Monday, November 21, 2011

Using The Off-Season For Professional Growth

The professional baseball job market has been a focus in the media since the 2011 season ended. Similar to those in the MLB free agent pool, many MiLB strength and conditioning coaches are goal setting in hope of career advancement within a competitive field. Common year-end goals for MiLB strength and conditioning coaches include:

- Obtaining a full-time position with benefits
- Getting promoted in level (i.e. Rookie, Single-A, Double-A, Triple-A, MLB)
- Receiving raises in salary, live-out stipends, and meal money per diem
- Becoming a Minor League Strength and Conditioning Coordinator

With career goals in mind, improving your stock within an organization relies upon your ability to perform your job well. The off-season is an ideal time for adding to your skill set. Being proactive towards education and preparation is an effective way to focus on career variables which are in your control.

Continuing Education

The NSCA requires professionals to maintain and report CEU’s every 3 years, which provides added motivation to sign up for a conference or seminar each off-season. Conferences cover a variety of topics, for those wanting to see what has been occurring elsewhere in the field. Whereas, seminars are often focused on a single topic or specialty. Networking can be an added benefit of attending professional meetings.

Learn and apply a new skill or specialty every off-season. Why would anyone ever promote someone who isn’t willing to advance their knowledge?

Program Evaluation

It is important to reflect back on the previous year and determine what went well and what did not. Was there a program or circuit you relied on more heavily than others because it just seemed to work well in the baseball day? Identify that program and use the reasons for its success to develop further tools. Also, did any strength and conditioning coaches in your league use exercises that could be a complement to one of your programs?

Be a good self-evaluator. Make the most of your strengths and resources. Identify and improve upon your weaknesses.


There is an attitude in professional baseball that because of the rigors of playing every day, the ability to put together a structured strength and conditioning program is limited. Although off-days, rain-outs, day games, fatigue, and injuries can make scheduling in-season training a challenge, the more prepared routines you have ready for the variety of situations that occur, the more comfortable you will be when the situation dictates you need to adjust the schedule on-the-fly. If you have a gym routine you like, ask yourself, what will I do to complete this on the field and/or without equipment available?

Anyone can improvise a routine arbitrarily. The more prepared coach can improvise while remaining goal-oriented, sport-specific, and focused on individual training needs.

Thanks for reading.

Eric McMahon, MEd, RSCC
Minor League Strength and Conditioning Coach
Texas Rangers

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Game 6

If you did not see it, you probably have heard about it. Game 6 of the 2011 World Series was one that will be remembered for a long time. I was one of the fortunate to be there in person.

As a fan of the game, the first seven innings were horrible. The Cardinals had just as many errors as they did hits. They actually looked like little leaguers, dropping fly balls, throwing the ball around everywhere, and lack of communication. After that, everyone decided to show up and play. It was a roller coaster ride of emotions. The air was sucked out of the stadium when the Rangers hit back-to-back homeruns and later demoralized the fans when they tacked on another run an inning later. So much so, the season ticket holders sitting next to me left in the 7th inning (how on earth do you leave a deciding game of the World Series). Personally I was glad. They had nothing positive to say the entire ballgame. They hated the outfielder that dropped the ball. They hated the third baseman that dropped a routine pop fly (who by the way, was electric at the plate the entire postseason) and they swore at the pitcher that didn’t get the lead runner on a bunt play.

How many Cardinal fans were swearing at the outfielder when the ball dropped between he and the shortstop?

Have you ever played the game and yelled at a pitcher to throw a strike? Or scream at the catcher from the outfield to block the ball?

I can go out on a limb and say that the Rangers player did not purposely let that fly ball go over his head and hit the wall. I am pretty confident the Cardinal INF and OF did not miss those balls on purpose. The Cardinal’s catcher did not just let that ball go by him and let a runner move up.

Here is my challenge to you:
Invest in your teammates. I am very fortunate to still get to see this at the level that I work. They are still invested in the outcome of the team just as much as how they perform individually. Your individual success will help the success of your team. If your teammate misses a groundball that could have been a routine double play, but still gets a runner out – tell him nice stop. If your pitcher is struggling to find the strike zone – words of encouragement go much farther than you screaming at him to just throw strikes and kicking the dirt around.
Emotions can get the best of a person in a competitive situation. The really good ones are invested in their teammates and don’t show them up on the field.

Tying into what Brian said last week – watch yourself. Watch yourself, physically and emotionally. I am talking about your body language and your communication.

Chris Ham, MSA, ATC, CES
Athletic Trainer
Vanderbilt University Baseball