My first experience in strength training for professional baseball occurred in the spring of 1976. The minor league field coordinator for the Houston Astros had become a marathon runner. When the organization brought the top minor league prospects to Florida in September for an additional six weeks of Instructional League training, he had them run 5 miles per day for conditioning. His thinking was that if he could run 15 miles a day at age 40, a 20 year old should be able to run five. After 3 to 4 days, the players were so sore that they couldn’t practice. The organization had spent a lot of money to bring these kids into Florida but couldn’t do anything with them. The general manager, who had also become a distance runner, instructed the field coordinator to get some help from someone outside the organization. The field coordinator called one of his college instructors and he recommended me.
Paul Fournier and Perry Castellano were selected by MLB to serve as National and American League strength and conditioning coaches, respectively for the 2014 All-Star Game at Target Field in Minneapolis. Fournier is only the third NL strength and conditioning coach to be invited to participate in the MLB All-Star Game. He has 17 years of experience in the field including stints with the Phillies, Marlins and Expos. Paul became the Phillies Major (more…)
Jim Malone and Kevin Barr were selected by MLB to serve as National and American League strength and conditioning coaches, respectively for the 2013 All-Star Game at City Field in New York. Malone, who is the President of the Professional Baseball Strength and Conditioning Coaches Society (PBSCCS) and a member of the MLB Strength and Conditioning Advisory Committee, MLB Medical Advisory Committee and MLB Electronic Medical Records Advisory Committee, is only the second NL strength and conditioning coach to be invited to participate in the MLB All-Star Game. Jim has 18 years of experience in the field including stints with the Indians, Royals, Mets and Padres. He received the Nolan Ryan MLB Strength Coach of the Year Award in 2012 and re-joined the Mets in 2013 after serving seven years as strength and conditioning coach for the Padres.
Hiring a Professional Baseball Strength and Conditioning Coach is a delicate and time consuming process. As I sift through hundreds of cover letters and resumes, there are numerous traits that I look for in a potential coach; covering all of them would take a while. Below, I’ve listed the top 5 traits I look for in hiring a Professional Baseball Strength and Conditioning Coach:
1. Exceptional education/knowledge in the field of Strength and Conditioning.
- Exceptional education could be defined as an undergraduate degree from an accredited university in exercise science or a similar field. However, I would prefer an applicant who holds a master’s degree in the same field because:
A. Better knowledge of the field
- Superior knowledge in the field of Strength and Conditioning is a necessity when considering a position in Professional Baseball. One obvious reason why this is important, Strength and Conditioning jobs in Baseball are hard to come by. What sets you apart from everyone else? The second reason – this is a “teaching/leadership” position. The candidate needs to be well educated in order to prescribe the correct workout for athletes to be successful on the playing field.
B. Higher maturity level
- Going to graduate school gives individuals more time to mature and really figure out their career path. Just like any other job, being a Strength and Conditioning coach in Baseball comes with a lot of responsibility. Coaches have a lot of athletes who depend on them to help them excel in their careers.
C. More hands on experience
- Graduate school gives an individual a chance to not only absorb the information they learned as an undergrad, but how to apply it to their prospective profession. Serving as a Graduate Assistant will help you learn even more as you teach.
2. Internship/College weight room experience.
- Most universities who provide an undergraduate degree in exercise science (or related field) build in an internship to be performed during the students’ final semester. Since Major League Baseball is moving away from the strength and conditioning “internship” position, it would be beneficial for the student to perform a semester long internship at a university. I look for candidates who have:
A. Served two years as a Strength and Conditioning Graduate Assistant
B. Served less than two years as a Graduate Assistant
C. Have college experience as a part of an internship
3. Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) Credential / CPR & First Aid Certification.
- Being known as the “Standard” as far as education requirements are concerned, the CSCS credential is necessary for a candidate to be hired to a part-time or full-time position in Baseball. Beyond that, the exam is a great test of knowledge about the field of Strength and Conditioning. I look for a candidate with this credential because it ensures that the applicant has a basic understanding of Strength and Conditioning. It also gives the potential coach instant credibility with the players and staff.
- During the interview process, I look for certain personality traits in the candidate:
A. Is the candidate a good listener/learner?
- Can the candidate pick things up quickly? Is the candidate efficient with his/her work?
