My first impression of Kazuya Tabata (54), Samsung Lions Futures pitching coach, whom I met at Futures Camp in Okinawa, Japan, was like a happy evangelist. 안전놀이터
Throughout the interview, he smiled non-stop and seemed to be full of positive energy. It was as explained by a club official, “When teaching the players, he always gives a lot of praise, instills confidence, and guides them passionately.”
Coach Tabata played for Softbank, Yakult Swallows, Kintetsu Buffaloes and Yomiuri Giants. He pitched in 166 career games, going 37-36 with one save. His earned run average is 4.14. After his retirement, he served as Yomiuri power analyst and coach for Yomiuri and Yakult Swallows.
Coach Tabata said, “I heard from an employee of Yomiuri club, whom I am familiar with, that ‘Samsung is looking for a pitching coach for the Future Steam team’ and we started dating. When he first came here, he felt that the team atmosphere was very good and everyone was friendly,” he said. He also said, “I don’t know much about Korean baseball, but I know Seon Dong-ryeol, Lee Sang-hoon, and Lee Jong-beom, who played for the Chunichi Dragons in the past, as well as Jung Min-tae and Jo Seong-min from the Yomiuri Giants.”
What is the most important point that Coach Tabata considers when teaching pitchers? He said, “Balance, rhythm, and timing are the three most important things. He will never significantly touch the pitching form of a player, and think about how to throw stronger and improve control within each player’s form, and try to talk briefly without lengthy discussion.”
In addition, “If you tell younger players one thing, they often do not do it until the end and try various things because it does not suit them. I want to emphasize that part,” he added.
Coach Tabata, always smiling and full of positive energy, spares no effort to communicate with the players. Although the language is different, he firmly believed that the truth must be communicated. “Now I started memorizing the names of the players. He puts on a funny expression on his face and tries to get closer to the players, but he seems shy. I want to brighten the faces of the players.”
Coach Tabata said that if players use their strength properly, they can throw a much more powerful ball. He said, “When I saw the players, I got the impression that the power coming out of the body is good. However, there are many players who do not know how to use that power. I will focus on guiding this part,” he said.
We plan to spare no effort to strengthen mentality as well as technical guidance. Coach Tabata said, “The players are still young, so they won’t have much success. I try to give a lot of praise when I do a good job, even in small things. Doing so will increase your confidence.”
For example, when pitching, if you throw a good ball in your form, you will be generously praised, and even if you throw a bad ball, don’t worry about it, and prepare to throw the next ball well. Coach Tabata said, “When I look at the players, they keep paying attention when a bad ball comes in. It is a part that requires a change of thinking,” he emphasized.
When asked about his goal as a coach, Coach Tabata said, “The biggest goal is to develop the players here well and send as many players as possible to the first team. I want to help you become a better player today than yesterday and tomorrow than today. If you grow little by little from the camp in February, wouldn’t you feel that you have improved yourself when November comes? I hope that will happen,” cheering for the students’ success.