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Should You Chase Shoulder External Rotation – And If So, How?

Each time I run an Instagram Q&A, I get a few high school baseball players who ask how they 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.

Also, as a friendly reminder, Sturdy Shoulder Solutions is on sale for $40 off through this Sunday at midnight. Just enter coupon code OFFSEASON19 to receive the discount at checkout at www.SturdyShoulders.com.

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CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast: The New Breed of Hitting Coaches with Jeff Albert

We're excited to welcome St. Louis Cardinals Major League Hitting Coach Jeff Albert to this week's podcast.  Jeff's one of the most innovative coaches in the game, and this interview features lessons for players, coaches, and parents alike. I should note that we had some audio difficulties on this call, but did our best to clean it up so that the great information wasn't wasted. Thanks for your patience and understanding in advance on that front!

In lieu of a sponsor this week, I wanted to give you a quick heads-up that my popular resource, Sturdy Shoulder Solutions, is on sale through Sunday at midnight for $40 off. Just enter coupon code OFFSEASON19 to get the discount at www.SturdyShoulders.com. Now, on to the podcast!

Show Outline

  • How Jeff’s motivation to be the best player he could be and determination to answer the question "why" propelled him into a career of coaching
  • How Jeff’s graduate research put his foot in the door in professional baseball despite minimal professional playing experience
  • Where young coaches are falling short on making the most of their early coaching career and what these individuals should be doing to be able to capitalize on opportunities in pro sports
  • Where Jeff recommends young coaches look for more information on quality movement
  • What industries outside of baseball have been most influential on Jeff’s coaching career
  • What professionals outside of the world of professional baseball don't understand about the changing environment of the industry
  • What traits Jeff looks for when hiring new coaches
  • How Jeff approaches development in the hitting lifespan of a ball player
  • What the biggest limitations Jeff sees in youth and high school hitters are
  • How learning to optimize a hitter’s movement with as few words as possible has revolutionized the way Jeff coaches hitting
  • How establishing solid positions and learning to have a good swing path lay the foundation for future swings in young hitters
  • How the fundamentals of a swing do not change as a hitter matures, but clarifying a hitter’s approach, transforming one of their weaknesses, or building around one of their strength aids in taking them to the next level
  • Why being exposed to failure is important for developing great baseball players
  • Where Jeff sees baseball trending in the coming years and how hitters will be combating the transformations in the world of pitching

You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @JeffMAlbert and on Instagram at @JeffAlbert28. And, you can learn more about this November's SlugFest clinic at which we'll both be speaking at www.SlugFestConference.com.

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: Aaron Barrett

We're excited to welcome Washington Nationals relief pitcher Aaron Barrett to this week's podcast. Aaron is one of the most impressive comeback stories you'll ever hear. 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

  • What major injuries and setbacks Aaron experienced that removed him from competitive baseball from 2014 to 2018
  • What the medical priorities and overall rehab process were for recovering from this freak injury
  • How Aaron managed his psychology as he endured a major setback
  • How he incorporated and began to increase his hand speed as he progressed throw his rehab throwing program
  • When in Aaron’s rehab protocols he felt more consistent and confident as he began throwing in professional baseball games once again
  • What recovery modalities Aaron utilizes to help his arm bounce back
  • How Aaron modified his routine after enduring these setbacks
  • How Aaron remained process oriented and focused on his goals for the long haul of a four-year rehab period
  • What lessons has Aaron learned after experiencing the workload of being a reliever in a major league bullpen
  • How Aaron manages his throwing volume and intensity in-season
  • What Aaron’s gameday routine is
  • What the characteristics of coaches and rehab professionals that have been the most impactful on his career
  • What Aaron’s next step is for his career as he transitions from this incredible recovery from injury to being a consistent performer for the Washington Nationals

You can follow Aaron on Twitter at @AaronBarrett30 and on Instagram at @AaronBarrett30.

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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“Coil” in the Pitching Delivery: Friend or Foe?

I came across this awesome still-frame of Nationals pitcher Patrick Corbin on the Nationals instagram the other day. This positioning at the top of his leg lift offers an important reminder of how the transverse plane can be your biggest ally or enemy in the pitching delivery.

As you can see, Corbin has some "coil" to his leg lift, which creates more internal rotation on the trailing hip right as he starts to progress into his hip load (hinge/flexion). This pre-tensioning allows him to store a little extra elastic energy as he heads down the mound toward front foot plant. It also can provide a bit more deception to make the hitter's job more challenging. And, perhaps most importantly, it sets up more of a "sweeping" slider, similar to what we see with pitchers like Chris Sale and Steve Cishek. All good, right?

