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The New Cressey Sports Performance x New Balance Collaboration!

I'm psyched to announce that the new limited edition 2022 Minimus collaboration between Cressey Sports Performance and New Balance is now available! This is our third custom training shoe since 2017, and in each of the previous two runs, they’ve all sold out quickly. Check them out:

This minimalist footwear option makes for a great option for lifting, sprinting, change-of-direction, and medicine ball work. And, it's available in both men's and women's sizes. For more information, check out the links below:

Men's: https://www.newbalance.com/pd/minimus-tr/MXMTRV1-38892.html

Women's: https://www.newbalance.com/pd/minimus-tr/WXMTRV1-38926.html

Enjoy - and be sure to tag us on social media when you get your new CSP kicks!

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Why We Shouldn’t Compare Kids in Sports

One of the more concerning trends I’m seeing on the youth sports scene is the how often the youngest kids are compared to their peers. This is an issue among programs monetizing sports participation, coaches responsible for identifying/developing proficiency, and parents concerned that their kids are falling behind.

I’m somewhat uniquely positioned to speak on this because I’ve been involved on the development of 12-year-olds who’ve eventually become professional athletes. And, more importantly, I’m a parent of three daughters. The older two, Lydia and Addison, are 7-year-old twins.

The most important lesson you learn as a twin parent is that people will always think saying “double trouble” is hilarious even though it’s incredibly hackneyed. Once you move past that, though, lesson #2 is more actionable: you should never try to compare your twins to one another.

This was obvious even when they were in the womb. When we’d go to ultrasounds, Lydia was front and center; we joked that she had her face pressed against the glass. Meanwhile, it would always take the technician and bunch of time to find Addison, who was always “hiding.” At one ultrasound, all we could see was the bottom of her foot.

When they were born, out came a brunette with olive skin (Lydia looks like her mom) and a strawberry blonde with a lighter complexion (Addison is a sunburn waiting to happen, just like dad).

Lydia came out screaming and ready to take on the world. Addison struggled a bit and needed four days in the NICU with oxygen and a feeding tube. Lydia was a feisty baby and always wanted her mother, and Addison was super mellow and could usually be found in dad’s arms while mom was holding her sister.

At 18 months, they flip-flopped. Lydia became the rule follower, and Addison started giving us attitude. Lydia ate just about everything we put in front of her, yet Addison’s taste buds refused to recognize the existence of all but about five foods.

Lydia walked five months before Addison (who was a little taller/heavier) did. Addison picked up swimming faster than Lydia. Lydia swings a bat right handed, while Addison does so lefty. Lydia was reading chapter books while Addison was still working on sight words. Addison, on the other hand, thrived with math relative to her sister.

Lydia is faster; Addison is stronger. Lydia listens intently and has picked up more “coaching intensive” sports like tennis, softball, and gymnastics quickly. Addison, on the other hand, is a bit of a space cadet in the field at softball games; she’s kicking grass and watching adjacent fields. Conversely, she’s in her element with creative initiatives like music, art, and dance.

I develop athletes for a living, and I can tell you without wavering that I have zero clue what sports my kids will enjoy doing next week, let alone years from now. Our twins have spent 99% of their lives together since conception and are completely different now, and we’ve seen unpredictable iterations of them to get to this point.
We don’t predict athletic success well at all. We don’t even predict what sports kids will enjoy well. You’d be amazed at how many professional athletes weren’t child prodigies or even standout middle school athletes. Let’s face it: puberty makes a lot of coaches look much smarter than they are!

In other words, the ONLY thing we can control is enriching their experiences in these sports while they’re participating – and comparisons don’t do that. What does work?

First, praise effort over outcomes. The reps – and the fun that comes with executing them with teammates/friends – are what matter. I can’t tell you a single score from one of my little league games, but I could write a book about an a**hole coach I had who took things way too seriously. In hindsight, he really didn’t know much about baseball, either.

Second, celebrate novelty. It gets kids excited, and participating in a variety of sports at a young age provides a rich proprioceptive environment that cultivates an invaluable athletic foundation upon which specific skills can later be built. This broad athletic foundation includes variability in planes of motion, speed of movement and the forces involved. Collectively, these exposures teach athletes to distribute stress over multiple joints and avoid overuse injuries at specific segments.

Third, appreciate that random practice outperforms blocked practice over the long-term when it comes to skill acquisition. Mix in a variety of drills and fluctuate the order and duration of them, then integrate fun competitions with them.

Fourth, recognize the importance of in-season and off-season periods. This fluctuation of the seasons helps keep kids from getting bored with certain sports, but also facilitates graduated exposures to stressors. A 10-year-old throwing a baseball 12 months out of the year is a terrible idea; playing some soccer and hoops is a great way to stay active while developing in different ways.

