Certified Athletic Trainer | Educator | Motivator
Sandy Krum

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“The Way A Team Plays As A Whole Determines Its Success. You May Have The Greatest Bunch Of Individual Stars In The World; But If They Don’t Play Together, The Club Won’t Be Worth A Dime. ” –  BABE RUTH


Having spent many years of my career as a Certified Athletic Trainer in professional baseball, at the Minor League and Major League level, I understand the importance of the TEAM concept and what it takes for a TEAM to be successful. For example, a baseball team is comprised of 25 players, the manager, coaches, and a Certified Athletic Trainer ( NATA / BOC ). For today’s game, the major league level has a greater auxiliary and coaching staff.

Typically in the United States, a season lasts from Spring Training reporting in February and runs until late September or early October (if you’re fortunate). Most teams play the requisite 30 or so spring

 training games and then march right into the 162 game regular Season. The drills of spring training would only be played out in the ensuing months, although no two games were ever the same or would you know when that muscle memory would have to “kick into gear” to successfully throw the runner out from various positions in the infield or outfield. Training meant the endless bullpen “sidelines” with the pitching coach correcting mechanics or saying nothing. It also meant endless time in the batting cage with the hitting instructor doing soft toss drills. Yes, the players were all trying to hone their skills, fighting to become the best they could become to progress to the level above and ultimately the Major Leagues.

The same 25 players and staff  had to come together day in and day out and perform as TEAMMATES. No successes would come from the individual stellar pitching performance, if indeed an offensive catalyst or

two were absent. Conversely, a great offensive night by 8, combined with poor pitching by several, spelled trouble and bellyache for the Manager.

What really makes up a great TEAM?

For the purpose of this writing I turn to Wikipedia to give us the textbook definition of TEAM: A team comprises a group of people or animals linked in a common purpose.

Teams are especially appropriate for conducting tasks that are high in complexity and have many interdependent subtasks.

A group in itself does not necessarily constitute a team. Teams normally have members with complementary skills and generate synergy through a coordinated effort, which allows each member to maximize his/her strengths and minimize his/her weaknesses. Team members need to learn how to help one another, help other team members realize their true potential, and create an environment that allows everyone to go beyond their limitations.[1] A team becomes more than just a collection of people when a strong sense of mutual commitment creates synergy, thus generating performance greater than the sum of the performance of its individual members.


Taking the definition alone back to our baseball team, a pitcher couldn’t perform if indeed he/she didn’t have the catcher guiding them or having the position players playing in unison. The synergy generated by this coordinated approach allows just what the definition states: maximizing the strengths and minimizing the weakness. Going beyond one’s true potential can only happen when the team performs together on the same platform, thus allowing the individuals to compliment one another and reach this ultimate level of competition. The combined synergistic energies are what makes a team just that. The classic definition says that the mutual sum of these combined efforts are much greater than the individual accolades.

Success was not a given and true commitment to helping the team was paramount. Incredibly, I came across many players with the “I-I-ME-ME” mentality. Everything was about them! When talking of the team they would often emit “I did this or I did that” VERSUS “we did this and we did that.” This meant they were truly more impressed with their individual successes and the team concept never entered their equations.

It is the greatest feeling when a team comes together and becomes so good together, almost great. Many in the game term this as a “Push Button” club. The manager’s role becomes limited to showing up to the park and pushing a button, if you will, and the TEAM goes out and performs, day in and day out without fail. No change in chemistry is needed as all systems are go! The team is winning games, Players are in the positions they’re supposed to be in, the correct pitch is thrown in the most crucial of situations, timely hitting occurs daily, and the manager sits and watches the fruits of success ripen from the intense daily instruction and practice.

This is a great time for me to introduce you to an article I read on playing together as a TEAM. From my perspective, and as one that has witnessed thousands of games from the dugout perspective, this writing is pretty on point! It comes to us from a blog post entitled THIS OLE GAME: http://www.theoleballgame.com/baseball-teamwork.html. THIS post stands out for me because it reminds me of the Championship Teams I had the honor of working with! All eight components were ever present with those clubs, the philosophies were the same if you will. Thats why I believe they’re applicable! Here they are:

8 Concepts For Teamwork, Or Playing Together As A Team

  1. We can all count on each other.
  2. Accept your role on the team.
  3. Finding a way to win.
  4. Be willing to make some personal sacrifices.
  5. Help each other out.
  6. Understand what we can control and what we cannot.
  7. Anyone ~ Anytime.
  8. Walk the talk.

