Off-Season Training Q&A

About the Author: Eric Cressey

With the baseball playoffs (and associated late nights) wrapped up and my seminar schedule for 2007 winding down, it’s time to put my nose to the grindstone and get a bit more writing done.  On that note, you can expect to see a new e-book from me in a few weeks (details to come soon) as well as the official release of my co-authored book with Matt Fitzgerald on May 5, 2008.  You can also check out some of the updated seminar dates for 2008 on my schedule page.

With that said, let’s get to the content; this weeks we’re getting right to the content with a Q&A.

Q: I’ve seen both you and Kelly Baggett write a bit in the past about the static-spring continuum with respect to your work with basketball players; is this information also applicable to other athletes?  For instance, I know you work with a ton of baseball guys, and given that the Sox just won the World Series, it seems like a good time to ask how it would apply to such a population.

A: Sure; it’s definitely applicable to baseball – and pretty much every sport, in fact.  Believe it or not, I actually used baseball as the example in my Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual.  Rather than reinvent the wheel, here it is (with some add-ons at the end):

The modern era of baseball is a great example, as we’ve had several homerun hitters who have all been successful – albeit via different means.

At the “spring” end of the continuum, we have hitters like Gary Sheffield and Vladimir Guerrero demonstrating incredible bat speed.  The ball absolutely rockets off their bats; they aren’t “muscling” their homeruns at all.  Doing a lot of extra training for bat speed (beyond hitting practice) would be overkill for these guys; they’ll improve their power numbers by increasing maximal strength alone.

At the other end of the spectrum, we have “static” homerun hitters like Mark McGwire and Jeff Bagwell, both of whom were well known for taking weight training very seriously.  These guys are the ones “muscling” baseballs out of the ballpark; the ball almost seems to sit on the barrel of the bat for a split-second before they “flip it” 500 feet.  Getting stronger might help these guys a bit, but getting more spring by focusing on bat speed with upper body reactive training (e.g., medicine ball throws, ballistic push-ups, etc.) would be a more sure-fire means to improvement.  With them, it’s all about using their force quicker – and doing so with more reflexive contributions (i.e., stretch-shortening cycle).

Then, we have the “middle-of-the-road” guys like Barry Bonds and Manny Ramirez.  They possess an excellent blend of static and spring, so they need to train some of both to continue improving physically.

Bonds is actually a good example of how an athlete’s position on the static-spring continuum can change over the course of a career.  When he started out, he was definitely a “spring” guy, hitting most of his homeruns with pure bat speed.  As Bonds’ career progressed, his maximal strength improved due to neural adaptations and increased cross sectional area (more muscle mass).

In light of the media attention surrounding the use of performance-enhancing substances in baseball, I should mention how he increased his muscle mass isn’t the issue in question in the discussion at hand.  The point is that he did increase muscle mass, which increased maximal strength, which favorably affected performance.  The performance-enhancing substances question really isn’t of concern to this discussion.

Now, with all that said, you can take it a step further and present this to a sprinting discussion.

Strong guys are going to tend to try to muscle things when they sprint.  You’ll see longer ground contact times.  I’ve dealt with this myself as I attempt to transfer my powerlifting background to more sprinting.  I have to make a conscious effort to stay on the balls of my feet and think about how much force I put into the ground instead of just using my glutes and hamstrings to pull me forward.

Conversely, reactive guys have no problem minimizing ground contact time; they just don’t have the force to put into the ground in the first place.

If, however, you’re too weak on the whole to withstand the ground reaction forces that take place with sprinting (go to this recent newsletter for a little background on that), the static-spring discussion doesn’t really apply to you.  Get stronger, work on landing mechanics and technique, and you can think about it when the time is right.

Of course, the strength and reactive components of sprinting are just two pieces of the puzzle; you also need to consider dynamic flexibility, muscular balance, footwear, sprinting mechanics, body composition, and a host of other factors.

Just one last reminder that this week’s sale ends at the end of the day today.  It includes:

Building the Efficient Athlete: Normally $199.99

Magnificent Mobility: Normally $49.99

The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual: Normally $99.99

Rugged T-Shirt of your choice: Normally $14.99

Total Value: $364.96 + shipping from multiple locations (roughly $25-$45,

depending on your location)

Through Wednesday at midnight, however, this World Series Package will only be $249.99 + shipping and handling.

All you need to do is go to the following link and place your order:

Be sure to tell us in the comments box whether you’d like the black or white shirt and what size you’d like (black is available in M, L, and XL, and white is available in L and XL).  You can check out the shirts at:

All the Best,


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