The Eyes of Madison Bumgarner’s Coach – A Lesson in World-Class Coaching from Dave Righetti, the Coach of the World Series MVP


What does the best coach do?

First, I think the best coach notices what the person being coached is doing right – and what the person is doing wrong.

Which means, the best coach knows what to look for. If the person being coached does things right, then all is well. If the person being coached is not doing these things right, then you’ve got trouble. But it takes a very good coach to see this.

So, the best coach has a very, very attentive eye.

Those thoughts were prompted by one amazing paragraph. In case you have not heard, we’ve just seen the greatest pitching performance in the World series since Sandy Koufax in 1965 – and one of the greatest of all time. Madison Bumgarner pretty much singlehandedly shut down the Kansas City Royals hitters. He notched two wins and one save in the four Giants victories. His E.R.A. — 0.43, for this World Series.  His overall World Series E.R.A. is 0.25, the best of all time.

The pitcher and his coach - Bumgarner and Righetti
The pitcher and his coach – Bumgarner and Righetti

In this article, World Series 2014: Madison Bumgarner Rises to the Moment, and Jaws Drop, author Tyler Kepner talked about how his coach and teammates pretty much left Bumgarner alone, saying nothing to him, asking him nothing, during his final game-saving relief assignment. But, his primary coach, Pitching Coach Dave Righetti, knew what to look for. This is a very trained coaching eye. Here’s the great observation:

After that, Dave Righetti said, he studied the fingers on Bumgarner’s left hand. If he was keeping them on top of the ball, Righetti said, he would not make mistakes. That is where Bumgarner kept them.

Where were the pitcher’s fingers? I don’t know much about that level of observation about pitching prowess. But Righetti does. And as good as Bumgarner is, it took a coach that was his match to help him rise to this level.

This strikes me as a pretty high bar for all coaches, in all arenas. Coaches have to become world class noticers. They know what to look for, and they have to be able to see, and understand, the smallest signals.

Impressive! Impressive pitching, and impressive coaching.

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