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Cressey Sports Performance Upper Extremity Elite Baseball Mentorship – December 18-20, 2016

We're excited to announce our next Elite Baseball Mentorship offering: an upper-extremity course that will take place on December 18-20, 2016 at our Hudson, MA facility.

2013.01.26 - CP (139)

The Cressey Sports Performance Elite Baseball Mentorships provide an educational opportunity to become a trusted resource to this dramatically underserved athletic population. Through a combination of classroom presentations, practical demonstrations, case studies, video analysis, and observation of training, you’ll learn about our integrated system for performance enhancement and injury prevention and rehabilitation in baseball athletes. Cressey Sports Performance has become a trusted resource for over 100 professional players from all over the country each off-season, and this is your opportunity to experience “why” first-hand at our state-of-the-art facility.


Course Description:

This Cressey Sports Performance Elite Baseball Mentorship has a heavy upper extremity assessment and corrective exercise focus while familiarizing participants with the unique demands of the throwing motion. You’ll be introduced to the most common injuries faced by throwers, learn about the movement impairments and mechanical issues that contribute to these issues, and receive programming strategies, exercise recommendations, and the coaching cues to meet these challenges. 


Course Agenda


Morning Session: Lecture

8:30-9:00AM – Registration and Introduction (Eric Cressey)
9:00-10:00AM – Understanding the Status Quo: Why the Current System is Broken (Eric Schoenberg)
10:00-11:00AM – Common Injuries and their Mechanisms (Eric Schoenberg)
11:00-11:15AM – Break
11:15AM-12:15PM – Flawed Perceptions on “Specific” Pitching Assessments and Training Modalities (Eric Cressey)
12:15-1:00PM – Lunch (provided)

Afternoon Session: Lecture and Practical

1:00-3:00PM – Physical Assessment of Pitchers: Static and Dynamic (Eric Cressey and Eric Schoenberg)
3:00-3:15PM – Break
3:15-5:15PM – Prehabilitation/Rehabilitation Exercises for the Thrower (Eric Cressey and Eric Schoenberg)
5:15-5:30PM – Case Studies and Q&A

5:30PM Reception (Dinner Provided)


Morning Session: Lecture and Video Analysis

8:00-9:00AM – Strength Training Considerations for the Throwing Athlete (Eric Cressey)
9:00-10:00AM – Key Positions in the Pitching Delivery: Understanding How Physical Maturity and Athletic Ability Govern Mechanics (Matt Blake)
10:00-10:15AM – Break
10:15-11:30AM – Video Evaluation of Pitchers: Relationship of Mechanical Dysfunction to Injury Risk and Performance (Matt Blake)

11:30AM-12:00PM – Lunch (on your own)

Afternoon Session: Observation at Cressey Sports Performance – 12PM-5PM*


Morning Session: Practical

8:00-9:00AM – Preparing for the Throwing Session: Optimal Warm-up Protocols for Different Arms (Eric Cressey and Eric Schoenberg)
9:00-11:00AM – Individualizing Drill Work to the Pitcher and Live Bullpens from CP Pitchers (Matt Blake)
11:00-11:30AM – Closing Thoughts and Q&A (Eric Cressey, Eric Schoenberg, and Matt Blake)
11:30AM-12:00PM – Lunch (on your own)

Afternoon Session: Observation at Cressey Sports Performance – 12PM-5PM*

* The afternoon observation sessions on Monday and Tuesday will allow attendees to see in real-time the day-to-day operation of the comprehensive baseball training programs unique to Cressey Sports Performance. This observation of live training on the CSP floor with our professional, college, and high school baseball players will allow you to experience firsthand our approaches to:

• Programming
• Proper coaching cues for optimal results
• Soft tissue techniques
• Activation and mobility drills
• Strength/power development
• Medicine ball work
• Multi-directional stability
• Metabolic conditioning
• Sprint/agility programs
• Base stealing technique

In addition, you will experience:

• Live throwing sessions
• Biomechanical video analysis using the Right View Pro system
• Movement evaluation
• Live evaluations of attendees with Eric Schoenberg


Cressey Sports Performance
577 Main St.
Suite 310
Hudson, MA 01749



$899 early-bird (before November 19), $999 regular rate

No sign-ups will be accepted on the day of the event.