Fifth, as soon as a kid is mature enough for it, get them involved in a foundational strength training program. It’ll have a “trickle-down” effect to a variety of athletic qualities while reducing their risk of injury. Again, it has to be fun, just like everything else!

Summarily, don’t compare kids; instead, appreciate that they’re all unique and develop at different rates and in different ways. Youth sports is all about instilling a passion for the game, enjoying a sense of community, and fostering a positive lifelong relationship with exercise.

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Exercise of the Week: Bear Position to Thoracic Bridge

Today’s guest post comes from Cressey Sports Performance – Florida coach and internship coordinator, Andrew Lysy.

Bear Position to Thoracic Bridge is one of the newer mobility exercises we’ve been using lately to enhance thoracic spine, shoulder and hip mobility.

Unlike many other thoracic mobility exercises, Bear Position to Thoracic Bridge actively stretches out your biceps and pecs in a closed-chain manner.

In addition to creating length in the biceps and pecs, the athlete will also be working on anterior expansion, manubrium expansion and shoulder extension, which can help you regain shoulder internal rotation.

A few important cues for properly executing Bear Position to Thoracic Bridge:

1. Actively push away from the ground with your legs and arm/hand. While pushing away from the ground, create a cork-screw feeling with your hand so that your shoulder doesn’t tip/dip forward!

2. While extending your hips, maintain a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. This will help resist excess extension from your lower back and put all of the pressure on your hips!

3. Your feet and thighs should be parallel to each other.

This exercise is commonly used as a warm-up, mobility exercise or filler. We’ve used it for 2-3 sets for 5-8 reps. We’ve also held the Thoracic Bridge position for breaths.

Note from EC: If you're looking to learn more about how I evaluate, program, and coach at the shoulder joint, be sure to check out my popular resource, Sturdy Shoulder Solutions. It's on sale for $40 off through this Sunday at midnight; just enter the coupon code APRIL22 at www.SturdyShoulders.com. 

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Spring Sturdy Shoulder Solutions Sale!

Thursday is Major League Baseball Opening Day, an event that's always circled on the calendars of just about anyone in the baseball world. We're excited to see all our pro players back on the field in games that count!

To celebrate, I've put my resource, Sturdy Shoulder Solutions, on sale for $40 off through this upcoming Sunday (4/10) at midnight.

This has been one of my most popular resources of all time, and it's particularly useful if you work with baseball players. Don't miss out on this great chance to pick it up at an excellent discount. Just head to www.SturdyShoulders.com and enter the coupon code APRIL22 at checkout to get the discount.

 

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CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast: Offseason Hitting Development with Max Rios and Tyler Wolfe

We welcome Max Rios and Tyler Wolfe - two members of the Cressey Sports Performance - Florida hitting team - to this week’s podcast. CSP Hitting oversees the development of dozens of major league, minor league, college, high school, and middle school hitters each year, and in this episode, they discuss how to structure an offseason hitting development program. Max and Tyler also go into detail on how they're innovating with various coaching strategies and training implements while working to foster a growth mindset environment where even the most advanced hitters can "fail forward." I'm incredibly lucky to collaborate with these guys on a daily basis, and in this podcast, you'll get a taste of why that's the case.

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.

 

You can follow @CSP_Hitting on Twitter and @CSP_Hitting on Instagram.

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 - 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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CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast: March 2022 Q&A

We're long overdue for a listener Q&A, so I cover three questions from our audience in this week's podcast:

  1. Now that we're in the inseason period, are there particular strategies you think are important to prioritize with players across all levels?
  2. College baseball injuries seem to be up early in the season, particularly among high profile arms. What are some of the biggest mistakes you're seeing that you think are contributing to these injury rates in the college game today?
  3. What are your go-to strategies for righting the ship when a pitcher's velocity is down in-season?

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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Exercise of the Week: Slideboard Lateral Lunge with Eccentric Band Overload

The slideboard lateral lunge with eccentric band overload is a great exercise I picked up from my buddy Ben Bruno.

You’ll notice that the excursion (on the slideboard) leg has a band around the ankle. This increases the eccentric challenge (slideboard + band = hard!), which has to be offset by a better “hold” from the hinge pattern on the support leg. This hold is comparable to what many hitters rely on to give them adjustability against off speed pitches, and what pitchers feel to avoiding drifting down the mound too quickly — or simply swinging the front leg open.

You can try this with a kettlebell goblet, one-arm racked, or one-arm down setup. We’ll typically program it for 8-10 reps per set, especially because it generally takes a rep or two or athletes to feel it out.