Unfortunately, the TEAM didn’t always come together. The individuals continued to star, albeit not in unison. One player shines one day, another the next, and the result more often than not is not enough to beat the opponent. This group, for whatever reason, just doesn’t seem to work in harmony. This is when It was tough to come to the park every day! Defeated attitudes filled with negativity. Even “one’ could spoil the whole bunch. This is what player development was about. It was survival of the fittest in the baseball world, with the cream rising to the top. Work approaches were either so finely tuned or so off. More often than not, “The successful” had their routines and went about their business quietly, unnoticeable but oh so productive. Those who struggled, struggled! On and off the Field! “Poor work ethic. Not focused. Negative attitude. Not having the ability to complement their teammates.”

Athletic teams are driven to the ultimate, the championship of that given sport! The NFL’s Super Bowl, MLB’s World Series, NHL’s Stanley Cup, . You get the point. These are the ultimate, the pinnacles! These are the Goals all good teams strive to achieve. From the family perspective, are all the necessary components in place to achieve a similar goal?

What’s in it for Us?

My message here is presented and revealed in the form of several self questions:

  • Are you doing your best to be a team player?
  • Are the players around you complimenting you and your play, day in and day out or are they hindering your progress?
  • Are you all on the same mission?
  • Do your “teammates” all have the same goals in mind or are they playing for themselves?
  • Is your Support Team of Coaches, Physicians, Certified Athletic Trainers and Personal Trainers “on point”?
  • Are family members on board and if not, why not?
  • What can you do to better this situation?
  • Am I too much “I-I-ME-ME” versus “US-US-WE-WE”?

Remember, constant re-evaluation of your “team’s roster” is paramount to achieve continued success for yourself and the franchise.








Nagging Injuries Series One: Issue One


I’m often confronted with injuries that I know are debilitating and simultaneously keep us from performing at Peak Performance day in and day out. Musculoskeletal injury along with associated soreness is the greatest detractor from continued participation.
The NAGGING INJURY Series will focus on one particular injury and provide prevention and treatment tips for each.


DEFINITION: Acute pain in the shin and lower leg caused by prolonged running and jumping, typically on hard or uneven surfaces.
Running and jumping, especially when carrying excess weight, can cause a great deal of pain about the knees and in so doing the referred inflammatory stress comes about at the anterior Tibia, hence the term shin splints.
One can experience pain along the inner part of the lower leg, tenderness, swelling, or numbness form swelling and the inability of associated nerves to “fire” freely.
Simple long distance walking, as exhibited and studied in the Army (BOOTS) and its contingent, can lead to this debilitating syndrome. Fractures associated with the Military were termed “Marcher’s Fractures”.
HOW TO DIAGNOSE: A physician will take a thorough history of your condition, inquiring about such factors as distance, surfaces, shoe wear, vitamin usage (D) and possibly diet. He or she will order diagnostic testing to rule out the dreaded Tibial stress fracture, usually through MRI or Tomography. Dr. David Geier, a well respected Sports Medicine Physician, shows significant Hot Spots on the attached radiological views: http://www.drdavidgeier.com/injuries/tibial-stress-fracture/
WHAT TO DO: Acute anterior shin pain is a message that your activity level has been too great, the inflammatory response has also been great, and the result must be a change in workout protocols to allow for the inflammation to subside. If persistent and no change of course is taken, the resulting diagnosis will more than likely be a pre stress fracture or Stress fracture. Change in activity is first and foremost. All pounding activity must be removed from your training, necessitating you to train in alternative modes and removing your body weight from the equation. Box Jumps and aggressive body weight lunges need to be avoided as well.  This may mean exclusively swimming for cardio or simply walking & exercising in shallow knee high water. The water itself will take all stresses off the anterior leg(s). Creativity in water exercise can give you just as great a caloric burn as running on a treadmill. Think Treading in the deep end for 30-second intervals. Obviously, it will take a little longer to reach the intensity level, but the leg is healing while not being stressed. Hard intense kicking is not indicated while treading. Rather, slow quiet leg movement is best.
Use of a night splint is also indicated. Your physician can make this recommendation. In severe cases, your physician may elect to protect you by placing your lower leg in a walking boot, in essence locking down and avoiding any impact or loading to the lower extremity.
Ice is indicated and will greatly help reduce the inflammatory response. I’ve found the use of Ice Massage via ICE cups to work the best, directly attacking the area! Simply fill several Styrofoam cups with water, place in the freezer until frozen, remove from the freezer and peel back the top of the cup. This allows you to have a better grip for your 10 minute ice massage. If this method doesn’t work for you, use a bag of frozen peas or corn. They will work just as well. Just be certain to place a wet towel between the bag and the area to be treated. Treatment time here increases to fifteen minutes. Consult with your personal physician on his or her recommended treatment times.


