Physical. Mental. Recovery. That’s what it’s all about.
Chip Gosewisch, Head Coach and Director of Sports Performance at the Fischer Institute, was invited to present at the All-America Classic in California a few years ago, thanks to a partnership with EvoShield. While preparing to present, Chip broke his content down into three columns to represent the athlete development journey: Physical, Mental, Recovery. Little did he know, he was laying the foundation for PMR and what it has evolved into today.
We sat down with Chip to learn more about PMR, how it started and how it ties into his Grounded Athlete program – the foundation used to develop the professional baseball off-season training program at the Fischer Institute in Phoenix.
What is the backstory behind PMR?
What I created for the All-America Classic presentation became the foundation for PMR. We are very fortunate here at Fischer to have access to all types of athletes and the many different paths they’ve taken to make it to the highest levels. However, not all athletes have access to world-class performance training as they are making their way through the ranks. One of the main priorities for PMR was to provide access to free content that athletes may not have access to and could leverage to improve their performance. This became the PMR Project – no login/no password, just go to the site, click on PMR Project and check out the content.
From there came the Impact Summit in 2017 for high school athletes. We brought athletes from all over the valley together for an opportunity to learn from a notable panel of speakers. I spoke on Athlete Principles, and the panel also included Derin McMains on Mental Performance, Ben Brown on Nutrition, Trent Rincon on Recovery, and former ASU baseball Coach Pat Murphy. The athletes in attendance received a fully edited video from the event, all of the PowerPoint slides, a shirt, a journal, a pen. I wanted them to get used to showing up to meetings with a notebook and something to write with – always prepared and ready to learn.
The father of one of the athletes approached me at the end of the Impact Summit and told me that he felt like his son learned not only about being a better athlete, but also about being a better person. That’s what it’s all about. I had no clue what to expect when I went off to college. If my college baseball coach didn’t give me a second chance, I wouldn’t be where I am today. The PMR Project is my dedication to providing athletes with access to critical information related to physical development, mental development, recovery practices, and everything in between.
Grounded Athlete came about in 2018, let’s explore the evolution.
What is the Grounded Athlete program and what does it mean to you?
Grounded Athlete is a certified continuing education course for other industry professionals that details the principles implemented when training athletes at Fischer Institute. I think of it as a thought process that they can take and implement in their environment, with their athletes, and their coaching style. Main sections include Sequential Application, Sport Stress, Prep, Core, Strength and Power, Agility/Speed/Conditioning, and Plyometrics. In conjunction with each section is a practical application lab where we apply content covered in a classroom setting to the weight room floor or turf. These practicals allow us to highlight key points of emphasis, progression, and adapting exercises to meet individual/daily needs. Course content includes all the great advice I’ve received over the years from mentors, other coaches, sports medicine staff, as well as what I have learned through years of research, and time on the floor with the athletes.
When I was initially creating the program, I held a pilot version at Fischer to gauge how things were going and what improvements could be made. I also had the opportunity to travel to Taiwan in 2018 and 2019 to coach and implement five Grounded Athlete courses. The more chances I get to implement the program, the better. It puts me in check and helps me improve both the content and my coaching.
How does the PMR app and the off-season program tie together?
We provide access to the PMR App for athletes that train with us during the off-season. This allows them to continue following the off-season program as closely as possible if they have to leave town for few days/week. I create the off-season program on the app as closely as possible to what we will do in the Fischer facility, modifying any exercises that require special equipment that may not be available in commercial gyms. Exercises are listed in order as we would perform here with video demos and coaching cues for all exercises listed. It’s a great benefit to have a platform for athletes that train with us to access the program anytime and anywhere.
You recently were FRC certified – how do the FRC philosophies impact your programming?
Functional Range Conditioning (FRC) is great for athletes. The common movements of athletes are, for the most part, performed at extremely high velocities and move through full ranges of motion. FRC gives us a tool to use when attempting to improve joint health, integrity, and strength at those end ranges of motion. In the end, it’s still just one of the tools we can use. Programs are created to be comprehensive, not swaying too aggressively in one direction or another, more of a structured blend leading to the overall outcome.
