NSCA’s Coaching Podcast, Episode 93: Andrea Hayden

by Eric McMahon, MEd, CSCS, RSCC*D and Andrea Hayden, CSCS, NSCA-CPT, RSCC
Coaching Podcast January 2021

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Andrea Hayden, Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Minnesota Twins Major League Baseball (MLB) team, talks to the NSCA Coaching and Sport Science Program Manager, Eric McMahon, about being great at your craft. Topics of discussion include how to train athletes in a sport you have never played and creating great career opportunities through education and networking.

Find Andrea through Email: andreahayden@twinsbaseball.com | Find Eric on Instagram: @ericmcmahoncscs or Twitter: @ericmcmahoncscs

Show Notes

“I would even say the guys that I work with, they got there without me. And so, what can I do to really help enhance more? What else is in that tank that we can actually drain out and find? So that's really kind of a puzzle piece that excites me and makes me want to keep doing it.” 8:15

“So what are those lions that you're chasing after, and what are those things that seem risky and seem uncomfortable and unknown? And what are the things you're going to chase after that really will set you up for success later in life?” 11:51

“There's just such a broad spectrum of abilities and levels within the weight room. So I think that's a big part of trying to learn and grasp and try to get alongside of these guys.” 19:11

“And I don't want to just be secluded to the weight room. I want to be a part of everything that they will allow me to be a part of. Whether that's on the field or in the cage or in meetings, or anywhere they will have me.” 27:22

Transcript

[00:00:00.00] Welcome to the NSCA Coaching Podcast episode 93.

[00:00:04.59] So what are those lions that you're chasing after? And what are those things that seem risky and seem uncomfortable and unknown? And what are those things you're going to chase after that really will set you up for success later in life?

[00:00:15.04] This is the NSCA's Coaching Podcast, where we talk to strength and conditioning coaches about what you really need to know but probably didn't learn in school. There's strength and conditioning, and then there's everything else.

[00:00:25.69] Welcome to the NSCA Coaching Podcast. I'm Eric McMahon, and today our guest is Andrea Hayden, the assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Minnesota Twins in Major League Baseball. Andrea, welcome.

[00:00:37.71] Hi, Eric. Thanks for having me.

[00:00:40.07] Yeah, so excited to have you on. I know we've been talking for a while, and Andrea is someone that I've known the last few years working in professional baseball. Andrea, I'd like to give you the chance to just talk about your past into the field of strength and conditioning. How'd you get into this? And tell us what you love about it.

[00:00:57.35] Sure, absolutely. I'll try to keep a little bit short, because obviously these can get a little long-winded of the path we've been on. But I've always marched my path as being one of untradition. And hasn't been linear by any means. But a lot of up and down and twists and turns along the way.

[00:01:09.97] But I started at a younger age, playing sports growing up. Really enjoying competition and athleticism. And I played everything I could. I was a tomboy through and through, and that kind of kept my grades good in high school, because I wanted to be eligible obviously. But I wasn't a great student, and studies came really hard for me.

[00:01:28.04] So after that, when I graduated, I really wasn't interested in college. I had a hard time wanting to pursue that, watching my friends around me excited for their universities and those things. So I kind of turned to personal training, and I saw that as a great avenue for getting into the real world right away.

[00:01:43.64] And so I started as a personal trainer. I got my certifications and kind of worked my way up in a local gym. I'm from St. Louis, and so, kind of a gym around there, worked my way to a managing role. So I did that for three or four or five years. And then along the way, I got a little burnt out with training the soccer moms. And kind of really realizing how much I love working with athletes and making that competition and preparation and some of those things.

[00:02:07.76] So I was 23, 24 years old and realizing I really did need that degree. And so I actually found somebody that I knew and trusted and got some great encouragement, support to go to school. So you know, at 24 years old I'm sitting with a bunch of 18-year-olds trying to relearn how to write papers and APA format and all the tough stuff that came with it.

[00:02:27.49] I was fortunate, though, along the way that to meet some really great people. And I went to Missouri Baptist University in St. Louis, where I actually got a-- considered an athletic scholarship to work with their women's track and field and softball players. So looking back in hindsight, I'm really glad you never hurt anybody. I didn't do anything damaging. But just got a chance to work with those athletes and their weight rooms and help support what they were doing.

[00:02:51.23] So along the way of doing that, I finished my undergrad in three years, I kind of rushed through it. But got a chance to really network my professors. I think being older in age, though I felt like I had a chip on my shoulder and felt like I was behind and trying to catch up all the time, I do think being a little bit older and having a perspective, I saw my professors as my network and support systems, and could really try to get as much out of them as possible.

[00:03:14.08] So that turned into allowing me to do an internship. I did it out in Exos my senior year of my undergrad, out in San Diego. Which was a really great experience to kind of work, my first time probably a taste of working with professional athletes. And so working with them a lot. Obviously heavier on football. But there were some baseball guys there, and some professionals. There was a Turkey women's volleyball player, there was just a different variety of athletes there.

