Elite Baseball Mentorships: Developing a Performance Team
Posted May 19 2013 9:43am
Today’s guest post comes from my friend and colleague, physical therapist Eric Schoenberg. Eric is an integral part of our Elite Baseball Mentorships.
One of the topics that came up most commonly in the course evaluations and feedback from our first Phase 1 Elite Baseball Mentorship in January was “how lucky” Eric, Matt, and I are to have such a great facility (CP) to work in and “how nice it must be” to have strength and conditioning, pitching instruction, and physical therapy all under one roof (or in very close proximity to each other).
The truth is, professional relationships do not just happen unless you make them happen. Coaches, business owners, medical professionals, and athletes themselves don’t let just anyone into their circle. People are skeptical by nature and need to know that you care and are not a threat to their goals, reputation, or career. However, once trust is established, then the foundation for success in any partnership (i.e. coach/player, strength coach/physical therapist) can be built.
At the center of every great performance team must always be the athlete. I suggest making this the first criteria you look for when building a great network of performance coaches, medical professionals, and athletic coaches.
The success of any coach or medical professional is measured by the success of the athletes or teams with whom they work.
It is important to surround yourself with people that understand and follow this very simple concept. High level athletes have had people trying to latch onto them from a very young age. They are very skilled at seeing right through people with egos who don’t have their best interest at hand. This is the quickest way to lose credibility in our field.
In response to the feedback from our last mentorship, I've outlined five principles (non-clinical) below that you can use to help build a strong network to ensure better results for your athletes.
1. Communication: Be clear and concise. Don’t leave anything to chance or assume that everyone is on the same page. I have seen countless examples of athletes failing in physical therapy, training, or following a throwing program because any combination of the doctor, PT, strength coach, skill coach, or parent were unclear with their communication. In addition, it is a simple courtesy to keep referral sources current with the progress of their athletes. Failure to communicate is a sure way to end a professional relationship.
Donate your time: Show that you care. Ask and expect nothing in return. Have the best interest of the athlete in mind (always). Understand that it is not about you. Show that you can add value and provide a service that is not currently being met. Along the same lines…
Respect other people’s time: Don’t just “show up” unannounced at someone’s office, gym, or field and expect them to give you time. Be professional and set up a meeting that works for the person you are trying to work with. Better yet, ask them a good time that you can come by and observe and then go out of your way to offer your services to one or their athletes on the spot. This goes a long way to establish selflessness and credibility.
3. Understand and respect each person’s role: Don’t try to be all things to all people. Be good at what you do and don’t try or claim to be an “expert” at everything. Surround yourself with people that challenge you and know more than you in certain areas (but make sure you know more than them about something or you will be phased out!) Understand the strengths and weaknesses of yourself and the people in your immediate network. Observe often and learn as much as you can about each person’s role. Eric Cressey and Matt Blake know more about physical therapy and human movement than the vast majority of licensed physical therapists on the planet. However, they don’t claim to be a PT, they understand ethical boundaries, and they respect scope of practice.
4. Know your role (really well!): Never stop learning. Stay open minded on things you have yet to learn. You owe it to your athletes and your network to be an authority and trusted resource in your field. However, it’s critical to have the confidence to know when to refer out. You don’t need to be the hero all the time. At the end of the day, if the athlete succeeds because you had the humility to refer them to someone that could help them more than you, then you did your job. Remember, you will gain respect if your athletes get better, regardless of who gets the credit at the end.
5. Swing for the fences: Once all your hard work and patience finally pays off and you “get your shot” to work together with a particular coach, PT, or athlete, knock it out of the park. In our fields, we have moments (successes or failures) that allow us to either gain or lose the confidence of the people that we are trying to impress. Be prepared for the situation and get results. Remember to always be confident and overdeliver.
A founding mission of the Elite Baseball Mentorships is to develop a national network of qualified professionals in the baseball community that share a similar philosophy in managing baseball players. This is pivotal in keeping athletes healthy and allowing them the best opportunity for success in their careers.