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Random Thoughts on Sports Performance Training – Installment 36

This edition random thoughts from around the field of health and human performance is long overdue. Fortunately, more of the world is online more than ever, so at least it'll have a good audience now!

1. Physical maturity and training experience impact pitching stress.

File this one under the "duh" category, but it's good to have a study supporting the concept nonetheless. In this study, Nicholson et al found that while pitching velocity was weakly related to shoulder distraction force, this relationship was only observed in high school (and not college) pitchers. The researchers noted, "These findings suggest that older pitchers may attenuate shoulder forces with increased pitch velocity due to physical maturity or increased pitching mechanical skill in comparison with younger pitchers."

Here's the position (ball release) to which they're referring:

I've seen research in the past that reported shoulder distraction forces were 1.5 times body weight at ball release, but those numbers never made sense to me in light of the kinetic chain concept. Wouldn't a pitcher with better front hip pull-back, core control, thoracic spine mobility, scapular control, and posterior cuff strength have a better chance of dissipating these forces over a longer deceleration arc than someone who wasn't as physically prepared? And, wouldn't different release points (as shown above) relate to different stresses? This study demonstrates that being physically prepared and mature goes a long way in reducing one potential injury mechanism in throwers.

2. "You can’t separate biomechanics from metabolism."

I remembered this quote from Charlie Weingroff years ago when I recently heard White Sox infielder Yoan Moncada discussing how he hasn't felt like himself ever since he came back to playing after having COVID-19. Obviously, this is a more extreme perspective, as we know some cases lead to myocarditis and other challenging complications. It's certainly not out of left field, though. Just think about it:

Your joints often ache when you have the flu.

Many people get neck pain when they're stressed.

And, as Charlie observed in that same presentation, the higher your free cortisol, the poorer neurogenesis is.

I don't think we have to just consider these challenges only when someone is sick or under crazy stress. Rather, we have to appreciate that optimizing our metabolic environment - whether it's building a robust aerobic system or eating well and exercising frequently to improve insulin sensitivity - likely has an impact on how our musculoskeletal and fascial systems feel and perform. And, the nice thing about a lot of these initiatives is that they aren't hard to chase: you can build your aerobic system with some low-key cardio or even mobility circuits.

3. Vary surfaces with plyometric activities.

The latest Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research featured a very intriguing study that compared outcomes of a plyometric program on grass-only versus one that was matched for volume, but spread over six different surfaces: grass, land-dirt, sand, wood, gym mat, and tartan-track. The group that performed the multi-surface program outperformed the grass-only group at post-testing even though the testing took place on grass (which means it was a better program to the point that it also outperformed pure specificity over eight weeks, a relatively short intervention).

This is great because training should always be about providing a rich proprioceptive environment for athletes while still providing specificity. The surfaces were stable and ranged in their ability to challenge the stretch-shortening cycle (i.e., it's harder to "turn over" a jump quickly in sand than it is on a track surface).

Intuitively, it makes sense: give athletes variability across similar exercises and you get better adaptation. And, you could even make the argument that it likely reduces the potential for overuse injuries. Just imagine if they'd also rotated types of footwear: barefoot, minimalist sneakers, cross-trainers, turf shoes, cleats, etc.

Suffice it to say that I'll be leveraging this knowledge heavily at our new Cressey Sports Performance - Florida facility. We've got outdoor turf, indoor turf, grass, and indoor gym flooring - and we could do all three either in shoes or barefoot. There's eight options right there, and it's not hard to get access to sand in South Florida!

4. Exercise selection is the most important acute programming variable.

When you're writing a program, the big rocks to consider are intensity (load), volume, rest, tempo, exercise order, and exercise selection.

You'll see a lot of debates about whether 4 sets of 6 reps works better than 6 sets of 4 reps, and whether you need to do one set or three sets to get optimal gains. People may argue about whether you have to train above 90% of 1RM to get strength gains. And, internet arguments are fierce over tempo prescriptions and whether you should squat before you deadlift, or vice versa.

You know what doesn't get debated? The simple question, "Does an exercise hurt?"

This is why exercise selection will always be the most important acute programming variable to consider. If it causes pain, all the other variables don't matter, because it's a harmful training stimulus. This is why it's tremendously important for coaches to not only understand progressions, but also regressions and "lateral moves."

Squatting hurts your hips? Let's try a reverse lunge with a front squat grip.

Deadlifting isn't agreeing with your low back? Let's try a hip thrust instead.

Bench press is making your shoulder cranky? Let's pivot to a landmine press instead.

These quick and easy adjustments can absolutely save a program - and make all the other programming variable important actually matter. This is a big reason why I included an Exercise Modifications Library in The High Performance Handbook; they enable an individual to keep the core benefits of the program intact even if they have to modify a few exercises along the way.

