Home Blog Strength and Conditioning Program Success: The Little Things Matter

Strength and Conditioning Program Success: The Little Things Matter

Written on June 20, 2011 at 6:06 am, by Eric Cressey

This past weekend was really special for me, as I got to watch about two dozen Cressey Performance athletes go out and win the Massachusetts Division 1 State Championship for Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School.

While we work with kids from dozens of high schools in the area, L-S baseball was the first program that “took a chance” on me when I was the new guy in town, and from that initial group of guys grew the Cressey Performance “baseball empire” that now includes loads of professional and college players.  I’ve become great friends with the entire coaching staff, and the players’ families have really adopted my wife and me as part of the L-S baseball community.

This year’s senior class included kids who actually started training with us in eighth grade, and therefore marked the first class of guys who spent their entire high school careers with us at Cressey Performance.  In thinking back on the progress one athlete, Adam Ravenelle, made over those four years, I felt compelled to write this blog.

On Adam’s first day at CP, he looked pretty intimidated – just like any 14-year-old would when stepping into a weight room for the first time.  However, when I went to do his shoulder assessment, I quickly realized that he’d fit in just fine.  When I found that he had almost 140 degrees of external rotation in his throwing shoulder, I turned to my business partner and commented that he had “a big league shoulder” and that if he was willing to put in the work, he’d be a pretty good pitcher (even though he was a shortstop/third basemen at the time).

Four years later, with a fastball in the low 90s, Adam is a 44th round draft pick of the Yankees and a State Champion with a baseball scholarship to Vanderbilt.  He’s pitched at Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, and at all the major competitions – Area Codes, East Coast Pro, USA Baseball Tournament of Stars – that an accomplished player could attend.

You know what, though?  These accomplishments didn’t magically happen; rather, there were thousands of small, but extremely significant moments along the way that took Adam from a “kid with a good shoulder” to the athlete he is today.  There were all the days when he came in to get his arm stretched out the day after a start, and all the times that he came in to lift on a Sunday afternoon in-season when he could just have skipped lifting during the season, like many players ignorantly do.  There were all the meals he ate along the way to gaining over 50 pounds – even though he wasn’t hungry, most of the time.  In fact, sometimes we even made him attack loaves of bread in the office before he was allowed to leave.

Adam was really a microcosm of the entire state championship Lincoln-Sudbury team.  LS has now won 11 straight league titles and three of the last seven state championships, yet their head coach, Kirk Fredericks, called this “the best practice team” he’s ever had.  In other words, they did the little things well day-to-day in order to succeed.  They never skipped steps.

They also didn’t have a single player miss a game due to injury over the course of the entire season.  Their consistency not only afforded them the best possible outcome, but kept them healthy in the process.

It was a remarkably fresh breath of air for me.  I’ve seen a change in young athletes over the past few years where they all want something badly – whether it’s a state championship, college scholarship, or a trip to the big leagues – but very few kids really seem willing to put in the work to get it.  The fitness world isn’t much different; many folks want the fastest way to drop 30 pounds before a wedding or trip to the beach, but all the while ignore the valuable lessons to be learned and habits to be acquired along the way.  They want the destination, but don’t care for the process.

Tim Collins didn’t go to the big leagues because he was more gifted than anyone else.  He went to the big leagues because he was the first guy back to train at the end of every minor league season, and he lived at the gym and did absolutely everything each of his coaches told him to do.

Tyler Beede wasn’t born a first round draft pick.  He earned it by learning to command his fastball and develop his change-up when all the other kids thought it would be fun to screw around with curveballs when they were 11.  He made himself into a first round pick, in part, by driving 40 minutes to CP, training, and driving 40 minutes home 3-4 days per week for the past three years – also gaining almost 50 pounds in the process.

Jordan Cote didn’t just get called in the 3rd round by the Yankees or win the New Hampshire Gatorade Player of the Year award this year because he was 6-6 and “projectable.”  He worked to get it by driving two hours every Saturday morning for the past two years to throw and train at CP at 9AM when everyone else his age was sleeping in.  And that’s why he went from 185 pounds to 218 pounds over the course of 18 months – almost half of which was during the in-season period.  He also drove a long way to play for the New England Ruffnecks program, which is 2.5 hours away in Massachusetts – but consistently produces some of the best talent in New England.

In no way am I saying that Cressey Performance alone was responsible for these guys’ success, nor are these the only guys who did what it took to succeed in recent months.  Rather, I’m showing you that in two aspects of their preparation – training and nutrition – they did the little things that it took to excel.  They certainly did the same with on-field practice, school work, and community service to get to where they are.  There were obviously end goals in mind, but they never interfered with accomplishing day-to-day, hour-to-hour, and moment-to-moment objectives.

