Home Baseball Content (Page 3)

Hand Size, Anatomy, and Tissue Extensibility

Here is my hand (at 5-8) compared to the hand of a pitcher who is 6-8. Meanwhile, the baseball is the same size for both of us.

To manipulate the baseball, he has to close his hands more.

Meanwhile, me holding a baseball keeps me a bit closer to the anatomical position.

Now, consider that many of the muscles that work to close the hands (flexors) actually attach on the medial epicondyle via the common flexor tendon.

Therefore, a lot of extra tone further up the chain can come from longer term density changes at the hand. We usually talk about working proximal to distal, but in this case, the distal (hand) can impact the proximal (elbow) heavily.

Doing more targeted manual therapy, range of motion, and strength work at the wrist/hand has been a big difference maker for us. And, in many cases, it helps to make more of your proximal changes "stick" a bit better. You're most likely going to find the biggest areas of "density" along the thumb, and then along the pinky side of the hand.

Try digging in on the soft tissue structures of the hand in throwers; you might be surprised at what you find.

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Grip Strength for Baseball Hitters

Today's guest post comes from Scottsdale-based physical therapist Dan Swinscoe. He's been a great resource (and friend) to me over the years, and this post will show you yet another reason why that's the case. Enjoy! - EC

Sometimes finding what you’re looking for can be as close as the hand in front of your face. If performance enhancement for baseball is what you’re looking for, keep staring at that hand – because the strength of that hand is what we’re talking about today.

Two reasons, one for each hand, to consider that hands are important to your performance. First, they are the only body part that interacts with the bat and the ball. Secondly, our brains have more surface area dedicated to just the hands than any other body part except the lips.

With those two facts in mind, it seems reasonable to consider them as important to baseball performance. Also, research is suggestive of grip strength being correlated to both throwing velocity and bat speed. So, there’s actually three reasons for you.

If we think of you first as a person before a player, there are other benefits that matter off the field, too. Studies show people with greater grip strength have less cardiovascular and other types of chronic disease. In fact, it is now being referred to as an “indispensable biomarker for older adults” and directly correlated to longevity. The stronger the grip, it seems, the healthier you are.

Knowing that grip strength is important for our general well-being and for our performance within the sport, it makes sense to ensure grip strength gets some attention with our training. But how? What’s the best way to improve grip strength as a baseball player? Is the grip work that naturally comes with lifting weights enough? Does it matter if I’m a pitcher or a position player?

Many popular exercises to improve grip strength for baseball include things that isolate the hands: squeezing spring-loaded grippers, squeezing putty, or opening and closing the hand in a bucket full of rice. These exercises will make the hands tired, but that’s all. Because they train the hand in isolation – disconnected from the rest of the body – they’re limited in how much benefit they can provide for on field performance.

No body part works alone. In baseball, we often say “strong arm” when referring to a throw. In really, it’s the whole body that made the throw happen. If it was only the arm, you’d throw just as far sitting down as you do standing up, and we all know that isn’t true.

When swinging the bat, energy comes from the ground up. It is transferred from our legs through the core, to our arms, and finally to the bat. Any break or “leak” of energy along that kinetic chain ultimately limits the ability to transfer power to the ball from the bat. We want to be strong throughout that entire chain. Renowned biomechanics researcher Dr. Stuart McGill refers to this as “grip athleticism.”

Other exercises used for training baseball players like deadlifts, farmer carries, and kettlebell swings are much better. With these, your grip is an extension of the arm into the body and legs, instead of isolating it and training it alone. This is what you want. But even these great exercises also have limitations as they relate to baseball.

The limitation with these resides in the direction of the resistance. In these exercises the force you’re resisting tries to open the grasp along the line of the fingers, and the athlete tries to close the grasp along that same line. If you’re a pitcher, this is just fine. However, for a hitter, this is incomplete because when swinging a bat, there’s also force across the palm perpendicular to the finger line. When batting, my hands not only have to keep my fingers closed, but they must also resist the force perpendicular to my fingers that can open the hand and prevent me from delivering force through the barrel. The force will be directed one way for the top hand and the opposite way for the bottom hand.

It’s good to remember that as much as the batter hits the ball with the bat, the ball also hits the batter with the bat. This is Newton’s third law. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Thus, there is a torque across the palm in a “thumb-pinky” orientation that needs to be addressed in our training but most conventional grip exercises miss it.

Squaring up a round ball with a round bat is hard enough. We don’t want a lack of grip strength to be the reason for weak contact and decreased performance.

Position players really need exercises that challenge grip in this direction, too. The exercises mentioned above don’t account for that. Below are sample exercises I like to challenge this alternate angle of grip as needed for batting.