While I'm on that topic, The High Performance Handbook is my flagship resource, and I currently have it on sale at the largest discount ($50 off) that we've ever offered (though Sunday at midnight). The discount is automatically applied at checkout at www.HighPerformanceHandbook.com.

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CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast: Does Early Sports Specialization Work?

I'm flying solo for this week's podcast, as I wanted to tackle an incredibly important topic in the world of baseball development: early sports specialization. Before we get to it, though, 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. It's great stuff and I use it every day myself!


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: A Model for Movement with Ty Terrell

We’re excited to welcome Atlanta Hawks strength and conditioning coach Ty Terrell to this week’s podcast for a great chat on important foundational movement competencies, coaching strategies, and career progressions. Ty shares some general principles as well as specific applications to baseball preparation. CSP-MA Director of Performance John O'Neil takes the lead as a guest host as well.

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.

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: Jesus Luzardo

We're excited to welcome Oakland A's starting pitcher Jesus Luzardo to this week's podcast. He talks about his quick ascent to the big leagues, things he learned during Tommy John rehab, sacrifices needed to compete at the highest level, and the things he's working on to keep improving.

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.

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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Exercise(s) of the Week: Making the Most of Rotational Rows

Today's guest post comes from Cressey Sports Performance - Massachusetts coach Andrew Lysy.

The 1-arm Cable Rotational Row is a versatile exercise for a number of reasons. For starters, it’s a beneficial rowing variation for baseball players who have flat thoracic spines and struggle to get the scapula rotating around the rib cage. This rowing variation focuses more on the protraction and/or upward rotation of the scapula compared to retraction of the scapula, which is what you’d typically see in a conventional rowing exercise.

Another benefit of the rotational row is the ability to teach proper front hip loading and proper hip extension throughout the same exercise. Where you angle the cable is going to determine how much you load your front hip and how much scapular upward rotation you’ll be getting.

There are three main 1-arm Rotational Cable Row exercise variations that we use at CSP regularly:

1. 1-arm Rotational Cable Row – Eye Height: This variation is going to work on more scapular upward rotation and less on hip flexion.

2. 1-arm Rotational Cable Row – Chest Height: This variation is going to work on more scapular protraction and hip flexion than the eye height setting.

3. 1-arm Rotational Cable Row – Lowest Setting: This variation is going to focus more on hip flexion than the rest of the variations, because the cable pulls you into your front hip.

These variations are typically programmed in the beginning of a training session with power as the main focus. I’d suggest easing into the exercise at first, mastering the form before moving the weight faster. We typically program these exercises for 3-4 sets of 4-6 reps.

About the Author

Andrew Lysy was a right-handed pitcher at Rowan University, where he graduated with a degree in Health and Exercise Science. He was a former Cressey Sports Performance – Florida intern and is now a full time Strength and Conditioning Coach at Cressey Sports Performance – Massachusetts. He can be found on Instagram at @ALysyStrength.

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CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast: Kevin Youkilis

We're excited to welcome recently retired MLB infielder Kevin Youkilis to this week's podcast. We cover a range of topics, including how Kevin was overlooked during recruiting/scouting; how he moved quickly through the minor leagues; what learning opportunities players commonly overlook; and how he learned from some of the best hitters in the game. With him now involved in player development, "Youk" comments on the status quo and direction of the game, and reflects on the adjustments he's made to transition from player to coach/mentor.

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.

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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Email
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CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast: Making Movement Better with Bill Hartman

We're excited to welcome physical therapist Bill Hartman to this week's podcast. Bill discusses how his approaches to training and rehabilitation have evolved over the years, and emphasizes the importance of range as a professional rather than early specialization. We converse on the common mistakes made with training rotational sport athletes, and delve into more complex topics like infrasternal angle and sacral positioning.

