Our Coaches

Napoleon Pichardo – Texas Rangers

Name:  Napoleon Pichardo

Or­ga­ni­za­tion:  Texas Rangers

Title: Minor League Strength and Conditioning Coordinator

Years working in pro­fes­sional base­ball strength and conditioning:  Thirteen seasons including one spring with the Yankees, one year with the Blue Jays and eleven years with the Rangers.

Total years in strength and conditioning: Fourteen starting as a conditioning coach / intern at the University of South Florida.

Ed­u­ca­tion: University of South Florida, B.S. in Exercise Science (2004).

Sports experience (e.g., years of HS and/or college baseball, letters, awards, etc.):

Played high school baseball and wanted to stay involved in baseball while helping people, which led me to the field of strength and conditioning.

Cer­ti­fi­ca­tions: CSCS, RSCC, USAW

Napoleon has always worked in baseball, starting as a graduate assistant at the University of South Florida and then as an intern with the Yankees in 2003. His experience with the Yankees led to a position, AA strength and Conditioning Coach, with the Blue Jays in 2004 and the Rangers in 2005 where he has been the Minor League Strength and Conditioning Coordinator for eleven years.

He holds certifications from the NSCA (CSCS and RSCC) and USAW, and is a co-author of “Effect of Age on Anthropometric and Performance Measures in Professional Baseball Players”, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 27(2): 375-381, 2013 and Anthropometric and performance comparisons in professional baseball players, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 23(8):2173-2178, 2009.

Napoleon believes that strength is the foundation for all of physical qualities required to be successful in baseball and that it would be difficult for an athlete to run, throw, and hit without first developing a sound, basic level of strength. His key exercises for developing total body strength for sport and function are the squat and dead lift. His training programs focus on developing muscle symmetry, improving mobility, increasing stability and improving strength and power.

Napoleon and his wife, Jennifer, have been married for three years and have a 2-year old daughter, Abigail. He believes that being a father is the best job he has ever had. He is supporter of Second Amendment rights and the men and women in the US military. He is an avid bow hunter and fisherman, enjoys being outdoors, pushing his body and searching for his physical and psychological limits.

Napoleon and his family reside in Surprise, AZ where he has an off-season personal training business and works tactical athletes. He believes that no amount of success at work can make up for failures at home and that making sure that he is right with the Lord and his family on a daily basis has helped him in his career.

His advice to anyone contemplating a career in this field is to remember that being in professional baseball is very taxing on you, your family and your personal life. Be sure you are committed and have a good support system before entering the field.

History of Strength and Conditioning in Professional Baseball Part 4: The Turn of the Century The Emergence of the “Strength Coaching” Profession in Baseball

The emergence of the professional baseball strength and conditioning profession started in 1993 with three American League strength coaches, Fernando Montes (Cleveland Indians), Steve Odgers (Chicago White Sox) and Bob Alejo (Oakland A’s). Montes,history4 who was a member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) while coaching at Stanford, came up with the idea of creating an educational-based organization dedicated to developing, improving and evaluating training techniques and protocols for professional baseball players. Montes met with Odgers and Alejo when their teams played each other. He also met with other AL strength coaches when they played the Indians to discuss the role and scope of the proposed organization and solicit input. During the off-season, five major league strength coaches met during the 1993 NSCA Sport Specific Conference and decided to create a Society of professional baseball strength and conditioning coaches whose primary purpose was to unite the profession of strength and conditioning in baseball with the application of proven strength and conditioning principles.

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Job Posting : Texas Rangers

Organization: Texas Rangers

Job Title: AZL Strength and Conditioning Intern

Job Description: Texas Rangers are looking for a self-motivated professional strength and conditioning coach. Applicants must posses a high knowledge of anatomy and the human body. They must also be able to adhere to the Texas Rangers strength and conditioning principles and be versatile. Applicant must be committed to strength and conditioning. Spanish speaking is a plus.

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History of Strength and Conditioning in Professional Baseball Part 3: Into the 90s – The Emergence of “Strength” in Baseball

Strength and conditioning emerged as a priority activity among Major League players in the late 1980s and early 1990s. You could see the change in player size and body structure in the clubhouse and on the field. More clubs were hiring strength and conditioning coaches and more clubhouses had weight rooms, some even for the visiting teams. These rooms were equipped with free weights, barbells and dumbbells. When it started, dumbbells went up to 50-pound sets, then to 70 and finally 100 pounds and guys were using them. This era also saw some players hiring personal trainers with backgrounds in bodybuilding and football, all emphasizing the use of heavier weights and prolonged workouts. The challenge for the strength and conditioning coach became how to separate what was needed to be successful in baseball from the muscle building programs that were being advocated by outside influences.

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History of Baseball Strength and Conditioning in Professional Baseball Part 2: The 1980s, the Nolan Ryan Influence and the Era of Acceptance and Innovation

Nolan Ryan joined the Houston Astros prior to the 1980 season as the highest-paid player in MLB, earning 1.1 million dollars a year. I received a phone call from the GM, Tal Smith, informing me that we had signed him and inviting me to a reception to introduce him as the Astros’ newest member. Prior to the reception, I had never met Nolan. I had watched him pitch in the 1979 MLB All-Star game on TV and I knew that he lived in Alvin, Texas about 20 minutes away from my home in Clear Lake.

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History Strength and Conditioning in Professional Baseball Part 1: The Beginnings (1976-1980)

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.

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Fournier and Castellano, All-Star Game Strength and Conditioning Coaches

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…)

Malone and Barr, All-Star Game Strength and Conditioning Coaches

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.

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Strength Coach Traits

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.

4. Personality.

– 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).

 

 

Career Advice – Arizona Diamondbacks

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.