Home Baseball Content Strength and Conditioning Programs: Methods vs. Applications

Strength and Conditioning Programs: Methods vs. Applications

Written on September 14, 2016 at 8:48 am, by Eric Cressey

Each week, invariably, I get a few email inquiries that go something like this:

What do you think of <insert training device or method here>?

The "training device or method" seems to come in waves. In training, for a while, it was kettlebells. Then it was Crossfit. In the rehab world, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections are a hotter topic these days, and I'd expect stem cell therapy for musculoskeletal issues to be the next wave.

In the baseball world, people then asked about J-Bands. Then it was long toss. Now, it always seems to be weighted balls. 

Most of the time, people are asking the wrong question. 

You can't truly evaluate a method or device without considering its application. Click To Tweet

Using the weighted balls example, I love them and have used them in various capacities since 2007. I've used them with teenage athletes and I've used them with a Cy Young Award winner. I've used them with 1st round draft picks and 50th round draft picks.

You know what else? There were a lot of pitching coaches using them before I even started. And, they were well established in the track and field throwing community long before the baseball world adopted them. And, we now have plenty of studies in scholarly journals supporting their use. However, that doesn't mean they're right for every single application.

If you throw weighted balls a week after you have shoulder surgery - and then blow out the shoulder again - is the problem the weighted balls? Or, is the problem that you were an idiot in your application of this device/method?

If your 8-year-old does an aggressive weighted ball program and winds up with a growth plate fracture, is it the fault of the weighted balls or the program? Or, are you just a misdirected father who put the carriage way in front of the horse?

The weighted balls are the device/method. The programming volume, implement load, throwing technique, time of year, and athlete preparedness are some of the variables that constitute the broader "application" category.

My High Performance Handbook has been really popular across a number of training populations, but it's a horrible fit for you if you had spine surgery last week.  


A lot of people have great fitness success with Crossfit programs, but many wind up banged up because their application of these principles is wrong. They may not adhere to solid technique, or they may have pre-existing structural pathologies and movement impairments that should lead to contraindicating certain exercises.

Front squats can be an awesome exercise. They aren't going to feel so good if you have a degenerative hip or acromioclavicular joint injury, though.

J-Bands are a huge training asset to your arm care routine when used correctly. If you're going to use them incorrectly, though, you're better off leaving them in your equipment bag.

Stop contraindicating methods and devices, and instead start improving your ability to critically think and evaluate applications. The best coaches that I know aren't just the guys with the most tools in their toolbox; they're the carpenters that know which tool is the best fit for the job at hand.

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8 Responses to “Strength and Conditioning Programs: Methods vs. Applications”

  1. Chris Lekkas Says:

    Eric I have a few questions about this topic. Do you mostly see baseball players that come to you are more on the tight side or more on the loose side when it comes to the shoulder? Also what other stretches or mobility work would you recommend to increase external rotation of the shoulder besides just throwing and the band work shown in the above video?

  2. Tom Mcdonald Says:

    Hi Eric, love your content, I have been using your High Performance program, fantastic . A year ago I started to get left side hip pain, just had it X-Rayed and it shows degenerative changes and narrowing on the outer left side, pain is not to bad as long as I keep stretching. Do you have any suggestions on how I can modify to keep lifting, I am thinking single leg work would be better. Thanks

  3. John Costello Says:

    I can remember my dad, as a semi pro pitcher 60+ years ago, using a weighted ball (lead core) to strengthen and condition his arm.

  4. Shane Mclean Says:

    No bosu ball example :)? Nice post Eric.

  5. Christian Bosse Says:

    Great article, Eric! You made it into my weekly article review http://christianbosse.com/article-recommendations-week-37-2016-2/ again.
    I definitely like the profound approach to coaching, keep up the great work!

  6. Eric Cressey Says:


    Give this a read for some options: http://jasonferruggia.com/so-you-cant-squat/

  7. Eric Cressey Says:


    They come at both ends of the spectrum – and in the middle, too.

    Rarely will you need to do stretching into ER. Give this a read: http://ericcressey.com/shoulder-mobility-drills-how-to-improve-external-rotation

  8. Tom Mcdonald Says:

    Thanks a lot Eric, I know you are crazy busy, so much appreciated for answering me, and that article is great.

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