Home Posts tagged "Baseball Training"

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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Elite Baseball Development Podcast: Should Pitchers Distance Run?

I'm flying solo for this week's podcast, as I wanted to tackle a controversial topic in the world of baseball development: distance running. Before we get to it, though, 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

  • Why “traditionalism” is so rooted in baseball, leading to distance running becoming commonplace
  • How athletic performance is a multifactorial equation and coaches should avoid pinpointing success to one specific methodology and being married to the n=1 training approach
  • Why skill coaches need to appreciate the dynamic nature of exercise science and understand that what we know about training athletes is remarkably different from decades prior
  • How the athletes playing baseball have grown to be bigger and heavier over the decades and what the implications are for using outdated training practices with this new breed of baseball players
  • How physiological adaptations are incredibly specific
  • Why coaches need to better understand the energy system demands of baseball and employ methodologies that build an aerobic base rather than thrash their athletes and end up training the players anaerobically
  • Why clearing lactic acid is a poor excuse for using distance running and what the real reasons are for feeling fresh after long distance, low intensity running
  • Why building an aerobic base is necessary for athletic performance and vital for acute and chronic recovery
  • How training an aerobic base requires a much lower intensity than most athletes and coaches think
  • Why using a low amplitude, low variability movement, like distance running, is insufficient for training a high amplitude, low variability movement, like pitching
  • How coaches can implement more practical methods, such as mobility circuits, to drive adaptations, preserve strength and power qualities, and optimize recovery
  • When the ideal time is to target the aerobic system – and how these benefits can best be preserved throughout a season

Mentioned Resources: Building Aerobic Capacity with Mobility Circuits

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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Elite Baseball Development Podcast with AJ Pollock

We're excited to welcome Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder AJ Pollock to the podcast for Episode #12. A special thanks goes out to this show's sponsor, Versaclimber. It's my absolute favorite conditioning option, and they've got a great 10% off offer going for our podcast listeners at http://www.Versaclimber.com/Cressey.

Show Outline

  • How AJ’s experience as a multi-sport athlete growing up in Connecticut allowed him to enjoy being a kid and develop into a well-rounded athlete
  • How AJ went from an unnoticed player his junior year of high school to a star on the Connecticut baseball scene by the end his senior season
  • What the college recruiting process was like for AJ as a standout hitter from the Northeast
  • How AJ remained a successful hitter as he seamlessly transitioned from high school baseball to Division 1 competition at Notre Dame
  • How the game of baseball has changed since AJ was drafted a decade ago
  • How AJ has been able to utilize the influx of data in baseball to shorten the learning curve in his game and make meaningful adjustments to his hitting approach
  • How AJ balances trusting his instincts and sticking to what works for him with the data revolution in baseball
  • Why self-awareness, attention to detail, and continuous refinement have allowed AJ to remain consistent over the course of his career regardless of the level of competition
  • What AJ’s typical batting practice routine is to prepare for a game
  • How AJ has become one of most consistent defensive outfielders in the MLB
  • How AJ has learned to manage his emotions daily and how he trains mentally to remain positive through the ups and downs of the game of baseball

You can follow AJ on Instagram at @AJPollock_.

Sponsor Reminder

This episode is brought to you by Versaclimber. In addition to being a phenomenal option for training all across the energy systems continuum, the Versaclimber exposes individuals to important fundamental movement patterns: scapular upward rotation, hip extension, and a synced-up crawling pattern. It's also non-impact, and can therefore be used with a wider variety of clients than other conditioning modalities. They've set up a great discount of 10% for our listeners; you can learn more at http://www.Versaclimber.com/Cressey.

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: 4/26/19

Today, I've got a little recommended reading and listening to wrap up your week! Before I get to it, though, just a quick reminder that the early-bird registration deadline for my June 2 shoulder course in St. Louis is quickly approaching. You can learn more HERE.

Just a Coach in the Strength and Conditioning Profession - Jim Ferris is an accomplished coach whose social media posts are always super entertaining. He's got a great sense of humor and a lot of experience, so it's awesome to see him publishing articles now.

Strength Training for the Softball Athlete - I joined the National Fastpitch Coaches Association podcast to talk about strength and conditioning in the softball world. It covers a wide range of topics, though, ranging from long-term athletic development to specific injury prevention.

How to Show You're Passionate in a Job Interview - On the surface, this has nothing to do with strength and conditioning. However, just about everyone who interviews for a S&C position invariably falls back on leveraging their passion to make their case. If you're going to use that approach, keep these strategies from the Harvard Business Review in mind.

Top Tweet of the Week

Top Instagram Post of the Week

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Elite Baseball Development Podcast with Bob Tewksbury

We're excited to welcome retired MLB pitcher and current Chicago Cubs Mental Skills Coordinator Bob Tewksbury to the podcast. A special thanks to this show's sponsor, Lumberlend. Head to www.Lumberlend.com and enter the coupon code CSP to get free shipping on your order of two or more bat mugs.   

