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The Best of 2019: Podcasts

In 2019, I finally took the plunge in starting a long overdue CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast. It's been a ton of time and effort, but the awesome feedback has made it worth it. Here are our top five episodes from the year:

1. Sparing the Spine with Dr. Stuart McGill - This might be a baseball podcast, but the world's most prolific spine researcher won't disappoint on any medium! Stu was outstanding and this is one for the ages.

2. To Ice or Not to Ice with Gary Reinl - Icing is a hot (terrible pun) topic in the sports medicine world. Gary touched on where this common practice began, and how we need to rethink its use.

3. Corey Kluber - The two-time Cy Young winner was our first podcast guest and didn't disappoint.

4. Making Nutritional Changes Stick with Dr. John Berardi - JB is one of the brightest nutritional minds out there, but he's also one of the best at understanding how to get through to people to create behavioral changes and, in turn, long-term success.

5. Building a Better Throwing Program with Alan Jaeger - This was a really fun discussion with Alan Jaeger that covered not only how to construct individualized throwing programs, but also how athletes can be advocates for their careers.

We're back to the regular EricCressey.com content this week. Thanks for all your support in 2019! We've got some great stuff planned for 2020.

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The Best of 2019: Baseball Articles

With baseball athletes being the largest segment of the Cressey Sports Performance athletic clientele, it seems only fitting to devote a "Best of 2019" feature to the top baseball posts from last year. Check them out:

1. Vertical Shin and the Pitching Delivery - Vertical shin can be a powerful coaching point in the weight room, but it also has applications to putting pitchers in the right position to be successful on the mound. Check out this article to learn more.

2. Baseball Athleticism: It's Probably Not What You Think It Is - Not all "great athletes" make great baseball players, and not all great baseball players are what you'd call "great athletes." I did a little deeper on this topic in this article.

3. Should You Chase Shoulder External Rotation - And If So, How? - I often get questions on how pitchers can increase shoulder external rotation for throwing. The answer really depends on a few things, so here's a video to walk you through them.

4. Pitchers vs. Swimmers - I evaluated a baseball pitcher and swimmer on the same day in August. The markedly different assessment findings served as a great reminder that not all overhead athletes are created equal – both in terms of the demands of their sports and the way they adapt to those demands.

5. Coil in the Pitching Delivery: Friend or Foe? - Recently, I came across a picture of Nationals pitcher Patrick Corbin at the top of the leg lift in his delivery, and it got me to thinking about how the transverse plane can be your biggest ally or enemy in the pitching delivery.

We've got one last "Best of 2019" list running tomorrow, so stay tuned for the closer!

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The Best of 2019: Guest Posts

I've already highlighted the top articles and videos I put out at EricCressey.com in 2019, so now it's time for the top guest posts of the year. Here goes…

1. The Biggest Mistake in Program Design - Kevin Neeld, Head Performance Coach for the Boston Bruins, reminds us to make sure that our programs evolve as our knowledge and experience in the field accumulate.

2. 5 Non-Traditional Exercises for Catchers - CSP-Florida Director of Performance Tim Geromini works with all our catchers in Florida, and he's devised some creative ways to help them feel, move, and play better. This article includes a few of them.

3. 10 Reasons We Use Wall Slides - Wall slide variations are a mainstay in all of our upper body training and rehabilitation programs. Eric Schoenberg, who serves as the physical therapist at our Palm Beach Gardens, FL location, shares why that's the case.

4. 5 Great Kettlebell Exercises for Baseball Players - Dan Swinscoe is a great physical therapist in the Seattle area, and in this article, he shares some of the KB variations he likes to use with his baseball players.

5. Exercise of the Week: Side Bridge with Top Leg March - CSP-Massachusetts coach Cole Russo shared this great lateral core stability progression. We're using it a lot this offseason.

I'll be back soon with the top strength and conditioning features from 2019.

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The Best of 2019: Strength and Conditioning Videos

With my last post, I kicked off the "Best of 2019" series with my top articles of the year. Today, we'll highlight the top five videos of the year.