Continuing Education Credits:

2.0 NSCA CEUs (20 contact hours)

Registration Information:

Click here to register using our 100% secure server.


• No prerequisites required.
• Participants will receive a manual of notes from the event’s presentations.
• Space is extremely limited
• We are keeping the size of this seminar small so that we can make it a far more productive educational experience.
•This event will not be videotaped.

For details about travel, accommodations, and other logistics, please email cspmass@gmail.com.

We hope to see you there!

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 10/25/16

Before we get to the recommended content for the week, can we talk about how awesome it is to have a Cubs/Indians World Series match-up?!?! With four Cressey Sports Performance (CSP) guys in this series, you can bet that I won't miss a single pitch. I'm flying out today for Game 1 in Cleveland, but before I do, here's some strength and conditioning reading to hold you over for a few days!

Long-Term Success: What You Can Learn from Corey Kluber - With CSP athlete Corey starting Game 1 of the World Series, it seemed like a good time to reincarnate this article I wrote for Gabe Kapler's website back in 2014. Yesterday's article (here) on MLB.com reaffirmed my thoughts even more.


Why Nutrition Science is So Confusing - Dr. John Berardi has a knack for making the complex seem simple, and in this infographic, he discusses why things have gotten so complicated on the nutrition front in the first place.

How to Write Better Youth Warm-ups - At our Massachusetts facility, Nancy Newell heads up the CSP Foundations program, which is geared toward 7-12 year-old athletes. They have an absolute blast and it has a lot to do with Nancy's contagious energy and fun programming.

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Random Thoughts on Sports Performance Training – Installment 23

It's time for the October edition of this sports performance training series. I've been doing a lot of early off-season evaluations for pro guys, so a lot of conversations and assessments on that front are at the top of my mind.

1. Communication can be good and bad.

One of the biggest complaints I hear from professional athletes about their "employing" organizations is that the communication isn't good. They get mixed messages from different coaches and don't know where they stand on a variety of things. More than any of the amenities they could request, they really just want everyone to be on the same page and for the plan of attack to be related to them - and with frequent updates.

Interestingly, though, in the gym, athletes (especially more advanced athletes) usually want you to communicate less. They need clear, concise coaching cues so that you don't overwhelm them or kill the training environment with "nit-picking." Too much communication can actually be just as problematic as too little.

If you look at the typical training session for one of our athletes, I think you'd find that 80% of all the words spoken occur during the arrival, warm-up, and post-training cooldown periods. During the training session, it's time to get after it. Those 20% of words are implemented tactfully.

2. Many athletes don't have "clean" hip extension - and your exercise selection should reflect that.

Around this time last year, I posted this video of an MLB pitcher who was just starting up with us:

After seeing quite a few guys who look like this, it's really made me reconsider whether going directly to a Bulgarian split squat (rear-foot-elevated split squat) in these guys is a good bet in the early stages of the offseason. This exercise requires a lot of not only hip extension range of motion, but also the core stability to make sure that ROM is actually used (the concept of relative stiffness in action). This is something we touched on on in Mike Reinold and my recent release, Functional Stability Training: Optimizing Movement

With all this in mind, I've been using more regular split squats - which require less hip extension range-of-motion - in the first month of the offseason for even some of our advanced guys as they work to reestablish cleaner lumbopelvic movement strategies in the early off-season. That said, regular split squats can be a little harder on the trailing leg toes than the rear-foot-elevated version, so individualization (as always) is super important.

3. Sometimes, efficient transfer of force - and not joint-specific coaching - delivers the good positions for which you're looking.

I've often written about how we have both specific and general assessments in our training arsenal, but it's actually somewhat of a continuum. Specific assessments would be more along the lines of classic joint range-of-motion measurements. Shoulder abduction or flexion would be slightly more general, as these screens involve multiple joints. Finally, an overhead squat, overhead lunge walk, or push-up would all be very general screens that look at multiple joints and help to evaluate how well an athlete transfers forces.

