One of the most common questions I get, especially from you clinicians looking to get into professional baseball, is what is a typical day like for me. It certainly isn’t all fun and games, though we try to make it as fun as possible!
Here is a special post on what a typical day is like for me. I had sent this as a newsletter a couple of years ago, but wanted to share this again with my Inner Circle members:
- During the baseball season my working hours are basically from about noon to midnight, 7 days a week, from February 1st to October (hopefully longer…). Yup, 7 days a week for 8+ months. My day typically starts around noon but more often than not I am on the phone and computer here and there in the morning checking up on any loose ends from the day before.
- My staff and I typically head to the ballpark around noon, give or take. We start by preparing for the day before it gets busy. This involved making sure the training room is stocked, materials for the bench during the game are ready (towels, water, hydration drinks, energy snacks, etc), and mapping out what the healthy and injured players need to do that day.
- The afternoon involves rehabbing the injured players early in the day and working with the pitchers, who are pretty routine based. They know when they are starting and what they need to do each day to prepare for their next start. This keeps us pretty busy for most of the day. In a sense, it is very similar to a small PT clinic in the day time. Our entire staff works together to knock out treatments together as a team. The rest of afternoon revolves around getting the rehab players better and getting the healthy players prepared for batting practice.
- Later in the afternoon the team goes out for a team stretch, throwing for the pitchers, and batting practice for the hitters. As a fan, this is the part of the game you get to watch if you get there early enough. The pitchers long toss, condition, and then roam the outfield shagging. Meanwhile, the position players hit, take ground balls, and perform outfield drills. Pretty basic stuff but a chance for the medical staff to take a breather. I tend to check in emails and send out updates as needed during this time. You may catch me roaming around during BP, sometimes checking in with players and sometimes just enjoying a little breather on a nice day!
- Once BP is over, our gears shift to getting ready for the game. Massages and stretches are popular, and all go much better with loud music.
- Once the game starts, the medical staff is split covering the bench and training room. During the game we monitor for injuries but also need to help our reserve players get ready for the game in a pinch if needed. Our gears shift to retrospective care of injuries instead or rehab and prevention. I am lucky to have a great seat to every game. It is definitely an amazing experience to be able to watch and participate to an extent in a game from the dugout.
- After the game, players stretch and ice to get ready for the next day. Our season is LONG and we only have about 2 days off a month, 18 days a season. It is extremely demanding on the body of the players (and staff!). Anything we can do to help recover for tomorrow is a priority. We use a lot of plunge tubs and other recovery methods to make sure everyone is good to go tomorrow.
- Once we get our paperwork done and shower up, it’s usually around midnight and time to get some rest. We either head home or hop on the team bus and head back to the hotel. Sad to say that we spend so much time in hotels but I can tell you some weird things like which hotels have the best shower heads (Westin), worst internet (Tampa) and the closest Dunkin Donuts to each hotel! I am also a pro at traveling now. I bring everything with me from books, speakers for my laptop, neck pillows, hypoallergenic pillow covers, and even my guitar! It’s hard for us to sleep, think about it, our days peak at 10:00 PM, it’s hard to come down! Here is another little tip… Want to sleep in but a sliver of light is coming in because the window shades wont stay completely shut? Grab one of the hangers that has the two clips to hang pants and clip the two sides of the shades together! brilliant…
- My mornings start off a little late, but hey, I work a night job! Sleep is important and you have to remember we don’t get a chance to catch up on the weekends like many people, I don’t have a day off for 8 months in a row! There are always treatments on our “off days.” In fact, we’ll have a day game on the weekend and get even less sleep, or worse fly across country overnight and get no sleep. I can’t sleep on planes, hurts my neck, but I get a lot of computer work done – like this post! I am sitting on a plane as I write this…
- When I am on the road I get a lot of work done on this website and other presentations, research projects and manuscripts. It is a good way to pass time in a hotel.
- At home, I try to shut off my responsibilities as much as possible and just get some much needed family time. So, yes at times I slack off on things like this newsletter and website (and emails, sorry..), but now hopefully you have a better understanding of why.
It’s definitely long hours and you need to love your job. There are huge personal sacrifices that are made. I am away from my family way too much, I haven’t been able to attend a friend’s wedding in years, and I miss Pearl Jam concerts every time they come to town in the summer. Luckily I have an understanding family. I still get the occasional friend that asks if I can grab dinner one night when we are in town. Ummmm…. yeah that isn’t going to be possible.
But it is worth it at times. It is hard to beat the excitement you feel each night when we start the game or the feeling of clinching in the playoffs. Though, if you took my one of my online class in the past, you may have noticed I had a fat lip from taking a champagne cork to the mouth during a celebration! And I am lucky to have experienced winning a World Series, that is a feeling that is hard to explain.
People always ask me what I want to do next with my life/career. I think it’s more simple than most people realize. All I want next is a 4-day work week!
Hope you see the day in a life of a professional baseball athletic trainer a little different now. It’s not all roses, but hard work and long hours. It’s not for everyone, but for those that truly love it, it can be very rewarding.