1. Glute-Ham Raise with Banded Reach

If you've followed this blog for any length of time, you'll know that I'm a big fan of training the posterior chain and also working on getting serratus anterior firing to improve scapular upward rotation. So, you can imagine how excited I am to present to you a video that hits both. Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard offered a great demo: 

2. Subscapularis 101

The subscapularis is the largest of the four rotator cuff muscles, but it might also be the most misunderstood. This excerpt from my Sturdy Shoulder Solutions resource will bring you up to speed on it.

3. 1-leg Dumbbell Pullover - The 1-leg dumbbell pullover is a nice variation on a classic. It’ll add a rotary stability challenge to what is normally considered an upper body and anterior core drill. I’m using this variation a bit more in the late offseason (with throwing volume and intensity ramping up), as you can get a good training effect with less external loading.

4. Half-kneeling Cable Lift with Flexion-Rotation Hold

The half-kneeling cable lift w/flexion-rotation hold is a new variation on an old drill, and we've been implementing it quite a bit with athletes this year. It's a creation of CSP-FL co-founder and pitching coordinator Brian Kaplan.

5. Landmine Squat to 1-arm Press

It's not secret that I love landmine presses, and this is a great progression. This drill fits well as a first exercise on a full body day and pairs well with horizontal or vertical pulling. I really like it late in the offseason when we’re trying to keep sessions a bit shorter and get extra bang for our training buck. I’d do sets of 3-5 reps per side.

I'll be back soon with the top guest posts of 2019!

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The Best of 2019: Strength and Conditioning Articles

With 2019 winding down, I'm using this last week of the year to direct you to some of the most popular content of the past 12 months at EricCressey.com, as this "series" has been quite popular over the past few years. Today, we start with the most popular articles of the year; these are the pieces that received the most traffic, according to my hosting statistics.

1. The Most Important Coaching Responsibility - Coaches are some of the most important influences in young athletes' lives on a number of fronts. In this post, I focused on what I believe to be the single most important responsibility of a coach.

2. 3 Thoughts for Getting the Glutes Going -This was a big hit with all the functional anatomy nerds out there.

3. The 4 Most Common Barbell Hip Thrust Technique Mistakes - I’m a fan of barbell hip thrusts. Like most exercises, though, there are some common technique pitfalls. Check them out in this article.

4. Mid-Week Movement Miscellany - This was a collection of random thoughts on movement that unexpectedly proved to be a big hit. I might have to turn it into a regular series.

5. Why Fitness Industry Hiring is Different Than What You Think It Is - The fitness industry is different than other industries on a number of fronts, and approaches to hiring are one such example. Here's why.

I'll be back soon with another "Best of 2019" feature. Up next, the top videos of the year!

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CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast: Kyle Hendricks

We're excited to welcome Chicago Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks to this week's podcast. A special thanks to this show's sponsor, Rawlings. We're ecstatic to announce a new partnership between Rawlings and Cressey Sports Performance, and they've set up a 20% off discount code on select products for our listeners. Just head to www.Rawlings.com and enter coupon code CRESSEY20 and you'll receive 20% off on your order. Certain items are excluded, but there's still a ton of great baseball training gear to make you a better player and coach.

Show Outline

  • Why Kyle chose to move across the country out of high school and attend Dartmouth College
  • How Kyle has developed his ability to manipulate the baseball to create movement
  • How Kyle worked diligently to develop his changeup and how players can better develop this feel pitch
  • How throwing a quality changeup actually helped Kyle learn to throw a two seam fastball
  • How grip, specifically pinky position on the baseball, impacted the effectiveness of his changeup
  • What Kyle’s thought process is when throwing his changeup and how late hand speed out front trumps early, forced pronation with the pitch
  • How Kyle developed a cut changeup, which is differentiated from his “regular” changeup
  • How Kyle approaches attacking hitters and why he emphasizes throwing first pitch strikes and controlling counts against hitters
  • Why Kyle’s four seam fastball usage increased in 2016 and why this change allowed him to have more margin for error and improve the effectiveness with his fastball
  • How Kyle learned to read swings and bat paths in pro ball and how this has influenced how he competes against hitters
  • How Kyle prepares by utilizing coaches’ scouting reports along with video to develop a plan for success against the opposition
  • Why Kyle has always been intrigued by the mental side of baseball and how he has used it to develop an edge in the game
  • How simplification has revolutionized Kyle’s ability to master his mentality, control the game, and play to his highest ability
  • Why Kyle works to find a balance between using analytics and relying on his intuition
  • What pitch clicks in the bullpen when Kyle is set to have a great game and how Kyle knows when he is locked in
  • How Kyle attacks throwing his various pitches in his daily throwing progression
  • How individuals who lack elite velocity can identify their strengths and learn to separate themselves from the competition

