Rardin Utilizes New NCAA Rule For An Edge

Editor/Collegiate Baseball

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa — Iowa Western Head Coach Marc Rardin has always been one of the most progressive coaches in the business.

During the abbreviated 2020 college baseball season, he did something that few colleges took advantage of.

On January 9, the NCAA Baseball Rules Committee for the first time allowed the pitcher’s use of a quarterback wristband for translating pitch calling digits from a coach in the dugout.

The interpretation stated, “In order to facilitate receiving signals in an accurate and timely manner, a pitcher may wear a wristband with a signal card insert on his non-pitching wrist/forearm.

“It must be black or a solid, dark color. If the insert is not covered with a flap, it should be on the inside of the wrist to reduce any distraction to the batter. There shall not be any attachment to the pitcher’s glove.”

Prior to this ruling, the catcher has been allowed to have a quarterback wristband signal card which translated numbers from the coach for the pitch and location. The catcher then put down the finger or fingers and location for the pitch for the pitcher on the mound.

Rardin jumped at the chance to have his pitchers receive the non-pickable digits from a coach in the dugout.

Because the pitcher and catcher now received the digits from the coach in the dugout at the same time, there was no need for the catcher to give any pitching signs to the pitcher!

Therefore, coaches didn’t have to worry about catcher signs being picked with opponent runners on second or any time for that matter.

An extra benefit is that it speeds up games as well.

Rardin, who has led the Reivers to three NJCAA Division I national titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014, saw an opportunity for his pitchers and catchers to be more efficient with the rule change since NJCAA schools utilize NCAA baseball rules.

“Here is how my thought process went on utilizing the quarterback wrist band for pitchers,” said Rardin.

“There is a company called Synergy which many NCAA Division I baseball programs use. It is an on-line technology that allows you to view pitchers, hitters, spray charts, pitcher and hitter tendencies and much more from your opponents.

“You ask for it, and it does it. We have that technology in our program, and a lot of junior college programs are utilizing it as well.

“If I subscribe, and another program utilizes it as well, the opposing team can get online and watch our stuff. We can also get on-line and watch their stuff as we are getting ready to play them.

“One of the places your camera is set is from the centerfield view toward home plate. With that specific view, what do you see? It is the catcher’s signs. You are trying to make your catcher’s signs more difficult to figure out with runners at second base. With the camera in centerfield, that changes everything since an opponent can view the catcher’s signs on every pitch when the game becomes available online with this company.

“If our opponent looks at a week’s worth of our games prior to playing us, they could easily figure out what our signs are. Then when one of their runners is at second base, they can let the hitter know what pitch is coming with a high level of certainty.

“That is what we were worried about. To prevent this from ever happening with the new rule in place, it made all the sense in the world to have our pitchers now wear the quarterback wristband which could translate numbers being given by a coach in the dugout. Instead of the numbers only being flashed to the catcher, it now went out at the same time to the pitcher and catcher.

“Therefore, the catcher never has to give any signs at all to pitchers! The chance for picking pitches is reduced substantially.

“This centerfield view video from Synergy is recorded and goes online in their system a day or so later.

“With that being said, we found that pitchers became much more efficient and were ready to throw pitches quickly between pitches. What we do now is non-pickable since the catcher doesn’t give any pitching signs.”

To read more of this article, purchase the May 1, 2020 edition of Collegiate Baseball or subscribe by CLICKING HERE. Rardin explains how quick and efficient this system is after testing it with a stopwatch with his pitchers. He also explains why pitching tempo is improved and that the defense is ready to go with the rhythm of the game being quicker, plus much more.