Interestingly, though, very often, we see coaches and rehabilitation specialists who only have specific correctives even though they utilize a load of general assessments. The goal should be to ultimately get athletes to the point that efficient movement on general tasks delivers the positions you're hoping to safely achieve. As an example, we will use wall slide variations as part of our warm-ups to teach athletes how to get upward rotation of the scapula. A progression would be landmine press variations; usually in half-kneeling or standing:

Eventually, though, athletes are ready to "sync" these movements up in a scenario where transfer of force from the lower body up through the core and to the arm allows that upward rotation to happen.

In short, a good reminder is:

[bctt tweet="As is the case with your assessments, your correctives should range from specific to general."]

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 10/17/16

I hope everyone had a great weekend. I made my second Massachusetts-to-Florida drive over the weekend. I was going crazy not being able to watch playoff baseball, but I did manage to crush some audiobooks and podcasts along the way.

EC on the Jim Laird Show - I really enjoyed being interviewed in Jim's podcast, and feel like we covered a lot of great stuff.

ADHD Nation - I listened to this audiobook on my ride from MA to FL over the weekend, and it was eye-opening, to say that least. One statistic that really blew my mind: there are over 10,000 2-3 year-olds in the U.S. who are on some kind of ADHD medication.


The Absolute Worst Fitness Trend - This is a T-Nation compilation to which I contributed. There are some really good observations here.

Top Tweet of the Week -

Top Instagram Post of the Week


Not too shabby. #elitebaseball #cspfamily

A photo posted by Cressey Sports Performance (@cresseysportsperformance) on

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Strength Strategies – Installment 3

I figured it'd be a good time to add another installment to this series, as today is the last day of the sale on Greg Robins and my resource, The Specialization Success Guide. Through midnight tonight (Sunday), you can save 40% by entering the coupon code ROBINS at checkout HERE.

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Here are six strategies to help you in your strength pursuits:

1. Be a beltless badass.

My wife has a very good deadlift for someone who's never competed in powerlifting; she's pulled close to 300 pounds, which is about 2.5 times her body weight. What's most impressive to me, though, is that even when she gets up to 95-100% of her best deadlift, her form never breaks down. This has a lot to do with consistent coaching early on, and the right pace to progressions over the ten years I've known her.

That said, I also think that it has a ton to do with never wearing a lifting belt. Seriously, she has never put on one. Likewise, I have athletes who have been with us for close to a decade who have never worn one, either. I'm a big believer:

[bctt tweet="Optimal long-term technique and strength success is built on a beltless foundation."]

Interesting, on this point, I reached out to Cressey Sports Performance coach Tony Bonvechio, who coaches our women's powerlifting team. He said that most of his novice lifters will gain about 20% on their squat and deadlifts by wearing a belt.

Conversely, Tony himself gets about 9%, and I'm slightly less than that (6-7%). I reached out to some very accomplished lifters, and after crunching the numbers between raw and belted PRs, none of them were over 10% difference.

To this end, I think a big training goal should be to reduce the "Belt Deficit." Training beltless is a great way to make sure that "ugly strength" doesn't outpace technique in beginning lifters, and it can also be a hugely helpful training initiative for more advanced lifters who may have become too reliant on this implement.

2. Don't be afraid to gain some weight.

Make no mistake about it; you can improve strength without gaining weight. It can, however, be like trying to demolish a 30-story building with an ice pick instead of dynamite. 

I've had some success as lightweight (165-181-pound class) lifter, but this can be misleading because there have been multiple times in my lifting career when I've pushed calories to make strength gains come faster. In the fall of 2003, for instance, I went from 158 up to 191, and then cut back to a leaner 165. In the summer of 2006, I got up to 202, then back down to the mid 180s. These weight jumps made me much more comfortable supporting heavy weights in the squat and bench press, as a little body weight goes a long way on these lifts.


3. Learn to evaluate progress in different ways.

Traditionally, powerlifters have only cared about evaluating progress with the "Big 3" lifts. Unfortunately, those aren't going to improve in every single training session. To some degree, the Westside system of powerlifting works around this by rotating "Max Effort" exercises - but even with rotating exercises, it's still an approach that relies on testing maximal strength on a very regular basis. Occasionally, it'll lead to disappointments even over the course of very successful training cycles.

For this reason, we always encourage individuals to find different ways to monitor progress. Tracking bar speed can be great, whether you have technology to actually do it, or you're just subjectively rating how fast you're lifting. A lower rating of perceived exertion (RPE) at a given weight would also indicate progress.

