ABCA Clinic Recaps - Frank Spaniol


Liam Carroll

Utilizing Sport Science to Improve Player Performance
Frank Spaniol – Professor of Sport Science, Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi

Clinic Topics

1. Objectives
2. Introduction
3. Baseball Athletic Testing System (BATS)
4. Evaluation
5. Summary

Ed. D., CSCS*D, FNSCA. The amount of letters after Spaniol’s name was evidence enough of his qualification to talk about sport science.  The focus of his presentation was a battery of tests developed through extensive research designed to measure and improve baseball performance.  Too often Strength & Conditioning for baseball players isn’t very functional and can hinder performance.  Spaniol challenged some traditional baseball practices (e.g. running the 30 yard dash instead of the 60) and focused on strength training and testing vertical and rotational movements.

Before outlining the components of BATS, Spaniol asked the question “why test?”  Simply put, the answer is “better information = better decisions = better performance.”  To enable better performance, BATS includes the following:
• Demographics/Anthropometrics
• Body Composition
• Flexibility
• Muscular Strength
• Power
• Agility
• Speed
• Anaerobic Capacity
• Throwing Velocity
• Bat Speed/Batted Ball Velocity
• Visual Skills
Measuring these things using BATS is going to cost you a few quid; finding less expensive way to test them is simply a matter of creativity.  Even more simply, are you including these things in your practices?  If you’re not including drills and activities to improve your players’ agility and speed then don’t expect them to test well!

One of the great things about the convention is that it often reinforces the things we’re doing here.  We’re incredibly fortunate at BSUK’s Academy to have Alan Dean on staff, who also has a lot of letters after his name, and Spaniol’s presentation highlighted just how on-point Coach Dean is with Strength & Conditioning.

Through the PED era baseball was seen as a strength-game.  As it was in the 80’s, especially when astro-turf became a common feature of MLB stadia, it’s being referred to more and more as a speed-game.  Spaniol’s view is that it’s actually an acceleration game.  That makes a lot of sense to me.  The more you can help your players get going the better – your players might not all be fast, but they can all be faster out of the box or have a faster first three steps to the ball.

My Most Important Thing

Spaniol said that “excellence doesn’t occur by accident.”  Whether it is one of your players, one of their parents or someone in your community, find someone who can apply sport science to help your players get better.  Be creative with your practice plans to incorporate training and testing to maximise your time.

Last Up: Jayson King

On Deck: Barry Dean


tagged under: baseball, coaching, softball, strength & conditioning

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About Liam Carroll

Liam Carroll

Liam was a Regional Coach and then Development Coordinator for BaseballSoftballUK until May 2014. He returned to his hometown of London to work for BSUK in 2010 after stops in Somerset, Bristol, Cornwall, California and Nevada. Growing up playing in Britain, Liam made the move to America to study and play university baseball. After figuring out that his future would be brighter as a coach rather than player, he moved to the University of Nevada Las Vegas to finish his degree and coach college baseball. Since then he’s coached youth and adult teams on both sides of the atlantic and with the Great Britain Baseball National Teams.

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