[00:03:39.34] So finishing my undergrad and that internship, I actually applied at Lindenwood University for their graduate assistant position, and fortunately got that. So I was there for two years. After my first year of a GA, I did take an internship at University of Louisville, under Tina Murray. And she was great and opened up a lot of great doors, and pushed me through them.

[00:03:59.38] And I ended up working with USA Hockey, their development camps. That opened the door to go to China and work with their national women's team over there for a little while, and then came back to finish my second-year GA. And we had some shifts in our department, so it's fortunate that we pulled up to full time.

[00:04:13.99] So finishing my master's while being full time there and kind of taking that in and doing it. I mean, it was my hometown, so I was in my backyard, Lindenwood was, and I just really enjoyed being there. So I was really content. Probably when you know in life when you start getting content, you know something's about to get shaken up a little bit.

[00:04:27.73] So I was about a year and a half into my full-time role as strength coach at Lindenwood when I got a phone call from somebody that I networked with and knew and interned with back in 2015. He connected me with who is Ian Kadis, the director of Minnesota Twins. And through a phone call, he presented an opportunity that I just couldn't pass up.

[00:04:47.08] At the time it was packaged as a fellowship, which was a little bit cut to the ego. Because I was full time, and in your mind you think you finally have been grinding, and you've made your internship debuts. And you've done everything you can. And now you feel like you've gone backwards a little bit. But I took the leap and I trusted him. I trust the people around me with their support.

[00:05:04.19] And then, five days later after talking to him, I was in my car headed to spring training. And so I did my first spring training 2019, and then fortunate-- you know, you work your [INAUDIBLE] off at spring training, you know how that is. And it's kind of drinking from a fire hose and you gain experience. And then that first season, after that fellowship was over, and I was able to be pulled up to full time as the assistant. So thankfully again, pulled up goes well and I'm enjoying my third season.

[00:05:29.23] That's awesome. And one thing I hear that really benefited you well is you navigated the early path in your career to just figure out what your interests were, and what direction you were headed. And then education really paid off for you, and it seemed like you had a ton of opportunities go your way the minute you started pursuing that degree, got certified, started getting internships.

[00:05:56.11] And you know, I think it's really encouraging to say that not everybody knows exactly who they're going to be or what they're going to do at 17, 18 years old. I know I didn't. I know many of our listeners didn't. And there's always going to be transitions and changes. I don't know if you really consider it that. At 23, 24, it's still kind of at early stage where you're figuring things out. But really great to hear that you took some time to figure out the necessary steps to pursue the profession. And it really has benefited you well.

[00:06:33.43] Would you say that your time at Exos was-- planted that seed for working with professional athletes? Was that a little bit of a goal maybe in the background, when you started pursuing strength and conditioning versus personal training? Or what are your thoughts on that?

[00:06:51.64] Yeah, I think I never really thought about that, not until unfolding it and talking to you, but I kind of end up really realize it. But I think that's the life of the journey, that when you look back, you can see things that were planted, like you said. Or you see doors that were opened or closed, and then you realize how it set up the stage for where you are now. So absolutely, I would say that having that experience and in being in that environment, it was just very different than a college weight room. Not better or worse, but just a different feel.

[00:07:18.80] Also being in the private sector, that was great exposure to kind of seeing how that functions and runs. And we had an incredible intern coordinator, Roy Holmes, who's still there now. And he had high expectations. And I would say that he was one of the first to really lay out what are the rules, standards, and protocols for a strength and conditioning coach, and what is that standard of excellence. So just that package of that entire experience being at Exos, I would say that really set up a lot for me.

[00:07:44.81] Because prior to that, I really relied on my personal training knowledge. The things that I've learned through that, through those certifications, through that experience. But actually being in a setting of more sports performance, sports enhancement kind of a thought process, that really was my first time being exposed to that.

[00:08:00.17] And then obviously seeing the caliber and level of a professional athlete. You know, they're just built differently. Their mindset is just different. Their ability and physical attributes. They're just different. So that was really appealing, to try to see what else can you get out of them? What else is in there?

[00:08:15.50] I would even say the guys that I work with, they got there without me. And so, what can I do to really help enhance more? What else is in that tank that we can actually drain out and find? So that's really kind of a puzzle piece that excites me and makes me want to keep doing it.

[00:08:30.47] That's great. That's a great perspective. One question I get a lot related to personal training backgrounds is, young coaches looking to get into their field. Maybe they haven't got their degree yet, or they're just getting that early experience. Is it worth it getting a personal training certification, sort of as a pathway into strength and conditioning? Just given your background, can you speak to that? Do you recommend that path? And then maybe what are some of the shortcomings of that path from an education standpoint?