Volume based measures are also useful. Hitting a few more reps with the same weight during your assistance work is invaluable; those reps add up over the course of a longer training cycle. Also, making a training session more dense (more work in the same or less amount of time) can yield great outcomes.

Looking for more strength strategies or - better yet - programs to take the guesswork out of things for you? Check out The Specialization Success Guide, a resource for those specifically focused on improving the squat, bench press, and deadlift. Through the end of the day today, you can enter the coupon code ROBINS to save 40% off the normal price.

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The “Power Couple” Sale

This weekend is going to be a fun one for the Cressey Sports Performance family, as long-time staff member Greg Robins marries his wonderful fiancée, Taryn. When you combine Greg's 685-pound deadlift with Taryn's 320-pound deadlift, you quickly realize that a 1,000-pound combined pull makes them the very definition of a "power couple."


Greg was also my co-creator The Specialization Success Guide, so it seemed like a perfect week to have a Power Couple Sale (because weddings are all about cheesy hashtags and taglines). This 100% digital product is a great resource for those looking to specifically improve the squat, bench press, or deadlift. Just enter the coupon code ROBINS (all CAPS) to receive a 40% discount at checkout at the following link:


SSG (1)

This sale ends Sunday, October 16 at midnight. Again, that coupon code is ROBINS. Congratulations, Greg and Taryn!

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 9/10/16

It's been a hectic week in South Florida with Hurricane Matthew preparations on top of the baseball off-season, but we lucked out as the storm moved past us in Jupiter before coming ashore further North. Hopefully all our readers in Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas are safe and sound! 

That said, here's a little content to get the week going:

Elevation Training Masks: An Analysis - I've been meaning to write a similar post up for a long time, but suffice it to say that I never got around to it. Luckily, Doug Kechijian made it happen and did a great job. Elevation masks are a waste of time and money - and have potentially negative side effects.

Gym Owner Musings: Installment 2 - My business partner, Pete Dupuis, discusses a few of the lessons we've learned in running Cressey Sports Performance for the past 9+ years. I think point #3 on early-stage "learning by doing."

The Ideal Business Podcast with John Berardi - Dr. John Berardi was been a great friend and mentor to me, and he shares some awesome business development wisdom in this podcast with Pat Rigsby. I thought the portion of the interview where he talks about the importance of saying "No" was particularly intriguing (and an area in which I need to improve!). 

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Culture, Social Facilitation, and Strength and Conditioning Success

Last week, in the midst of a great conversation with a college pitching coach who is a good friend of mine, he said something to the effect of, "You guys do a great job of creating a culture where guys want to work hard to get better."

Culture. That word seems to pop up in almost every discussion I have, whether it's on the training or business aspect of things in the strength and conditioning field. And, it seems to pop up a ton of time at this time of year with playoff baseball, the NFL and NCAA football regular seasons, and NBA pre-season all in swing. 

[bctt tweet="There's no recipe for an ideal culture, but if yours is poor, you'll probably have terrible results."]

Everyone talks about how Joe Maddon drives a clubhouse culture where guys have fun and play relaxed - and the Cubs have won 100 games. The New York Times celebrated his "Zaniness" earlier this year in a detailed article.

Meanwhile, Bill Belichick drives a culture of preparation, accountability to the team, and personal responsibility ("Do your job."). The Patriots have won four Super Bowls during his tenure, and he's 3-1 in the 2016-17 season without Tom Brady under center. I'd highly recommended you read this fantastic collection of quotes from his players and coaching peers.

Source: Keith Allison

From the outside, Maddon and Belichick couldn't be more different, yet they have both had tremendous outcomes. Each culture is unique and successful for different reasons. As my business partner, Pete Dupuis, has written, there is no single recipe for a great culture - and it actually might have subtle changes depending on time of day. Our gym culture is very different when our adult strength camps are running at 5:30AM, as compared to a crew of professional baseball players getting after it at noon. If you look the Wikipedia entry on culture, they cite anthropologist E.B. Tylor as defining it as "that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society." In other words, there are plenty of different ways one can tinker with it to suit their liking - whether this tinkering actually improves the culture or not.

