Home 2009 October (Page 3)

The Biggest Mistake Pro Baseball Players Make?

The other day, I got to chatting with Tim Collins and Matt Kramer, two of Cressey Performance's longest tenured pro baseball guys.  These two guys were among my first pro baseball guys to get back from the long season and start up training.  Tim's notorious for getting back in the gym just a day or two after his season ends!


We were discussing baseball development, and one of them mentioned that one of his teammates had just commented on how he was taking a few weeks off and then was going to start training again.  Keep in mind that this conversation took place on October 1, and just about every minor league baseball team wrapped things up on September 7 (playoffs excluded).  While some guys were called up to play at high levels, and others shipped off to instructionals or the Arizona Fall League, most guys went straight home. Now, "home" is a big improvement from the typical professional baseball lifestyle, which (as I described here) consists of a lot of late nights, long bus rides, unhealthy food, alcohol, and (specific to the topic at hand) erratic training.


In most cases, the weight rooms aren't even close to adequate.  And, obviously, you can never have a great training stimulus in-season; guys just do what they can to "get by."  Yes, they "get by" for almost seven months per year - which obviously makes the other five months incredibly important. Now, if someone takes an extra month off after the season, he's only getting 80% of the benefit of the off-season that his teammates are getting.  In a sport where only 3% of draft picks make it to the big leagues, if I'm a prospect, I don't like my chances if I only have 80% of the preparation of those around me. Let's do the math on that for a guy who gets released after three years in the minor leagues.  That's three months of preparation down the tubes.  Next, consider how many guys who have COMPLETELY OVERHAULED their physiques and performance in preparing for the NFL combine in less than three months. Last off-season, we put 17 pounds of meat on one of our pitchers (and he got leaner!) between November 11 and February 20. He looked like a completely different person - in just three months and nine days.  His broad jump went up ten inches and vertical jump up 4.3 inches in spite of this big jump in body weight, meaning that he improved in both relative and absolute power.  This is not uncommon at all in the baseball guys with whom I've worked, particularly those who were drafted out of high school and never got the benefit of college strength and conditioning. All that said, in my eyes, guys should be back in the gym as soon as possible after the season ends - even if it's just a few days per week.  Simply getting the ball rolling on the endocrine, immunological, and rehabilitative benefits of strength training will do wonders in itself.  Getting started on improving soft tissue quality and addressing mobility/stability deficits is also tremendously valuable, as it paves the way for better training as the December-February "crunch time."  These guys can take a week to gather their thoughts, and then get back to work; otherwise, they'll have more vacation time when they're out of work!

Truth be told, it's one of just a few common mistakes we see, and this could be applied to just about any professional sport; I just chose baseball because it's what I see the most.  Of course, the guys who probably ought to be reading this are the ones who are probably sitting poolside sipping martinis, or cuddling up in their snuggies and then having Mom's homemade pancakes for breakfast at 1PM!

(For the record, I worked really hard to resist the temptation to insert the "In a Snuggie Rap" video here.  Search for it on Youtube, if you're interested.)

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Random Friday Thoughts: 10/2/09

1. You may recall that last Friday, I mentioned that my staff and I had Chris Frankel from TRX come in to do a mini-seminar at Cressey Performance.  This week, I'm just here to tell you that it was fantastic!  We picked up some excellent new exercises and techniques that'll definitely help out our athletes.  If you haven't picked up a TRX already, I'd highly recommend you check them out: TRX Suspension Training.


2. As a follow-up to my interview with Alwyn Cosgrove on the business of personal training earlier this week, you absolutely HAVE to check out this blog post from Thomas Plummer, widely regarded as the authority on the business of fitness.  It's not only spot-on, but also absolutely hilarious: The Medical Community Doesn't Get What We Do (if you haven't read any of Thomas Plummer's stuff, I highly recommend The Business of Fitness) 3. I never realized that left-handed pants were such a life-changer. 4. The other day, I promised A's pitching prospect Shawn Haviland that I could get him above the 60 hits per day mark with a single link to his blog.  So, check him out; there is actually some excellent stuff in there if you're a baseball fan: Ivy League to MLB. 5. Enjoy the weekend; this kid's got a feeling it's going to be a good one.

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Scapular Wall Slide Technique

Last week's video of the week was the scapular wall slide.  After it was posted, I got quite a few questions in the comments section, so I figured I'd devote today's blog to answering those questions.  In case you missed the original video, here it is again: Q: In the wall slide, do you try to keep the wrists and back of the hands flush to the wall? I noticed that the demonstrator did not. A: No, that's not mandatory.  If someone lacks glenohumeral (shoulder ball-and-socket) range-of-motion or can't effectively posterior tilt/depress the scapulae, it'd require extra arching of the lower back to get the hands flush to the wall.  I generally tell folks to focus solely on scapular movement; the hands-to-the-wall will come over time as flexibility improves.  Scapular wall slides can still be extremely valuable even if you can't get your hands to the wall. Q: Any advice on how much to let the small of the back round? A: I'm assuming you mean "arch."  My response would be that you should just set your body in "normal" alignment first, and then worry about the arm positioning.  Those with bigger butts may have a little bit more arching, but I don't really worry too much about this, as I'm purely concerned with scapular movement.  It really doesn't matter to me whether your feet are 2" from the wall or 12" as long as you're getting your lower traps firing and opening up the pec, anterior delt, and subscapularis.
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