Every weekend during the fall baseball practices we have herds of recruits and their families to entertain. Part of the recruiting process involves me laying out the strength and conditioning program that is in place for baseball. I usually spend about 45 minutes to an hour presenting to a group of 20-30 people. One of the questions I get asked most often is why I left professional baseball to come back to the collegiate ranks. For those of you who don’t know I spent two years as a strength coach in the professional baseball ranks. At the time I had opportunities to advance within the system as well as several chances to get back into professional baseball since I’ve been here. Each time I have declined.
The biggest problem I have with professional baseball is the lack of athletic development with their athletes. Professional baseball has a “let the cream rise to the top” philosophy in many of the organizations. I’ve never understood that and it was a serious factor when it came making a decision as to which level I wanted to build my career in.
Young players are brought into the organization and never given the tools to really succeed. They aren’t fully developed into the athletes that they could be. One set of 12-15 reps on 15 different machines is not what I would call a “good program” for athletic prowess. In many places this in the norm. Players are never taught the basics of movement in any form. Players break down continually because of major imbalances and negligence in general movement patterns.
When your an 18-year-old kid who has gotten this far on pure athletic ability never having to further develop your ability to dominate the competition, why would they go workout after a long day when you can go back to your hotel, take a nap and play X-box the rest of the day. Players aren’t held accountable for doing their training. If a player doesn’t want to get his training session in he doesn’t necessarily have to. Many players show up and do nothing, some slip through the cracks and never show up, others will do their program with random weights never progressing in any way. Sometimes players may get fined for skipping workouts but often times no repercussions occur.
More often than not players are trained around convenience using what I call “idiot periodization” which is random exercises placed in random order to produce a random training effect.
Rarely are athletes actually trained to perform at a higher level year in and year out. They are put on the same training program for the six months they are in season with an organization and then start the same training program all over when they return whether they have utilized the off-season to work out or not.
Training programs should be built around developing athletes into the best all-around baseball players and athletes. Doing this would not only keep medical bills down due to less surgeries, rehabs, etc. but would develop the diamonds in the rough that get passed up right now. Organizations are loaded with hidden talent so to speak. If they got the chance to develop these kids they might produce more phenomenal players but this chance is never given. Every year a new crop of 16-20 year old youngsters come into the program, get chewed up and spit out never knowing what really could’ve been. They don’t know that what will determine their future is their ability to stay injury free and fully DEVELOP as a baseball player and athlete.