Over the last 11 months I’ve had the pleasure of working remotely with a JUCO baseball team 3000 miles away. Having just completed the 2nd phase of the summer portion of the year round program that I built for this team and their players I wanted to share my experiences with being a remote strength coach for a college baseball team in a quick 3 part series.
Part 1 – what is remote training and will it work for me?
Part 2 – what exactly did I do this year as their strength & conditioning coach 3000 miles away
Part 3 – what I am going to do next year by expanding my role into more of a sport science position to cover the gap between the weight room and the field.
But before we get into this I wanted to share a bit of information about the College of Central Florida men’s baseball team who I had the honor of working with and it is primarily their efforts that have contributed to any of the success this past year.
The Patriots finished third in arguably the toughest conference in the country behind the #1 and #9 ranked teams in the entire country in the year end NJCAA ranking. Couple this with the fact that they started out their conference season with a 1-7 record makes their birth into the FCSAA tournament even more impressive.
It’s that kind of attitude that made their efforts in the gym pay off on the field. The hard working attitude was already there and all I had to do was point them in the right direction which is the only way that remote coaching can work.
Part 1 – What is Remote Coaching and will it work for me?
As a remote coach I design baseball specific programs based off of the information that you send me in the form of pictures, videos and questionnaires. More on this in Part 2. Once I gather and study all of these vital pieces of information I then build a program based on your specific needs and goals.
I like to think that these programs were pretty good and they are backed by some scientific principals but they are only worth the piece of paper that their printed on if the program isn’t executed properly. All I do is supply players and coaches with the WHAT, HOW and WHEN while trying to do my best of explaining WHY. Its then up to the coaches and players to execute the program by giving it the time and effort it needs to work.
If you need you a trainer with you in the gym to make sure that you show up and work hard then this type of training will NOT work for you.
If you have the discipline to show up to the gym and put in the effort then this type of coaching will work for you. If you supply the TIME & EFFORT while being able to COMMUNICATE and LEARN then there is no reason why remote coaching shouldn’t work for you.
TIME & EFFORT
In the case of the Patriots there was plenty of effort and time supplied by the players and coaches to allow these programs to work. The “buy in” from top of the program with the coaching staff made this success a possibility by communicating to the players the importance of working hard in the weight room.
The “buy in” from the coaching staff was most evident when you looked at how much time they devoted to this program. A lot of the time baseball coaches will only dedicate a bit of time at the beginning of practice during the warm up and some time at the end when the players are already physically and mentally drained from practice. Since every human being has a limited supply of both time and effort we need to make sure that we use our time and effort wisely.
In the case of the Patriots this was seen with doing some extended warm ups which ended with what I call “Power Circuits” which consist of things like med ball throws, jumps and sprints along with arm care and mobility/stability drills. These could add 10-20 minutes onto the warm up and out of the coaches practice plan but since they took the time to do these when the players were fresh it really paid off with enhanced levels of speed and power. We even went so far as to working on sprinting during the practice which you can read about here. This is a great example of merging the strength and skill sides of the game so that we can bridge that gap between the weight room and the field. I will go over this kind of stuff in part 3 when I discuss the sport science role that I hope to continue with.
Putting in the time and effort in the weight room is great but if you don’t know how to do the exercises and can’t perform them properly then you will not see any improvements and in a lot of cases you will get hurt. The only way we can avoid this is to communicate.
In the case of the Patriots there was a lot of communication. I talked to the coaches on a regular basis to teach them what to look for and what to say. I also put together webinars to show players and coaches what I wanted to see like this video below that went over the lifting program that we used over the Winter holiday.
The players and coaches communicated back to me with videos that allowed me to see first-hand each players technique on critical exercises so that I could determine if they are ready and able to proceed. Getting the athlete to communicate by “checking in” with these videos or filling out questionnaires about how they feel is vital information that I need to ensure they are on the right path. Everyone is already taking videos of themselves in the gym to update their Instagram account so we might as well jump on board but do it for a completely different reason.
The role of a strength and conditioning includes educating and monitoring athletes for the time they spend outside of training. The goal is to give athletes the information and tools they need to get the most out of their training by fueling and recovering between sessions. This is a role that I can do as a remote coach just as effectively as a strength coach that you see in person and because of that I really try to excel in this area. The result is a growing library of resources like articles and videos that I publish on a private website with the information of what they need to be doing along with what they shouldn’t be doing outside of the weight room and playing field in order to allow for the best opportunity possible to get bigger, faster and stronger.
How well you absorb and implement this information is up to the individual player. We can however track and monitor players through weekly questionnaires and checklists. If these simple tools are answers honestly and consistently they can provide a ton of useful information that I can see on my end and help make positive changes.
Is it for you or your team?
If you can put the time and effort while also be committed to communicating and learning then this type of training is for you. The fact that it costs a fraction of what a coach in person would cost you per hour who is not likely to have the same level of expertise makes it a no brainer.
If you are interested read along and learn exactly what I did with the Patriots in part 2.
If you can’t wait and want to get started shoot me an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we can start talking. For the next 3 weeks however I am going to have limited internet access since my wife and I are heading to Africa for a vacation. It doesn’t get much more remote than that!!
Graeme Lehman, MSc, CSCS