To that end, the next time you find yourself fantasizing about your athletic dreams or fitness goals, take a step back and consider whether you’re doing what you need to do in the present to get to where you need to be.

Are you waking up ten minutes early so that you can have a good breakfast before you go to school, or are you the guy that simply complains that you “don’t have time” for a good breakfast?

Are you blocking off an hour in your day to go to the gym, or are you going to allow it to fill up with other obligations that can’t possibly be more important than your health?

Are you dropping hundreds of dollars on showcases when you should be spending time developing your abilities by taking ground balls and batting practice, long tossing, strength training, and working on your mobility?

There is no single way to get to where you want to be.  Likewise, there is no magic pill.  It takes time, consistency, attention to detail, and an appreciation of what must get done in the short term in order to attain long-term success.

Now, shouldn’t you be doing something right now to get closer to your long-term goals?

Congratulations, Lincoln-Sudbury baseball, and thank you – both for the lessons you’ve taught us and for having us along for the ride!

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17 Responses to “Strength and Conditioning Program Success: The Little Things Matter”

  1. R Smith Says:

    Damn, Eric! If this little strength coach/magic shop thing doesn’t work out, you can certainly pay the bills as a kick-ass motivational speaker.


  2. Lori Says:

    May I congratulate your athletes on their accomplishments. It’s a wonderful opportunity for you to have been able to help these kids achieve this success. I am sure they will see many more successes as they journey through life. You hope that all clients have this motivation and dedication.

  3. Natasha Meine Says:

    That was a great blog! I agree in the sense that it does take a lot of work, but if you put your mind to it you can do anything you want!! You can make time for anything you want in life and your health is the most important thing!! Thanks!

  4. Pat Says:

    Makes me think I’ll be shipping Tyler out that way during the summers when he’s a little older;)

  5. Kasey Says:

    Awesome post and congrats to all of those athletes! People just assume that these guys who make it to any professional sport are gifted athletes who were destined to become pros, but really most of them treat their sport like it’s a job. They take chances and risks and spend hours doing the things that it takes to succeed. I’m convinced that the difference between two people, whether they are equally talented or not, athletes or businessmen, is work ethic, dedication, and persistent hard work. Too many people have dreams, but never take action then say “man that guy is so lucky.” It’s not a guarantee, but there is nothing without a start.

  6. Alex Hoplyakov Says:

    Congratulations Eric and CP, congratulations to Lincoln-Sudbury. It is very inspirational to see such success when it comes from so much hard work. All the best in future, no doubts that such an attitude towards details will pay off in the way of future champions winning multiple trophies. Way to go.

  7. Rees Says:

    That is awesome man.

  8. shama Says:

    Awesome coach, to you & your team & the tribe which followed you. CP rocks

  9. chris homan Says:

    eric thanks i might not be a bb player looking to go to the bigs but i dont always do what i need to do to get to my weight loss goals and to see success. thanks for the reminder that excuses dont get u to the promise land

  10. John Says:

    Hi Eric,

    I really enjoyed this article, thanks.

    I am interested to find out the frequency of training that your junior athletes maintain. In ‘Tim’s’ example you mention he attended 3-4 times per week. Would this just be fore the off season? if so how would the frequency of attendance differ in season?

    Kind Regards,


  11. Eric Cressey Says:


    It really depends on what you would consider “junior” athletes. To what ages are you referring?

    The younger the kids, the lower the frequency.

  12. Jack Says:

    Hi Eric:
    17 year old entering his Senior year. Has not pitched, other than an inning per year, since 13 years old, interested in starting to strengthen to pitch. Is it too late, focused on hitting (.418 last season), knows team needs pitching to get deep into playoffs. Cut short this season due to pitching.


  13. Eric Cressey Says:


    Never too late to start.  Curt Schilling started when he was a freshman in college!

  14. Jordan Says:

    Hi Eric,

    I would like to ask permission to link this article in a social media post for my training facility. I have a few players who I feel would benefit reading about the commitment mentioned by you on the behalf of some of your most successful athletes. Also, would you like me to ask permission in the future to link to any of your other writing? All links will be clearly and directly to your website and certainly will not be pawned off as my work.

    I greatly appreciate your time, Eric. I know how busy you are.


  15. Eric Cressey Says:

    Hi Jordan,

    Feel free to link to it; I’m all for spreading the word!  I’d just ask that you not repost the article in its entirety.



  16. jake Says:

    Hey Eric,

    What rep range should I work in when lifting weights if I am a baseball player and don’t want to lose mobility or flexibility? Please help!


  17. jake Says:

    Hey Eric,

    What rep range should I work in when lifting weights if I am a baseball player and don\’t want to lose mobility or flexibility? Please help!


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