Sponsor Reminder

This episode is brought to you by Rawlings. If you want to develop faster, and train better, you need the best gear. Well, we have some good news for you. The #1 baseball brand in the world, Rawlings, has partnered with Cressey Sports Performance to make getting the best training gear for you more affordable. Simply head to www.Rawlings.com and use the code, CRESSEY20, at checkout and you’ll save 20% off your order! This offer is only valid on select items, but there’s a ton of great gear you’ll save 20% on that will help you become a better player, so shop now!

Podcast Feedback

If you like what you hear, we'd be thrilled if you'd consider subscribing to the podcast and leaving us an iTunes review. You can do so HERE.

And, we welcome your suggestions for future guests and questions. Just email elitebaseballpodcast@gmail.com.

Thank you for your continued support!

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 12/16/19

We skipped a week of recommended reading/listening, but the good news is that it gave me some time to stockpile some good stuff for you!

Trusting the New Coach: A Challenging Conversation with Clients - This might be my favorite article my business partner, Pete Dupuis, has ever written. That's because it's one of the biggest challenges our business has faced over the past 12 years, and he's navigated it masterfully. If you own or manage a training facility, this is a must-read.

Keith Baar on the Physical Preparation Podcast - Mike Robertson's interview with Keith was fascinating, as he's done some great research on tendon function and adaptation.

Adam Grant: The Man Who Does Everything - This was an outstanding podcast from Tim Ferriss with Adam Grant on the topic of time management. Regardless of your industry, you'll take away some great nuggets.

Top Tweet of the Week

Top Instagram Post of the Week

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CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast with Mike King

We're excited to welcome New York Yankees pitcher Mike King to this week's podcast. A special thanks to this show's sponsor, Athletic Greens. Head to http://www.athleticgreens.com/cressey and you'll receive a free 20-pack of Athletic Greens travel packets with your first order.

Show Outline

  • How being a multisport athlete from RI impacted Mike’s athletic development and why he is such a big advocate for playing basketball
  • How Mike managed his time his time and training in high school in order to always be prepared for the next sport in season
  • How learning to long toss properly and stretch out the arm taught Mike to feel intent and progress his ability to throw the ball efficiently
  • Why Mike chose to attend Boston College
  • What the culture was like at BC during Mike’s tenure there, and how it contributed to making them a competitive ACC team
  • How Jim Foster - an impactful pitching coach for Mike - facilitated relationships between his catchers and his pitchers and taught Mike important lessons about reading swings, calling pitches, and communicating
  • How Mike builds rapport and a high level of trust between his catchers in pro ball
  • How Mike has adopted an analytical approach for preparing to perform, and why he dives deep into data and video prior to games to inspire confidence
  • How Mike communicates with catchers in game to refine his approach from inning to inning and sequence his game to be efficient and effective
  • How gaining weight upon entering pro ball allowed Mike to experience a velocity jump
  • What Mike’s initial experience was like playing professionally for the Miami Marlins
  • What changed about Mike’s focus and perspective on development in the minor leagues after being traded to the Yankees that allowed him to feel comfortable and find success in 2018
  • How a conversation Mike had with Max Scherzer at CSP helped him figure out his slider
  • How Mike has developed his student-of-the-game approach and learned to apply analytics, physics, and biomechanics to improve his game
  • How Mike throws his laminar two-seam fastball and what laminar flow means for the movement of his two-seam
  • How Mike has learned to manage his hypermobility and what lessons has he learned about being loose jointed
  • How Mike exploits his mobility on the mound mechanically to create a unique look for hitters

You can follow Mike on Twitter at @7kinger14 and Instagram at @officialmikeking.

