ABCA Podcast, Episode 352

ABCA Minority Member Spotlight: Rachel Folden, Chicago Cubs

The American Baseball Coaches Association strives to help diversify the baseball community and help bring opportunities in the game to all areas. The ABCA Minority Spotlight series looks to capture the experiences, coaching style, and impact that baseball has had on different ABCA member coaches. A new Minority Spotlight feature is released on the ABCA Podcast on the third Monday of the month and we will transcribe a small portion of the interview, which you can find below. Listen to the ABCA Podcast for the full interview.

Rachel Folden became the first female coach in Cubs history in November of 2019, beginning her stint as a minor league hitting coach. Folden has also launched Elite Fastpitch TV, which has become a comprehensive hitting drill library available for all softball and baseball players. Folden had a very successful playing career at Marshall University and after graduating joined the professional ranks in the National Pro Fastpitch League with the Chicago Bandits and Carolina Diamonds. Foldens motivation stems from her continuing passion to help players reach their ceiling and have success playing the game. 

Ryan Brownlee: When did you know it was time to stop playing?

Rachel Folden:
Well, for us the game kind of gets taken from us. We can not afford to play and that is the unfortunate reality of it and I was in that position.

RB: With the minor league season coming to an end, what is their timeline for when they show up for spring training? 

RF:
We will have some early arrivals but the facility in Arizona is open year round except for the dead period. Once January hits, that is when you will see the early arrivals come in waves and once the first week of the spring hits that is when everyone will be in. 

RB: Do you help the guys develop routines or do you leave it to them? 

RF:
A little bit of both. I would say everything starts with a player's plan. We have an overarching player plan that Stony built, so we have access to everyone's plan. We leave it to the coordinators to go out to the affiliates and talk to the coaches and come up with the best methods that the coaches then go and implement. 

RB: What are the percentages for you in regards to a challenging environment to a feel good environment?

RF:
A combination of both for sure, I think there has to be things slightly out of there reach that are challenging. I also think they have to train with things that are within their reach as well. I think there is also a time and place for just building motor patterns with blocked practice. 

RB: What do you think the split between on field hitting and cage hitting should be in the off season?

RF:
If a guy has a completely normal offseason they will probably take October off. Then pick up a bat on November first and hit in the cage two to three times a week, maybe hit on the field once or twice a week. Then as you get to December the on field may increase to two or three times a week. Then when January hits it is five days a week on the field, maybe even six to get ready for spring training. 

RB: Where would you start with an amateur hitter right now?

RF:
I would say first of all it has to be fun for them. I would find out where they are in their development and get to know them. Then I would start with the low hanging fruit. If you see an issue that stands out to you, start with that and work on it until it is corrected.


The ABCA Podcast features coaches from all levels of the sport and runs the gamut of baseball coaching topics, from pitching, to hitting, to the mental game, practice planning, recruiting and more. It's hosted by Ryan Brownlee, longtime coach and current Assistant Executive Director of the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA). A new Minority Spotlight feature episode is released on the third Monday of the month, which captures the experiences, coaching style, and impact that baseball has had on different ABCA member coaches. You can listen to the latest episodes by subscribing on your mobile device or computer!

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