With that said, I do think we can look at commonalities of success. And, there are three things that I think every successful culture shares:

1. Good People

As has been often said in the fitness world and beyond, "They don't care what you know until they know that you care." This is why some corporate and athletic cultures improve dramatically just by getting "bad apples" out of the mix. I call it "addition by subtraction" - and it's one reason why we look really heavily at "fit" on the personality front before bringing someone into Cressey Sports Performance family as a staff member or intern.


On this front, here's an outstanding article on this front: Why Investments in the Right People - Not Analytics or Scouting - is Key to the Texas Rangers' Success. Very simply, people deliver the systems, and your perfect programming and pristine facility won't matter if you don't have great coaches using them.

I think Josh McDaniels (Offensive Coordinator with the Patriots) is an awesome example. From the outside, he seems like the complete opposite of Belichick. McDaniels is a younger, high-energy, super emotional guy. However, maybe it just works so well because Belichick understand how to complement his skill set and personality - and they both work well together because of a common vision of continuous improvement. This leads us to...

2. Dedication to Continuous Improvement

As I look around the country at the most successful strength and conditioning facilities, companies in other industries, and sports teams, the thing that stands out to me the most is innovation. Whether it's Apple always trying to improve on its product offering, Amazon taking convenience to a whole new level, Joe Maddon employing never-before-seen defensive shift approaches, or the Patriots finding creative ways to use their personnel, the best are always finding ways to differentiate themselves from the competition.

Regardless of your industry, it's really easy to get comfortable and stop innovating, or to drift away from the practices that made you successful in the first place. The best cultures preserve the good while always finding ways to bring up their weaknesses. 

3. Targeted Approaches to Social Facilitation

Referencing Wikipedia again, social facilitation "is the tendency for people to perform differently when in the presence of others than when alone. Compared to their performance when alone, when in the presence of others, they tend to perform better on simple or well-rehearsed tasks and worse on complex or new ones."

"Facilitation" is a bit of a misnomer, though, as it implies that performance gets easier or better in front of crowds. For this reason, social facilitation is often referred to as the "audience effect" instead.

In a strength and conditioning culture, social facilitation can be wildly important and helpful. It's the loud music and energetic training partners you want around when you're trying to set a personal record. It may also be the driven individuals around which you want your impressionable teenage son training in order to foster habits that will lead to long-term success in sports and life.


It can be easily problematic, though, too. Putting a rehabbing athlete in a high energy environment can force him to skip steps in his return-to-play progressions. Likewise, some individuals who are new to exercise may be intimidated in these environments. Having lots of eyes on an athlete who is learning a new skill may put too much pressure on this situation for optimal learning to occur. Finally, social facilitation tells us why a 350-pound offensive lineman probably isn't going to be sold on a 120-pound female training him, and why a 14-year-old female gymnast isn't going to be too keen on a 300-pound monster with a 500-pound bench press training her.

For this reason, the best coaches, leaders, and business owners understand how to specifically target social facilitation to drive athletic and business success. 

Culture vs. Systems

A few years ago, a strength and conditioning coach from another facility came to observe at our Massachusetts location, and she remarked to me, "I love your business model!" Apparently, at the facility at which she worked, it was a "one program on the dry erase board" model where coaches would wind up coaching large volumes of athletes through the same exercises all day. She liked the fact that our coaches had a lot of autonomy; they interacted with a wide variety of clients and coached dozens of unique programs each day.

What she might not have realized is that our business model would fail miserably with the wrong people. If I had incompetent coaches who weren't able to work across multiple populations or able to think on their feet, they'd really struggle. And, if they weren't dedicated to continuing education and always delivering the best quality product, we'd be forced to use more "mundane" programming. She actually really liked the Cressey Sports Performance training and coaching cultures; the business model is just structured to allow them to shine through.

[bctt tweet="Systems are important, but it's your culture that determines whether those systems actually work."]

In the aforementioned article's title, Bill Belichick is referred to as the "Greatest Enigma in Sports." I don't think there is anything puzzling about his success, though - especially after reading this article. He's an immensely driven person who is wilding committed to avoiding complacency, and he surrounds himself with people who are like him in this regard - but complement his personality in other ways. Then, he uses social facilitation to foster an environment of continuous improvement and accountability to the team. That's one approach to a great recipe for a winning culture over multiple decades.

