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Embracing the Future: Georgia's New Head Coach Wes Johnson's Impact on Tech-Infused Coaching

As I sit down to write this, I'm transported back to the time when Wes Johnson and I first crossed paths at DBU. Little did I know that this encounter would set in motion a journey of collaboration and innovation that will forever reshape the world of baseball coaching, blending passion, data, and technology in a way that is nothing short of revolutionary.

Wes Johnson
Wes Johnson

Wes Johnson's story is one of humble beginnings, rising from the heart of Sherwood, Arkansas, to becoming the Head Coach of the Georgia Bulldogs baseball team. Yet, his legacy reaches far beyond the baseball diamond; it extends into the realm of technology and coaching methodologies that are ahead of their time.

At DBU during my initial demo in 2014, Drew Smith ripped off a 3000 RPM hammer. I just smiled because at that point I hadn't seen many pitchers spin their curveball that high. I joked that we were going to make a 3000 RPM club. Drew has gone on to have nice MLB career for himself.

Our discussions were deep dives into uncharted waters, exploring vertical approach angles in the low 4’s to high 3’s as justification for a lefty throwing 88 to elevate his fastball, release slots, spin rates, and the intricacies that make a pitch truly effective. Wes's understanding of these concepts isn't just superficial; he grasped the potential they held for shaping players into something extraordinary.

We'd talk about why a pitcher wasn't successful. One instance stands out vividly – a first-round pick’s 97 mph fastball was playing like a 92 mph fastball. Why? Average release height, side, extension, vertical approach angle or plane (Graph 1) movement, spin – they all jumped out immediately.

2014 Research on VAA to Whiffs
Graph 1: 2014 Research on VAA to Whiffs

What strikes me most is Wes's openness to innovation. He invited me to Arkansas to meet his staff and TrackMan talk data with his coaches. Our collaboration led to the refinement of a pitcher's "changeup," focusing on the subtleties of movement and deception. The focus isn't on velocity drop, but movement. Wes understands that data is merely a tool; the true art lies in translating insights. It's his ability to use the information to enhance his communication and trust with his players that stands out.

Our discussions venture beyond the confines of convention, exploring the strategic potential of shifting on the mound and altering slots for pitch trajectories. Wes is acutely aware of the marriage between data and strategy, and he embraces it with unwavering conviction and confidence.

His drive to know and use objective data is the reason Newtorce was founded. Wes introduces me to Kyle Barker, who built the first prototype of a mound to capture Ground Reaction Forces for Wes.

The game changer has been getting the actionable ground reaction forces synced to high-speed video back to Wes and his pitchers between pitches or medball throws. Pitch design and development took off when TrackMan and Rapsodo started to deliver actionable data between pitches tied to video. We’re seeing the same development of the lower half without platform improvement for these same reasons. An athlete can feel what they feel and see the changes they’re making.

Newtforce Lab, Little Rock Arkansas
Newtforce Lab, Little Rock Arkansas

Wes Johnson's journey isn't just about his own achievements; it's about transforming the very fabric of coaching. He has the unique ability to bri

dge the gap between data and intuition, translating complex metrics into strategies that players can grasp and execute. His coaching philosophy isn't just a blend of science and art; it's a harmony that brings out the best in each individual.

As he takes the reins of the Georgia Bulldogs, Wes Johnson's legacy continues to flourish. His players aren't just athletes; they are bearers of his philosophy that includes a balance of technology and passion. Wes isn't just a coach; he's an agent of change and pushing for answers, molding players into informed and inspired learners of the game. He truly loves baseball and coaching.

Wes Johnson's name will be etched in the baseball world as a pioneer. A small-town dreamer who harnessed technology to redefine coaching, a visionary who saw beyond the ordinary. His impact resonates not just on the field but in the very way coaching evolves, leaving an enduring legacy that will shape the future of the game for generations to come. I'm not sure if fans know just how integral Wes was to technology being adopted and used to impact pitchers.

Wes, I can't wait to see what's next. Georgia, get ready for a fun ride.


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