As a guest coach with Vanderbilt University Baseball in 2019, I had the opportunity to witness first-hand the philosophies and strategies that have made the program one of the best in the country. While each aspect of the game is important, Vanderbilt places a particular emphasis on hitting, pitching, baserunning, defense, and character. Here are some key takeaways from each of these areas:
Vanderbilt's hitting philosophy emphasizes the importance of having a clear mind, being on time, and selecting the right pitch to hit. Hitters are encouraged to have a "hunter" mindset, approaching each at-bat with the intention of doing damage.
The pitching staff at Vanderbilt is taught to work ahead in the count, command the strike zone, and handle their position on the mound. By doing so, they can control the pace of the game and keep their opponents off-balance.
Vanderbilt's baserunning philosophy is centered around being aggressive, looking a base ahead, and understanding the situation. By being smart on the base paths, the Commodores are able to create opportunities to score runs and put pressure on their opponents.
The key to playing solid defense, according to Vanderbilt, is to make the routine play, stay focused for the duration of the game (which can often last over 150 pitches), and communicate effectively with your teammates.
In addition to being great athletes, Vanderbilt Baseball players are also expected to be great people. The program places a high value on character, encouraging players to high-five after every repetition, shake hands with their teammates and coaches, and maintain a team-oriented mindset. Even pitchers come to watch hitters after their own practices, reinforcing the idea that everyone on the team is in it together.
Overall, my experience with Vanderbilt University Baseball left me with a newfound appreciation for the program's commitment to excellence, both on and off the field. Whether you're a player, coach, or fan, there's no denying that the Commodores have built something truly special in Nashville.