 Simply adjusting the surface you train on can make a huge difference! If you are a street runner or walker, the pavement is almost certainly going to catch up with you. A better solution would be to find a local high school or public park with a TARTAN, spongy surface. This will make a big difference. Checking the bottoms of your shoes for wear patterns is another tip. If you see worn surfaces about the heel regions of your shoes, it’s time to replace them. Similarly, your training shoes should have a stiff rigid sole. Being able to bend your shoe in half usually is indicative of a shoe not driven towards providing maximal support. Once again, a proactive approach to prevention through the use of Ice (Regardless of Activity) is greatly indicated.


Physician protocols vary. For me, repeat radiological studies are not always indicated. I often defer to the patients pain level (Use a scale from 0-10, with ten being excruciating pain and 0 being free of symptoms). This reporting method works well here. For discussion, if your pain and soreness are above a level two, you’re not ready to reinvest in that activity. Grade your pain twice daily and mark those findings down somewhere. Re access, along with your physician and Athletic Trainer to come up with the best course of action.





Often I reflect on whom I am accountable to and what steps and procedures I need to accomplish successfully to stay on point. Am I going to be on time for a meeting or appointment? How am I communicating with my peers? What are my exercise habits? Often we rely on others to assist us with this accountability. Today, I propose another format. Lets take a look at what I believe is the groundwork needed to succeed in any model or plan.

 What Is Accountability?

Accountability is viewed as being responsible or giving an explanation of your actions.  But this is only ONE form. I want to turn the focus to you. When you hold yourself 100% responsible for holding YOURSELF accountable: YOUR relationships will flourish, your personal market value will soar, people will respect you more, you’ll be a greater example for others to follow, and your self esteem will grow. Notice here the common word is YOU and now the focus turns inward versus outward or towards others.

I’ve found a great read on accountability and want to share the same with you. The book is titled Little Things Matter Book | 100 Ways To Improve Your Life Today and is written By Todd Smith (littlethingsmatterbook.com) In it, Smith speaks of accountability and breaks the broader definition into 3 forms.

Smith’s Three Forms of Accountability

1.     Your Actions and Choices- These include how you communicate with others, how you spend your time, the consideration you show others, and your exercise and eating habits.

2.    Your Responsibilities-These include returning calls and emails, being on time for your appointments, and doing things you agree to do when you agree to do them.

3.    Your Goals-This could include financial desires, your fitness and health, or your personal family objectives. Accountability is nothing more than the follow through of YOUR Commitments and Responsibilities.

The How To

How are YOU going to change the focus of your Accountability and directly take responsibilities? Here are some of Smiths’ tips: 1.Use a Website to track Food and Exercise 2. Use a paper journal 3. Hire a personal trainer 4.Workout with a friend or partner 5. Sign up for classes 6. Rules need to be established beforehand 7. BE FLEXIBLE TO ALLOW COMPLIANCE.

I love introducing Abraham Maslow’s Philosophy on reaching Self Actualization and this is a good place to refer to Abe. Remember the Pyramid? Take a look at this link and it may shed a new light on where I want you to go with this thought process. I’ve attached a couple quick links for you here :



I propose small steps on your behalf to start to take the onus of accountability off others and direct them on to yourself. Achieving small steps in this transitional phase will enhance your overall well-being.   SAK