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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!

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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.

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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!

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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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3 Thoughts for Getting the Glutes Going

Recently, I box squatted for the first time in a few months - and the posterior chain soreness I felt got me thinking about the functional anatomy in play, particularly with respect to the glutes. Here's what's rattling around my brain on that front (warning: functional anatomy heavy nerd post ahead).

1. People think of the gluteus maximus too much as a hip extensor and not enough as a posterior glider of the femoral head.

The gluteus maximus is an important prime mover of the hip - especially into hip extension. However, it's also a crucial stabilizer. The other hip extensors - hamstrings and adductor magnus - have inferior attachment points lower down on the femur.

Meanwhile, the gluteus maximus actually inserts higher up - right near the femoral head.

The result is that when you extend your hips with the hamstrings and adductor magnus, the head of the femur can glide forward in the socket and irritate the front of the hip. When you get adequate gluteus maximus contribution, it helps to reduce this anterior stress. In many ways, the glutes work as a rotator cuff of the hip (while the hamstrings and adductor magnus act like the lats and pecs, respectively).

2. Glute activation can be a game changer with respect to chronic quadratus lumborum (QL) tightness - but only if you perform exercises correctly.

Shirley Sahrmann and her disciples have frequently observed that whenever you see an overworked muscle, you should always look for a dysfunctional synergist. A common example at the shoulder is a cranky biceps tendon picking up the slack for an ineffective rotator cuff.

Quadratus lumborum fits the bill in the core/lower extremity because its attachment points unify the pelvis, lumbar spine, and ribs.

When it shortens, it pulls the spine into lateral flexion and the lumbar spine into extension. In other words, it can give you "fake" hip abduction and hip extension - both of which come from the glutes. Whether you're doing mini-band sidesteps, side-lying clams, or loading your hips in a pitching delivery, you need to make sure the movement is happening at the ball-socket (femoral head - acetabulum) rather than at the spine. And, when you're doing your prone hip extension, supine bridges, hip thrusts, and deadlifts, you want to make sure you're getting true hip extension and not just extra low back arching.

3. The eccentric role of the glutes in the lower extremity might be their most key contribution.

When heel strike happens, it kicks off the process of pronation in the lower extremity. This pronation drives internal rotation of the tibia and, in turn, the femur. There is a lot of ground reaction force and range of motion that must be controlled, so much of it is passed up the chain because we simply don't have that much cross-sectional area in the muscles below the knee. Because it functions in three planes of motion, the gluteus maximus is in an awesome position to help by slowing down femoral internal rotation, adduction, and flexion.

If you're looking to learn more about how functional anatomy impacts how you assess, coach, and program, I'd strongly encourage you to check out Mike Robertson's new Complete Coach Certification. I've had the opportunity to review it, and it's absolutely fantastic. You can learn more - and get a nice introductory discount - HERE.

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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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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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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 8/26/19

I hope you had a good weekend. Here's a list of recommended reading and listening for the week ahead:

EC on the Physical Preparation Podcast - This is my third time on Mike Robertson's podcast, and it's always a great time. Speaking of Mike, he's launching an awesome training certification in the next few weeks. I've had a chance to preview it, and it's outstanding stuff. You can learn more and get on the announcement list HERE.

EC on the Leave Your Mark Podcast -This was a fun podcast with Scott Livingston. We talked a lot more about my upbringing and how Cressey Sports Performance came to be than we did actual training stuff, so it's a good listen for anyone interested in career development.

I Got My Hip Replaced at 39. Here's Why That Might Get More Common - It's not often that you get an insightful article on a sports medicine topic, but this one was really good. Spoiler alert: hip replacements are getting much more durable - and it should continue in the decades ahead.

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So many people hate on big leg kicks because they think it makes things too high maintenance. I wish more people would realize that any potential drawbacks are usually outweighed by the fact that this unloading of the front leg increases back hip load and can actually make rotational force production more efficient because ideal direction is preserved. I don’t think the baseball or S&C field as a whole appreciates that a lot of athletes barely get into their back hips during hitting, pitching, med ball work, etc. Sometimes, a bigger leg lift in front is the quickest way to find the back hip. 💪 Congrats to @19boknows for a great start in the show. Lots of hard work rewarded, no doubt. Product of a great family - and a heck of a first hitting coach! #Repost @mlb @get_repost_easily #repost_easily ****** Start your day with some slow-mo Bo.

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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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