Guest Post Submitted by Chris McKenzie
There’s been one too many Billy Bean’s to mention in this article. You know; the “great” players at younger/inexperienced levels that never “make it” in the big leagues. Half a season of poor performances later and he’s not the only one looking debauched; you mis-represented your client. Sure, there are likely many factors beyond your control that led to this, but forget about them. Lets focus on one major component that you can give counsel on, so you can prevent the destruction of your client, and your professional reputation.
For a long while now, agents like you have been taking their recruits to sport performance training facilities to ready them for the draft. This is more publicly known in football, with NFL recruits attending facilities to ready them for the combine to get bigger, faster and stronger. But this is basically unheard of for the sport of baseball. Furthermore, the content of today’s baseball strength and conditioning programs are very ancient and incomplete, even in this day and age! These poor training programs can lead to poor on-field performances, and more often than not, injury. If you’re steadily managing players that have sub-par performances and/or are getting injured, look to their strength and conditioning routine as something you can help them with.
How do you know what great performance enhancing baseball training is? Great training is position specific. I’ll use pitchers as an example as they are the most unique. To set the stage, approximately 1 in 10,000 pitchers make it to the majors each year, and even fewer than that have a “successful” career. Their, and every player’s type of training should be based on evidence, and research.
The current best evidence for pitchers points to 7 training areas:
- Creating maximum power from the legs
- Turning this power into lateral explosiveness
- Creating dynamic stiffness/stability at the core
- Creating maximum power with the upper body
- Eccentric stability of the throwing shoulder and elbow
- Sprint conditioning….not distance running
- Mobility and flexibility training
As the player’s agent, it is your job to find out what kind of training with which they are currently preparing. If it’s inadequate it is also your job to recommend, “pulling the plug” on that training, and refer them to a qualified professional. Don’t be fooled into thinking they have quality strength and conditioning because of their statistics. You need to ask so you can prepare them for greatness at a higher level.
There are many training variations within this evidence to achieve the goal of successfully preparing a player for the major league. However, some programs seem to create better athlete performances than others. In baseball, these quality programs are few and far between, but are quietly popping up around the country. You’ll need to familiarize yourself with some common, current, evidenced based exercises and techniques. (A full sample, evidenced based workout routine is beyond the scope of this article.)
For starters, contact other player’s agents that manage successful players in your client’s skill position, and see where they send their players. If you’re a new agent, harness the power of social media; especially LinkedIn. Ask a mutual contact for an introduction to this agent. An introduction is always better than a cold email/call or message. You should visit these places and ask them directly about their programs AND their functional results—quality places record baseball specific outcomes such as velocity and reduction of injury. Gaining 100 lbs to their dead lift means nothing.
Tell this facility you are looking for a quality place to have your client train. If they simply name “big names,” this isn’t enough. They should be able to tell you functional results– something like:
“We saw 10 major leaguers this past year. All 10 increased their velocity by at least 5mph. Those that came to us with a 2 year history of nagging elbow pain no longer complain of it, can throw more with less recovery time, and all of our MLB recruits went in the 1st and 2nd rounds. This is what we do to get these results”……[they proceed to tell you about the research behind their programs].
These are examples of functional results—the things that matter in baseball. You are not going to hear this everywhere. In order to give the advantage to your client, and keep up your stellar reputation, you need to put in the work to find facilities that offer programs that produce results like these. You owe it to your client, and yourself. If only 1 in 10,000 pitchers make it to the big leagues each year, and fewer succeed; there is a ton of room for you to improve this ratio, and become the go-to sports agent in the baseball niche.
Are you an agent, player or another sports pro? Please leave a comment below and weigh in with your opinion on this important, but often over looked matter. I’d love to hear your feedback.
Great article. I was curious as to the origin of the “…approximately 1 in 10,000 pitchers make it to the majors…” statistic. Any insight where the would be appreciated.
Please change second sentence of my previous post to …”Any insight would be appreciated.”
Hi Carl–Thanks for your comment! I have heard this number many times from multiple people in baseball, but I did not cite or quote this because I wasn’t sure where it came from. I did multiple searches, but came up dry. I believe the origin may stem from this study:
Leonard, W. M. II. (1996). The odds of transitioning from one level of sports participation to another. Sociology of Sport Journal, 13, 288–299,”
where it states that out of 10,000 high school baseball players, only 20 make it professionally each year. Of that 20, I am not exactly sure how many are pitchers. Either way, the number is very low and I see this as an opportunity.
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