B. Is the candidate personable?
- The coaching position becomes easier if the candidate is able to relate to the athlete. Developing a good working relationship with the athlete and other staff members is essential for the success of the organization.
C. Will this candidate be a good leader?
- Great leadership skills are required to perform this job at a high level. Athletes and staff will look to you for numerous answers concerning your profession. You need to be able to set a good example for the athletes while at the field as well as off the field.
D. Is the candidate able to easily adapt to different situations?
- There is a certain amount of adaptation that is needed to be a Strength Coach in Baseball. Situations could be anything from personal to environmental.
5. Baseball / Athletic Background
- In our organization, I like my coaches to be able to condition with our athletes. I believe this gives the more inexperienced coach a better understanding of what the athletes go through on a day to day basis and in turn, the coach can make more knowledgeable recommendations. Plus, it builds better rapport with the athletes.
More about Gabe Bauer:
Gabe Bauer is in his third season as the Colorado Rockies Minor League Strength and Conditioning Coordinator. Bauer has hired multiple Minor League Strength and Conditioning Coaches for the organization for the past three years. He previously served as a Strength and Conditioning intern for the organization for two years (2007-2008).
When looking at potential employees for our organization there are certain requirements we consider mandatory prior to an interview. You must have a Bachelor’s degree or higher in a related field (Kinesiology, Exercise Science, etc.), your CSCS (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist) through the NSCA (National Strength & Conditioning Association), and CPR/AED certification. We also put an extremely high value on versatility within our organization. Although not a requirement, having a feel and some experience with techniques and philosophies such as PRI (Postural Restoration Institute), DNS (Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization), ART (Active Release Techniques) among several others is certainly a plus. Versatility will allow you to expand your role. We look for candidates that possess a diverse background of related experience and bring a versatile skill-set (LMT, ATC, PT, etc.). This will allow you to work both the training room and weight room, allow you to manipulate soft-tissue, and perform treatments in addition to strength and conditioning. All of this will increase your value as an employee as well as the value you provide to the organization, the sports medicine team, and the players. Once the prerequisites are in place you can apply for a job as an intern or a full-time strength coach. Your versatility will be taken into consideration along with certain qualities we look for in employees that are very important to us as a team. They include…
1. Team approach-The Team! The Team! The Team! Always work as a team. We are creating a culture of greatness. The expectation is that everyone in the organization be committed to excellence. It’s not about you. Athlete care is your primary concern. You will need to check your ego at the door and always take a ‘we before me’ approach. Don’t think you know it all. See yourself as a life-long learner, who is always looking for ways to improve, learn, and grow. Be humble. Be hungry.
2. Integrity-Conduct your personal and professional relationships with honesty and confidence. Earn and give respect. It is extremely important that you can be trusted with your decision making as a part of our team.
3. Work-Ethic/Passion-You have to be motivated and work hard!!! There is simply no substitute for hard work. This job requires many long thankless hours, especially when you’re just beginning in the field. Like anything else in life, you’ll get out of it what you put in. You need to pay your dues to remain in this game for an extended period of time and your work-ethic will be a barometer. Employees absolutely need to work hard each and every day. Invest the necessary time and energy to be your best. We don’t want anyone who strives to be average. We want individuals who strive to be great. You must be willing to pay the price that greatness requires. Players and staff should never be able to say you were the reason they didn’t get better/improve/win. The candidate will need to have motivation, and show a true passion and enthusiasm for what they do. You will never be great without passion. Passion flows from purpose. Our organization will only be great if it is filled with passionate people. Therefore, we look to hire passionate individuals.
“Motivation is simple. You eliminate those who are not motivated.” -Lou Holtz
4. Communication-As a part of a sports medicine team, we should always have a uniform message/response. We always need to be on the same page. Consistency in our message and approach throughout all levels of the organization is extremely important. Be concise, accurate, and confident when communicating.
5. Positive Attitude-Optimism is important. We expect to lead with optimism. Positive belief leads to positive actions. To be a champion you need to think like a champion. Be a positive influence. Baseball has enough negativity in it. If you fail 7 out of 10 times as a hitter you’re considered a very good player. It’s a game based on failure. As a member of the sports medicine team we should never add to that negativity. One person can have an impact on the team/culture/environment and we want that impact to always be a positive one.