However, what flies in the NFL might fail miserably in MLB, the collegiate realm, or the private sector of strength and conditioning. The trick is for you to find the right mix that works for you in establishing the right culture in your world. 

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 10/3/16

I just finished the 23-hour drive down to Jupiter, Florida from Massachusetts, the Patriots lost yesterday, and I got crushed in Fantasy Football. In other words, you could say that it was a rough weekend - but I certainly won't. Why? Playoff baseball is kicking off this week, so things are looking awesome!  How awesome is this time of year? Speaking of awesome, here's some great reading from around the web from the past week:

Having an Approach to Having an Approach - In case you missed it, here's a guest post I wrote up for my business partner, Pete Dupuis.  First impressions really matter, and these are some strategies to make the most of them.

The Like Switch - I listened to this audiobook on my ride down to FL, and found it pretty interest. Dr. Jack Schafer is a retired FBI agent, and he discussed a lot of tactics he used in everything from befriending spies, to interrogating suspects, to reading people. As a coach, it made me realize that we can enhance our coaching and rapport-building efforts with some non-verbal adjustments. And, as a speaker, it gave me some ideas on how to "read" audiences. I'd definitely recommend it regardless of your line of work.


The Physical Preparation Podcast with Chris Chase - I covered this on my drive as well; Mike Robertson interviewed Atlanta Hawks Athletic Performance Coach Chris Chase, and it was outstanding. This is a really good listen on both the off-season and in-season training side of things.

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How to Determine If An Athlete Should Olympic Lift

Today's guest post comes from Wil Fleming, who just released his excellent Certified Weightlifting Performance Coach course, which is currently being offered at an introductory for $100 off discount. 

Eight years ago, when I first opened my business, if you had asked me "Which athletes should Olympic lift?", I would have answered:

“Anyone with a pulse.”

While my vigor and passion for the Olympic lifts as a training tool have only grown, my group of athletes that immediately begin weightlifting movements has grown smaller. I still believe that most athletes can benefit greatly from the Olympic lifts, and have seen it happen hundred and hundreds of times, but I have developed a system and an eye for who should be weightlifting.


Below are the four considerations that I go through with my athletes to determine who is ready to do the Olympic weightlifting movements.

1. Assess

The first and simplest step in determining if an athlete should Olympic lift is to assess their movement ability prior to starting. As any competent trainer/coach knows that assessment prior to training is important no matter the goal.

There are plenty of different tools for assessment based on your background, and needs as a coach. Similarly, with athletes looking to Olympic lift, I want to see a variety of screens passed before I say “let’s go do some cleans.”

We have several screens or assessment tests that we use to determine if an athlete can A) Olympic lift B) do it well.

The one that coaches are most familiar with would be the FMS active straight leg raise test. This is a gross simplification of the test and the desired outcome, but the athlete starts in supine and lifts one leg as high as they can go. We want to see a score of 2 or 3, in FMS terms, to green light the athlete for hinging into hang Olympic weightlifting movements.


So why exactly are we concerned about the FMS score for an ASLR?

First off, hinging is a vital component to an athlete’s ability to perform an Olympic lift or any derivative. In setting up on the back, the athlete has nearly all variables taken out of the hip flexion, or hip hinge equation. This position is the simplest form of hip flexion we can achieve and if an athlete is unable to score a 2 or 3, it would be pretty poor judgment to believe that they can get in a good hinging position while loaded with a barbell and additional weight. Could I absolutely get them in a good position with lots of coaching? Probably, but I would not risk the potential for compensatory patterns popping up.

No, 2 or 3? It’s cool. We can develop better hip flexion through a variety of correctives and get the athlete Olympic lifting if they have numbers 2-4 down.

2. Pre-Requisites

Going into high school, you weren’t thrust right into calculus or rocket science class (is that a class?). No, instead you got your basics in multiplication and algebra, or chemistry and physics.

Similarly, weightlifting movements are pretty advanced to perform. Now, I’m not going to compare them to calculus or rocket science, but there’s more going on than in the dumbbell curl.

Pre-requisites, at the very least, allow you to speak the same language. When coaching the Olympic lifts, it is extremely helpful to be able to refer to other movements to which the athlete is somewhat familiar. “Jump,” “squat,” and “hinge” all work a lot better when the athlete knows to what you are referring.

