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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:

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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

A post shared by Eric Cressey (@ericcressey) on

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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Elite Baseball Development Podcast: Logan Morrison

We're excited to welcome Philadelphia Phillies First Baseman Logan Morrison to this week's podcast. 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 perforance. Head to www.Joovv.com/eric and enter coupon code CRESSEY to get a special gift with your purchase.

Show Outline

  • How baseball has changed since Logan was acquired as a draft and follow in 2005
  • What the biggest differences from level to level are in pro baseball
  • How the way evaluating players has transformed from merely getting on base to how much a hitter produces at the plate as organizations begin to value metrics like OPS+ over batting average
  • How Logan’s approach at the plate has evolved over the years
  • How has the increased use of data, analytics, and technology impacted Logan’s career
  • Why Logan has adopted a short memory to survive in the world of baseball and how he has learned to manage his desire to avoid complacency
  • How Logan has learned to read pitchers and recognize common tendencies that tip pitches to opposing hitters
  • How training to be durable in the off-season and simplifying his process at the plate allowed Logan to have a breakout 2017
  • Why Logan doesn’t take batting practice on field before games and instead chooses to lighten his workload in the cages to stay quick and fresh for the swings that matter
  • What lessons Logan learned from Hall of Famer Edgar Martinez and MVPs Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich
  • How differentiating when to be analytical and when to compete have impacted Logan’s career as a hitter
  • What strategies coaches can implement to be more impactful for their players
  • What coaching cues and minute details Logan has focused on in his swing to become a more consistent hitter
  • How Logan’s father influenced his early development and love for the game of baseball and what lessons Logan would pass on to his son if he wanted to pursue a career in professional baseball
  • How social media has impacted Logan’s career

You can follow Logan on Instagram at @lomogram.

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 of the week: Rear Foot Elevated 1-arm Low Cable Row

This week's exercise of the week features a new spin on an old favorite of ours. By elevating the rear foot, you can get more weight shift into the front hip on split-stance low cable rows.

In both pitchers and hitters athletes, we're constantly seeking better ways to teach front hip pull-back - and this is an awesome exercise for feeling the involved musculature. If you want to see this in action, check out the 29-30 second mark in this video of Zach Greinke:

I was surprised at how heavy we've been able to go on this exercise, as I expected a big drop off in resistance utilized because of the balancing component that's involved. In athletes with some single-leg proficiency, though, the rear-foot elevated 1-arm low cable row is an awesome progression.

If you're looking to learn more about how we assess, program, and coach at the shoulder girdle, be sure to check out my popular resource, Sturdy Shoulder Solutions.

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Elite Baseball Development Podcast: Monitoring Arm Stress and Workload with Ben Hansen

We're excited to welcome Ben Hansen, the Vice President of Biomechanics and Innovation at Motus Global, to this week's podcast. In lieu of a sponsor this week, we've just got a final reminder that this week is the last chance to get the early bird discount on this year's fall seminar at CSP-MA. It takes place September 21-22; you can learn more HERE.

Show Outline

  • What led Ben to pursue a career in biomechanics and wearable technology
  • How Motus Global strives to impact the game of baseball and how their model for developing healthy arms has shifted over the years
  • What peer reviewed research says about the significance of joint torques and how we should interpret these metrics for predicting the risk of injury in baseball players
  • What acute and chronic workloads are, and how managing these variables can allow coaches to keep their athletes healthy and high performing
  • Why pitchers should have individualized throwing programs to account for the diverse variables that impact a player’s health
  • How truly different catch play, flat ground, bullpen, pre-game, and in-game throws are, and how coaches can more accurately account for the stress they impose on pitchers throughout a season
  • How rest should be incorporated into a baseball players year and why short breaks during a season of heavy throwing may be doing more harm than good for throwers
  • What ballplayers should consider when deciding between continuing to throw into the next season or shutting down to rest
  • What role mechanics plays in the health of a throwing arm and how common mechanical tendencies, like the Tommy John Twist and the Inverted W, influence arm stress
  • How fatigue is more predictive of injury than mechanics
  • Why building a durable work capacity is more important for staying healthy than mastering mechanics
  • How reliable using perceived effort is when creating and executing a throwing program
  • Why professionals need to rewrite the return to throwing program for common injuries in baseball
  • Where more research is needed to further understand how to manage baseball arms

You can follow Ben on Twitter at @BenHansen9 and on Instagram at @MotusGlobal.

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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Why I’ve Gotten Away from the “No Money” Drill (Video)

I first came across the "No Money" drill for scapular control and rotator cuff activation/strength back around 2008, and introduced it to a lot of people when I included it in my first book, Maximum Strength.

At the time, I was working heavily in the general population segment and hadn't gotten as entrenched in the baseball world as I am now. So, like a carpenter who only had a hammer, I started thinking everything was a nail - and logically applied the No Money Drill with all our baseball athletes.

The more time I spent around baseball players, though, the more I realized that the No Money Drill was actually feeding into the negative adaptations we saw in them: a loss of scapular upward rotation, lat stiffness, lumbar extension syndrome, etc. As a result, we've gotten away from the drill with most of our overhead athletes (depending on what we see in an evaluation). Check out this video to learn more:

If you're looking to learn more about how we assess, program, and coach at the shoulder girdle, be sure to check out my popular resource, Sturdy Shoulder Solutions.