If you’re looking for an exercise that will provide some specific carryover to on-field performance in rotational sport athletes, look no further!

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CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast: Triston McKenzie

We welcome Cleveland Guardians starting pitcher Triston McKenzie to this week’s podcast. I've known Triston since early in his high school years, and his developmental path has been a great model from which other players, parents, and coaches can learn. He speaks to how he's had to evolve as a pitcher, and what he does to embrace what's unique about his body and delivery.

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.

 

You can follow Triston on Twitter at @T_Easy24 and on Instagram at @Triston.McKenzie.

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 - 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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Are BCAAs Worth the Hype?

Today's guest post comes from the team at Examine.com, my top resource for cutting-edge research in health and performance. As a member, I get monthly updates/summaries on a variety of topics in this regard - and it's been invaluable for helping me to stay on top of what's new in my field.

This post is timely, as they have a 30% off sale to celebrate the 11th anniversary of their site launching (you can learn more HERE). In today's post, they touch on a popular - but often misunderstood- supplement: branched chain amino acids (BCAAs).  Enjoy! -EC

Given the importance of protein for exercise, branched chain amino acids (BCAAs; isoleucine, leucine, and valine), which contribute heavily to muscle synthesis, are commonly marketed by supplement companies as being able to provide benefits for resistance training performance, recovery, and body composition. Are they effective, or a waste of money?

The Study

This systematic review of 12 randomized controlled trials assessed the effects of BCAA supplementation on physical performance, muscle damage, and body composition.

Studies that met the following criteria were included:

  • Assessed healthy people who were at least 18 years old, without chronic disease.
  • Utilized BCAA supplementation in isolation compared to a matched control group.
  • Assessed physical performance, muscle damage, or body composition as an outcome.

The sample size of the included studies ranged from 9 to 46, with an average of about 22 participants per study. The studies were published between 2008 to 2018, and study length varied from 1 day to 8 weeks. The average BCAA dose was 19.5 grams per day and was compared to either water, carbohydrate, artificial sweetener, or taurine (a non-essential amino acid). Ten of the studies recruited nonathlete participants, one recruited experienced runners, and one recruited soccer and rugby athletes.

Blood Parameters

Eight studies assessed the effects of BCAA supplementation on blood parameters associated with muscle damage. Seven of them assessed creatine kinase (CK), three assessed lactate dehydrogenase, two assessed lactate, two assessed aldolase, and one article assessed myoglobin and interleukin 6 (IL-6).

Of the seven studies assessing CK, three reported a decrease in CK in the BCAA group compared to placebo following an exercise protocol designed to induce muscle damage (24, 72–96, and 48 hours after exercise in each study, respectively).[4][11][12]

Of the three studies assessing lactate dehydrogenase and of the two studies assessing aldolase, one reported that both markers were lower 72 and 96 hours after an exercise protocol designed to induce muscle damage in a BCAA group, compared to placebo.[11]

Of the two studies assessing lactate, one found that it was lower in the BCAA group than the placebo group immediately after a cycling exercise protocol.[6]

The only study assessing myoglobin and IL-6 found no effect of BCAAs following an exercise protocol designed to induce muscle damage.[2]

Body Composition

Two studies evaluated participant body weight and lean mass. One of these studies found that BCAAs prevented body weight and lean mass loss during an 8-week calorie-restricted diet, compared to a control group consuming a carbohydrate supplement.[9] Notably, the supplement used in the study demonstrating an effect of BCAAs also contained 1,000 mg of citrulline malate and 2,500 mg of L-glutamine. The placebo was a standard electrolyte sports beverage.

Performance:

  • Repetitions performed: Three studies assessed repetitions performed, one of which reported that the BCAA group performed more squat exercise repetitions than a placebo group. The same study reported improvements in body composition.[9]
  • Total distance performed: Two studies assessed distanced performed, with no differences between groups in either study.
  • Strength: Five studies assessed strength, one of which reported a greater increase in 3RM strength on squats and bench press in the BCAA group, compared to the placebo group. The same study reported improvements in body composition.[9]
  • Vertical jump: Three studies assessed vertical jump performance, none of which found an effect of BCAAs.
  • Power: Three studies assessed power, none of which found an effect of BCAAs.
  • Perceived exertion: Two studies assessed perceived exertion, one of which found an improvement at 75 and 90 minutes during a cycling protocol in a group consuming BCAAs, compared to a group consuming a carbohydrate-based electrolyte beverage.[3]
  • Muscle soreness: Six studies assessed muscle soreness and pain, four of which found a reduction in subjective muscle pain in groups consuming BCAAs, compared to a placebo.[2][4][7][11] One reported an effect of BCAAs, as compared to an artificially-sweetened beverage 48 and 72 hours following an eccentric exercise protocol.[2] A second study reported that BCAAs reduced muscle soreness 24 and 48 hours after an exercise protocol designed to induce muscle damage, compared to an artificially-sweetened beverage.[4] A third study reported that consuming BCAAs with taurine reduced muscle soreness 48 hours after an exercise protocol designed to induce muscle damage as compared to a carbohydrate-based placebo,[7] and in another study, consuming BCAAs before an eccentric bicep curl protocol reduced muscle soreness at 72 and 96 hours, as compared to a starch-based placebo.[11]