[00:09:07.10] That's my story. And so I think I always recommend, or share my story, and then people obviously can take it for what it is. But that is mine, that I first got the NSCA-CPT. That was where I started. And that was a really good foundation. And like I said, I had this chip on my shoulder, feeling I was behind. I was older than some of my directors. I was older than all the interns I was interning with as a GA. And so feeling behind was really a part of what I carried, that burden I wore every single day. So having that little bit of science background through that certification helped me quite a bit, I think. But it was always try to chase and understand--

[00:09:42.32] I think with personal training too, you're making or breaking it based on your relational aspects. And can you build rapport with people? Especially in a one-on-one setting, or group setting. And so I was kind of able to polish that up in a sense, and really learn how to communicate with people. And you know, sell yourself in a sense. And get alongside people and find out what are their needs, and then how can I bring value to that person.

[00:10:07.29] So I think just all of that within the personal training realm has helped me with strength and conditioning, with working with professional athletes or college athletes. Or Chinese athletes that didn't even speak English. Like learning how to communicate with people through body language and energy and facial expressions, and just all those things. So I think there's a lot to say for the aspects of personal training. And especially with the learning and the certifications and education that comes with it.

[00:10:33.78] I do pride myself very much on education now. And if you had told 18-year-old Andrea who really struggled in school and beyond, like that's something that I will always say I take great pride in. I never thought I would have the credentials that I have now. And so I think that the more you can grab-- and not to chase letters and those things, but really to expand yourself and to stretch yourself. I would always encourage that.

[00:10:57.25] That's awesome. So share some of the books and resources that have helped you along the way, that have maybe framed your thinking and helped shape the work you do with athletes.

[00:11:07.60] Yeah, sure. Same thing. Like I hated reading back in the day, education like I said was hard. But I think now that I've gotten older, reading is a big passion of mine. And I come from a dad that has the quote that says, readers are leaders. And we push reading quite a bit.

[00:11:22.52] So there have been some pivotal books in my life. One being, it's called In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day. Strange title, but it's a biblical reference, and it talks about-- long story short, it just talks about a guy that chases down a lion and kills a lion on a snowy day. And that sets him up for success later in life. And he becomes the armor bearer for King David and becomes the right-hand man in the army.

[00:11:43.99] And so you kind of think that the things that he did that maybe seemed risky at the time, and maybe for his own life, set him up for huge success later. So what are those lions that you're chasing after, and what are those things that seem risky and seem uncomfortable and unknown? And what are the things you're going to chase after that really will set you up for success later in life? And wouldn't just be a tough time for the sake of it being a tough time. But really, what can you turn into from those moments?

[00:12:09.41] So I think that life, for me, personally has all been that. That nothing has been traditional. It's been a little bit confusing, a little unknown, and I can tell you the highlight points like I did in the beginning, they all sound easy. But there's been a lot of challenge along the way. And there's been a lot of loss in games. And it's taken a lot of courage to take those steps, and those leaps. And I've lived on an air mattress for two years. And finally I had a bed. And you just take those risks and the sacrifices. And it can be packaged as, like, it looks easy, and it looks like you're just taking one step forward every single time. But there's been about a hundred steps back.

[00:12:41.12] So that book is a good reminder of the things that you do, and if you can be patient with the things that are in front of you, you're going to be really successful. If you pursue them, and if you take that leap and that courage. And one thing I really learned from a great mentor is, Tina is like, she never handed anything to me, but she did open up doors. And it was my opportunity to walk through them.

[00:12:59.72] And so I think that that's how I want to keep paying it forward, and setting that up for people, is that, you have to do the work. But I can help you and you get alongside people, but there has to be that willingness and that courage, and take that step forward. And to find that success and to find those opportunities, it takes a lot of work. Takes a huge support system, it takes network, it takes your confidence in yourself. And I think that I look back on that, I can list off 100 different books and resources, but that's always the one I stick to that has really played a big spot in my life.

[00:13:29.61] Yeah, I always appreciate, you know, you're one of the people that when a young coach reaches out to me in looking for advice into the field, you're one of the people that I point them to. Just your path in the field, still being relatively young in the field, and getting experience and working across multiple levels, you give them a lot of great perspective. So I always really appreciate that.

[00:13:55.24] I want to share a kind of a funny story with you, but it'll relate to maybe the experience you've had. I went to a small Division III college. And I also was an exercise science minor. And so a lot of the coursework in there related to coaching. And you recognize a lot of times the bias of the situation you're in. But I had a coach, or a instructor in one of the courses, say professional sports is all about winning, and college sports is all about development.

[00:14:29.74] So years later, you know, it's probably my first week working with the Milwaukee Brewers minor league system. And I'm in professional baseball, and I'm kind of just getting my feet wet. I'm learning where I need to be and what's going on. And I'm talking to a hitting coach about the same thing. He's like, hey. College is all about winning now, and professional sports is all about development. And it totally like flipped my whole perspective, like right in that moment.

