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Exercise of the Week: Prone External Rotation End-Range Lift-off to Internal Rotation

If you're involved in any sport that requires a lot of precise control of the extreme external rotation position (as in throwing), here's an advanced progression that you could benefit from trying. Many rotator cuff exercises focus on building strength/motor control/timing in positions that aren't specific to the throwing motion, but this one forces athletes to be proficient in positions that really matter.

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

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CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast: Should Pitchers Take Time Off From Throwing?

For this week's podcast, I'm flying solo as I tackle a commonly debated question in the world of developing pitchers: should pitchers take time off from throwing? This is something I've pondered a lot over the years, and my position on it has evolved considerably.

A special thanks to this show’s sponsor, Athletic Greens. Head to http://www.athleticgreens.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 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 – 10 FREE travel packs – 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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Making Sense of the Cressey/Proteus Power Report

I published some articles (here and here) last year about how we were digging in really deep on using Proteus Motion not only as a training initiative for rotational power and arm care, but also as a way to test power and acceleration in rotational sport athletes. The culmination of a lot of collaborative work with Proteus is the Cressey Power Test. We used it all last offseason with a lot of professional, college, and high school athletes to build out a large sample size, and now it's being rolled out to facilities where a Proteus unit is housed. Check out this webinar to learn what the test tells us:

You can see the components of the test in the following video as well:

It's still a bit of a work in progress, and our data set is getting larger and larger with each passing day, but we're super excited about the findings thus far and - more importantly - how they're impacting the way we train our athletes. You can learn more at www.ProteusMotion.com.

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CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast: The Reconditioning Roundtable

For this week's podcast, I'm joined by Rob Friedman (the Pitching Ninja) and renowned pitching consultant Alan Jaeger for a discussion on the importance of true reconditioning programs for pitchers after interval throwing rehabilitation programs. If you work with injured pitchers - or are one yourself - then you won't want to miss this discussion.

A special thanks to this show’s sponsor, Athletic Greens. Head to http://www.athleticgreens.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 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 – 10 FREE travel packs – 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: Jose Trevino

We're excited to welcome Texas Rangers catcher Jose Trevino to the latest podcast. In this episode, Jose discusses his background as a multi-sport athlete and how it facilitated his switch from infielder to catcher. Building on that, he shares insights on the challenges that went with learning the new position, as well as what the preparation of a MLB catcher includes. This was honestly one of my favorite interviews that we've done for the podcast; Jose is a great guy who has really worked for all the success that's come his way, and he has a lot to teach.

A special thanks to this show’s sponsor, Athletic Greens. Head to http://www.athleticgreens.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 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 – 10 FREE travel packs – 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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An Overlooked Function of Serratus Anterior

Serratus anterior gets:

1. A lot of love as a scapular protractor

2. Some love as a scapular upward rotator

3. Even less love as a posterior tilter of the scapula

4. Just about zero love for its impact on rib internal/external rotation.

Most importantly, you'll see that the upper fibers of the serratus anterior attach on the first rib - the very bone that's removed during thoracic outlet surgery.


Images by Anatomography - en:Anatomography (setting page of this image), CC BY-SA 2.1 jp, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27010000

When the serratus fires, it depresses the first rib and clears space under the clavicle for important nerve and vascular structures to pass.

If you take a second to think about it while looking at the anatomy charts below, you'll appreciate that this attachment effectively makes serratus anterior an antagonist to the scalenes and subclavius, which both elevate the first rib.

This is one reason why a lot of the thoracic outlet syndrome cases you'll encounter aren't your classic kyphotic (hunchback) posture, but actually a lot of flat thoracic spine, heavy scapular downward rotation/depression, and horizontal clavicle presentations.

Getting serratus anterior going favorably impacts scapular upward rotation (which brings the clavicle up), first rib positioning, and the ideal convex-concave relationship between the rib cage and scapula.

Fun fact: serratus anterior also indirectly impacts contralateral thoracic rotation, but that's a post for another day!

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

 

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Exercise of the Week: Half-Kneeling Wall-Press 1-Arm J-Band Trap Raise

Today's guest post comes from Cressey Sports Performance - MA coach, Ethan Dyer.

The Half-Kneeling Wall-Press 1-Arm J-Band Trap Raise is a new variation we’ve been using a lot with our more hypermobile (loose jointed) and/or younger athletes here at CSP. We get the same value as a traditional J-Band trap raise, but with a small tweak that can be a huge difference maker for certain athletes.

