A couple of weeks ago, we hosted our inaugural Night with the Pros event at Bullett Performance Training. We included professionals from the baseball industry, sports medicine, physical therapy industry, and the strength and conditioning industry to join our panel, providing a unique insight into preparing for baseball at every level. Our panelists covered three main topics: common injuries associated with playing baseball (including playing baseball all year), playing baseball at the next level and player development, and preparation and training. Following each section, we had an interactive question and answer segment with our audience to ensure every question or concern was addressed.
Dr. Jocelyn Vartanian, Doctor of Physical Therapy, Director of Pro PT Fresno West, initiated our first topic by reviewing common injuries experienced from playing baseball, particularly injuries associated with overuse and overtraining. Dr. Vartanian’s main rehab specialties include overhead athlete overuse disorders of the shoulder and elbow, baseball and softball pitching/throwing injuries, hip/groin impingement and strains, and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders. Dr. Vartanian also provided insight into injury prevention for baseball and softball athletes, reviewing rules and regulations surrounding the health and safety of athletes within athletic organizations among other training and preparation needs from the physical therapy and sports medicine perspective.
Our owner, Brandon Bullett, followed Dr. Vartanian in discussing the training and preparation needs from the strength and conditioning perspective for injury prevention and maximizing performance. Bullett first discussed the importance of quality nutrition and fuel for athletes to maximize performance and mitigate the risk of injury. He then explained the critical importance of strength and conditioning training to prepare athletes for competition. Bullett also explained the repercussions of neglecting strength and conditioning training and proper nutrition.
Trenton Kemp, a current minor league free agent, expanded upon Dr. Vartanian and Bullett’s insight by describing his personal experiences surrounding an injury, lack of proper nutrition, and sport specialization. Kemp explained his transformation from high school to play professional baseball in regards to nutrition. He mentioned how he failed to prioritize nutrition during his high school career, explaining the impacts of not prioritizing nutrition. However, during his professional playing career, Kemp has realized the importance of nutrition and fueling his body properly, and he mentioned the numerous benefits he has experienced by prioritizing nutrition. He also provided insight into sport specialization versus multi-sport athletes, describing the benefits of his experience of playing numerous sports until his professional baseball career.
Our final panelist for this subject was Hailey Dolcini, a current starting pitcher for the Fresno State softball team. Dolcini reinforced the importance of injury prevention as she recently had ulnar decompression surgery in the elbow in the summer of 2020. She described her process of rehabilitation and strength training to prepare her for the return to competition for this upcoming season. She also reinforced the importance of monitoring how much an athlete is playing in regards to injury prevention. Dolcini’s youth and high school playing careers were surrounded by travel softball and playing as much as possible, contributing to several sports-specific injuries.
During our next segment, we had Jordan Brink first discuss his perspectives on recruiting, player development, and playing baseball at the next level, overall. Brink is currently pitching in the Tampa Bay Rays organization, and he was with the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers after playing college baseball at Fresno State. He is also a pitching instructor, working with youth to collegiate and professional baseball players. Brink offered valuable knowledge in the requirements of playing high-level collegiate and professional baseball. He stressed the importance of possessing high character on and off the field over simply being a good player. He also utilized his personal experiences of playing at the next level to reinforce the previously mentioned common injuries and injury prevention. Finally, Brink explained how he utilizes technology and data analytics through Rapsodo to improve his game, and the players he works with as well.
Coach Brad Fontes followed Brink by reinforcing the requirements of playing high-level high school, college, and professional baseball. Fontes is currently the Head Coach for Buchanan High School Baseball but has over 25 years of coaching experience in high school and college. Fontes reviewed a number of critical topics including the effects of showcases and travel baseball on youth and high school baseball players. According to Fontes, travel baseball can be an extremely useful tool when used to get quality repetitions for position players. He also mentioned the benefits for pitchers playing travel baseball when pitch count, innings, and overall health are constantly being closely monitored. He further explained how showcases frequently result in injuries due to players not being properly prepared, or as a result of immense volume in a short period of time. Finally, Fontes explained the benefits his Buchanan baseball program experienced through functional strength training during the offseason with Brandon Bullett. These benefits included strength, size, performance, and injury prevention benefits among others for his program.
Our next panelist was Nick O’Brien, assistant strength and conditioning coach at Fresno State. O’Brien is the strength coach for baseball, softball, wrestling, women’s lacrosse, and women’s volleyball teams. O’Brien supported our other panelists by explaining the importance of strength training for injury prevention and performance benefits. He also described the process of collegiate strength and conditioning in terms of the frequency in which the athlete's train and practice. He also illustrated expectations from Division 1 recruits, and how these expectations develop as individual players and the team overall develop. O’Brien concluded his segment by discussing player development within a Division 1 program and a weight room.
The final panelist to discuss player development was John Lampros. Lampros is a hitting instructor that utilizes a data-driven approach to help hitters from all over the state achieve their athletic goals. Similar to Brink, Lampros uses Rapsodo and other technology to provide advanced analytics, enhancing player’s overall development. He described his process in using these tools to assist players in improving performance. Lampros illustrated how advancements in technology have provided innovative strategies to improve the player development process. According to Lampros, utilizing these innovative strategies in conjunction with functional strength training can result in significant increases in overall performance.
Our final speaker for the event was Darrien Miller. Miller is currently playing in the Milwaukee Brewers organization. Miller discussed our third topic regarding preparation for the baseball season, particularly surrounding the current environment with effects from COVID-19. Miller explained his recent experience at instructionals, demonstrating how many aspects of the preparation process have adjusted over this past year. He also described his current day to the day preparation process of strength training combined with hitting and defensive preparation. Miller also highlighted players must be prepared at all times, especially during the pandemic. The baseball environment frequently fluctuates, and the pandemic has only heightened these fluctuations.
Concluding the event, we opened up the floor to a final question and answers segment, ensuring our audience received the information they were seeking. Following the conclusion of the event, the panelist stayed to answer any individual questions audience members possessed. Overall, our inaugural Night with the Pros was successful in providing an interactive, educational experience for our audience.