Show Outline

  • What made Bob Tewksbury a successful MLB pitcher for 12 years.
  • What inspired Bob to pursue a career as a mental skills coach.
  • Why Bob returned to school after his playing days to obtain a Master’s Degree in sport psychology and counseling from Boston University rather than relying solely on his professional baseball experience to propel his career as mental skills coach.
  • How we can end the stigma around mental skills coaching and the idea that mental practice is only necessary when things are not going right.
  • How Bob established credibility as a mental skills coach and how parents and coaches can distinguish charlatans from reputable professionals in the industry of sports psychology.
  • How to overcome the reluctance players have towards discussing the vulnerable topics of mental skills.
  • What strategies Bob uses to open the conversation with players who need help.
  • Why self awareness is important for building a system to govern your mentality.
  • How developing mental skills with high school, college, and professional athletes is similar and different
  • How parents and coaches can learn to foster a positive environment, more effectively monitor each child’s psychological needs, and better develop the youth they influence.
  • Why it’s important to understand the difference between fantasizing and imagery and how grounded goals give visualization substance.

You can pick up Bob's awesome book, 90 Percent Mental, here.

You can follow Bob on Twitter at @bob_tewksbury, and on Instagram at @btewksbury39.

Sponsor Reminder

This episode is brought to you by Lumberlend Co. If you're looking for a unique gift for a baseball fan in your life, you'll definitely want to check this out: they've hollowed out the bat barrel and created a cool drinking mug. You can customize these with colors, names, logos, and photographs. They're also an officially licensed MLBPA product, so you can get your favorite teams and players incorporated into the designs. I've used these as gifts with great feedback, so I'm confident you'd experience the same. The crew at Lumberlend is offering free shipping on two or more bat mugs with the coupon code CSP at checkout. Just head to Lumberlend.com to design yours today.

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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Elite Baseball Development Podcast with Steve Cishek

We're excited to welcome Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Steve Cishek to the podcast. A special thanks to this show's sponsor, Lumberlend. Head to www.Lumberlend.com and enter the coupon code CSP to get free shipping on your order of two or more bat mugs.   

Show Outline

  • How underdeveloped, high school Steve Cishek sent VHS tapes to college coaches enticing them to recruit him
  • Why Division 2 Carson-Newman College was the right fit for Steve and his development
  • How Steve’s arm slot has remained consistent throughout his career, and he has instead manipulated his trunk position to find the pitching delivery that works best for him
  • How Steve’s appearance in the 2013 World Baseball Classic contributed to his struggles in April 2013 following the WBC, and what he learned about his fastball and what makes him effective as a pitcher during this time
  • How Steve’s slider developed in the minors
  • Why Steve's humility has made him a popular player in every clubhouse in which he plays
  • How Steve modified his throwing program daily to account for his workload as a reliable reliever in-season
  • How Steve remains even keel through the ups and downs of a season
  • How Steve approaches in-season training
  • Why Cishek’s fastball usage is increasing when fastball usage is trending down across most of MLB
  • Steve explains ways young pitcher’s can build rapport with their catcher.

You can follow Steve on Twitter at @srShrek31, and on Instagram at @srShrek31.

Sponsor Reminder

This episode is brought to you by Lumberlend Co. If you're looking for a unique gift for a baseball fan in your life, you'll definitely want to check this out: they've hollowed out the bat barrel and created a cool drinking mug. You can customize these with colors, names, logos, and photographs. They're also an officially licensed MLBPA product, so you can get your favorite teams and players incorporated into the designs. I've used these as gifts with great feedback, so I'm confident you'd experience the same. The crew at Lumberlend is offering free shipping on two or more bat mugs with the coupon code CSP at checkout. Just head to Lumberlend.com to design yours today.

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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Baseball Athleticism: It’s Probably Not What You Think It Is

A few weeks ago, I was in Ft. Myers to deliver an in-service for the Minnesota Twins sports medicine staff, and one of the strength and conditioning interns asked me a question:

"I'm new to baseball. If there was one important reminder you'd give to someone in my position with respect to working with baseball players, what would it be?"

My response:

"You have to emotionally separate yourself from your perception of what makes athletes successful. Often, baseball players are successful because of traits and characteristics as much as they are actual athleticism."

Think about it...

We've seen position players who are phenomenal athletes who didn't make it to the big leagues because they couldn't hit breaking balls.

We know of absolutely electric arms who never panned out at higher levels of pro ball because they didn't have effective secondary offerings to complement their fastballs.

We've watched underwhelming physiques hit mammoth homeruns, and we've watched bad bodies on the mound dominate hitters because they've mastered a knuckleball.

Do you think these absurdly long fingers might be able to learn an elite changeup faster than ones that are, say, six inches shorter?