[00:15:01.26] And I think working my way up from the minor leagues all the way to the Major League level, I've kind of seen both sides of that coin. Speak to that a little bit. What do you see at the Major League level? Maybe what's something unexpected at the Major League level, working with that caliber of athlete, that you really just didn't anticipate, getting into this situation? And just speak to the development and emphasis on winning throughout the professional level. And across the spectrum of strength and conditioning.

[00:15:29.73] I love that story, it really, really sums up kind of where we are. Things literally can pivot on a dime, and it can change your perspective just different to that. But yeah, I think prior to this, I didn't really have a ton of baseball experience. I worked with softball quite a bit, and in the college setting. So I didn't really know what to expect coming in. And that was a little bit of a fear of mine. And I'm really thankful for Ian, who just said, can you be a rock star coach? Like, can you really coach up a weight room and command that weight room? That's all I need. And I can teach you the rest along the way.

[00:15:58.56] Because there are things I learned that I never knew. I didn't know what a DFA meant. And all of a sudden the guy was gone, and it hurt my feelings. I was like, where did he go? And you never see him again. You build these relationships. There's so much to the aspect of baseball that I was learning it and I didn't know yet.

[00:16:11.91] But I think with thinking about, and I mentioned it earlier, is that these guys are a different caliber, and they've gotten here without me. And so it's trying to figure out, how do you get alongside of them, and what can you help them with? Or what can you alter or change or give them extra support in certain things? And how do you win them over?

[00:16:30.39] And I think, too, baseball's such a unique sport, that it's really based on a trait and characteristic thing. And it's not necessarily athleticism. And so I think sometimes as strength coaches we try to push this athleticism component to it. When the reality is like, they may just have an index finger that's longer, and they get better spin on the ball. And now they're accelerated in their career, and they keep moving forward.

[00:16:49.46] And so I think that was a big part for me, because I just want to get everyone to be a certain level or certain caliber of an athlete. When reality is like, what does that individual need? And so, what I've really been enjoying about baseball, at least within our organization, is how individualized everything really becomes. And coming from a college background, you'll have an hour and you have 20 to 30 athletes, and you've got to get them all in. And you realize how, even though you try to make it as individual as possible, you realize it actually is an overarching program, with maybe some correctives in there for an individual that's a little bit different. But it really is just, this is a hockey program, or this is a softball program. And it's not really catered to that individual.

[00:17:26.86] So that's becoming a seed growing and changing within baseball, and seeing the need for sound assessment. And figuring out where they are, and then how can you-- what are those variables that we need and we see that cross over with performance? And I think that's a big area that we need to keep doing and figuring out how we can keep providing value, not just to the weight room but beyond. And how can we get alongside our pitching coaches and hitting coaches, and what are they seeing? They're experts in movement just as much. And they can see things, and then try to get things out of their players, as well.

[00:17:58.05] I think the other thing too is knowing that at this level, weight room is a little bit optional. And they don't have to. And they're professional, and they literally are making millions of dollars, and they are successful. And they should be celebrated for that. But same thing, what's that buy-in level, and how do you get them to come in and want this?

[00:18:15.03] It's been a great success story. I'll leave his name out, but he introduced himself to me and Ian one of his first days. He found out we're strength coaches, he's like, OK, I'll never see you again. Because he was never really raised in a weight room program and never really saw the value of it. And we didn't see him all year. You extend the olive branch, and you'd see him out in the field, and you had a good relationship with him. But he never set foot in that weight room.

[00:18:36.05] And then a year after working in the same organization with him, it's just one day he came around. And he came into the weight room and asked for help. And just realized he's not getting any younger and wanted that help. And so those are great stories to think, just because you couldn't reach them right away, just wait. And eventually, maybe they'll come in and see your value. Or maybe he heard somebody talking about something and realized he wanted help with that.

[00:18:54.90] And so I think there's a lot of growth that can happen. But that buy-in has to be so important to those guys. And you think about, you have players that come in that are drafted out of high school, or they're coming after their junior year. They had a stud of a strength program back in the college, and you could see that. Or Dominican guys who were never raised in that type of environment. There's just such a broad spectrum of abilities and levels within the weight room. So I think that's a big part of trying to learn and grasp and try to get alongside of these guys.

[00:19:23.31] Yeah, that's a great description of what that landscape looks like. I've had players say, you know, the weight room just doesn't really work for me. Or it's just not really helped. It hurts me more than it helps me. And obviously, there are players that have never really put time into the weight room. And maybe they're just so talented that they've been able to excel across the board.

[00:19:51.06] But there's also players that may say that, that had great foundation when they were in high school or college. And so maybe that's their company line. But they truly don't believe that at their core. So everybody has a little bit of a drive to better themself. And they know that strength and conditioning is an available resource to them within the professional sport environment.