Sponsor Reminder

This episode is brought to you by Athletic Greens. It’s an all-in-one superfood supplement with 75 whole-food sourced ingredients designed to support your body’s nutrition needs across 5 critical areas of health: 1) energy, 2) immunity, 3) gut health, 4) hormonal support, and 5) healthy aging. Head to www.AthleticGreens.com/cressey and claim my special offer today - 20 FREE travel packs (valued at $79) - with your first purchase. I use this product daily myself and highly recommend it to our athletes as well. I'd encourage you to give it a shot, too - especially with this great offer.

Podcast Feedback

If you like what you hear, we'd be thrilled if you'd consider subscribing to the podcast and leaving us an iTunes review. You can do so HERE.

And, we welcome your suggestions for future guests and questions. Just email elitebaseballpodcast@gmail.com.

Thank you for your continued support!

Sign-up Today for our FREE Baseball Newsletter and Receive Instant Access to a 47-minute Presentation from Eric Cressey on Individualizing the Management of Overhead Athletes!

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CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast with Brad Miller

We're excited to welcome Philadelphia Phillies utility player Brad Miller to this week's podcast. A special thanks to this show's sponsor, Athletic Greens. Head to http://www.athleticgreens.com/cressey and you'll receive a free 20-pack of Athletic Greens travel packets with your first order.

Show Outline

  • Why Brad chose to attend Clemson University out of high school even though he was drafted by the Texas Rangers
  • What key competencies Brad lacked coming out of high school that made collegiate baseball the appropriate decision for his career
  • How high level collegiate baseball compares to the ranks of professional baseball
  • How Brad transitioned into affiliated baseball so smoothly out of college
  • What memorable moments and insightful lessons Brad recalls from playing in the big leagues for seven different organizations
  • How Brad became the valued utility player he is today after being drafted as a shortstop out of Clemson
  • How the athleticism needed at shortstop impacts a player’s ability to move into a utility role
  • How the perspective of a utility player has transformed in recent years in Major League Baseball and what opportunities this type of role offers a player, coach, and organization
  • What the hardest position was for Brad to learn as he moved into a utility role
  • How Brad was able to learn the ins and outs of being an outfielder as a ballplayer who grew up playing in the infield
  • How Brad prepares in-season to be ready to play any defensive position on any given day
  • What injuries Brad played through during the 2018 season that eventually led to him needing core muscle surgery and a hip labral surgery in order to come back for healthy for 2019
  • How asking for advice from former teammates and players who have gone through similar injuries proved to be influential in Brad’s rehab
  • What lessons Brad would give to any athlete who is about to have hip surgery
  • Why Brad chose to adjust his weight post-surgery to ease the pain on his joints and improve the longevity of his career
  • What players Brad likes to watch and learn from both defensively and offensively

Sponsor Reminder

This episode is brought to you by Athletic Greens. It’s an all-in-one superfood supplement with 75 whole-food sourced ingredients designed to support your body’s nutrition needs across 5 critical areas of health: 1) energy, 2) immunity, 3) gut health, 4) hormonal support, and 5) healthy aging. Head to www.AthleticGreens.com/cressey and claim my special offer today - 20 FREE travel packs (valued at $79) - with your first purchase. I use this product daily myself and highly recommend it to our athletes as well. I'd encourage you to give it a shot, too - especially with this great offer.

Podcast Feedback

If you like what you hear, we'd be thrilled if you'd consider subscribing to the podcast and leaving us an iTunes review. You can do so HERE.

And, we welcome your suggestions for future guests and questions. Just email elitebaseballpodcast@gmail.com.

Thank you for your continued support!

Sign-up Today for our FREE Baseball Newsletter and Receive Instant Access to a 47-minute Presentation from Eric Cressey on Individualizing the Management of Overhead Athletes!

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7 Small Business Saturday Sentiments

Every year at this time, as a way to celebrate entrepreneurs fighting the good fight in a retail world of corporate giants, "Small Business Saturday" is sandwiched right between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I love the concept, as I've been around small businesses my entire life. My father owned one, my in-laws had one, my brother owns one, my wife owns one, and I'm part of three separate LLCs myself.