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Elite Baseball Development Podcast with Mike Soroka

We're excited to welcome Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Mike Soroka to the podcast. A special thanks to this show's sponsor, Lumberlend. Head to www.Lumberlend.com and enter the coupon code CRESSEY to get 10% off on your order as you customize a bat mug today.   

Show Outline

  • How growing up playing baseball in Canada influenced Mike’s early career
  • How playing for the Canadian national team as a teenager allowed Mike to compete against the best and learn to fail forward at a young age
  • How Mike transformed from a lanky 6-2, 140-pound high school ball player to one of the youngest players in the big leagues
  • What has led Mike to his unique pitching delivery and what positions he prioritizes feeling throughout his throwing motion to remain consistent while still preserving his deception on the mound
  • How Mike differentiates his two-seam and four-seam fastball
  • How Mike learned to spin and manipulate the movement of a baseball by playing with a Wiffle Ball as a kid
  • What key skills and major adjustments helped Mike progress through the minors quickly
  • How learning to command the zone, specifically in different counts, has given Mike an edge in pro ball
  • How having a true grasp of reality and embracing a growth mindset have allowed Mike to shape his mentality to be a mature and successful young pitcher
  • Why making mental adjustments are just as influential as making mechanical adjustments when working to be consistently successful, and how learning to make adjustments on the fly have given Mike an advantage
  • How Mike’s curiosity for answers and appreciation for details have allowed him to master the intricacies of the game of baseball
  • How Mike structures his throwing and training programs on a 5-day rotation, and how he takes advantage of the high-low model to manage stress throughout the season
  • What Mike’s schedule is on game day

You can follow Mike on Instagram at @mikesoroka_ and on Twitter at @mike_soroka28.

Sponsor Reminder

This episode is brought to you by Lumberlend Co. If you're looking for a unique gift for a baseball fan in your life, you'll definitely want to check this out: they've hollowed out the bat barrel and created a cool drinking mug. You can customize these with colors, names, logos, and photographs. They're also an officially licensed MLBPA product, so you can get your favorite teams and players incorporated into the designs. I've used these as gifts with great feedback, so I'm confident you'd experience the same. Just head to Lumberlend.com and enter the coupon code CRESSEY to get 10% off as you design yours today.

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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Pitchers vs. Swimmers

I evaluated a baseball pitcher (left) and swimmer (right) back to back yesterday. It should serve as a 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.

The pitcher is a classic scapular depression example. Notice how “flat” the clavicle presentation is. He’s very lat dominant and struggles to get scapular elevation as part of upward rotation as the arms go overhead. He needs more upper trap activity.

Conversely, the swimmer is a scapular elevation presentation. Notice the significant upslope of the collarbone. He’s already so elevated that he struggles to get the rotational component of upward rotation. He needs more serratus anterior and lower trap, but less upper trap.

Three huge takeaways:

1. This is yet another reminder that you can’t just have a “rotator cuff program.” Both of these guys could present with the same pathology, but with completely different underlying movement diagnoses.

2.  The same exercises might need to be coached differently for two different athletes

3. Whenever you see tightness, before you stretch it, ask why it’s there. With the pitcher in scapular depression, it’s a protective tension you don’t want to just stretch out. The swimmer could actually benefit.

I cover these topics in great detail in my Sturdy Shoulder Solutions resource; you can learn more at www.SturdyShoulders.com.

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Elite Baseball Development Podcast: Making Nutritional Changes Stick with Dr. John Berardi

We're excited to welcome the co-founder of Precision Nutrition, Dr. John Berardi to this week's podcast. In lieu of a sponsor this week, we've just got a reminder about this year's fall seminar and business building mentorship at CSP-MA. They'll take place September 21-23; you can learn more HERE.

Show Outline

  • How Berardi became the fitness influencer and successful businessman he is today
  • Where Precision Nutrition began, and how John has grown a massively successful company in the health industry
  • What the core values and mission of Precision Nutrition are
  • How John differentiates Precision Nutrition through the creation of digestible, interactive content and what John’s model is for mastering marketing and creating influential content consistently
  • How understanding the basics of nutrition and executing the simple things at the table are the common problems of all populations John works with
  • What John’s first step is when working with a new client looking to change their eating habits
  • How John works to define his client’s health goals and identify their dietary limiting factors in order to drive behavioral changes that will yield results
  • Why John strives to inspire autonomy in his clients by creating a simple nutritional plan built on small changes rather than creating a complicated, restrictive eating experience with rules and regulations
  • How parents can learn to speak more effectively with their children about food and what strategies they can implement to create an atmosphere of happy, healthy eating
  • How John approaches educating his athletic populations about nutrition
  • How John deals with athletes who want to make drastic changes to their eating habits and experiment with a new type of eating (i.e. keto, gluten-free, vegan, etc.)
  • How John would update his “7 Habits of Highly Effective Nutrition Programs” if he were to rewrite them today
  • How individuals can fine tune their eating environment and become more attuned with their hunger and appetite
  • How John’s new book, can help health and fitness industry professionals learn more about business, building a reputation, and orienting a career
     
  • Here's where you can find John and Precision Nutrition on the web:

    Precision Nutrition (Facebook)
    Precision Nutrition (Instagram)
    JohnBerardi.com
    PrecisionNutrition.com
    ChangeMakerAcademy.com

    And, to pre-order his new book, head to the following link: Change Maker: Turn Your Passion for Health and Fitness into a Powerful Purpose and Wildly Successful Career

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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