Baseball Quebec (BQ) is about to give a big blow. Following a reflection by the association’s board, the development model of Quebec baseball players will be completely redefined based on recent scientific concepts and practices from some of the best sports systems identified throughout the world.
“I’ve been involved in Baseball Quebec for 30 years, and I have to say we’ve never had a board that is as talented as it is now. They are really oriented towards the quality of service that our members offer », Roser technical director of BQ, Sylvain Saindon.
BQ’s board is characterized by the diversity of skills found there.
Two women sit on it: Julie Gosselin, president of Sports Québec and specialist in communication and marketing, and Valérie Bourgeois, who comes from the cultural environment and who has extensive experience in leading the NPO. The latter is especially responsible for the management of the Boréalis Museum in Trois-Rivières.
Michel Laplante and Marc Griffin, for their part, share their expertise from former professional players. Laplante is also well-established in the field as president of the Capitals of Quebec, in the Frontier League.
The consulting team is complemented by Benoît Migneault (an accountant specializing in information technology), Jonathan Brochu (a trained lawyer who became Vice President of Lobe Hearing Clinics), the President of the Federation Marc Vadeboncoeur (from the base to the Federation) and the General Manager of BQ, Maxime Lamarche .
Since Baseball Quebec passed the board and modernized the board ten years ago, the number of members of the federation has more than doubled. And for several years, BQ has been regarded as one of the most dynamic sports federations in Quebec and Canada.
Over the past year, which has been concerned with ensuring the efficiency and relevance of the high performance structure, Baseball Quebec’s board has commissioned an exhaustive report from the Better Sport team, consisting of Canadian experts André Lachance and François Rodrigue.
For almost a year, the two experts reviewed the performance level of the baseball academies in Quebec, analyzed the operation of the flagship programs of North American baseball, and compared the development principles put forward by the best. sports programs around the world, all disciplines combined. Before making their recommendations, André Lachance and François Rodrigue interviewed 52 experts from seven different countries.
“This whole process did not happen in a vacuum. Throughout the process, people at Better Sport have continuously interacted with us to understand our reality and the reasons why our current system has been shaped in this or that way. », Explains Sylvain Saindon.
During their work, Lachance and Rodrigue looked specifically at practices in Basketball Canada and Softball Canada, Cricket Australia, Hockey Finland and Rugby Football Union (England). For all sorts of reasons, these federations stand out when it comes to identifying, developing talent and achieving results.
In most cases, these successes are achieved despite the fact that these federations do not have a dominant position (in terms of the number of athletes) in their country.
Among these successful federations, we note:
- Adopt a clear philosophy, planning and principles (exactly what kind of athlete do we want to develop?).
- The identification of the widest possible talent base around 15 years (or a few years earlier) and distribution of a development process ensured by qualified coaches surrounded by a fully integrated support team (kinesiologist, biomechanic, nutritionist, sports psychologist, sports therapist, sports doctor, coach, etc.).
- Close monitoring of athletes’ progress based on their general trajectory rather than on ad hoc observations made, for example, during a selection camp.
- A strong emphasis on the development of man and his life skills before athletic skills (develop resilience, behave well with others, say thank you, eat well, etc.).
- Over the years, the player mass (funnel effect) shrinks and competition increases.
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Specifically, these great reflections will bring major changes from next season in the structure of Quebec baseball.
However, due to the disruption caused by the pandemic, it has not yet been decided whether all the changes will be made at once, one explains.
The highlight of this reform is the establishment of a system for identifying and developing similar talents. to the one of the Route des Lions Finnish hockey.
From now on, BQ’s high-performance structure will be hybrid. In addition to the current structure (sports study programs, dwarf AAA, ABC), Baseball Quebec will in future bring together the 60 best Quebec talents aged 18 and younger starting in May, for two months, in a development environment similar to that for professionals recruitment leagues.
The players thus gathered (in four teams of 15 players) will participate in competitions between them, in a controlled environment. But above all, players from each position will gather in training to gain access to the best specialists in the province and to the technological support needed to promote their specific development.
In addition to being a special trainer in baseball, athletes will benefit from the expertise of an integrated support team similar to that of Olympic athletes.
“We asked ourselves what kind of general support each of our players would need if they were elite skiers, for example. And we are in the process of assembling the team of specialists who are able to offer them this environment », Explains Sylvain Saindon.
From July, when the technical-tactical skills of the 60 players are maximized, they will be distributed in three teams of 20 members who will participate in high-level tournaments, mainly in the United States, to increase visibility. from American universities and professional recruiters.
When this training period is completed, the athletes will return to their original program, and the cycle will be repeated the following year.
Although baseball is a late development sport, baseball players find themselves in a race against time from a young age. American universities recruit most of their players at the age of 16, and you must have both feet rooted in the national program by the age of 17 to carve out a place on the Canadian U18 team.
Along with this reconfiguration of the high-performance component, all of the province’s sports studio baseball programs will also see their program modified to focus on the personal development of athletes throughout high school.
“We want to give people a very high value as part of our approach. This is the person who will be the central element of our programs », Reveals the technical director of BQ.
From the beginning of upper secondary school, the list of personal and sporting skills to be acquired will be established and known to all stakeholders.
Finally, the expert report of Better Sports contains several extremely interesting recommendations such as:
- Updates the skills of BQ coaches and the resources to be taken to ensure their continuous development.
- Improving training infrastructure and equipment so that athletes across the province can train in conditions that promote their development.
- Reduce the relative age effect (athletes born in January are always favored over those born in December) by evaluating candidates for the best programs at different times, depending on the month of birth.
When you look through the document, you sometimes have the impression of being transported to another time. Committees have been formed within BQ to implement the recommendations from Better Sport.
“We have never presented a project of this size. It is extremely motivating! Sylvain Saindon is looking forward to it.