Coaching 201: Pitch-tracking sheet

With a few years under my belt, I have found that I have a few tools, ideas and methods to share. I’m not sharing the basics of being a Little League coach, but the pieces that have moved me beyond the basics. The first piece I’d like to share is my latest creation: a pitch-tracking sheet.

I decided before our season started that I wanted to track more information about our pitchers. I had been tracking balls and strikes a little bit. I had started differentiating between called strikes and swinging strikes. I’d been tracking velocity in practices, sometimes. I wasn’t tracking where the pitches went.

I’m not real good with remembering specifics and finding patterns in live action. I’d only gotten a sense of how things were going. I’m not like professional coaches – I couldn’t tell you where every pitch in an inning went without writing it down.

So, I wanted to combine all of that and extend it a little, but not overwhelm myself with data-recording responsibilities.

Photo of pitch-tracking sheet with data recorded

The Pitch-Tracking sheet is my first effort at combining all that information and understanding the flow in real time. I opened Microsoft Excel and started creating a table for pitch-tracking. Each column has 10 boxes for pitches, which helps quickly know the pitch count without using a clicker. There are 7 boxes for the data – 3 on each side and a tall one in the middle.

From the catcher’s perspective, I mark where the pitch went. Those stacked boxes to the left and right help me place the inside and outside pitches. I use O, / and X to indicate balls, strikes looking and strikes swinging. Foul balls get an F, while batted balls get the result of the play. Wild pitches (WP), passed balls (PB) and steals (SB) get a notation in the center box (since the pitch could have been anywhere). I mark the velocity from my PocketRadar in the middle box – at the bottom unless it was a low pitch.

It’s been very useful seeing trends and learning how my guys throw. I see trends developing and can also tell when someone’s working the count a lot, rather than just losing them or killing them. I was trying to do something like this in my little pocket diary, but it’s just too much data and gets messy fast.

Things that I haven’t figured out how I’d like to do here: keep track of the opposing batters, identify lefty/righty, and record pitch type. I’m not sure yet whether I need those details.

When I review the data after games, I count up the balls and strikes, tally those and the scorebook data, and then craft a sentence or two about the outing. So far, it’s giving me a far greater understanding of what happens in our games than I was getting just looking at the scorebook or reviewing my chicken scratch in my journal.

I’ll probably start using that journal again – but only to write down noteworthy events during the game. After all, we do name a player of the game and it helps to have something to refer to beyond the most recent memory.

I’d love to hear comments on this – if you use something else instead or if you think this ought to be modified in some way. I’m a data guy and I’ve always been writing stuff down in the dugout when I’m coaching. That might not be your style….

Here it is as a PDF:

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