[00:20:17.25] And it's just making it welcoming. And I think one of the real challenges we have is that when that player who really hasn't come into the weight room a lot shows up, it's really important we listen to what they're asking for. And I think it's easy to get really excited. OK, I got them. They're here now. And we're just going to throw them in with the mix. That's a really sensitive time. That's a really important kind of gateway time when a player shows up.

[00:20:53.85] And you've mentioned it a few times. You know, the value of relationships and communication. I feel like that period, that sensitive period, is where it can make or break the long-term relationship that you have with that player. Talk about sort of the non-weight room skills that are essential for strength coaches. And just the importance of communication and relationships for strength and conditioning coaches in a high-level role.

[00:21:18.95] Yeah, I mean, I think that is the meat and potatoes-- I hope it is-- of what we do. And I think sometimes we really enjoy to be nerdy and look at all the data and the science of things. But I really do believe that with the meat and potatoes is the relationship aspect of things. And the science is awesome and great, and we love it, and we can talk about it. But I think if you can't apply it, and you don't know how to get them to buy into it, then it really is kind of useless.

[00:21:42.76] So I know for me, when I first started with the Twins, I'm from St. Louis, you were always a Cardinal fan. But I didn't really know many other baseball teams, especially players. And that wasn't really around other things. It just wasn't a super big passion of mine at the time. So I was really nervous to learn the roster and learn these players, and obviously Minnesota is big on their sports. And so they know them all and they're very comfortable. But I wasn't.

[00:22:04.20] And so I remember being very nervous and apprehensive of not even knowing much about that player. But I learned really quickly that the last thing those guys want to talk about is baseball. And so I felt like it was an even playing field. At that moment we could talk about their dogs or their kids or their March Madness bracket, or any of those things. And they really would connect with you. They do baseball their entire life. The last thing they want to do is talk about it, or acknowledge it.

[00:22:28.11] And so it's really easy to connect with them and realize that at the end of the day, so they're extremely talented at what they do, they're still a bunch of boys. And they play jokes, and they're kind of silly and goofy, and they're a bunch of brothers to me. And so I think if you could really realize that they're more human than we actually give credit to. And so that relationship aspect was pretty easy once it got started.

[00:22:47.85] And I'm very thankful for this organization and those players, because they welcomed me open arms, and never flinched at the fact that I was a female in that weight room. They never gave me a hard time. They really just said, they saw me as hopefully helping them, and they got alongside of me just as much as I did to them.

[00:23:02.87] I'm starting to think that relationship, it really should be what sets us apart from other-- I think we get that skill hopefully when you're around people, you start learning how to interact with them and you get buy-in from them. What makes them tick, and can you read them when they walk in the room? Is it a bad day, is it a good day, or they're excited or nervous. You kind of have to read that, and then [INAUDIBLE] alongside and help them and--

[00:23:25.05] You have different relationships with different guys, and Ian and I kind of joke, because he is a little bit different coach than I am, which is a great thing. And you know, it's a dad-mom kind of thing, where he can be really tough on them and sometimes you have to put your arm around them. And they'll come to me maybe more if they don't like that. We have this good relationship where we can have some fun at the same time. But I do believe that the value of the relationship is the most important thing.

[00:23:49.41] And then if you can start with that at that foundation, you really can do a lot more out of them. And you can keep growing your program, the things that we love, that strength coaches are trying to push and move forward. But I think until you have that relationship, so you can understand those players and the needs of them, I'm not sure how far you go until then.

[00:24:08.13] That's great. You know, you've mentioned Ian a few times. And one thing, Ian's a great coach. He presented at the PBSCCS winter meetings last year in San Diego. And it was just a great session on his perspective, being a former player and now a strength and conditioning coach, utilizing more technology and basically bridging the gap between traditional strength and conditioning thought and more of the applied, you know, baseball coaching perspective that we essentially need to learn.

[00:24:45.13] You don't have a professional baseball background. So I think we get our credibility in a lot of different ways. Speak to the ways that, if you don't have a background in a particular sport-- or I know in my case, I didn't play baseball at a high level, so I couldn't really speak to, I couldn't connect on that level with my athletes over the years. Speak to how a coach who hasn't played that sport, or at that level of a sport, connects and gains credibility with elite athletes.

[00:25:18.02] Yeah, I'm really fortunate to be around Ian, who has that experience. And I can lean on and ask questions and hear his perspective, and he can relate to them a little bit differently. So having someone like that is really helpful. So if you can find somebody that would have that experience you can lean on, I think it's really, really important.

[00:25:34.01] But I think at the root of it, it's finding out, how can you provide value to that organization? What are the things that you see in [INAUDIBLE] And as strength coaches, we love poking holes. And so we can see stuff, even if it's on a business side or operation side. Like can you see some miscommunication, or some silos. Or can you find things within that organization. And then how can you implement yourself in the most humble way to say that you could bring that value?

