Professional Baseball Strength & Conditioning

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Limitations of First Year Position Players Who Sign Out of HS

 By Cole Durham, CSCS – Cincinnati Reds

With the high school baseball and summer seasons over, and the importance of an effective off-season strength and conditioning program on future performance and risk of injury, we asked Cole Durham, Minor League Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Cincinnati Reds to discuss some of the limitations that he observes among first year players who sign out of high school.

PBSCCS: What are some of the conditioning limitations that you often observe among first year positions players who sign out of high school?

CD: The high school baseball player that demonstrates a high skill level with advanced baseball knowledge is a very enticing prospect for professional baseball organizations. While their advanced abilities at a young age are an advantage, they are still boys being asked to play a man’s sport. The majority of first year position players who sign out of high school have a very young training age. Their inefficient movement patterns are noted during the initial evaluation by the strength and conditioning staff. Flashes of skill and athleticism are often accompanied by

inconsistencies and lack of kinesthetic or body awareness (ability to recognize the orientation of your body in space and control dynamic motion). Volume overload is an immediate concern. Proper adaptation to the physical work load and mental stresses of professional baseball takes time and careful monitoring. Our job as strength and conditioning coaches is to help players adapt to the demands and stresses of the game without putting them at risk for injury.

PBSCCS: Why do you think this problem occurs?

CD: Each player has his own set of challenges and limitations. One might have limited resources and another might have environmental limitations. One might have little access to training knowledge and facilities and another might have received incorrect training information. The cause of weakness or limitations is beyond the scope of our practice. However, on an individual basis, it might provide insight as to how to best address their training needs.

PBSCCS: How would you recommend correcting this problem?

CD: While it would be nice to have a “one size fits all” approach, there is no set of exercises, volume of work or intensity of effort to correct each individual’s limitations. Each player must be assessed in all aspects of the game with a holistic approach to player development. Communication between every staff member that works with each player (player development director, position coach, strength and conditioning coach, athletic training staff, sports nutritionists, mental skills coach, etc.) is essential for effective programming. Once strengths and deficiencies are identified and discussed, a plan must be developed among all staff members to ensure the total workload volume and intensity are monitored and safely progressed. Our job is to help every player adapt to the physical and mental demands of the game without putting them at risk for overtraining and possible injury.

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Cole Durham, CSCS, Minor League Strength and Conditioning Coach with the Cincinnati Reds was the 2018 Minor League Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year in the Arizona League.

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