1. Jet Wings - Named after the pointy tip at the end of a jets wing, the idea here is to maintain your plank as you walk while your arm is out to your side. You work to keep the club bell horizontal despite gravity wanting to twist it. I use sets of 10-30 seconds.

https://youtube.com/shorts/xizkIFmRU20?feature=embed

2. Club Bell Halos -This is another standing plank. Keep your body and head still while you circle the club bell around your head, both clockwise and counterclockwise. I typically use sets of five in each direction. You can vary the stance also to add complexity to the challenge.

https://youtube.com/shorts/TImPeCWQJpU?feature=embed

3. Kettlebell Horn Curls - This is so much harder than it looks. I love the challenge to the hand, forearm and elbow. I program this like regular curls. They’re just harder.

https://youtube.com/shorts/g8D0UZfIaH0?feature=embed

4. Single Arm Hangs - The key to this drill is to let go with one hand slowly, then try to hang on while your body rotates each way. Once the natural rotation stops, the rep is over. This is another one that is much harder than it looks. Sets are usually 1-5 reps. Make sure you do this after swings, deadlifts, etc., as it really cooks the grip.

https://youtube.com/shorts/ST8GQ2rxRZg?feature=embed

5. Club Bell Chops – Use the top or bottom hand. The idea is that you resist the twist that comes with the chopping motion as we mimic bringing the bat toward the ball. We usually do sets of 5-10. If someone can do 10 reps cleanly, it’s time for a heavier club.

https://youtube.com/shorts/a2kbULzIQyw?feature=embed

I have yet to work with a player trying these exercises for the first time who didn’t immediately “feel” the benefit and want to do them more. I think they’ll be a nice addition to your training if you aren’t already using them.

About the Author

Dan Swinscoe, MPT, CSCS is a physical therapist and strength coach in Scottsdale, AZ with over 30 years experience helping athletes move, feel and play better. His clinic is Train2Win Rehab and Performance. (www.T2WClinic.com). His online resources can also be found at www.FixYourFunction.com.

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CSP Elite Baseball Development Shirts: Reincarnating a Classic

We decided to do another run of our most popular Cressey Sports Performance shirt of all time: our black home plate design. However, this time around, we decided to also make this facility favorite available in grey, too:

All shirts are $24.99 plus shipping. Just click on the bolded hyperlinks below to add them to your cart.

Black: XXL, Extra Large, Large, Medium, Small

Grey: XXL, Extra Large, Large, Medium, Small

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CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast: Trevor Rosenthal

We welcome free agent MLB pitcher Trevor Rosenthal to the latest podcast. We talk about transitioning from shortstop to pitching, and then from starting to relieving. He discusses why some pitchers thrive with being challenged at young ages while others struggle, and highlights some key components of his pre-game preparation. We also touch on lessons learned from Tommy John and Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgeries, as well as key competencies of the best coaches he's had.

A special thanks to this show's sponsor, AG1. Head to https://www.DrinkAG1.com/cressey and you'll receive a free 10-pack of Athletic Greens travel packets with your first order.

 

You can follow Trevor on Twitter at @TrevRosenthal.

Sponsor Reminder

This episode is brought to you by AG1. AG1 is your daily foundational nutrition; it has 75 whole-food sourced ingredients designed to support your body’s foundational nutrition needs across five critical areas of health: 1) energy, 2) immunity, 3) gut health, 4) hormonal support, and 5) healthy aging. It is the new and future way of getting a multivitamin, and a whole lot more. Head to www.DrinkAG1.com/cressey and claim my special offer today – 10 FREE travel packs – with your first purchase. I use AG1 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: Baseball Skill Development from Youth to the Pros with Ethan Westphal

We welcome Cressey Sports Performance - Florida Pitching Coach Ethan Westphal to the latest podcast. Ethan brings a wealth of knowledge from the private sector, college, and professional baseball, and he shares how coaching approaches have to be adjusted for each population and environment. We discuss the mental side of the game, the importance of synergy across a coaching staff, and his "Aha" moments from utilizing markerless biomechanics technology at CSP.

A special thanks to this show's sponsor, AG1. Head to https://www.DrinkAG1.com/cressey and you'll receive a free 10-pack of Athletic Greens travel packets with your first order.

 

You can follow Ethan on Instagram at @cspfl_pitching.

Sponsor Reminder

This episode is brought to you by AG1. AG1 is your daily foundational nutrition; it has 75 whole-food sourced ingredients designed to support your body’s foundational nutrition needs across five critical areas of health: 1) energy, 2) immunity, 3) gut health, 4) hormonal support, and 5) healthy aging. It is the new and future way of getting a multivitamin, and a whole lot more. Head to www.DrinkAG1.com/cressey and claim my special offer today – 10 FREE travel packs – with your first purchase. I use AG1 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: Modern MLB Coaching Considerations with Radley Haddad

We welcome Pittsburgh Pirates game planning and strategy coach Radley Haddad to the podcast. In this conversation, we talk about what qualities facilitated Radley's transition from playing to coaching. We discuss the role of analytics in the game, and how information is best disseminated to players. Radley shares insights on the evaluation and development of catchers, and also speaks to the unique challenges that come with managing a younger roster in the big leagues. We even touch on lessons learned as a Cressey Sports Performance athlete of close to a decade before he retired.