[00:25:56.72] So I think that an attribute or characteristic of humility is really important. And not coming in thinking that you know everything. But I think without the experience of playing and being on that field, it weighs-- I'm an assistant, and so you wear multiple hats. And so whether I'm helping the kitchen crew and wiping tables down, or you're working out the GM, like writing him a program. Like it doesn't matter. You really want to assist everybody, and help every single person that you can. And so I think that can be a quality of humility, and knowing that you don't know everything, you didn't have that experience. But I'm going to find the value I can provide. And I think it looks different to everybody.

[00:26:32.11] But try to implement yourself in different ways that you can. I'm fortunate to be-- the Twins started a D&I council, a diversity Inclusion council. And I get an opportunity to be a co-chair with them. And so, this is stretching me beyond anything. Because I'm very comfortable in the weight room and I'm comfortable in the field, but to be outside and out more on the business side of the organization, and seeing the need for more diversity within our organization, and how can we be more inclusive of that diversity, and bringing it all on board, that has stretched me in myself more than I can even imagine. And so just finding ways that you can bring value and be a part of an organization, I think, is the most important thing you can do.

[00:27:09.76] And serving. At the end of the day, that's what I hope all of us as strength coaches, that's the root of what we're doing is service and serving our athletes and our coaches, and figuring out how you can bridge those gaps and really be a part of everything. And I don't want to just be secluded to the weight room. I want to be a part of everything that they will allow me to be a part of. Whether that's on the field or in the cage or in meetings, or anywhere they will have me.

[00:27:30.55] Because I want to be a part to support, first of all, and serve. And then after that, maybe an opportunity to share my insight or thoughts. And so I think the Twins are really special in the fact that that's kind of the environment we created. There's a lot of opportunity to speak up and share, and give your opinion and your thoughts. And it's really cohesive in that environment.

[00:27:48.29] And so I think that's how you can keep providing that value and finding ways that you can serve and support. And there's areas that I'm not great at, and there's areas that other people are that I can learn from. And I rely on those people too.

[00:28:02.17] Yeah, that's a great perspective. And one thing I really enjoy about doing the podcast and connecting with coaches in this way is that you hear a lot of great quotes. And things that really help me personally. And one thing that I heard earlier this year with Richard Howell is the path to advancement is, be great at the role you have right now. If you want to advance, be great at the role you have right now. Focus on that.

[00:28:33.64] And the way you answered that, it really speaks to our resourcefulness. We may not have all the answers, but we have the tools and the ability to go find those answers to help you. And you know what? You're out there on the field, you're playing, you're practicing, you're managing, all the areas of the performance side of what you do. And I'm in your corner working to-- if we're trying to solve a problem or we're trying to find an answer for something, that's the role that we have. And so it's really empowering when we can dig into our archives and arsenal and help to find a solution.

[00:29:16.67] Sometimes it's just that process. And also speaks to just being a good employee. Every strength and conditioning coach role is not the same. The expectations aren't the same. You talked about wiping tables down in the kitchen. Even at the Major League level. That's something that most people wouldn't associate with the highest level of sport.

[00:29:42.10] And I think back to taking grocery store runs in the minor leagues. And all these things that have helped to advance the field, right? Nutrition's in a lot better place than it ever was. But it didn't come without the sacrifice of the nutritionists, the strength coaches, and everybody that have really done these above-and-beyond things. These other duties, as assigned, is a term that comes up every now and again. So I really like how you answered that.

[00:30:12.78] We had Dan Jahn on the podcast. The lesser-known Dan Jahn, but very impactful in the world of diversity and inclusion. And he is on our diversity and inclusion committee's education task force with us. And he speaks a lot to cultural awareness. He had a session at Coaches Conference on cultural awareness, and it's been a very powerful message to hear that. From your perspective, speak to diversity inclusion in professional baseball. I know your role, and you spoke to being a female coach at the Major League level. That's relatively new. How has that experience been? And just speak to that experience.

[00:31:05.99] It was really interesting. And I'm learning, it's always growing. I'm not an expert on any of these things, but I'm learning as much as I can. And within baseball, in that clubhouse, there is an extreme level of diversity. Because every single one of those players, we have-- I mean, for us, we have a German, we have Dominican, Puerto Rican, Venezuelan. It's a variety of people with different backgrounds.

[00:31:30.31] And so in that clubhouse, it feels very comfortable to be yourself, because everyone is so different. And so I think sometimes you forget how great that is, and then you kind of step out and you kind of step into a little bit of the real world, or for us the business side of the Twins baseball. And seeing that maybe that diversity doesn't exist as strongly as it does within that clubhouse.

[00:31:48.82] And so, that's something that I've been passionate about. Moving that needle forward for us, and figuring out ways that we can do those things. Like as strength coaches, it's kind of in our DNA to want to be inclusive. We understand the value of getting people on board. That we want people to feel like they can be themselves, and we want people to feel comfortable. We want people to be stretched and challenged and pushed outside their comfort a little bit. But we seek that. I think that's part of us as a good strength coach, as a good coach, is just wanting to get people on board and put your arm around them.

