Professional Baseball Conditioning

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Scott Belger wrote the following: However I noticed you dog Baseball from time to time. Most Baseball comments are blanket statements and not true for most Baseball coaches and/or Baseball organizations. Good observation Scott, perhaps you could contact the commissioner of professional baseball and ask him if you could help with their drug program. Just kidding. You are spot on with your comment, except you failed to notice one thing; all my comments are directed at professional baseball, especially major league baseball. I feel very confident when I write on professional baseball. I am in close contact with the sport and spent many years pioneering the efforts to institute systematic conditioning in professional baseball. There are more conditioning coaches and athletic trainer than ever before, less being done and minimal results. You can look at on many different levels. Injuries are more serious and more frequent than ever before. Player have their own trainers, doctors and therapists because in many cases the people the clubs hire are either ineffective or incompetent. I know that one prominent agent takes care of every aspect of his player’s physical and medical care. He can’t trust the clubs; the players are too valuable to him. John Q. Fan led by the Baseball Prospectus type of stat freaks have bought into the “Moneyball” myth and it is just that, a myth. How do you factor injuries into the equation? Is not the number one goal of any program to put the best player on the field more often? From 1987 to 1996 as Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White we had a model program. Players in the minor leagues were required to train, the major league player were fully compliant because Steve Odgers took the time and effort to give each player individual programs. It was an athletic development program not just a strength training program. We tested each spring training and developed a physical profile for each player based on the testing. We had a pitchers biomechanically analyzed and their programs tailored to their needs. We had worked out the cost per injury for each player and could predict the amount of down time for each injury based on our records. I was sent to evaluate potential high draft picks before the draft. We had an annual pitcher and catcher mini-camp every January starting in 1989. This was a comprehensive model based on the systematic sport development model prevalent in amateur sport. It was very successful but abandoned because it took an incredible amount of work and commitment on the part of all concerned. I was hired by the Mets in 2004 to begin to implement a similar program but when they saw the commitment necessary they balked. Too much work and you would make the players uncomfortable.

So Scott this was a long winded rant, but I know of what I speak about professional baseball. Many of the current strength and conditioning coaches in baseball have no idea that they are just trying to implement thing that we did as a matter of routine twenty years ago! I just heard that MLB is either considering or instituting a combine before the draft, maybe they should consider talking to those of us who did that years ago. I have nine years of valid and reliable test data that includes predictive factors of success at the major league level.

My time in professional baseball was both incredibly frustrating and incredibly rewarding. I know that we were able to change the paradigm in a very traditional sport for a brief period of time. That experience was jumping off point for my career. This was not a solo effort. I got to work with some great coaches administrators and teachers. The model we developed has worked in many other sports both amateur and professional. I want to remind everyone that it takes an incredible commitment, to develop a system and make it work, it is not for dilettantes and the faint of heart.
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Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta

@coachgambetta

Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
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