When young baseball players in Cloverdale work with Joe Germaine, they learn to expect the unexpected.
Of course, they know what they are in his winter training clinics to improve upon – running, throwing, catching, pitching and hitting.
But it’s how Germaine helps them develop those skills that is turning heads in the Cloverdale Minor Baseball Association.
The 27-year-old focuses on “fundamental movement patterns,” which he calls the foundation of an athlete.
“That will be stuff like speed training, strength training, hand, foot and eye co-ordination, and then flexibility through a full range of motion,” he told the Now-Leader.
“That way, they’ve got all the underlying skills that whatever sport they go and choose to play, they’re going to be really good at it because they’re going to be faster, they’re going to be stronger, they’re going to be able to jump higher, they’re going to be able to catch and throw balls, they’re going to be manipulating whatever object they have in their hand.
“It just makes it a lot easier to pick up sports with specific skills.”
Germaine, who grew up in Aldergrove, said the kids “really, really” like his style of coaching.
“I try and make everything a game, so when we’re playing these games based on the hand-eye co-ordination, speed, strength, they don’t even realize they’re improving,” said Germaine, who studied kinesiology.
“I basically set up a task with a desired outcome, and I say, ‘You just have to get the outcome,’ and basically, I try and see how many different ways they can achieve that outcome because the more ways you can achieve the same outcome, the more athletic, you’re going to be, the easier it’s going to be successful in a game because I don’t want robots. I want kids that are adaptable, moldable to the situation.”
This is the third year that Germaine has focused on athleticism training, he said, whereas in previous years he would work with just a few athletes outside of his own training.
Germaine started playing baseball when he was four years old.
“All the way through high school, I played all sports but baseball just ended up being my favourite, because of all the different aspects,” he said.
“There’s so many different things that can happen in baseball, like so many different outcomes on every play and it’s really a mental game, so there’s a lot of strategy compared to a lot of other sports,” he said. “Because in baseball, if you’re successful three times out of 10, you’re considered a winner, so you’re failing the seven other times. Whereas in other sports, it’s basically can you get the outcome or not.”
Following high school, Germaine played baseball for two years at junior college before playing at a Division I college in Mississippi. After that, he said, he went to Australia as a player/coach and played there professionally for two years.
“I did their entire youth program for kids aged five to 18 and then I was also the coach on a men’s team I played on.”
For the last three years, Germaine said, he’s been playing professionally in Germany.
A certified strength and conditioning specialist, he also has a company called SPS Training that focuses on high-performance athletic training. He has also written four books on long-term athletic development and the progression of skills for all the different aspects of speed, strength and hand-eye co-ordination.
While Germaine said his goal growing up was to play professional baseball in the major leagues, he said that every struggle and lesson, such as travelling around the world to play, made him “a really good coach.”
“Because not only if I play well, if I can coach my team to play well, then I’m even a more coveted player because then you’re bringing success to the whole to team, not just focusing on yourself.”
In the future, Germaine said he plans to launch a website or YouTube channel to have a library of all his videos, so people can see all the drills that go along with his books.
“That way if they choose not to read, or if they’d just like a shorter demonstration, it’s there.”
While Germaine said he has more than 100 videos ready to go, he said he plans to wait to launch anything until he returns from playing baseball in Germany in September.
“I have it almost done, I’ve just got to get it the way I want it, figure out what’s the best way to promote the videos.”