Well, the challenge is that being this rotational can also give some athletes problems. It's a slightly more high maintenance delivery because you have to take all that transverse (rotational) motion and convert it into a more linear motion at ball release so that you are getting through the baseball, not just around it. And, if you can't stop this rotation at the hips, it gets transferred up to the spine. This is where optimizing strength, mobility, and timing of the lead hip is essential: it's a torque converter (rotational to linear).

Understanding this should make you realize that just coaching knee extension on the front leg isn't a useful strategy; it ignores the hip. And, just calling it lead leg blocking is insufficient, as "blocking" doesn't appreciate the rotational component that the lead hip can take on. That's why we talk a lot about "front hip pull-back" and select exercises that challenge it to accept forces in all three planes of motion.

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CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast: Believing in the Basics with Kyle Driscoll

We're excited to welcome Cressey Sports Performance - Massachusetts strength and conditioning coach and associated pitching coordinator Kyle Driscoll 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 the CSP staff onboarded and assessed each college athlete for the Elite College Development Program
  • What specific strategies Kyle used to assess the pitchers in the program, including subjective evaluations and the use of technology like Rapsodo and high-speed camera
  • Why evaluating each pitcher’s routine is key component of an initial assessment
  • How understanding exactly where a pitcher is on day one allowed Kyle to structure realistic, obtainable goals for each player to achieve over the 10 week program
  • What the most surprising lessons Kyle took away from initial evaluations of the college summer program were
  • What goes into matching up throwing partners
  • What Kyle’s approach was for designing each athlete’s throwing program and why he made sure to teach them how to effectively program for themselves following their experience at CSP
  • How the synergy of CSP works to consolidate stress in the college summer program and how Kyle specifically programs throwing alongside the strength and conditioning component
  • What specific positions Kyle looks for pitchers to hit in their throwing delivery – and how they can reinforce these positions in the weight room
  • Why Kyle emphasizes certain positions early in the delivery so quality movement is persevered as the throwing motion becomes faster down the chain
  • What specific pitch design and velocity changes individuals made over the summer
  • What the most influential takeaways for the pitchers that attended the Elite College Development Program and how these takeaways stretch far beyond mechanical adjustments

You can follow Kyle on Twitter at @kdrisc35  and on Instagram at @bigdriskk.

Sponsor Reminder

This episode is brought to you by Athletic Greens. It’s a NSF certified 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: 9/12/19

I hope you're hadving a great week. Here's a little recommended reading and listening to keep it rolling.

Complete Coach Certification - Mike Robertson launched this excellent continuing education resource for trainers last week. I just finished working my way through it and it was outstanding.

Models of Skills are Important - Lee Taft interviewed Dan Pfaff for this podcast, and it was absolutely outstanding.

Shoulder Assessment and Treatment with Eric Cressey - Speaking of podcasts, I was a guest on the Squat University Podcast recently. I talked a lot of shoulders with the host, physical therapist Aaron Horschig.

An Alternate Approach to Summer Ball: The Rise of Private Facility Training - This article from Aaron Fitt at D1Baseball.com highlights how many athletes are taking non-traditional approaches to summer development for baseball. Aaron shadowed a training session with Duke pitcher Bryce Jarvis at Cressey Sports Performance.

Top Tweet of the Week

Top Instagram Post of the Week

 
 
 
 
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The overhead view in a pitching delivery can enable you to see certain things that can’t be appreciated from other perspectives. Foremost among these is the ability to differentiate between thoracic rotation (upper back motion) and horizontal abduction (shoulder motion). 👇 In this image taken just prior to stride foot contact, @gerritcole45’s pelvis has already rotated counterclockwise toward the plate while his torso is still rotating clockwise. This is the hip-shoulder separation throwers seek for generating big time velocity. 🔥 However, when a thrower lacks thoracic rotation - or gives up thoracic rotation too early (usually by chasing arm speed too early in the delivery) - he’ll often resort to creating excessive horizontal abduction (arm back) to find the pre-stretch he wants to generate the velocity he covets. This is not only an ineffective velocity strategy, but it also can increase anterior shoulder and medial elbow stress - all while leading to arm side misses, accidental cutters, and backup breaking balls. 🤦‍♂️ Over the past few years, I’ve heard of a few pitchers being advised to work to increase the horizontal abduction in their deliveries. I don’t think you can make this recommendation without the overhead view, and even then, it’s likely taking a distal (arm) solution to a proximal (trunk and timing) problem. 🤔 I covered hip-shoulder separation in the pitching delivery in great detail in a free presentation I gave away earlier this year when we launched our podcast. You can still get it at the link in my bio.👊👍 . #Repost @astrosbaseball @get_repost_easily #repost_easily ****** Like H-Town in the summertime 💯

