Colorado Rockies: Q&A with Head Trainer Keith Dugger
By Kevin Henry
Henry: How does the message you’re giving to kids today differ than the message you’re giving to the professional athletes you work with every day?
Dugger: The message about playing and being active, there are very few we have to worry about on the active side. The message about some of the performance enhancement stuff, it’s ongoing education. It’s ongoing education for me, my assistants, our physicians, and our administrators.
It’s an evolution. Things are changing so rapidly. We’re always behind in society. Our setting, professional baseball, is just an adjunct to society. If there’s abuse of some performance enhancement drug in society, there’s probably some of that abuse in this profession. But as long as we can educate our guys and tell them it’s too risky. Here’s what could happen to you: The loss of your career and the harm to your health. We keep them updated to any products that come out. That’s the best thing we can do and we do that constantly. We have memos. We have DVDs we show them. If there is a new supplement or drug being used in a foreign country that we’ve never heard of, we’ll give them a handout and tell them, ‘This is what’s coming out. Be aware.’
All in all, it’s an ongoing process. MLB is great about it and the commissioner’s office helps us. There are a lot of physicians, doctors, and therapists who provide us help. It’s all about education.
Henry: What about the challenges you face as a trainer who works with a team that performs in high altitude for so much of the season?
Dugger: First, I hate talking about altitude. We should use this as an advantage and we have. We’re stopping the everyday speak. It’s common sense stuff. Take care of the things you can. You know you need proper rest and proper diet. You need hydration. Stay away from the caffeine, tobacco products and alcohol and other things that are going to affect you. If you can control those things first, then you’re already jump-started. That’s what we do and that’s part of the education. These guys know after playing a long homestand here, you have to take care of yourself and you have to eat right, sleep right, and take care of yourself.
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There are a lot of teams who use an oxygen tank. We’ve dabbled with it a little bit. One of the things we’ve done for years is worked at CU (University of Colorado at Boulder) with altitude study people to track what does work and what’s a placebo effect. Are guys getting benefits from this kind of stuff? We see guys in other sports use oxygen, but we’re also not running sprints. A hard sprint for our guys is running from first to third. If they can’t handle 10 seconds of sprinting, we have some issues.