Important Coaching Cues:

Make sure we nail our half-kneeling position. Any postural issues down the chain will create interference up the chain. Undue lumbar extension and/or "hip hike" on one side needs to be taken care of before we can worry about the rest of the exercise.

Our wall press needs to be aggressive enough to make a difference. This is what separates this exercise from a standard J-Band trap raise or "Y." By actively reaching with our off hand, we push our rib cage back - allowing for better scapulothoracic (shoulder blade on rib cage) congruency and ideally more effective retraction/upward rotation. Reaching against a hard surface gives us even more stability in that position, and this is particularly useful for our looser, floppier guys (you know who you are).

As we perform the trap raise we need to be careful not to lose our initial posture. If we allow compensatory movement in the lower extremity or the torso, we are no longer isolating the desirable posterior tilt and upward rotation and end up performing what is essentially a full-body exercise.

To progress this, stand the athlete up (short-split or split-stance). Removing the wall will make this more difficult but may dramatically change the stimulus depending on the athlete.

We love the J-Band "Junior" resistance for this exercise; the traditional resistance J-Bands will bury a lot of people here. As with other J-Band drills, we get a lot of value without asking our athletes to grip anything (think high throwing volume or return-to-throw).

This variation is probably most useful in the 8 to 12 rep range, with a varying number of sets depending on its location in a program (part of a warm-up or movement day, or accessory work during a lift).

About the Author

Ethan Dyer serves as a Strength & Conditioning coach at Cressey Sports Performance. He started as a client at CSP and eventually went on to intern at CSP-MA. Following another internship at Indianapolis Fitness and Sports Training, Ethan joined the CSP-MA team. He was a pitcher at the College of the Holy Cross before transferring to Endicott College to complete his undergraduate work with a major in Exercise Science and minor in Psychology. A Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach through the National Strength and Conditioning Association, Ethan has been a volunteer with both the Miracle League and Special Olympics, and has a passion for working with young athletes to help them fall in love with training while avoiding injury. You can follow him on Instagram at @Ethan___Dyer.

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Random Thoughts on Sports Performance Training: Installment 38

I'm going to try to get back on track for one installment of this long-running series each month. This month, it's a speed/agility theme, as it's fresh on my mind with this week's $200 off sale on Lee Taft's awesome Certified Speed and Agility Coach certification. Let's get to it.

1. I'm not sure I really like sled sprinting for making most athletes faster.

I'll probably take some heat for this, but hear me out.

Research has shown that running with sled resistance can help athletes run faster. If you search for "resisted sprinting sled" at Pubmed, you'll get 63 results - most of which show a beneficial effect. You know what most of them will also show? A bunch of study subjects who really haven't done a whole lot of strength training. It seems like 2/3 of these studies are in:

a) professional soccer players, who we all know LOOOOOVEEE the weight room (that was sarcasm, for those who aren't picking it up)

or

b) high school soccer players, who are even weaker than the pro soccer players who hate lifting (and don't have much training experience)

My feeling is that anytime you take athletes who are either a) really weak or b) hard-wired to the absolute speed end of the continuum (or both) and shift them toward the absolute strength side of things (even if it's not all the way), you'll see benefit.

Here's where things take a twist. In the real world, resisted sled work actually gets integrated in two ways:

a) coaches who don't have a lot of equipment or an actual facility look for ways to challenge strength a bit more outside at a field. So, it's a little load for athletes that probably need a lot of load (absolute strength) to thrive.

b) coaches/athletes who are infatuated with lifting heavy stuff and don't know how to program/coach sprint/agility work very well use sleds as a way to try to convince themselves they're actually making getting faster a priority. The loads are typically far too heavy to move the weight fast and challenge elastic qualities to a great degree. As such, it's not enough of a shift to the absolute speed end of the continuum to give them optimal benefit.

If you dig in on the research enough, you'll see this. This 2020 study demonstrated greater benefits over 8 weeks of training with 40% of body weight as loading than with 80% of body weight (the latter group actually got slower). Another 2020 study of rugby players found that "80% BM [body mass] induced significantly higher hip flexion, lower knee flexion, and higher ankle dorsiflexion than 20% BM condition at 5-10 and 10-20 m distances (p < 0.05). Lighter sled loads (<40% BM) seem to be more adequate to improve speed ability without provoking drastic changes in the unloaded sprinting technique, whereas heavier loads may be more suitable for optimizing horizontal force production and thus, acceleration performance."

