Mr. Yushi Aida
Assistant Training Coach, Yomiuri Giants
Yomiuri Giants Stadium is at the top of a hill, a 10 minute climb up the steep steps called "the Road to the Giants" from Keio Yomiuri Land Station. This is the workplace of a former Giants pitcher who once stood on the mound in Tokyo Dome. Looking around the ground where players are practicing in twos and threes, that person can be seen near the right field fence. Wearing number 103, it is Yomiuri Giants assistant training coach, Yushi Aida.
In his 2nd year coaching, the players' big brother is first to arrive and last to leave
Two pieces of paper with today's training schedule written on them are attached to the right field fence. While checking the schedule, Aida watches over the actions of each player. At times he will bark orders to players repeating sprints. But it isn't a tense atmosphere. All of the players train cheerfully in an unrestrained manner. At 27 years of age, Aida is the youngest coach, and to the players, he is like an older brother.
Practice takes place on non-game days and starts at 9:30. Aida arrives at the stadium before training starts, and earlier than anybody else. When training begins, he blows his whistle and takes the lead in jogging with the players. The morning session is held on the outside field, and then after lunch training moves indoors and he instructs the players doing weight training. Aida is present until all the players have finished training and is always the last to leave the training facilities.
"After practice has finished, I record each player's condition for that day and points I notice," he says. "The player's job is to train for himself. The coach's job is to make sure the player gets closer to the top, even if it is just a little bit closer. That is the difference from the player simply working hard for himself." Aida leaves the stadium after 8 o'clock every night when he has finished all of his work.
Training the young players on the No.2 farm team, stressing independence, and building up stamina
In addition to the Giants first team and farm team, there is a No.2 farm team with many players whose physiques are not yet developed, such as players fresh from high school and development players. Aida is mainly a training coach for players on the No.2 farm team. He builds the players' physiques into those of professional players. That is his job.
Aida stresses, "Making the players aware. That is the most important thing."
He gives various orders to players, not to have them do exactly what as he tells them, but rather to help them become aware of how to think about what they should do for themselves. He says, "Forced training is no good. They won't master things that way."
Aida, who stresses players' independence, strives to respond to questions from the players." Even when he encourages players to be aware, he won't say "do it like this" to them if they are unaware. Aida learned this after he retired and studied to be a training coach in Arizona.
Selected by the Giants in the 7th round of the draft - A short pitching career of 4 years
Aida says, "I always thought I wanted to be a coach." After entering Chuo University from Sano Nihon University Senior High School, he only earned one credit in his first year. This was because he devoted himself to the baseball team and neglected his studies. However, he made a complete turn-around after that and studied extremely hard from the second to the fourth year, and graduated. Aida made up his mind to devote himself to his studies when, after a year on the baseball, he felt, "I didn't have the physique to make it in professional baseball."
After hitting a wall, Aida, who had started thinking of taking a path as a baseball coach, came to a turning point in the winter of his second year. The interim coach of the baseball team at the time, baseball club alumni and former Giants pitcher Yoshimasa Takahashi (now Chuo baseball club manager), kept an eye on Aida's pitching and commented, "Well, that's quite good, isn't it?"
Aida, who looked on that as an opportunity and was even assigned to official games, became the team's ace in his third year. In the autumn league of his third year, Aida recorded four victories to help Chuo University win its first title in 25 years and 24th overall. "I really appreciate those words from Coach Takahashi," he says.
In the 2005 professional baseball draft, he was selected by the Giants in the seventh round, and Aida, who had now progressed along the path to the pros, stood alongside his father, former pro baseball player, Teruo Aida. However, his life as a professional baseball player ended after four seasons (2006-2009), and he announced his retirement on November 8, 2009. With his submarine pitching motion, Aida finished with a 3-2 win/loss record on the first team.
His life as a professional may have been short, but Aida was satisfied enough to say, "I did what I had to do. It was very fulfilling."
Immediately snapped up the offer to switch to coaching - Something he had already wanted to do
The reason for his retirement as a player was that he received an offer from the team to become a coach. Aida made his decision on the spot to retire and take up coaching. "You make your decisions yourself", he says. And he didn't consult with anybody. He says, "Because I enjoyed looking after my juniors and originally wanted to be a coach, my decision was immediate."
The team's initial overture was to employ him as a coach after a period of two months. However, Aida said, "If I'm going to do it, I want to do it straight away," and entered the coaching profession the day after he received the offer. In the off-season after his retirement, Aida went to a coaching clinic in Arizona, and his transformation into a coach was quick.
For Aida, who was turned into a coach at the young age of 25, the thing he looks forward to most now as a training coach is "seeing the young players being active on the first team." Aida says, "I am pleased with the players' performances as if they were my own," but, because he isn't a pitching coach, he doesn't give advice or guidance on pitching form or throwing skills. The fact is, his job is to assist young players in building their physiques.
Dreaming of becoming the best coach -Amateur baseball is also in his sights
Aida tells us, "A pitching coach's profession is to watch pitchers. However, a training coach watches over the pitchers, the outfielders, all the players. I am nurturing players who will become pitchers with the most wins, batting leaders, and Golden Glove winners. It is always rewarding." If he is to become a manager in the future, he will be able to make the most of his experience as a training coach who watches over players who play various positions.
Aida, who spends his days studying as a training coach, has a dream to "become the very best coach." Recently, he went to the baseball-mad Dominican Republic to study, and learned about the differences in practice between Japan and other countries. "Overseas training methods should be employed in Japan," he states with enthusiasm.
Aida says he is not only interested in being a professional baseball coach, but also has an interest in coaching amateur baseball, such as high school and university baseball. He may have cut his ties as a baseball player, but his baseball life from now on has extended to become infinite.
Edition: Hakumon Chuo Special Issue for Autumn 2011
Student Reporter: Yusuke Hiruma (2nd year student in the Faculty of Law)