[00:32:20.36] And so when I took this role, it was a little bit-- obviously very nervous, because I didn't have, I have no experience in this. But I have experience in the sense that I'm a female, and I know that if we want to keep pushing baseball forward for women, there has to be some things that change. And it's one thing just to hire and put them in place, but another thing to put a system and protocols in place to support that person.

[00:32:40.57] And that's what I really am passionate about it, for women and for anybody, any diverse background, is saying, I want you, if you have a great skill set and you're a great fit for this organization, we've got to get you on board. And then, what are the things that you need that we can do to support you and keep you and retain you? And that you would feel like you can be yourself and bring more value? And so for me, like I'm super excited to say that we started building a female locker room within the Twins, that's close by to the weight room. And that's a huge step forward. So that's going to help more females down the road, if we can keep bringing them in, is having those facilities for them.

[00:33:13.13] And so it's figuring out areas that we can really push forward to bring more inclusiveness, and more diversity, and more people on board to help us. But I think it is unique when we have the divide of seeing that the clubhouse really is that way. And like I said, those guys have been fantastic. I literally am around men all day. And I really appreciate them, and I'm in a staff in an office of athletic trainers and PTs and medical doctors that are all men.

[00:33:38.41] And they have been nothing but supportive. They never made me feel like I didn't have a seat at that table. I feel like I brought a unique perspective sometimes for them. But they have been fantastic in their own journey, as well, of understanding. Of how to be more inclusive and how to carry themselves in a certain way. And how to be kind of, in a sense, an ambassador for women. And they've been so open-minded and easy to talk to about things, and have been extremely humble and asking questions.

[00:34:05.30] But that expectation is just, you put your head down, you be really good at what you do. And that's something I really want to pride myself on is, I want to be great at my craft and my skill, more than anything. And it happens that I'm a female at the same time, it's great, you can bring acknowledgment to that, and hopefully help them push that forward. But at the end of the day, my job is to be the best strength coach and the best employee, like you said. I love that, being the best employee there is there, and the great opportunities are going to come from that.

[00:34:30.86] So I think it's still in progress. I know everyone is on their own journey, at their own pace and speed. But I just have to applaud the Twins at the place they are, because they really are open-minded to saying, what do you need? How can we sustain you, and how can we help make sure there's protocols in place that you feel comfortable or that you feel included and involved in?

[00:34:48.28] And I just think like, you can always look to be offended by something. And you can spend your whole life looking to be offended by the way people talk and say certain things. But I just encourage other women and people in general just not to be that way. Don't seek out that offense. And really just take it for what it is, and not let it affect you.

[00:35:07.39] And yeah, at the end of the day, we're still in a male majority sport. And that's something else I always hear, is that I don't work in a male-dominant, because dominant usually means overarching, commanding, superior. But it really is just a male majority, because there are just more of them than me.

[00:35:24.82] And so we can have that healthy perspective. I'm not looking to be offended, I'm not looking to be overpowered. I'm really trying to bring as much value as I can. And that's all I want to do. And I really care about those players, I care about that staff. I want to win, I love being competitive. I want to be successful. And I want to keep pushing it forward, so if that means taking the burden and carrying that and moving it on, I want to do that. Because I want to be successful myself personally, but more importantly, as an organization.

[00:35:50.23] That's awesome. And I really liked how you said that the clubhouse environment really encourages people to be themself. And I think that promotes inclusivity. That promotes just the broad number of voices and perspectives. And one thing that we've seen in the game is that it's not just racial or cultural diversity that we're talking about today. There's been sort of this expansion of professional diversity and more emphasis on collaboration with different types of professionals.

[00:36:30.00] When I got into the game, the minor league strength coach was kind of considered the one-man band of the-- you had to do everything. You did the nutrition. You were putting the PB and J out on the table after batting practice. I mean, it was very early on.

[00:36:49.87] But at the same time, now RDs have been added to strength and conditioning staffs. We work more closely with physical therapists. Both athletic training and strength and conditioning departments have expanded in areas of rehab, where there's rehab strength and conditioning coordinators. Speak to the collaborative nature of working as a strength and conditioning coach. As part of a-- call it a sports science team or a high performance team, that's all working for the same performance- and health-related goals.

[00:37:26.05] I think that's where we're all kind of headed, and we're all trying to get to that model, that it would look like this high-performance thing. And I think it's really easy to talk about. And it's a totally different thing to do it and walk it out every day. And I think that at the end of it, it takes that hard word, which is humility, and really seeing that at the end of day, we all really want the same thing. And that's to be successful. And for the sake of that athlete or player. And we want to win. Like those are really the pillars of things.