You know who already typically have great acceleration scores? Strong people. They can muscle their way through the first portion of movement and get away with just dabbling in the long (or slow) stretch shortening cycle (>250ms ground contact time) before they get exposed in the short (or fast) stretch-shortening cycle (<250ms ground contact time). Sprinting (and its derivatives) should be short/fast SSC initiatives.

In short, I really don't think sled work makes people faster if they're already doing a lot of strength training work. And, I'm not sure I buy that it's the most efficient way to teach acceleration mechanics. If you're going to use it in conjunction with a comprehensive strength training program, make sure the load of the sled is really light.

And, if you're planning to load it up more, it'll probably work best in scenarios of naturally elastic athletes who don't have a huge foundation of strength. It's probably good for limited equipment scenarios, but be cautious of how much you integrate because it may actually negative impact sprinting mechanics.

Now, feel free to argue on Twitter if you want to disagree with me.

2. Just coaching a directional step doesn't necessarily improve speed; you have to coach the other leg, too.

In a 2017 study, Tomohisa et al. found that the jab step (also known as the directional step) is superior for base stealing. No surprise there; it's what the overwhelming majority of successful baserunners do at the pro and college levels. However, what I think this study did do a great job of is discussing why the jab step is superior to the crossover step, thanks to both a motion capture system and two force platforms:

"The results showed that the normalised average forward external power, the average forward-backward force exerted by the left leg, and the forward velocities of the whole body centre of gravity generated by both legs and the left leg were significantly higher for the JS start than for the CS start. Moreover, the positive work done by hip extension during the left leg push-off was two-times greater for the JS start than the CS start."

Boiled down to simpler terms, while the right leg gets a ton of attention for it setting up acceleration via a) creating a positive shin and b) mechanically repositioning the center of mass outside the base of support, the truth is that we should be talking about how the left leg is doing the lion's share of the work. Doubling your hip extension is a HUGE deal, as you're gaining ground without having to reach with the front leg (which could set you up for negative shin angles on subsequent steps).

That said, it still has to be coached; just coaching the right leg doesn't get the job done. You have to teach them to feel the left leg push-off. I like telling the athlete to "push the ground away" on the trailing leg, and have also seen some benefit by standing between 1st and 2nd base and having the athlete isometrically against me to get a feel for what the back hip/leg should be doing.

3. Playing multiple sports is great not only for exposure to a wide variety of movement patterns, but also because of the high volume of variable plyometric activity involved.

Playing multiple sports builds better long-term athletes in large part because they're exposed to rich proprioceptive environments that enable them to develop motor strategies for dealing with any challenge sports or life may throw at them. If you build a big foundation of general athletic proficiency, you're more likely to be successful when the time comes to stack specific athletic proficiencies on top of that base. However, there's likely another benefit: volume.

I recall reading years ago that the average midfielder makes 2,200 changes of direction in a soccer match. That's a ton of work - and no two cuts are like one another. I'm sure you can find similar crazy statistics with basketball, tennis, football, and a host of other activities. It's so hard to find that "varied" volume in any other way - and it's particularly advantageous that many of these activities take place during childhood growth spurts, when it's super advantageous to train power (great stuff from Dr. Greg Rose on this in this previous podcast), because long bone growth has outpaced the ability of muscles/tendons to keep up. As such, you get springy athletes!

I've often said that it's easier to make a fast guy strong than it is to make a strong guy fast. One reason for this is that it's not hard to build strength with a limited volume of work in the weight room. However, it's incredibly hard to build elasticity without a ton of reps. And, if I get a baseball-only kid at age 16 who hasn't played multiple sports, I've got an uphill battle to chase elasticity - both of the tendons and fascial system - without hurting him.

So, take my word for it: early specialization is a bad idea - and we're discovering more and more reasons why that's the case with each passing day.

One Final Note: If you're looking to learn more about Lee's approach to programming and coaching speed and agility work, I highly recommend his Certified Speed and Agility Coach course. The information is top notch, and it's on sale for $200 off through Sunday. This resource is mandatory viewing for all our staff members, and it was actually filmed at Cressey Sports Performance - MA. You can learn more HERE

 

 

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5 Lessons from a First-Round Draft Pick

In last week's Major League Baseball Draft, Cressey Sports Performance had 15 athletes selected - including three of the top 30 picks.

