I was first introduced to Mark Cahill when my oldest son, Spencer, took part in a developmental fall baseball program about 7 years ago. Cahill, a local baseball instructor and former minor league pitcher, ran a program at Wilson Park helping young players on the basics of hitting, pitching, and fielding. At the time, I had no idea how extensive Mark’s background was in baseball. I was just grateful that Wickford Little League had a fall clinic to help develop player’s skills and fundamentals.
As the press agent for Wickford Little League, I am constantly educating myself on local resources for youth baseball. I read, write and post articles on social media to help engage the Wickford Little League community audience not only during the season, but off season as well. One of the best resources I have found over the past year is Mark Cahill, his website, and social media pages for his baseball instruction business called K Performance Baseball. Mark posts great motivational quotes, tips from baseball pros as well as himself, and shows kids and parents that baseball is not only a sport, but a state of mind. Mark was kind enough to invite me to his facility in Coventry, which featured several batting cages, a pro shop, plenty of parking, and is attached to a fitness center run by strength coach Matt Hopkins. I sat down with Mark to learn more about K Performance Baseball and here is an excerpt from our conversation:
Thanks for meeting with me Mark. So you are a local kid who made it?
Yes, I grew up in Cranston, started playing baseball at 5 years old. My neighborhood had a lot of kids and we were non-stop playing some type of sport. As a youngster, my teams from Cranston were consistently state level champions. I got drafted out of high school by the Seattle Mariners and played 6 years in the minor leagues.
In most cases, you have to be talented, lucky or know someone. Which of these would apply to you?
I would say talent and knowing someone. I was a good ball player. I worked hard and played the game right. I had the desire to be the best. My nickname growing up was “Mad Dog” so you can only imagine how intent I was on being the very best. And I had a good friend, David Stenhouse, whose father, Dave, was an incredible influence in my life and career. I owe a lot to the Stenhouse family.
So you played in the minor leagues? Did you get into coaching after you decided not to continue playing baseball?
Not at first. I got into another business opportunity when I finished playing ball. I did some consulting work in baseball on the side. It wasn’t until I spoke with Dave Stenhouse on the concept of an indoor training facility that I really began to consider coaching and instruction as a full time career. At the time, there was nothing available in RI as an indoor training facility specifically for baseball training and instruction.
In terms of instruction, are you still carrying around a clipboard and stopwatch like the old days?
Let’s face it. Technology is there to help get kids better. We use a bunch of instructional software here at K Performance to improve hitting, pitching, body awareness. Video has always been a key element of baseball instruction and analysis. With computers and this software, we can video a ball player, slow down their movements, and help isolate weaknesses. Sure, I still have the eye. I watch a player intently and see where a pitch goes or where the ball lands and I can tell them what they did right and what they did wrong. My experience goes back 40 plus years in the game of baseball and you learn a heck of a lot in that time period. At K Performance, we like a blend of old school baseball mixed with the new school of technology to bring the kids the best results.
Is your instruction more suited for the elite ball players or will you take on players who need a lot of development.
Look, the player has to want to be here. I want to be a resource for these kids and their families. I have worked with ball players who are now in college, the minor leagues, some of them in professional baseball. They call me to ask my advice because I have been there for them, not only as a baseball coach but as a friend. I have worked with all stars, yes. But I love working with a kid who wants to get better. Those I can work with. The right attitude will get results, it has happened in here time after time. I have seen kids with lesser talents work their butts off in the cage and improved tremendously. I have seen all stars come in with a chip on their shoulder and not pick up a thing I am teaching them. I say to the parents. “Don’t force the kid. Progress comes when the kid is ready and wants to learn.”
And what about the mental part of baseball? How do work with kids on the mental parts of the game?
3 out of 10 at bats you get a hit in the Major Leagues and you are a stud. 30%. So, at K Performance we congratulate you on your 3 hits out of 10, but also work with you on the 7 attempts that didn’t produce a hit. Was it your body position? Timing? Pitch selection? We don’t focus on the 7 as a negative, more so as a learning opportunity. And as far as the other mental parts of the game, we encourage the atmosphere of the good teammate. What can you as a teammate do to help your team, a struggling teammate, how can you positively interact and be a team. These are just some of the training modalities we work on here at K Performance.
Of all the videos, books, and articles you have read in your baseball career, is there one that stands out?
“The Science of Hitting” Ted Williams. Hands down, number one.
We have several programs that we use here. HitTrax is a hitting simulator that the kids really love. They can record their swings, we can chart their performance and evaluate criteria such as swing speed, launch angle, exit velocity, even the distance of a hit. We just had a tournament over the holiday season for a local charity, which helped raise over $10,000 for that charity. We also have Rapsodo, which is a pitching performance program. Rapsodo helps measure pitching performance such as velocity, spin rate, and strike zone efficiency. Our Axon Sports app can be downloaded by the kids here and it helps train kids to recognized pitches – such as fastballs, curveballs, and more. So we use all of this data along with our trained eye to make recommendations on how they can hit, throw, catch, and pitch more efficiently. I take a personal approach to baseball instruction. If you have the desire to get better, I am here as a baseball resource.
To learn more about the facility and services offered at K Performance Baseball, visit their official website at www.kperformancebaseball.com. The facility is located at 9 Lincoln Ave, Coventry. The office number is 401-680-3981. If you are looking for a great local baseball resource, give Mark and K Performance a call. I was very impressed with not only the facility, but the programs and philosophy of its owner, Mark Cahill.