[00:37:52.19] And so break that down even more, how do you do that? So what are the X's and O's of how do we-- The second a guy gets injured, what's the protocol? What are we doing, and who's in charge over what point? And then as he progresses, at what point do we move him into more of, a PT role takes the lead on those things. And then now it's strength and conditioning, and then nutrition has the ball. Like, how do we find everyone's strengths and implement it within that process? I think that's always the challenging part, because there is no black and white. It's a gray line, and everyone's specialty kind of jumps in and back and forth.

[00:38:24.74] But I think that's what we all are chasing after, and I think that I've learned more than anything, especially being in this environment, is that there's a difference between understanding and agreeing. And that we are always required to understand each other and see why you thought that, and where you're coming from. But it's OK that we don't always agree.

[00:38:40.87] And once you've kind of laid it out for me, tell me like this is why I wanted these exercises, and this is why I thought he was further. OK. Yeah, I can see that now. I get it. I wouldn't agree with you still. I still think this might be a better option. But I took time to understand and hear where you're coming from.

[00:38:54.48] I think if that is the roots of our collaborative approach, and we really take time to understand and appreciate the value that each person has, whether it's through education or experience or any of this, I think once that is the root of it, then we can kind of keep moving forward together.

[00:39:08.18] And so I think we get our feelings hurt again when people don't agree. And we really work hard because you want, I want you to see what I see, and I want you to believe in me and agree with what I'm saying. But it's OK if we don't, and it's OK if we can understand it. But we all have the end result goal, because we want the best for that player. And we want to be successful as an organization. So hope that answers your question. [INAUDIBLE].

[00:39:30.91] That's great, and I like how you keep coming to humility as such an important skill for strength coaches. And you know, it brought me to early in my career, I carried the perspective that my role-- you know, strength coach roles were relatively new. They weren't full time, they were part time. They were added to the staff. Largely because the sports medicine team, the athletic trainer, was dealing with team travel. And they were spread thin. they couldn't be out there at stretch every day, they couldn't be taking players to the weight room in the morning.

[00:40:09.05] There was a need for another position, and that's when strength and conditioning entered the game. And so, I always looked at my role as, I have a unique skill set as a strength coach. But honestly, I'm here because there was a void to fill, and that related very closely to the sports medicine team, and what their goals were. And so I was instantly connected to that collaborative approach, and I think that kept me in the mind frame that I needed to be able to play both sides of the line of, really pushing players towards performance, but also keep that health and keep players on the field mentality that comes from the medical side. So I really love the humility references that you mentioned.

[00:41:00.42] I want to give our listeners an opportunity to reach out to you. What's the best way to get in contact?

[00:41:06.63] Probably email, would probably be a little bit better. Social media is out there, and to be honest I try to keep up with it. I'm not the best at it. So probably my email, which is my name, andreahayden@twinsbaseball.com.

[00:41:16.92] Awesome. So if you have questions for Andrea, she is a great resource. She gave you her email there. Just reach out, and she'll get those questions answered for you. This is Andrea Hayden, the assistant strength and conditioning coach of the Minnesota Twins. Andrea, thanks for being with us.

[00:41:35.47] Appreciate it. Thanks, Eric.

[00:41:36.10] To our listeners, thanks for tuning in, and we'd also like to thank Sorinex Exercise Equipment. We appreciate their support.

[00:41:44.69] And to all of you listening, we appreciate your support. Again, if you like the podcast, make sure you subscribe wherever you download your podcast from. Write us a review and keep listening in. Thank you, and I look forward to talking with you all soon.

[00:41:56.46] This was the NSCA Coaching Podcast. The National Strength and Conditioning Association was founded in 1978 by strength and conditioning coaches to share information, resources, and help advance the profession. Serving coaches for over 40 years, the NSCA is the trusted source for strength and conditioning professionals. Be sure to join us next time.

Reporting Errors: To report errors in a podcast episode requiring correction or clarification, email the editor at publications@nsca.com or write to NSCA, attn: Publications Dept., 1885 Bob Johnson Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80906. Your letter should be clearly marked as a letter of complaint. Please (a) identify in writing the precise factual errors in the published podcast episode (every false, factual assertion allegedly contained therein), (b) explain with specificity what the true facts are, and (c) include your full name and contact information.

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Eric L. McMahon, MEd, CSCS,*D, RSCC*D

Strength & Conditioning Coach, NSCA Headquarters, Colorado Springs, CO, United States

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Eric McMahon is the Coaching and Sport Science Program Manager at the NSCA Headquarters in Colorado Springs. He joined the NSCA Staff in 2020 with ove ...

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Andrea Hayden, CSCS, NSCA-CPT, RSCC

Strength & Conditioning Coach, Stanford University

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As a native of St. Louis, Missouri, Andrea Hayden received her undergraduate degree in Exercise Science from Missouri Baptist University and earned a ...

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