A special thanks to this show's sponsor, AG1. Head to https://www.DrinkAG1.com/cressey and you'll receive a free 10-pack of Athletic Greens travel packets with your first order.

 

You can follow Radley on Twitter at @RadleyHaddad.

Sponsor Reminder

This episode is brought to you by AG1. AG1 is your daily foundational nutrition; it has 75 whole-food sourced ingredients designed to support your body’s foundational nutrition needs across five critical areas of health: 1) energy, 2) immunity, 3) gut health, 4) hormonal support, and 5) healthy aging. It is the new and future way of getting a multivitamin, and a whole lot more. Head to www.DrinkAG1.com/cressey and claim my special offer today – 10 FREE travel packs – with your first purchase. I use AG1 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 – July 2023 Q&A: Swimming for PItchers, Sports Hernias, and Overtraining

It's time for another listener Q&A, so I cover three questions from our audience in this week's podcast:

  1. What do you think about swimming between starts for pitchers?
  2. One of my players was recently told he needed core muscle surgery. It seems like a broad term. Can you please enlighten me on what this is and what we could have done to prevent it? And why does it happen in baseball players?
  3. I have a pitcher whose velocity is down. His delivery doesn’t look off, and he hasn’t lost weight. He’s a real go-getter, so I honestly think he might be overtrained. What do you do in these situations?

A special thanks to this show's sponsor, AG1. Head to https://www.DrinkAG1.com/cressey and you'll receive a free 10-pack of Athletic Greens travel packets with your first order.

 

Sponsor Reminder

This episode is brought to you by AG1. AG1 is your daily foundational nutrition; it has 75 whole-food sourced ingredients designed to support your body’s foundational nutrition needs across five critical areas of health: 1) energy, 2) immunity, 3) gut health, 4) hormonal support, and 5) healthy aging. It is the new and future way of getting a multivitamin, and a whole lot more. Head to www.DrinkAG1.com/cressey and claim my special offer today – 10 FREE travel packs – with your first purchase. I use AG1 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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CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast: The Evolution of College Pitching with Jason Jackson

We welcome University of Alabama pitching and associate head coach Jason Jackson to the latest podcast. Jason speaks to how the typical college pitcher has changed dramatically over the years, but the fundamentals of pitching success largely remain unchanged. He shares insights on the transfer portal, NIL deals, the recruiting process, and integration of pitching, strength and conditioning, and sports medicine. "JJ" is one of the most progressive minds in the college game today, and this is an episode you won't want to miss.

A special thanks to this show's sponsor, AG1. Head to https://www.DrinkAG1.com/cressey and you'll receive a free 10-pack of Athletic Greens travel packets with your first order.

 

You can follow Jason on Twitter at @JJacksonBAMA.

Sponsor Reminder

This episode is brought to you by AG1. AG1 is your daily foundational nutrition; it has 75 whole-food sourced ingredients designed to support your body’s foundational nutrition needs across five critical areas of health: 1) energy, 2) immunity, 3) gut health, 4) hormonal support, and 5) healthy aging. It is the new and future way of getting a multivitamin, and a whole lot more. Head to www.DrinkAG1.com/cressey and claim my special offer today – 10 FREE travel packs – with your first purchase. I use AG1 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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Elbow-Supported Dumbbell External Rotations: Do or Don’t?

The elbow-supported dumbbell external rotation is a pretty common exercise in strength and conditioning circles, but does it hold value for overhead throwing populations? In today's video, I answer that question:

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

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CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast: The Far-Reaching Effects of Pitching Velocity

I’m flying solo for this week’s podcast, as I discuss some of the downstream injury impacts - both direct and indirect - of the large increase in pitching velocity we've observed over the past few decades. Huge velocity is here to stay, so it's imperative that the health and human performance industries identify how it impacts player health.

A special thanks to this show's sponsor, Marc Pro. Head to www.MarcPro.com and enter the coupon code CRESSEY at checkout to receive an exclusive discount on your order.

 

Sponsor Reminder

This episode is brought to you by Marc Pro, a cutting-edge EMS device that uses patented technology to create non-fatiguing muscle activation. Muscle activation with Marc Pro facilitates each stage of the body’s natural recovery process- similar to active recovery, but without the extra effort and muscle fatigue. Athletes can use it for as long as they need to ensure a more full and quick recovery in between training or games. With its portability and ease of use, players can use Marc Pro while traveling between games or while relaxing at home. Players and trainers from every MLB team - including over 200 pro pitchers - use Marc Pro. Put Marc Pro to the test for yourself and use promo code CRESSEY at checkout at www.MarcPro.com for an exclusive discount on your order.

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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