6. Continuing Education-Learn! Learn! Learn! Knowledge is power. Continually striving to better oneself intellectually, morally, and physically builds character. We only consider high character individuals. Always be learning and digging for answers. Improved people improve organizations. This profession is constantly evolving, if you’re not improving along with it you’ll be left behind. The candidate should posses a solid fundamental understanding of anatomy and function, the ability to be versatile (manual therapy, conditioning, rehab, etc.), and have critical thinking skills including why injuries happen, how to quickly and safely return a player from acute injury, and how to prevent injuries from occurring. We expect employees to eventually teach, mentor, and interact with all of our team members.
Brett McCabe serves as the minor league strength & conditioning coordinator for the Arizona Diamondbacks. 2011 is Brett’s sixth season with the Diamondbacks organization and his ninth year in professional baseball. He is responsible for overseeing the strength and conditioning programs for the D-backs’ seven minor-league affiliates. McCabe served three seasons as a strength and conditioning coach in the Toronto Blue Jays system, first arriving in professional baseball with Double-A New Haven in 2003 before taking over at Triple-A Syracuse from 2004-2005. He completed his undergraduate work at Grand Valley State University (MI) in 2002, earning a bachelor’s of science degree in movement science. He is also a licensed massage therapist and a certified strength and conditioning specialist.
When looking at candidates for strength and conditioning positions in professional baseball, and specifically ones that are looking at professional baseball as a career, I look for certain criteria within their resume. Here are 5 things that I immediately look for when look at a resume.
1. CSCS CERTIFIED—When a potential candidate is CSCS certified, I know they have invested in becoming a professional as a strength coach. I feel that the candidate has thought out the process of becoming certified to be qualified for the position he is applying for. I also feel that the CSCS certification provides an overall base knowledge of not just program design and lifting technique, but of the physiology of why program’s need to be designed certain and specific ways. Finally, the certification requires continuing education to ensure the strength coach keeps up and maintains a certain level of education and awareness of new trends, new science, and what is currently affecting athletes.
2. COLLEGE DEFGREE IN EXERCISE PHYSIOLOGY/PHYSICAL EDUCATION EMPHASIS—This is the basis for our profession. The base of a strength coach’s education needs to have anatomy, physiology, and the study and understanding of the human body. You need to have the basis of what, where, and why the body works, moves, and responds to different environmental stressors, nutrition, biomechanical changes, and how the body adapts to change.
3. VOLUNTEER/GRADUATE ASSISTANT WORK AT COLLEGE OR WITH SURROUNDING SPORTS TEAMS IN YOUR AREA—Experience is vital as a strength coach. If you are not working with a team, either in the weight room or on a field at any level, then how are you.gunnertechnetwork.comeloping your skills as a strength coach? Coaching style and experience is only gained through specific weight room experience and practices.
You need athlete-coach interaction to.gunnertechnetwork.comelop you coaching style. Having a candidate who has this diverse background on a resume is a major plus for my hiring decisions. It illustrates that the candidate is motivated, has been exposed to a variety of sports and athletes, and is serious about taking the next step in their career to become an professional strength coach.
4. HAVE OBTAINED OR WORKING TO OBTAIN A MASTERS DEGREE IN EXERCISE SCIENCE/PHYSICAL EDUCATION CIRRICULUM—Higher education and the pursuit of knowledge is what a professional strength coach should strive for. To better your base knowledge through education and experience exemplifies the dedication you have towards your profession. A candidate who has this degree, or who is pursuing this degree, shows me they are dedicated to becoming a professional strength coach.
5. HAVE A CLEAN, PROFESSIONAL, AND JOB POSTING SPECIFIC RESUME—After all of the education, volunteer work, preparation, and studying to become a Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach do not overlook the importance of a clean resume. Your resume should highlight the experiences that have prepared you for the position. In describing your experience, let me know how diverse you are as a strength coach. This includes characteristics or experiences that set you apart from another candidate. Finally, every professional should take the time to have the proper name, address, and contact info on their information before they submit it. Additional details such as a cover letter, resume, and references will be important in identifying yourself as a qualified candidate.
I hope that these 5 things will help you.gunnertechnetwork.comelop your approach to applying for strength and conditioning coach positions in professional baseball or in any other sport or arena you are looking to apply to. Professionalism begins with preparation and presentation.
Sean Marohn MS, CSCS, RSCC
Minor League Strength & Conditioning Coordinator