In this case, we need some pre-requisites to Olympic lifting. Fortunately, they aren’t as difficult as chemistry was.

First is the ability to squat. I’m not referring to a particular amount of weight, but just the capacity to do a pretty good looking squat and maintain balance across the foot for the entire movement. Ideally, we have exposed them to a front squat of some sort. This is going to allow the athlete to receive the barbell in the clean or snatch.

I teach all my athletes the hang power clean first. While I am not looking for an athlete to squat all the way under to receive it, I do want to see them understand how to retreat the hips when accepting load.

Next up is hinging. The athlete should be able to do a good looking RDL with a kettlebell or barbell. I want to see an athlete understand balance (again), unlocked knees, and hips going backwards. If we don’t prepare an athlete with the ability to hinge, we end up with athletes that clean by jumping a foot forward. Set them up for success by teaching the hinge first.

Lastly, we need some knowledge of plyometrics. The athlete should be able to jump and land. We are primarily concerned with jumping from a hip width stance (the same one we use for pulling in the clean or snatch) and landing in a shoulder width stance (the same one we want when receiving the bar).


If all three of these things are knocked out, then an athlete is ready to learn the Olympic lifts.

3. Athlete Needs

In its most basic sense, we look at the energy system demands and strength/power demands of the sport in which the athlete is competing. From that information, we must determine whether the athlete would benefit from adding Olympic lifts to that equation.

Olympic lifts fall on a particular portion of the force velocity curve that mean they maximize power output. Generally this number is around 60-80% of max force, exactly where heavy Olympic lifts tend to rest. In other words, getting an athlete proficient in the Olympic lifts will help the athlete develop a much higher power output, resulting in improved testing measures (vertical jump, broad jump, 10 yd sprint time), and improved on court/field performance.

If the athlete competes in a sport that values those attributes – which is effectively almost every sport – then you have passed the next step to determine whether an athlete should Olympic lift.

4. Sport Demands

Determining the demands of the sport will be the final hurdle. Specifically, what are common movements in the sport, and would using the Olympic lifts unnecessarily add to the trauma that the sport causes?

Being that you are on Eric Cressey’s website I can imagine it would be heresy to say that baseball players SHOULD snatch, and don’t worry: I’m not going to. If that’s where your brain took you, then we are on the same page.

We look at two things when it comes to sport demands. The first is the actual sport, and then we look at the athlete’s level/training age.

To take the baseball player for example, the snatch will typically be eliminated. This is not because of inherent danger, but rather that some of the more extreme ranges of motion in the snatch may create issues in a population with a combination of structural changes and accumulated fatigue that could lead to problems. Similarly, for our population of swimmers we don’t snatch due to the accumulated fatigue most swimming strokes cause.

That said, the clean doesn’t have the same level of incidence of shoulder issues that the snatch does (see this study), so in the eyes of many, the criteria for baseball or swimming would be passed.

Our next set of questions arises when we look at the age or experience level of the athlete. When we have had pro baseball players in the gym, and particularly under a limited time frame, we often choose to not use the clean in their training. Many times these athletes have no experience with the clean, but have trained for a number of years; at this point we are introducing a completely new skill to an already highly skilled athlete.

Will there be power production improvements? Most likely.

Will that mean they are better professional baseball players? Probably not.

The case of the high school baseball player is much different. I likely have a lot more time (years, potentially) with them. Their training age is fairly young, they’re often multi-sport athletes, and the benefits of increased power production are incredible.


Once these four hurdles are cleared, an athlete is likely ready and able to Olympic lift. That doesn’t mean you are ready to start them on that path. You have to have a repeatable and simple method for teaching the lifts to your athletes, and you have to have a method for identifying and correcting mistakes early and often. If you don’t,then I would highly suggest you don’t worry about teaching the lifts; it’s probably not worth it for your or your athletes’ time.

If you do or don’t, but want to learn my system for teaching thousands of athletes how to use weightlifting movements to become better athletes, please consider checking out my new resource, the Certified Weightlifting Performance Coach course.


Note from EC: I’ve gone through Wil’s course myself; it’s very thorough and a continuing education option I’d highly recommend, especially with it being on sale through October 7. You can learn more HERE.

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