Among of those three, Frank Mozzicato, was selected 7th overall by the Kansas City Royals - making him the highest draft pick we've ever had out of 185 draft picks since our business opened.

Given that Frank's selection so high surprised so many people, many articles were written about his rapid rise up draft boards. In an article in "The Athletic," Alec Lewis wrote:

Fahy first saw Mozzicato in the summer of 2020. The 6-foot-3 lefty threw 85-86 mph. Fahy jotted down notes, at the very least expecting Mozzicato to be a good college pitcher. Then, in late February, a few of his scouting friends started talking: People are watching this kid; he threw really well.

What Fahy would later find out is how much Mozzicato had committed himself in 2020. Mozzicato, a multisport athlete growing up, road-tripped up to Cressey Sports Performance, where he further focused on pitching. This meant better nutrition and more specified lifts. Each contributed to an uptick in velocity, which Fahy noticed when he first watched him this spring.

It was early March, and Fahy observed a Mozzicato warmup in the bullpen at East Catholic High School.

“You take notice of the kid’s body and athleticism,” Fahy said. “That’s what stood out. Lean frame. You could project on him and say he’d be physical. His arm worked well. And right away, he spun his breaking ball.”

These paragraphs yield several invaluable lessons:

1. Many great players are late bloomers.

I know loads of MLB players who were barely recruited out of high school, but thrived when they got to college. Defining "upside" on 16-17 year-old players is difficult not only because bodies can change dramatically in just months, but also because most haven't yet learned how to work hard and compete.

2. Failure is a great teacher.

Frank didn't make an Area Code roster last summer, and it motivated him to get after it to improve. Jesus Luzardo didn't make his, and he was the big leagues at age 21. Tyler Beede was cut from Team USA and became a first rounder. Scouts often admit that they're wrong more than they're right. One reason is that you can’t predict how someone will respond to being overlooked. Some guys whine about it, and others get to work.

3. Sacrifice optimizes buy-in.

Many guys say that they "want it," but aren't willing to give up other things that they also want. Cressey Sports Performance - Massachusetts is 80 minutes from Frank's high school in CT, and he made that trip a lot. He drove past facilities on the way that couldn't deliver the expertise and environment that we delivered, and sacrificed time with family and friends to make it happen. If everything is easy, athletes may falsely assure themselves that everything will come easily, too. Sometimes, putting additional skin in the game is a way to the commitment to working is real.

4. Multisport athletes are primed for gains when they eventually specialize.

These gains aren't conferred to the same degree if you specialize at age 12, though, because the foundation isn't build broadly enough and the injuries are extensive. Frank had a clean injury history and movement foundation, so we could progress quickly instead of putting a broken body back together.

5. Coordinating efforts across strength and conditioning, nutrition and skill instruction is key.

Synergy is a big differentiator for us at CSP; we make sure all these pieces fit together. Those entities require expertise and seamless integration.

Interesting in learning more about our baseball development offerings? Check out CSP-Massachusetts, CSP-Florida, or our online training offerings.

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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All-Star Break Sale: Get Functional Stability Training for 25% Off

Today is the first day of Major League Baseball's All-Star Break, a welcomed "recharge" period for players and staff - and also an exciting few days of highlighting the great present and future talents of MLB.

To celebrate, Mike Reinold and I have put our Functional Stability Training series on sale for 25% off through Friday at midnight. These are some of our most popular resources, so don't miss out on this great chance to pick them up at an excellent discount. Just head to www.FunctionalStability.com and enter the coupon code MLB2021EC at checkout to get the discount.

Here's what a few industry leaders have to save about FST:

“After 30 years of coaching, I do whatever I can to cut out the middle man when it comes to learning a concept, method, or training strategy- I go straight to the source whenever possible. I can’t tell you how impressed I am with the precision and focus of two of the best professional in performance and therapy. Mike Reinold and Eric Cressey are game changers and Functional Stability Training is world-class.”

Lee Taft, Strength and Conditioning Coach

"When it comes to teaching the function of the body in terms sport performance and rehab, you can’t get much better than Eric Cressey and Mike Reinold. When these two team up, great things happen, consistently and emphatically. Functional Stability Training is a fantastic product that I would recommend to any trainer, coach, or rehab professional that wants to expand their knowledge."

Dean Somerset, BSc. Kinesiology, CEP, CSCS, MEPD


Again, just head to to www.FunctionalStability.com and enter the coupon code MLB2021EC at checkout to get the discount.
 

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