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CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast: Building a Better Throwing Program with Alan Jaeger

We're excited to welcome highly regarded pitching consultant Alan Jaeger to this week's podcast to discuss long toss and both performance and rehabilitation throwing programs. 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 Alan became known as “the long toss guy”
  • How experience as a young junior college arm led him to developing his throwing strategies
  • How Alan defines long toss and what the specific priorities of a quality long toss session are
  • How long toss facilitates self-organization of the body and intuitive feel for how to throw the ball efficiently
  • How stretching it out and working back to your partner with conviction gives pitchers the variance they need to remain athletic and free on the mound rather than repeatable and robotic
  • What big mistakes Alan sees in athletes’ daily catch play as well as the programming of their throwing sessions
  • How Alan liked to structure throwing for pitchers on 5- and 7-day rotations
  • Where Alan sees room for improvements in rehabilitation throwing programs
  • How the conversation about long toss has evolved over the last 20 years, specifically in professional baseball
  • How some MLB organizations still resist long toss, but why young front office phenoms are playing an influential role in transforming baseball into a more progressive era
  • How understanding a player’s background gives great insight into how they’ll function at a high level
  • How players can learn to respectfully say no to complete overhauls in their abilities and be prepared to stand their ground to preserve the longevity of their career
  • You can follow Alan on Twitter at @JaegerSports  and on Instagram at @JaegerSports.

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
Email
Read more

Why the Overhead Angle Matters in the Pitching Delivery

The overhead view in a pitching delivery can enable you to see certain things that can’t be appreciated from other perspectives. Foremost among these is the ability to differentiate between thoracic rotation (upper back motion) and horizontal abduction (shoulder motion).

In this image taken just prior to stride foot contact, Gerrit Cole's pelvis has already rotated counterclockwise toward the plate while his torso is still rotating clockwise. This is the hip-shoulder separation throwers seek for generating big time velocity.

However, when a thrower lacks thoracic rotation - or gives up thoracic rotation too early (usually by chasing arm speed too early in the delivery) - he’ll often resort to creating excessive horizontal abduction (arm back) to find the pre-stretch he wants to generate the velocity he covets. This is not only an ineffective velocity strategy, but it also can increase anterior shoulder and medial elbow stress - all while leading to arm side misses, accidental cutters, and backup breaking balls.

Over the past few years, I’ve heard of a few pitchers being advised to work to increase the horizontal abduction in their deliveries. I don’t think you can make this recommendation without the overhead view, and even then, it’s likely taking a distal (arm) solution to a proximal (trunk and timing) problem.

I covered hip-shoulder separation in the pitching delivery in great detail in a free presentation I gave away earlier this year when we launched our podcast. You can still get it by subscribing below:

Join our mailing list to receive podcast updates and my free Hip-Shoulder Separation presentation!

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CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast: Offseason Planning with John O’Neil

Episode 25 of the podcast features a collaborative effort between Cressey Sports Performance - Massachusetts Director of Performance John O'Neil and me. We go in-depth on the topic of planning out an effective baseball offseason for high school, college, and professional players. This week's episode is brought to you by Joovv Red Light Therapy. The research on the wide-ranging health benefits of red light therapy are compelling, and Joovv is at the forefront of delivering this technology to improve your health and performance. Head to www.Joovv.com/eric and enter coupon code CRESSEY to get a special gift with your purchase.

Show Outline

  • How John and Eric model their training programs to optimize an individual’s off-season
  • What John’s off-season training priorities are when working with high school, college, and professional athletes
  • How having a single sport high school athlete impacts off-season training
  • What factors high school ball players should consider when deciding to play fall ball
  • Why consistency is the most important aspect of a training program and how John emphasizes this message to his youth athletes
  • Why health and performance are not mutually exclusive in the world of performance enhancement
  • How coaches can find success with athletes by identifying the duration of time they have them, honing in on low-hanging fruit in their development, and working backward to drive favorable changes in their abilities
  • What training qualities John focuses on developing early in an individual’s offseason and how these strategies are progressed as an athlete transitions to being in-season
  • Why building a robust aerobic base is of high priority early in the off-season and how this idea transforms into more power related development as the off-season progresses
  • How John conceptualizes his sprint progressions for athletes
  • Why off-season training slowly builds athletes to move more explosively as they approach the season and how John specifically translates general motor potential into skill specific activity
  • What a typical professional off-season training program looks like
  • How John and Eric model off-season training programs around throwing programs to make sure their baseball players are prepared for all facets of their sport

You can follow John on Instagram at @oneilstrength and Twitter at @oneilstrength, and reach out to us at cspmass@gmail.com for offseason training inquiries.

