Voyageurs' Larocque Showcases his Coaching Expertise at Baseball Ontario's Best Ever Clinic
Over the weekend, Baseball Ontario held its annual Best Ever Coaches Clinic (BEC). At this event, coaches are invited to learn about coaching techniques, season scheduling and so much more. One of the presenters was our very own J.G. Larocque, Vice President of the PBLO and Coach for the Sudbury Voyageurs.
Several coaches from across the province took part in presenting a wide range of topics. In his first time presting at the BEC, Larocque made sure to pick ideas he was passionate about and had an experience incorporating into his Voyageurs' training. "You go to your comfort, so I said catching and mental performance."
The Sudbury Voyageurs have developed impressive catchers who have appeared in the PBLO All-Star Games in the past few years, and Larocque's coaching has been a factor in his players reaching their potential. At the BEC, he discussed basic catcher defence as well as how to use real-game situations to mould practice plans.
"In a game, let's say you have 100 pitches. 85 of them you receive, X amount you block, you throw X amount of the time, you catch popups," Coach Larocque explained. "So it's kind of tailoring your practice to what a game looks like." Being able to practice all aspects of the game, especially for a catcher, should build a strong base for not only the pitching staff but the team's performance as a whole defensively.
The second presentation from J.G. Larocque came on the main stage where he spoke about mental performance, its importance, and how to pair it up with practice. He spoke about an ideology called "signal lights" where green means everything is feeling good, yellow where things are beginning to get messy, and red where things have spiralled. He also touched on mental imagery exercises and shadow bullpens. "Everyone thinks the mental game is probably 90% of the game, but if you ask them how much they practice it, it's like zero. So this is how you can integrate that into your practice, and then taking that and integrate it into your games."
Just under a dozen people came to speak with Larocque following his mental performance presentation on the main stage, showcasing how many coaches are trying to incorporate the soft skills of coaching into their daily practice regiments instead of only baseball-related activities.
Some difficulties in presenting at the BEC is the wide range of coaching in attendance. There are high-level college and pro coaches, and some are still learning their craft coaching at the high school level. Larocque praised the presenters on being able to "hit the honey hole" in explaining how to implement these ideas from the 10U up to high school graduates.
Larocque said that a great part of the event was to catch up with people he last saw a long time ago. He recounted talking to Canadian baseball writer Bob Elliott who has been covering baseball since the late 1970s. The man with a "wealth of knowledge" spoke about Roy Halladay and his mental performance with Larocque, who was going to be presenting on the topic in the coming days. Meeting up with old friends transcends baseball and is the reason many coaches continue with the difficult task of coaching for years on end.
Hearing accounts and videos of the BEC, the annual coaching event was a great success. With a higher turnout than expected, our PBLO Vice President and Sudbury Coach, J.G. Larocque, got to educate coaches from across the province on his passions that have led him to be a large part of the baseball community for many years. While this was the first time he presented at the BEC, this is certainly not the first time he has passed his knowledge off to others and will not be the last.