honest,” says Hutchison. “There’s no point in lying because you’re just going to hurt yourself.”
Once they get to winter break after final exams, UIndy pitchers are given six- to eight-week plan they can follow when they are away from the coaches.
Players are due back on campus Jan. 13.
“That’s when we start hitting things pretty hard,” says Hutchison. “We open up Feb. 15 (against Hillsdale in Johnson City, Tenn.).”
The Hounds will also play several games inside their dome.
“We’ve got plenty of arms,” says Hutchison. “Guys are getting full ground balls and full fly balls since it’s seven stories high.
“Hitters are seeing live (pitching) and it’s white background. If you can hit the ball in there, you can probably hit the ball almost anywhere.
“With our pitchers we do a good job making sure their intensity and pitch count is where it needs to be.”
Hutchison says UIndy head coach Al Ready wants pitchers to be able to throw seven innings or up to 100 pitches within their first outing.
“If we can get them to that point we know we’re going to have a chance to win,” says Hutchison. “If they can go seven innings, we have a bullpen that can seal the game for them.”
When Hutchison arrived on campus, there were 15 pitchers. The following year that moved to around 27. This year, there are 30.
“To be a fully-funded program, there must be at least 45 man on the roster,” says Hutchison. “Why not bring in arms?”
Besides his role at UIndy, Hutchison is also national scouting coordinator and regional director for Pastime Tournaments, which runs travel baseball events all over the country.
He is in charge of staffing all events. Last summer, the organization employed around 250 250 independent contract workers.
Hutchison makes certain baseballs and merchandise go to the right places.
On tournament weekends, president Tom Davidson, vice president and national director Brent Miller and Hutchison divide up the 25 or more tournaments and oversee them with the help of site directors.
Hutchison also acts as a point of contact between players, parents and college coaches and educates the recruited on the process. He lets them know that the colleges will want to know things like age, grade-point average and SAT score. Players should get their own email address to be used in corresponding with colleges.
“I want to recruit the athlete,” says Hutchison. “I don’t want to recruit the parents.”
It also helps to have a presence on social media, where videos and other important information on a recruit can be placed.
To help college programs, Hutchison can let coaches know which teams and players will be playing in which region so they can take a look at that uncommitted left-hander they seek.
When filling tournament fields, Davidson likes to pool like competition to keep them challenging for all involved.
Pastime’s social media presence has swelled in recent years. The organization has more than 8,500 followers on Twitter and more than 1,000 in Instagram.
Landon Hutchinson is baseball pitching coach at the University of Indianapolis and national scouting coordinator and regional director for Pastime Tournaments. (UIndy Photo)