I've always been fascinated by looking at what differentiates the ones that thrive from the ones that don't. This chart from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics is pretty sobering.

Having co-owned gyms for over 12 years now, I'm particularly intrigued about what makes small businesses successful in the fitness industry. Here are a few quick observations on fitness businesses that have "made it."

1. They prioritized systems early.

A lot of people get in to the gym business because they enjoy working out and think it'd be fun to run a fitness facility. The problem is that when you're just exercising, you fail to see all the behind the scenes that takes place to keep the trains running on time. The best businesses I've seen set up sustainable systems early so that they can handle growth without having to overhaul their operations.

2. They have a strong owner presence, especially early on.

I know the owner of a restaurant that opened in our town about nine months ago. It's a spot where we'll pick up a healthy dinner to go for the family about once a week, and I ate takeout from there pretty much non-stop when our daughter was born in March. Every time I've gone in - regardless of time of day - he's behind the counter. He interacts with customers, mentors employees, keeps an eye on the cleanliness of the place. It's a huge time investment, but it's the right thing to do to ensure quality control early on, and that systems and expectations of acceptable are established early on.

For some reason, the opposite of this commonly happens in the fitness industry. Many gym start-up owners think fitness businesses are far more "turn key" than they really are, so they take a lot more time away from the operation sooner in its existence. I know it was well over two years in business before my business partner, Pete, and I were both away from Cressey Sports Performance on the same day.

This number might be a bit extreme, but this statement isn't: a strong owner presence drives success on many fronts in any business, but particularly the fitness industry.

3. They compete on offering, not price.

Ask any mom-and-pop pharmacy that got crushed by Walmart in the past few decades how competing on price has worked out, and you'll understand where this is going. Just remember that in many small communities with five different bootcamp-style workout options, competing on price is the quickest way to the bottom. You're always better off differentiating yourself based on offering.

4. They drive business via marketable, differentiated skills - not just passion.

I've written extensively (here and here) on why I don't think passion for fitness alone is a good reason for starting a gym. The most successful fitness businesses out there have other things they do really well; passion just helps to deliver these benefits more consistently and with a better culture. Over the long term, it's hard to "out-passion" a terrible business model or poor training, though.

5. How they do one thing is how they do everything.

Any time I go into a new gym to train while I'm traveling, I take note of whether the person at the front desk (if there even is one), asks me to sign a waiver and health history. To me, it's kind of like a tripwire that alerts me to whether or not they have attention to detail in everything from equipment maintenance, to cleanliness, to staff education. If you're totally cool with overlooking something that important, you're probably missing a lot of other "big rocks."

6. They're authentic.

The staff at CSP and Mark Fisher Fitness have a host of awesome, decade-long friendships even though our client demographics are nothing alike: baseball players and Broadway performers, respectively. MFF's staff does a phenomenal job engaging their clients with crazy outfits, risqué jokes, and bright facility color schemes. These initiatives perform incredibly well for them, but would fail miserably for us with our baseball guys. Conversely, their clients aren't going to nerd out about fastball spin axis, scapular upward rotation, and positional breathing the way our baseball clients do. Both businesses are authentic to what they do well, but that doesn't mean our models are universally applicable across the industry. 

7. They're consistent.

Our landlord once said, "Your clients hire and fire you every day." It's a phrase that's really stuck with me. The best fitness businesses I've seen are the ones that don't have lulls in the client experience, facility look, or quality of training even though over time, all these things tend to "slide" if you let them. Earlier this week, I had my first sick day in 12 years of business, and it made me realize that it had less to do with an impressive immunity strategy, and more to do with the fact that I never want to miss an opportunity for us to get better. The attendance might be excessive, but the lesson can't possibly be overstated.

In wrapping up, I should mention that this small business is having some sales this weekend. Head HERE to learn more about our ongoing 25% off sale on many of my products; it wraps up Monday at midnight. Thanks for your support!

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LEARN HOW TO DEADLIFT
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