Yankees training staff: good or bad?

I was sent a link to an article yesterday about Mike Tauchman’s injury, how the Yankees’ training staff “blew it” how bad the Yankees training staff has been this year and how it needs to be overhauled.  I posted a quick thought on Twitter last night, but 280 characters aren’t really enough for this discussion so I thought I’d put a few more, (but still quick) thoughts out there about the mindset about how bad the Yankees’ training staff has been.

Generally speaking, I’m one of the first people to jump on strength and conditioning coaches when there’s a rash of non-contact injuries on a team.  As someone with an educational background in bio-mechanics and two-plus decades of work experience in the exercise field in one capacity or another, I can assure you most non-contact injuries are preventable.  Injuries, quite often, are the end result of improper training, poor movement patterns, lifestyle habits or all three.  Since those things can be remedied with good programming and sound execution thereof, the frequency of injuries, both chronic and acute, can be greatly reduced (while performance can be enhanced).

That being said, there are factors that can’t be accounted for unless you’re in the S&C facility and are part of the conversations.  I’ve never trained professional athletes, but I do know that they have something in common with the regular Joes and Janes of the world:  They don’t always comply with their training professional’s advice.

Again, I’ve never been in a big-league clubhouse talking to an MLB player about his injury prevention program but I have had conversations with some folks who have.  And what they conveyed, generally speaking, was:

  • Quite often big-league players simply feel they know better than the training staff.  Think about it:  You’re talking about someone that has always worked out and always been enormously successful athletically – why would they take someone else’s advice on the subject?  (That’s rhetorical, I’m explaining the mindset…)
  • Some players are OK with the advice but are more comfortable with the advice of the guy they train with “back home” who they’ve always worked with.  Generally, the “guy back home” has significantly less experience and education than the pro team’s trainers but personal comfort goes a long way.
  • Some players do none or very little of their assigned program – or any other program for that matter.

Don’t get me wrong, the S&C staff certainly bears some responsibility regardless – as does the on-field coaching staff and front office – even if it’s just improving communications.  Similar to how many veteran players are skeptical of new statistics until they’re communicated to them effectively, many are skeptical of a new trainer telling them that jogging and low back stretches are pretty damn silly for pro athletes.

So before you cry for the heads of your favorite team’s training staff, think of the above.  There may very well be a case of poor programming, poor exercise selection, or poor exercise execution at play which is contributing to a high injury rate.  It very well may be the S&C coaches are crap communicators and the message isn’t getting through.  If either of those is the case, then a change is certainly warranted.

But it also may be a case of a lack of compliance from the athletes and/or a lack of support from the field coaching staff and/or front office.  (Who, quite often, have their own ideas of how the S&C should be run as well, that may or may not be good ideas.)

Whatever the case, it’s not something we can really know unless we’re there in the room and privy to the discussions.

Did I miss something? Let me know.

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