Note

While several studies demonstrated positive effects of BCAAs, several points must be considered:

  • The background protein intake of the participants probably moderated the benefits of BCAAs. Since BCAAs are three essential amino acids, and therefore found in protein food sources, BCAAs might be less useful for individuals already consuming adequate protein. Of the eight studies reporting benefits of BCAAs, three did not utilize a dietary control or report participants’ total protein intake, only requiring that participants maintain their usual dietary habits, [4] [11][7] and another study did not control participants’ dietary intakes nor provide information on their intake.[6] In one study, participants maintained an overall protein intake of about 1.2 grams per kg of body weight per day (g/kg/day), which the authors noted was lower than the recommended range for resistance training individuals (1.4–2.0 g/kg/day).[12] Another study utilized a calorie and carbohydrate-restricted diet, providing 35–40% of calories from protein.[9] One study asked participants to maintain their habitual intake while assessing their calorie and macronutrient intake during the study, reporting that the BCAA group derived about 69% of total energy from carbohydrates, while information was not provided on fat or protein intake.[3] One study provided all food to participants, providing 1.5 g/kg/day of protein to both BCAA and placebo groups.[2]
  • None of the studies compared BCAAs to another source of amino acids (e.g., a protein supplement or protein from food) except for one study utilizing both taurine and starch in comparator groups.[7]
  • Even if BCAAs were to provide a small benefit on markers of muscle damage or soreness, using BCAAs for this purpose might become redundant if training volume is managed appropriately to avoid excessive muscle damage in the first place.

The Big Picture

Several other review papers have been published assessing the utility of BCAAs for resistance-trained individuals. Here are a few that were published recently:

A 2021 meta-analysis[13] previously reviewed in Study Summaries assessing the effects of BCAAs on muscle soreness and markers of muscle damage found that BCAA supplementation reduced CK levels at less than 24 hours after exercise, as well as 24 and 48 hours after exercise, while improving muscle soreness at less than 24 hours only. However, the observed effects were small.

A 2021 narrative review[14] assessing the effects of BCAAs on muscle strength and hypertrophy concluded that “... the proposed benefits of BCAA used in the marketing of supplements appears to be at odds with the overall state of the current literature, which does not support the efficacy of supplementation on muscle strength and hypertrophy."

A 2017 meta-analysis[15] assessing the effects of BCAAs on muscle soreness and markers of muscle damage, reported that BCAAs reduces CK at less than 24 hours and 24 hours after exercise compared to a placebo, with no effects on lactate dehydrogenase or muscle soreness.

In a 2017 systematic review[16] assessing the effects of BCAAs on markers of muscle damage, 6 of 11 studies reported a beneficial effect of BCAAs.

At the end of the day, limited evidence suggests that BCAAs might reduce muscle soreness and indirect markers of muscle damage in resistance-training people. However, studies demonstrating the benefits of BCAAs utilized non-protein comparator groups, and often failed to report information on participants’ total protein intake. BCAAs probably don’t have utility for people already consuming adequate protein and managing training volume appropriately.

Note: We'll link to the studies referenced in this article in the first comment below.

Wrap-up

If you're looking for more detailed reviews like this, I'd strongly encourage you to check out Examine.com. Their membership offering is second-to-none and is something I review every month to stay on top of the latest research. And, it's on sale for 30% off through Monday to celebrate their 11th anniversary. You can learn more HERE.

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CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast: 10 Training Considerations for Hypermobile Athletes

I'm flying solo for this week's podcast, as I'm going to tackle the topic of joint hypermobility in athletes. This is an extremely important consideration in dealing with baseball and softball athletes, yet the athletes with the greatest laxity are some of the most underserved in these populations.  In this podcast, I make ten main points you should keep in mind with respect to hypermobility.

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.

 

Mentioned Articles/Resources: Functional Stability Training of the Upper Body

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 - 10 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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LEARN HOW TO DEADLIFT
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