Q&A with Robert Hirschfeld,
Director of the New York Baseball Academy at Hofstra University
- What can students expect to learn from the program?
It enables players of a variety of ages to receive valuable instruction from college and professional coaches in the aspects of pitching, catching, infield play and hitting in the off-season. This will help prepare them for their team participation next spring and summer.
The program allows the staff to evaluate each student’s skills in all the aspects listed above and give them a road map to become more successful and proficient. We provide the “information” through evaluation and give them a “individual practice plan” and put them through a series of drills designed for them to better understand how to improve those respective skills – no matter what their age or ability level.
The program is broken by ages and the staff does try to regroup some of the players based upon their existing skill level (Based upon the staff’s evaluation on site or by previous summer participation). Every student in the Pitching / Catching Programs receives a “comprehensive written evaluation” that is reviewed with each player(parent if necessary), so there is a complete understanding of what the staff was trying to achieve with each student in the program.
- What are some of your teaching/coaching philosophies?
In all sports, athletes have to enjoy and have “fun” at what they are doing on a daily basis. They have to learn to be “patient” with themselves to make progress in their skill level. They have to be willing to challenge themselves to attain success. Through these challenges they have to “persevere” through failure (This is part of the athletic growth process). Athletes have to continue to be “persistent” in this process on almost a daily basis. As to the sport of baseball, the other aspect of is developing a sense of team work is very important. In the winter, we try to accomplish this by working in small groups or with “team orientated skills” (pitchers w/ catchers, infielders working on feeds and double plays, hitters working on sacrifice bunts, hit and runs, hitting behind runners, and situational hitting, etc.).
- What tips do you have for people to improve their fitness?
a.Play more than one sport as a young athlete even through high school.
b.Working out either with your athletic skills or individual fitness has to be accomplished on a daily basis, 12 months a year.
c.You have to enjoy the process or you will not achieve the success you desire. It’s the “price of success at anything you do in life.”
- What were some of your biggest challenges in your career?
Personally I lived a multi-faceted life as to my occupations. My full-time job was in education and I taught a challenging group of students on a daily basis in the Freeport School District for 32 years; managed and recruited a successful Division 1 Baseball Program at New York Tech on a “part-time” basis and competed at a Top 100 level for the same number of years; developed along with my wife, Rita, one of the largest and best baseball instructional programs in the U.S. (as well as a Lacrosse and Sports Academy, ages 4-7 program); and at the same time had to be a father to four wonderful children. These were my challenges and all had to be achieved at the same time.
- What do you like about the work you do?
I am and always will be a teacher, it’s fun – period. Witnessing the achievement of others is rewarding in itself. Everyone in life should have the opportunity to enjoy what they do on a daily basis. You can affect everyone that comes in contact with you on a daily basis either in the classroom, the athletic field, etc. Coaching is just an extension of your teaching profession. I can truthful attest, that every year I coached at NY Tech, taught in Freeport or directed the NYBA, I became more proficient at my skills.
For more information baseball camp, winter workout programs, Little Tots and more, visit NYBA