By: Matt Lucero, ATC, LAT, Head Athletic Trainer, Texas Rangers
The strength of any organization can be defined by the quality of the relationships among those working to make that organization successful. The relationship between an athletic trainer and a strength and conditioning coach is of key importance in any sports organization. Both share the common goal of educating athletes and creating healthier athletes so they may achieve peak performance. Players recognize when we have confidence in them, ourselves and our co-workers. The more cohesive a staff is, the more confidence an athlete will have in that staff. This confidence is one of the greatest tools in getting positive work out of our players. When athletes trust the people working on them, they are much more inclined to follow the advice and guidance we offer.
The professional baseball player trains or plays about 10 out of 12 months with plenty of opportunities for chronic body adaptations. Six weeks of spring training followed by 162 games and fewer than 25 days off can contribute to these changes. To compound this, the competition for success and demands of the game drive players to be bigger, stronger and faster, leaving little room for off-season recovery.
This increase in workload can contribute to several body imbalances, and keeping the body balanced takes the effort of both athletic trainers and strength and conditioning coaches. It is crucial that athletic trainers and strength and conditioning coaches have regular communication regarding the care of our athletes. The evolution of specialized fields creates the need to come out of our comfort zones to create the best protocols for our players. Several instances arise when a post-surgical or rehab player is ready for the transition from training room to weight room. This transition is a crucial time and should be a smooth, natural progression that is customized to each player.
The success of an athletic trainer and strength and conditioning coach is interdependent. Communication and good working relationships ensure proper transitions. Weight room visits offer opportunities for athletic trainers to observe the work ethic, intensity, focus, strength and power and pain thresholds of players. Athletic trainers in the Texas Rangers organization are encouraged to spend time in the weight room to see the players’ workout programs, limitations, health concerns and tendencies.
Collaboration also allows us to relay a common message and plan to players, which eliminates confusion. One very important thing we have learned working with elite athletes is that they strive for clarity. Putting a unified, solid and defined health plan together for the players can be a huge part of the collaborative effort.
Sports organizations regularly mention “clubhouse chemistry” and how important it is for success. We are an extension of this statement, and there is no doubt that this strong relationship is one of many that will contribute to the goal of winning a championship.