Mar 29, 2018
Better Together, Part 2
Barry Lippman

To read Part 1 of this article, click here.

Following the 2015 season, the entire Coastal Carolina University baseball staff met to talk about changes. Our vision was to create a combined sport performance team, one that allowed all staff members to focus on the student-athlete as a whole by collaborating more efficiently and effectively. We wanted a system that merged the athletic trainer, strength coach, and baseball coaches into one central command for sports performance to maximize strengths, fill in gaps, and address dysfunction before it became symptomatic.

One of our first goals was to hire a strength and conditioning coach exclusively for baseball who would share our collaborative vision.

To accomplish our goal, I needed to hire the right strength and conditioning professional to work exclusively with our team. It was important to find a coach who could appreciate what we were trying to do and why. I wanted someone who truly understood and was passionate about baseball, as well as someone who had a strong grasp of anatomy. The coach also had to exemplify the team’s core covenants of relentlessness and selflessness. These principles are the foundation of our culture and guide all of our actions and processes.

I did my graduate work at Georgia Tech and remained close with the department. That connection led me to Nick White, MS, CSCS, USAW. Around the time we were looking for a strength coach, White was finishing his graduate degree in sport administration at Georgia Tech, and he had played collegiate baseball as an undergrad.

To determine whether White was the right fit for our new system, I had to make sure he thoroughly understood our plan. From the start, we were very careful to lay out all of our expectations and goals. He spent almost all of his interview day with me and a few of our players, and it was obvious he had the qualities we desired. After White was hired, the collaboration hit the ground running.

There is one important detail about our model to make clear: It does not involve anyone operating outside their scope of practice. White is never in the athletic training room performing modalities like dry needling or joint mobilization. And although players report to White on how their bodies are functioning, he never assesses injury. On the flip side, I supervise and record speed and agility sessions, but White coaches all technique. Here are some other examples of ways we divvy up responsibilities while still working together effectively:

• In the weightroom, I start incoming groups with movement prep and core work, so White can focus on coaching the previous group. This allows me to sneak in additional preparation work for players who are predisposed to certain issues, based on what lifts they are doing that day.

• At our fueling station during the summer, White and I alternate nutrition “topic of the day” presentations over breakfast with the team.

• During the season, a team training session involves me working with the starting nine on extra soft-tissue mobilization, active recovery, core, and maintenance strength, so White can focus on continuing high-volume lifts with the developmental players.

• Before practices, White may take a group of athletes through speed training on the field while I take a different group through scapular work, and then we’ll switch.

• Between games, White can be found at our therapy pool putting the starting pitcher from the previous game through our underwater recovery routine and low-impact work capacity session. Meanwhile, I assist in getting position players ready for the next contest.

Barry Lippman, MS, ATC, CSCS, is Associate Athletic Trainer/Director of Rehabilitation for Coastal Carolina University athletics, where he oversees athletic training for Olympic sports and works directly with the baseball team.

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