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 Bill became involved in the world of rehabilitation and how have his practices evolved since he first entered the field nearly 30 years ago
  • What tools have remained consistent throughout Bill’s professional career and how his perspective has changed despite this consistency
  • Why Bill is still constantly tweaking, adapting, and refining his processes as a physical therapist and how he is working to master his model and find true efficiency in his craft
  • Why professionals should be wary of specialization and should avoid limiting their perspective to the insights of one profession
  • Why the common hierarchical perspective of movement rehabilitation doesn’t capture how we truly drive adaptation in individuals
  • How coaches and rehab professionals alike can start at the ideal outcome and work backwards to create an actionable plan to drive change
  • Why asymmetry may actually be the recipe for elite athletic performance
  • What infrasternal angle is and how this measurement is utilized as an assessment tool
  • What specific insights does infrasternal angle give us for rotational athletes and their capabilities to move efficiently for their sport
  • What the two types of infrasternal presentations are and what action-based plan Bill has for dealing with each respectively
  • Why the dynamics of the rib cage are more important than static infrasternal angle presentation and how professionals can observe an individual's capacity for movement at the core of the body
  • Why the position of the sacrum is an overlooked factor for analyzing optimal movement
  • What sacral position demonstrates to professionals about an individual’s movement profile
  • Why quality training isn’t about changing someone but rather about reinforcing what someone was meant to do
  • Why exercise selection is vital for transforming athletes into the best version of themselves and how professionals can create programs for individuals that match their movement capabilities
  • How much strength is too much strength for athletes and how the dosage of training can drive adaptations that actually make an individual worse at their sport
  • Why defining the amount and rate of force production needed for a sport is essential for properly training athletes of the sport and how these insights set the parameters for training strategies
  • How blind exercise prescription and an overemphasis of strength training are limiting the capabilities of rotational athletes and what Bill’s big rocks for creating elite throwers are
  • Why more strength training is not always better and what key performance indicators professionals can monitor to maintain progress and limit the negative effects of training
  • Why strength training is not inherently bad, but professionals should be more particular about its implementation
  • What Bill’s key competencies for high level learners are and how you can be the best learner possible
  • What three books all performance professionals should read
  • What research Bill would like to see done to progress the field
  • You can follow Bill on Twitter at @BillHartmanPT and and Instagram at @BillHartmanPT. You can also learn more about him at www.BillHartmanPT.com.

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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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 8/1/20

It's time for another edition of recommended reading/listening from the strength and conditioning world:

Eric Cressey on coaching the individual, building a community of hard work and athlete best practices - I recently joined Lewis Hatchett on the Raising Your Game Podcast for a discussion on a variety of coaching topics.

How to Use the Stage System for Strength, Speed, and Size - Yesterday, I had a conversation with a client after he saw the rep scheme "3x3,1x6" plugged into his program - and it reminded me of this article I wrote about the stage system a while back. I figured today would be a good time to reincarnate it, in case you missed it the first time around.

Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art - I just finished up this (audio)book from James Nestor, and found it to be a really good listen, particularly in the context of the history of breathing training/reeducation.

Top Tweet of the Week

Top Instagram Post of the Week

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New Cardinal Red CSP Elite Baseball Development Shirts

We're excited to announce a new color - cardinal red - with our popular Cressey Sports Performance Elite Baseball Development t-shirts (powered by New Balance Baseball). Here's the design:

These shirts are insanely comfortable and run true to size.

Each shirt is $24.99 + S&H. Click the links below to add shirts to your cart:

Small

Medium

Large

Extra Large

XXL

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CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast: Tom Koehler

We're excited to welcome recently retired MLB pitcher Tom Koehler to this week's podcast. Tom shares some great stories from his playing career, reflecting on how he developed - and how up-and-coming players and their parents and coaches can learn from his path.

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 growing up playing football and being raised in a blue collar family gave Tom an edge early in the game of baseball
  • How Tom became an 18th round draft pick out of Stony Brook
  • How Tom worked to make such a strong initial impression in pro ball and what adjustments he had to make to ascend through the ranks of minor league baseball
  • Why the biggest initial adjustment for Tom in professional baseball was throwing on a 5-day rotation and how finding a routine transformed the direction of his career
  • How entering affiliated baseball and throwing to wood bats impacted Tom’s outcomes
  • Why Tom reworked his off speed as he developed through pro ball and how he transformed two blending breaking balls into a hard slider and sharp curveball
  • How Tom eventually learned to throw a true slider
  • What grip and mental cues Tom used to continue to remain consistently nasty with these two different breaking pitches
  • How each of Tom’s pitches fit into his game plan on the mound and what specific counts and scenarios he looks to use each pitch
  • What level Tom found to be the toughest promotion in the minors and how the game changes as players progress to show ball
  • How Tom consistently made his starts every 5 days for nearly 8 years (2008-2017) and how finding a routine and having a bulldog mentality gave him 30+ starts in 3 of those 8 years (2014-2016)
  • Why Tom’s greatest attribute was his consistency and durability
  • Why the IL was more detrimental to Tom than other professional players and how Tom fought to never miss a start even on days he wasn’t 100%
  • How a shoulder capsule issue developed into a career ending injury and how Tom believes currently technology could have impact the derailing of his career
  • What TK’s Pitching Policy is and how your sweet spot on the mound is the balance between what your nastiest stuff is and what you can execute consistently
  • What value Tom finds in the new analytical side of baseball and how these numbers should be used to support your strengths as opposed to causing confusion in your ability
  • What Tom loves and hates about the direction the game of baseball is heading
  • How coaches can also learn to be more adaptable in their tactics and interventions and learn to recognize each player’s unique needs
  • You can follow Tom on Twitter at @TKRefresh22 and Instagram at @TKRefresh22.

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!

Name
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