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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Random Thoughts on Sports Performance Training – Installment 34

It's been a while since I published one of these compilations, so I've got quite a "brain dump" for you today. Here goes!

1. Correct "overhead lifting" work is especially important for volleyball players.

After this Instagram post on the importance of correct overhead lifting exercises and coaching cues, a volleyball coach reached out to ask if I felt the same overhead principles would apply to volleyball as with baseball. His point was that the arm-swings are very similar, but being in the air may make a difference.

The short answer is that YES, these strength training principles would apply to volleyball players as well. I'd even argue they'd apply MORE for two reasons:

a. Volleyball players are generally a hypermobile population who can benefit even more from the enhanced motor control that proper weight training affords. Effectively, you're giving them stability through the (potentially excessive) range of motion they have.

b. The fact that the violent arm actions happen in mid-air means that you don't have a lower half to help with deceleration (as is the case with baseball players). The upper extremity needs to be that much more well timed and strong.

2. Red light therapy might be the next big sports science breakthrough.

I first came across red light therapy when some clients commented on how they'd utilized it for a variety of health and human performance initiatives - both focal (sore wrist) and diffuse (chronic disease). I dug deeper, and the research was super compelling. There are clinical applications for everything from sleep quality/quantity, to cognitive function, to migraines, to improved hormonal status, to exercise recovery. I've started utilizing it myself and I can see it becoming an integral part of our sports science approach at Cressey Sports Performance.

Joovv is a company that's at the forefront of the application of red light therapy, and they actually sponsored this week's podcast. If you head to www.Joovv.com/eric, you can learn more - and get a free gift with your purchase.

3. Sports are random practice.

I've been a big advocate for avoiding early sports specialization if your goal is not only a positive experience with exercise to build lifelong habits, but also long-term athletic success. Supporters of playing multiple sports rarely outline the specific "mechanism of action" for why multiple sports really works for development, though.

In my opinion, these benefits are mediated because most sports are the very definition of random (unpredictable and varied) practice. You change direction a ton with soccer, basketball, and tennis - but you're usually responding to an opponent or making strategic calls on the fly on your own. You use both hands and feet in unique ways. These experiences are markedly different than going out and just throwing 30 pitches off the mound in baseball, something that's entirely closed loop and only has a small amount of variance: blocked practice. The research on motor learning has clearly demonstrated that random practice outperforms blocked practice with longer-term retention tests and the associated skill acquisition.

Also, this should serve as a good reminder of how awesome playgrounds are.

 
 
 
 
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Watching our daughters grow up has been a remarkable lesson on when to coach and when to take a step back and observe. Early on in parenting, you watch your kids take big tumbles where you think they have a concussion or torn ACL. Then they giggle, get back up, and keep playing. They’re far more resilient than we think, and it demonstrates that failure can often be the best teacher. Coaches - once you’ve established rapport and foundational movement quality with your athletes, seek opportunities for them to fail SAFELY in training, when there aren’t physical or psychological consequences. Parents - don’t protect your kids from failure. Rather, embrace its remarkable ability to teach and prepare them for whatever challenges await them in sports and life. Kids - don’t let your parents pave the way for you so that you avoid failure. And be sure to seek out coaches who consistently challenge you even if it results in the aforementioned failures. Swipe left to watch our girl crushing it on the playground in spite of a little taste of failure.💪 #cresseytwins #cspfamily #coaching

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4. Our rotator cuff care approaches have three broad components.

I recently hopped on Mike Robertson's podcast, and one topic we covered was how we structure our arm care programs with respect to rotator cuff training. The whole interview is a good listen, but tune in at the 39:20 mark for this specific section.

Speaking of Mike Robertson, he's launching his own certification really soon. I've reviewed it and it's outstanding. He's got an early-bird list going to get folks a discount when it's launched; you can learn more HERE. Highly recommend!

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