Written on March 5, 2010 at 10:37 am, by Eric Cressey
Today marks the end of one of the funnest “eras” of my life.
Back on September 9, we officially kicked off the pro baseball off-season with Tim Collins’ arrival at Cressey Performance for his first training session of the off-season. Coming off a great season that included a promotion to Double-A at age 20 and a Blue Jays organizational pitcher of the year award, Tim was ready to get after it – and that’s exactly what he did. From that day in September through February 6 (when he was called to Florida for mini-camp), Tim added 21 pounds to his frame while getting leaner – and increased his vertical jump by four inches (to 37.9 inches).
Tim was one of over 30 pro guys we had this winter. Results were typical.
Chad Rodgers (Atlanta Braves organization) went from 206 to 233 while adding just under three inches to his vertical jump. And he dominated “No Shave November.”
Jeremiah Bayer (Red Sox organization) packed on muscle mass faster than just about any athlete I’ve ever seen – to the tune of 13 pounds in only two months – while adding an inch to his vertical. That’s a 5.6% improvement in predicted peak power in a short amount of time – and one that is carrying over to the mound already.
Heck, Pat Bresnehan packed on 14 pounds and jumped 37.5 inches (a 6.3 inch) improvement – and got himself signed by the Mariners – after coming to us in the latter phases of his rehab period!
Craig Albernaz (Rays organization) increased his vertical jump by over five inches while adding seven pounds before heading to big league camp – and this is a guy who has always struggled to put on any weight, let alone good weight!
Cory Riordan (Rockies) and Steve Cishek (Marlins) win the awards for the longest commutes to train. Cory drove two hours to CP, and two hours home to Connecticut to get in his work with us – and he’s got a new body and a lot more athleticism to show for it. Cishek wasn’t far behind with his 1 hour, 45 minute commute from Cape Cod four times a week all the way up through January. I can say without wavering that both of them would tell you that the ride was 100% worth it.
Two other Braves guys – Derick Himpsl and Matt Kramer – also put in some great work that is already carrying over to the field.
Zach Piccola’s headed to White Sox camp with a great few months of training under his belt alongside free agent Nick Asselin. Jim Fuller (Mets) committed himself to train like he never had before, and looks fantastic now. Another Mets guy, Tim Stronach, has busted his hump to get better alongside his rehabilitation from shoulder surgery.
Kevin Youkilis had a great off-season as well – due in part to his love of pushing the sled. So far this spring, Youk’s looked good (much better than his strength coach, as is shown below), and we’re excited about the Red Sox season ahead.
Will Inman (Padres), Phil Negus (White Sox), and Kevin Nolan (Blue Jays) put in a great few months in the fall, and Steve Hammond (Giants), Kevin Pucetas (Giants), Nick McBride (Rangers), Benji Johnson (Braves), Matt Morizio (Royals), Justin Edwards (Cardinals), and Howie Clark (Blue Jays) made the most of all their visits to Boston this winter.
And, some “distance-based” guys of mine – Chad Jenkins (Blue Jays) and Anthony “A-Tan” Seraterelli (Royals) – made some excellent progress by following everything to a “T.” A-Tan, Howie, and Morizio even made a hilarious video about their experiences (a joke, FYI):
One athlete, though, stepped it up big time on Thursday to set himself apart from all the rest. Tim Kiely (Angels) added 11 pounds and seven inches to his vertical jump, but his biggest claim to fame is that he took home the Gold in the first ever Cressey Performance Elite Baseball Olympics on the last day. Granted, the “Olympics” were limited to five participants who collectively agreed to not tell the most athletic guys of the bunch about the event ahead of time – but that doesn’t mean that the boys didn’t bring their A games! The Silver (5-lb) went to CP pitching coach Matt Blake, and the Bronze (2.5-lb) went to free agent Alex Szymanski. Shawn Haviland (A’s) finished fourth, but he has a Harvard degree, and probably would have won if Sabermetrics trivia and word searches had been part of the contest. Here’s the much-anticipated medal ceremony:
I am not sure where the championship belt fit in, but the entire day didn’t make much sense, so it seemed right. Congratulations, Tim.
From these videos, a lot of people might think that we’re all about goofing around – but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Our guys have a good time, for sure, but it always comes after they’ve busted their butts in the gym. And, frankly, if we didn’t have such great camaraderie and the guys weren’t such good friends, the motivation to train would never approach the level it has. A good culture and outstanding results absolutely, positively go hand-in-hand.
Most of my writing on this blog is obviously geared toward educating folks on the training, research, nutrition, and other geeky science stuff. However, I should make it absolutely clear that all the knowledge in the world in these regards won’t matter if you don’t have a good culture established for your athletes and clients. They need to enjoy training and look forward to each and every session because they enjoy the process as much as the destination.
They need to be willing to come to you to critique the best man’s toast they’ve written (happened this winter). They need to feel comfortable staying at your place if they’re in town for a few days (happened multiple times this winter). They need to feel welcome spending Thanksgiving with your family (two of my athletes came home with me this past November). And, they need to respect you enough as a person to value your opinion as a professional. As the saying goes, they don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
That’s why most of our pro guys train six days a week from September/October all the way up until now, whereas many other places pro guys frequent consist of 3x/week “workouts” for the 4-6 weeks before spring training starts. And, I feel like it is one of many things that differentiates us from our competition (whatever that may be). We are about making athletes better, not just “working them out.”
I’m proud of all our guys not only for their hard work this off-season, but for taking an ownership stake in Cressey Performance to make it something special now and in the future.
Thanks for an awesome 5+ months, guys. We can’t wait to do it again.
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used by Cressey Performance Pitchers after they Throw!