Striving for the ‘Cheongna Dome Era’ Begins Now

After reaching the postseason for the second consecutive year in 2022 and last year, SSG Landers announced a “remodeling” after the 2023 season. The intention was to change the roster and develop younger players.

A lot has changed. The biggest change was the coaching staff. In addition to the first team, SSG appointed a new head coach for the Future Team. Son Si-heon, who had never been involved with SSG, including as a player, was called upon by SSG.

Son is a former Doosan Bears developmental player who was known for his steady defense, excellent operational skills, and hustle play during his playing career. He was recognized for his leadership as captain of Doosan and NC Dinos, and after his retirement, he served as a defensive coach to guide young players. He also has a keen interest in the American farm system, where players are developed based on sports science, and has continued to study the field.

“With these experiences and capabilities, we believe that Sohn is the right person to lead the transformation and growth of the Futures prospects by understanding and utilizing sports science-based development,” SSG said.

“Since the final camp in November last year, we have been focusing on the process of identifying each player’s skills and creating their own training routines,” said Son, who met with the Future Team players since the final camp last year. “Although we have a lot of catcher resources (through free agency and the second round of the draft), we have been focusing on making preparations for our weak positions of first base, second base, and catcher, and in the case of infielders, we have set a direction to play multiple positions together rather than limited positions to increase the utilization of positions in the first team.”

“Training routines, in particular, are very important for players to prepare for their best performance. Each athlete is given a variety of routine programs to create what they think is a good posture in practice, and the athlete finds a routine that suits them through conversation and consultation with their coach.”

“He told me that all the players started the season on an equal footing, so I should motivate them to train harder,” said Sun. “He also asked me to recommend players from the Future Team to join the first team when the first team comes to Taiwan. This will be a great motivation for them. Even though they started out in the Future Team, they have a chance to be called up to the first team, so I hope they will prepare better.”

“Rather than just ‘evaluating’ the results, I think it’s our job to set a direction for the players to grow and conclude a plan for the future,” Son said. Whenever we discuss a player, we have a small group meeting with all the coaching staff, including pitching and hitting coaches, to discuss the direction of the player,” he said.

“It’s important to look at a player from different parts of the organization. “We use a multi-disciplinary approach, including personality, to get a closer look at their strengths and weaknesses, and how we can capitalize on their strengths to help them perform. These meetings also allow the coaching staff to understand each other’s training methods and processes. The coaching staff can also approach each other with an understanding of each other’s training methods and processes. Since there are a lot of new faces in the coaching staff, it will help them get to know the athletes and give them a chance to respect each other,” he smiles.

Compared to previous years, the Future Team’s training volume has increased significantly. “We’re currently training in the morning, afternoon, and even at night at our current intensity level, so the workload is somewhat heavy. When I was younger, I realized that if I didn’t go through this kind of training, I wouldn’t be able to beat the seniors in the first team, and the club agreed with me, so we will continue to train intensely in Taiwan. In order to compete with the first team players, the Futures players have to prepare even more.”

“We plan to strengthen both biomechanics and psychological and mental theory education. For biomechanics, if athletes don’t understand kinematics, they won’t recognize the points they need to train on. Training without understanding is more like simple repetition, which is not effective,” he said.

“You have to understand the kinematics and think for yourself. “To this end, our strength coaches are working with our existing training coaches to prepare them for the use of biomechanics.” “We are also currently implementing mental programs and partial routine theory in between training days. We are also working on improving the athletes’ understanding of the theory.”

SSG’s biggest challenge for the 2024 season is finding a starting first and second baseman. The Future Team is working on it. “Jeon Eui-san, Ko Myung-joon, and Kim Sung-min, who prepared for the first base position in the final camp, are in the competition system. For second base, Ahn Sang-hyun, Choi Jun-woo, and Kim Chan-hyung are in the first team camp, and there are many resources for second base in the Futures. The young players here have a lot of potential, and especially in the infield, we want to make them able to play any position without limiting them, and the first base position is being prepared well by senior Kang Jin-sung, who is working very hard and can join right away.”

Finding young bullpen talent is also a challenge for SSG. “This year, the pitchers of the Futures team will focus on preparing for the season as a bullpen rather than preparing to start. The pitchers who start for the Futures will be ordered to pitch aggressively from the first pitch with the mindset that they are the ‘first pitcher’ and not the starter. “We’re going to work with the mindset that everyone on the mound is coming from the middle of the bullpen, and we have a lot of good resources this season, including rookies, so we’re excited about that.

Son, who is also keeping a close eye on the rookies, said, “The rookies are currently training a lot, and I think the biggest challenge is to get them in shape to handle the workload. Rather than correcting their technical skills, I’m asking the coaching staff to help them bring out their own colors as much as possible.” “I think there are enough things that rookies can learn and change just by watching the seniors. They are selected for their strengths and colors, so we want to see the rookies for what they are rather than trying to change their form or posture.”

SSG isn’t just looking for results this season, but players who will be responsible for the team’s present and future for years to come. By 2028, when Cheongna Dome opens, SSG wants younger players to lead the team. That’s why SSG needs to prepare thoroughly from now on.

“It’s been a while since we officially greeted the fans, but our first goal is to play baseball that the fans can love,” said Son. “Also, the fans are curious about the discovery of new faces in the Futures, so we want to showcase a lot of new faces to reward the fans’ expectations. All the Futures players are preparing hard, so I hope you will come to Ganghwa SSG Futures Field. Please look forward to this season,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, the SSG Future Team will hold a spring camp in Taiwan from the 15th of this month. “In Taiwan, we need to train for the actual game,” said coach Son Shi-heon. The first team players will also join us in Taiwan on the 25th, so while the first team players are just preparing for the game, the Future Team must be ready for the actual battle. Only then will they be able to get the first team coaching staff’s eye and be called upon. We want to get them fit and ready to play as soon as possible, rather than the first team,” he said.

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