May 12, 2021 • 40M

Part 1: Mike Steele Coaches Cleveland Indians and Son's Youth Team, Talks State of Youth Baseball

Cleveland Indians pitching coach Mike Steele gives his thoughts on the current state of youth baseball from a very unique (and qualified) position!

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Tips, advice, experience, and observations, for parents and coaches, to help get the most out of the youth baseball experience!
Episode details

Parents and Coaches,

This is one of my favorite episodes so far! It was an hour long, so I split it into two parts. Be sure to subscribe to my free emails so you won’t miss part two!

This is definitely one you need to listen to, but here’s an outline of the episode and part one of my interview with Cleveland Indians pitching coach, youth baseball coach, and dad, Mike Steele! (remember, you can also subscribe in iTunes or your favorite podcast player)

⚾ 1:00 - Introduction

Mike Steele played high school, college, and pro ball. He spent 7 years with the Pittsburgh Pirates as a pitching coach.

He’s also served as the pitching coach at three Division I universities - Michigan State University, Long Beach State University, and Wichita State University.

Mike is now based out of Phoenix, Arizona with the Cleveland Indians as a minor league pitching coach. He works during Spring Training with all levels of Indians’ pitchers, and then remains in Phoenix throughout the rest of the year with their Rookie level minor league team.

In addition to his lengthy baseball career, Mike’s most important job now is being a father, which also includes coaching his son’s 13 year old summer team.

I know a lot of youth league coaches that have played the game at a high level, but I’ve never come across a professional baseball coach who also coaches his son’s team (at the same time).

⚾ 3:30 - Interview Starts

  • Mike was a good player, not a great player

  • He was middle of the pack compared to his peers

  • Didn’t get any offers out of high school; went JUCO

  • Played 6.5 seasons in pro ball

  • Had Tommy John and shoulder surgery

  • Start coaching career at Michigan State once he got married

  • Left coaching to work for Bo Jackson and John Cangelosi with the Illinois Sparks

  • Went back to the Pittsburgh Pirates as a pitching coach and a scout

  • Pitching coach at Long Beach State and Wichita State for two years each

  • Was offered a job and currently coaches with the Cleveland Indians

⚾ 10:50 - Why Mike Reached Out

  • Mike came across my episode about how Weekend Tournaments are Ruining Youth Baseball Player Development

  • Commented and agreed saying the current youth baseball environment is destroying our kids’ development

  • Mike recently realized after coaching a tournament, parents have so much anxiety around their kids’ performance

  • And how much pressure is put on our kids during their teenage years

  • And all of it is for the purpose of winning a ring that really means nothing

⚾ 13:55 - Thoughts on Rings for the “Toilet Bowl” Bracket

  • Mike talked about the difference between getting trophies and rings for participating vs the rings he got growing up as a player

  • Rings meant more than just playing, but represented the blood, sweat, and tears of the grind throughout the season

⚾ 17:25 - Transactional Relationship w/ Baseball

  • We don’t talk to young players today about controlling what they can control

  • Parents just hope their kid messes up less than the other kid; not developing players who can deal with adversity

⚾ 18:25 - Getting Lessons Too Early

  • Why are parents taking kids to work on skills when he doesn’t even know how to catch the baseball

  • “Parents want to buy a good delivery”

  • Players are learning skills but not how to play the game

  • Historically, players learned how to play the game, not go to lessons

  • They also learned how to handle adversity

  • More important to learn fundamental athleticism and how to compete

  • Parents, and the lesson, tournament, showcase industry teaches kids to use measurements and rings to determine how “good” they are

⚾ 18:25 - Tournament Baseball

  • Mike could not think of a worse setup to develop baseball players

  • It’s win at all cost

  • The mindset and rewards for youth baseball are not like any other level of baseball

⚾ 25:40 - What do we tell parents who are afraid their kid is going to be left behind?

  • First, what is ‘behind’? What’s your goal?

  • The chances you really have of playing past high school.

  • The chances of playing Division I.

  • The reality of where kids end up and how that should direct goals and resources.

  • The chances of playing pro ball are low.

  • The chances of being a husband, father, employee are closer to 100%.

  • What are those attributes that good husbands, fathers, and employees have that match up with baseball, or sports, and what you can control.

⚾ 29:41 - The importance of learning how to handle adversity.

  • Mike was Gerrit Cole’s first pitching coach in pro ball.

  • He worked with Jameson Taillion and now with Daniel Espino.

  • These guys are just better than everyone else, and there’s not much you can do to be better than those guys.

  • ‘Gerrit Cole can fall out of bed at three in the morning and he’s throwing 95.’

⚾ 29:41 - The bigger picture

  • Sure, your kid can play pro ball.

  • But would you do what it takes to get there at the detriment of him being a good father to your grandkids?

  • What good is it if he gets to pro ball and he actually hates baseball, which Mike sees all the time.

  • Pro ball is life. It’s every single day.

  • Pro ball is a war of attrition.

  • You still need all these non-baseball ‘qualities’ whether your kid is going to be like Gerrit Cole or not.

  • How self-aware are these players?

⚾ 35:30 - Understanding how boys learn

  • They don’t get better by sitting there being told what to do

  • They learn through experience and play

  • Parents and youth coaches are equally to blame

  • Rod Olson: ‘don’t be coach obvious’

  • Look at the ingredients behind what is happening and address those

  • Parents are so afraid of their kids having failure and pain

  • Too high is just as bad as too low

The interview was so good, we went over by 30 minutes, so I split it into two episodes. Subscribe to hear the last 30 minutes of the interview when it’s published next week! It’s free, and I’ll send you an email when it goes live!

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