We can take all of the data we have accumulated from athlete evaluations over the years, the individual athlete’s evaluation info, and look at the sport’s common movement patterns (part of Grounded Athlete) to incorporate very specific segments into the program. By knowing common limitations of athletes in a specific sport, based on years of accumulated and current athlete data, we can proactively address those limitations in the program, adding to the overall benefit for the athlete. Among the many other professional contributions Charleston has made, he is incredibly gifted in his knowledge of and how to efficiently and effectively incorporate FRC into the program.
What is a main takeaway you have found through your experience here at Fischer?
The sooner the athletes can get back to working with a group after an injury, the better. The mentality completely changes when the athlete is working with a group in a team environment again, regardless of whether or not they are actually teammates. I know what that feels like, to go through an injury and miss part of the season. With my shoulder injury and surgery in college, I still felt like a ghost even though I was there every day. All the questions run through your head: Am I going to come back? Am I going to be as good as I once was? Will there be a spot for me when I return? And that was just college! Imagine the professional level.
From my shoulder injury, having my college career almost taken from me from ineligibility, and everything in between, the individual pieces of my path to get to where I am today never made sense at the time. But then, after being at Fischer for a few years, I realized that every individual piece plays a role in what I do every single day. I am a better coach because of the experiences I have had.
How does the Grounded Athlete program come into play with the current professional baseball off–season training?
It’s a form of checks and balances. I put many hours of research, implementation, and structure into the Grounded Athlete content. Grounded Athlete, like most things, evolves over time. Something comes to my attention almost weekly during the off-season groups that I want to add to the course, either to the training or coaching principles. Staying true to the core principles and remaining open-minded to new techniques and research makes teaching Grounded Athlete content more of a conversation. Instead of just standing and listing research facts, I can include my personal on the floor experiences to add depth.
How many athletes are you working with for professional baseball off-season training?
There are currently twenty athletes with several others starting prior to January 1. Typically, the off-season groups start with moderate numbers and increases in number over the first 4-6 weeks. It’s hard to gauge each year with guys retiring, moving, being traded to another city, etc., We just maintain focus on continuing to provide a quality product and proving to the athletes how much we care about them and their careers.
What are your goals and expectations with the off-season training groups?
For all the athletes, it’s to provide them with all relevant aspects of off-season training that will allow them to arrive at their team facility with peace of mind, knowing they did everything necessary to compete at the highest-level during camp, through the season, and continue that momentum further through their career. When they leave the facility at the end of a training day, I want them to have full confidence that the work they just performed was exactly what they needed for continued improvement. They only get one off-season. They can’t show up to camp, feel unprepared, and ask for a redo. I take great pride in that and appreciate the trust they place in what we provide.
When creating all programs, the intent is to continually refine, build, and improve all aspects in one way or another. It starts with building all the individual phases for the specific time period, with what is programmed into phase 1 being relevant to what will be performed in the final phase prior to reporting. Each individual piece plays a critical role and serves a specific purpose in the overall plan. The week prior to implementing a new phase, we will meet and discuss the next phase and make any revisions that might be necessary based on what we’re seeing with the athletes. It’s a constant process of communication, trust, and reading the body language of the athletes daily. Depending on what we see when the athletes show up on any given day, we may make modifications to that day’s workout prior to the start of workout. They leave here and report to camp knowing that they did everything they needed to give themselves the best chance for that season.
Looking Forward Together
What does the future for the PMR Project and the Grounded Athlete program look like at the Fischer Institute? To keep challenging the athletes that walk-through Fischer’s doors every single day. Chip talked about how the program wouldn’t be what it is today if it wasn’t for the team he gets to work with day in and day out. Landon, the latest addition to the strength and conditioning team, started as an intern. His willingness to learn, his positive attitude, and his professionalism prompted Chip and Charleston to hire him on full-time just after a few months, knowing that people like Landon don’t come around very often.
Charleston is one-of-a-kind as well. “Charleston has brought a huge level of professionalism, knowledge, and experience to this place that I can’t even describe. He helps me be a better coach daily. I hope Landon, Charleston, and I stay together for a long time,” says Chip.
Chip says, “If athletes have to show up every spring training or training camp and prove themselves, then we as coaches should be accountable to prove ourselves again every off season. If we can provide them with at least one thing, regardless of training or physical therapy, they can know that they can count on us every single day with the same attitude, we will be prepared, and we will have their best interests in mind.”
Are you up to the challenge? Click here to work with Chip and the rest of the Fischer team. The Fischer Institute, a division of Spooner Physical Therapy, is your sports medicine destination. Ready to learn more? Visit us here.