LSU’s Bertman Revolutionized Video Instruction

Editor/Collegiate Baseball

BATON ROUGE, La. — Since the 1920’s, football coaches have spent thousands of hours a year watching either projector film or videos on the opposition.

Into the wee hours of the morning coaches can be seen dissecting every phase of their opponents to gain an edge.

Basketball coaches have integrated video heavily into their scouting and teaching regimen in the last three decades.

But for the vast majority of college and high school baseball programs, video is never used or only to a small degree.

How many times have you heard an interviewer ask a baseball coach for information about his next opponent only to listen to that coach answer he knows nothing about them?

Skip Bertman, Hall of Fame retired head baseball coach at Louisiana State University, led the Tigers to five national championships during his coaching career and utilized video technology as no other college baseball skipper in the land.

Not only did he study the opposition via video and dissect opponent hitters and pitchers, but he was a master at churning out motivational videos which have been proven to push his players to new heights in athletic achievement.

In addition, video tapes were made for each of his players so they could refine their swings or pitching mechanics during the year.

“Many years ago, I was a football coach,” said Bertman.

“One of the problems I see in younger coaches is that they never coached football. Football is the essence of all coaching. By that I mean football coaches work the hardest, cover the most, prepare the best, correct the most, watch the most video, and meet the most.

“Granted, sometimes they overwork. But the sense that they can’t be outworked is a very prominent football philosophy. In baseball if it rains on Monday, you don’t worry about it. In football you’ve got to find a place to practice. You can never miss a day.

“Baseball doesn’t have that sense of urgency about it. What I’m saying is video is part of it. Members of the media asked me in press conferences what I knew about this team or that team. I might say that we’re opening with them. But in reality, I might not know anything about them. Where did they get that question? They got it from preparation by football coaches. No football coach could ever play a team without having preparation where they watched game film and made a plan.

“Baseball teams just go to the park. What I’m saying is that if baseball coaches use a portion of the football coaches’ philosophy, I think they’ve got an edge. I enjoyed what I was doing in baseball and worked hard. But you must realize that you can work hard and accomplish nothing. I don’t feel I worked harder than anybody else. But I had a plan that I used in our program which I feel counts the most.”

Video System Works
The history of Bertman at LSU is a remarkable study.

Prior to coming on board as the Tigers’ head coach for the 1984 season, LSU had not posted a winning record in Southeastern Conference contests in seven of the prior eight years. Only one time in the previous eight years had LSU won more then 28 games. The Tigers had never appeared in the College World Series up to this point.

Attendance was the pits. The season before Bertman arrived, LSU drew a total of 10,002 fans or an average of 454 per game.

Fast forward to 2020. LSU baseball has led NCAA Division I baseball for 25 consecutive seasons. And get this. For the last 11 years, the LSU has averaged more than 10,000 for each home game

Breaking Hitters Down
What does Bertman specifically look at when he studies each batter from the opposition?

“The first thing I notice from the centerfield camera is the distance each hitter is from the plate. I watch them go through their practice swings and specifically watch how their hands go through the strike zone. I watch to see if the bat is reaching the end of the plate. You would be surprised how many hitters can’t reach the end of the plate.

“Continuing on with the hitter, I watch to see if he swings at first pitches. Will he swing at a curve ball behind in the count? Will he chase a curve in the dirt? Will he swing at a fastball above his hands? Can we beat him in or out? If he has two strikes, will he adjust? Will he adjust through his four at bats? Is he hot that day, that week? Does he have any particular history with this particular pitcher of mine? And you can go on and on.”

To read more of this in-depth article on how Skip Bertman revolutionized video instruction for players in college baseball, purchase the April 17, 2020 edition of Collegiate Baseball or subscribe by CLICKING HERE. The rest of the article delves into how he tracked hot hitters, why he didn’t need a season worth of video information — just the last 20 at-bats, the equipment he used, video sophistication, how he analyzed his own players, how he produced motivational videos and much more.