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John Dopson Pitching Instruction -- Maryland
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Teaching Philosophy

This is a general outline of our instruction. The entry point and length of time a student stays at a given stage is dependent on the progress of the individual student. There are no fixed time frames and the instruction accommodates the progress of the student.

Stage 1: The Mechanics

Description: An essential part of the initial instruction analyzes the mechanics of the individual delivery and identifies areas for improvement. In this stage, we work on elements such as: footwork on the rubber, grip, arm positioning during delivery, positioning of the upper body, positioning of the glove arm during delivery, follow through, landing with a soft flat front foot on a bent leg and many others.  We utilize frame by frame video analysis to identify mechanical flaws.  Once areas of improvement have been identified, we continue to work with the pitcher until the mastery of the mechanics is evident in each delivery.

Objective: The primary focus of stage 1 is to create a repeatable and mechanically sound delivery allowing the pitcher to consistently deliver pitches in the strike zone.

Stage 2: Types of Pitches

Description: Stage 2 builds on stage 1 by teaching different pitches and building the different pitches into the mechanics. This process begins with proper grip and continues through proper delivery of different types of fastballs, change ups and breaking balls.  We also discuss the physics of ball movement, how to create ball movement and how to control ball movement.

Objective: Successful completion of stage 2 will result in additional pitches being utilized by the student with proper mechanics.  Depending on the progress and age of the student, stage two is at times combined with the latter half of stage one. 

Stage 3: Fielding

Description: This stage focuses on pick-off moves, pitchouts, throwing to first, fielding comebackers and fielding bunts. In this stage, we teach the fundaments of the moves and also promote quick decision making, anticipation and physical positioning.

Objective: At the completion of stage 3, pitchers will have a solid understanding of fielding moves and will more accurately anticipate steals and bunts.

Stage 4: The Mental Game

Description: This is one of the most important and often overlooked elements of baseball instruction. This stage focuses on a litany of mental choices a pitcher faces and options a pitcher can create.

Pitch selection, pitch positioning, walking off the mound, delaying a pitch, calling out the catcher, throwing a pickoff are all decisions a pitcher must face. A pitcher must methodically process the mental decisions they face or the quantity of decisions and the pressure of the decision making will overwhelm them, often producing a negative result. The mental game is critical at all levels of baseball and can be the difference between a good player and a great player.

Objective: In stage 4, John will transfer his knowledge of the mental game to his students. He will teach students how to process and implement the decisions they encounter. He will also teach pitchers how to create additional options using mental tactics, creating an advantage for the pitcher.

Stage 5: Refinement

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Description: This stage is reached once the student displays a mastery of all basic mechanics and shows quick and logical decision making. At this stage, accuracy, pitch speed and pitch location gain the attention.

Objective: This stage of instruction keys on continued refinement and betterment of the pitcher and watches for any mechanical breakdowns, which may form in the delivery. This stage will focus on finite adjustments with the goal of improving the pitcher through better decisions, pitch selection, pitch placement and pitch speed.