My Crazy Birthday Adventure In Amsterdam’s Red Light District
On May the 8th, I celebrated my birthday in Amsterdam, The Netherlands and let me tell you
It was crazy!
Officials from Dutch National Baseball and Softball invited me to Holland as a guest instructor for five days, which happened to coincide with my birthday. I arrived on May 5th via the (ahem) luxurious WOW Airlines — a company, by the way, that appears wholly committed to the color purple.
After settling into my hotel in the City Center, I enjoyed a nice dinner, a few glasses of wine, and some mind-blowing conversation with Frans Bosch, Martijn Nijhoff, Paul Venner, Bart Hanegraaff, Gonny Farley and a few other Dutch baseball and softball trainers. During the evening, Frans casually dropped several biomechanics and muscle physiology nuclear genius bombs, such as “chest out while rotating” and “it appears that isometrically contracting muscles can expand”, and, “the glove side scapula should retract toward the spine, then the glove side upper extremity should remain stable in co-contraction until after the pitch.”
After dinner, I rushed back to my hotel to write these pearls on a legal pad before retiring for the night.
For the rest of the week, we packed in all sorts of activities and training. I worked with players from the ages of 15 – 36, performing over 50 physical assessments, video analyses, and teaching throwing protocols and physical movement enhancement exercises. The Dutch also asked me to explain our self-organization process for player development and arm pain management to their coaches and medical professionals in 5 different 1-hour presentations. The work was exciting, invigorating and exhausting.
By the 8th of May, which happened to be my birthday, I was ready for a little rest and relaxation.
The famously gregarious Martijn Nijhoff had different plans.
“Amsterdam on your birthday, Randy?! Look out! We’re going to ROCK YOUR WORLD!”
I had heard plenty of stories about, can we say, the spirit of tolerance in the Dutch culture and Amsterdam’s notorious Red Light District. Martijn had organized big plans for dinner and a night on the town with Dutch Baseball GM, TJ Smeets, Dutch Softball coach, Gonny Farley, and a few others. I have to admit; I was a little scared about what the night might bring.
Before walking downstairs to meet my Uber driver, I took a deep breath and said a little prayer.
We met at a downtown Amsterdam restaurant to experience a taste of the exotic flavors of Dutch cuisine (which consists primarily of meat and potatoes). After dinner, we walked across the street for another Dutch delicacy — ice cream. Next, we stopped by a cool wine bar where you could wipe your card and experience a variety of different wines from taps on the wall.
By this time it was approaching 10:30 pm. I kept waiting for the shift to the nightlife and what I thought would be an inevitable visit to The Red Light District (merely to look around, of course). As the clock passed the 11:00 pm mark, I became concerned, not that we weren’t going to make it to the party scene, but that if we did, I would end up completely exhausted for my scheduled 6:00 am wake up call and ill-prepared for another full day of evaluation and training. At this point, the sometimes wildly unpredictable Martijn yawned, stretched his arms overhead and said, “Well, ladies and gentlemen, that does it for me tonight. I’m going home to get some sleep.”
My hosts dropped me at the hotel and my big birthday adventure in the party city of Amsterdam came to a smooth harmless ending.
Not so crazy, right?
Well here’s the crazy part.
During our dinner, I started talking to Martijn, Gonny and TJ about how forward thinking the Dutch are in their training and development. In a country with less than 100, 000 total baseball players of all ages, and where baseball is probably the 6th or 7th most popular sport, The Netherlands had risen to become an international powerhouse. In my opinion, it was their country’s motor learning and skill acquisition scientists, coaches, and trainers that were responsible for their ascent. Sure, thanks to their colonial ancestors, they collected a few shortstops from a couple of Islands in the Caribbean, but my I would submit that no other country would have so keenly respected, appreciated and accepted the self-organization under which their kids from Curacao and Aruba had learned. Any other country might have tried to push a top-down explicit training approach onto these talented players a move that could have squelched their development.
It was indeed Dutch Baseball’s training that was the difference-maker.
I wondered how we might get our US coaches and trainers to be more aware and in-tune with the highly effective Dutch model for training. The four of us bounced around a few ideas, and by the end of the night, we drafted rough plans for a joint educational venture known as The Florida Baseball Ranch/Dutch Baseball Skill Acquisition Summit.
Sounds crazy, right?
Well, here’s the real crazy part …
On Sep 8-9, 2018, it will all take place at The Florida Baseball Ranch. We are currently sitting at over 105 attendees with 9 MLB teams sending 35 staffers and coaches. The cast of speakers is world-class, and the format of theory and lecture on Saturday followed by hands-on, real-world application on Sunday is unprecedented.
We will close out our registration on Friday, August 24th, so if you’ve heard about it and are considering attending, it’s time to pull the lever and make it happen!
We’ll see you at The Ranch!
Randy Sullivan, MPT, CSCS
CEO, The Florida Baseball Ranch