And, do you think this insanely long middle finger might impact how well he can throw a slider?

Don't you think this freaky hypermobility might be advantageous for this pitcher to contort his body in all sorts of directions to create deception and get way down the mound?

Hitters with 20/10 vision are going to stand a better chance of making it to the big leagues than those with 20/40.

I'm not saying you should encourage baseball players to be sloppy fat or weak, or to encourage them to avoid stretching or lifting. I'm just telling you that you need to appreciate that every athlete is successful for different reasons. Some of these traits will impact how you train that player, and others won't matter much at all. Either way, appreciate that baseball players rarely look, run, or jump like chiseled NFL wide receivers. And, more importantly, figure out how to heavily leverage and protect the exact characteristics that make them great.

If you're interested in learning about how your own unique structural and functional characteristics - and how they relate to your on-field performance and training preparations - I'd strongly encourage you to consider a visit to a Cressey Sports Performance facility to get a thorough evaluation to determine where your deficiencies exist. When you put a video evaluation of pitching/hitting alongside a thorough movement screen, it can be a very powerful combination to unlock hidden potential. For both amateur and professional players, we offer both short-term consultations and a more extensive Elite Baseball Development Summer Collegiate Program.

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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5 Great Kettlebell Exercises for Baseball Players

Today's guest post comes from Seattle-based physical therapist, Dan Swinscoe. Enjoy! -EC

Kettlebells have come a long way since they were used as weights on scales in the open air markets of eastern Europe about two hundred years ago. For exercise purposes, they’ve been called everything from an ancient Russian tool against weakness to a cannonball with a handle. One thing is for sure, though: since Pavel Tsatsouline introduced them to the US about 20 years ago, they have become staples in most gyms and rehab centers, including my own.

Physical therapist Gray Cook once said, “Dumbbells will make you strong, but kettlebells will make you efficient.” It’s the shape that makes them great. Because of the offset handle, when gravity acts upon the bell, you are forced to control it in two planes of motion, not just one (as with a barbell or dumbbell). It’s for this reason that they are one of my favorite tools to rehabilitate and train baseball players.

Which exercises will be the best for you depends on your individual needs – which are determined by a good assessment. However, my list below should have you pretty well covered – even if many good exercises didn’t make the list. In particular, I’m leaving out the single arm and double arm swing on purpose because they are so well known. I think they are awesome and I recommend them, but with this article I am hoping to bring some lesser known but invaluable kettlebell exercises to light. The KB snatch is also a great and popular exercise, but I don’t teach it to my pitchers.

Based on research from OnBase University, no matter how they throw or what pitch they’re throwing, pitchers have to do five things well to be successful. They need to 1) control their upright posture, 2) stride 85% of their height, 3) interact with the ground, 4) control their core, and 5) control their arm. Not every pitch is perfect and no pitcher is perfect, but the more we improve those five things, the better the performance and the more protected they are against injury.

Because injuries to pitchers are more common than to position players, I am biasing my list to what pitchers need most. Here are my top five kettlebell exercises to help the pitcher.

1. Pivot Lunge/Pivot Clean.

This is a great drill for training leg strength and control over momentum (as needed for pitching). We speak in terms of the lead leg, but we have athletes go both directions. Master the skill with the pivot lunge before progressing to the pivot clean. Once the athlete knows how to do both, we usually program it so that they combine them in one set. As an example, for a set of 10, the first five reps are pivot lunges and the next five reps are pivot cleans – and then switch sides. This is a unique advantage to the kettlebell. Lunges are okay with a dumbbell, but once you begin cleaning, the KB is distinctly better.

Trains: stride, upright posture, ground interaction, core control, arm control):

2. Turkish Get-up with Screwdriver

This exercise has a lot going on. To help simplify things, we first teach them separately. When we isolate the screwdriver, we teach it first supine (face up), then progress to side-lying, and then into the side plank position. Each version is slightly more challenging than the previous one because each version adds another body segment to have to control. The TGU and the screwdriver each have value on their own. We will combine them once the fundamentals are mastered and the athlete has demonstrated the ability to handle the complexity of this challenge. More than anything else, this exercise trains the player to improve rotator cuff control of the ball on the socket. However, it also demands scapular control and challenges the cross body patterning connecting that shoulder to the opposite hip via the core. Oblique abdominals and serratus anterior are huge with this drill. Once the movement is mastered, the load can be progressively increased so strength can be gained.

Trains: upright posture, stride, interaction with ground, core control, arm control)

3. Offset Kettlebell Front Squat

With this exercise, we get a nice challenge to scapular stability on the side holding the kettlebell, especially as the bell gets heavy. However, the real benefit of this squat version is how we also get contralateral stability challenges in the frontal plane for both the core and hips (in addition to the usual sagittal plane challenges with other squats). I especially like this style of squat because the challenge is very high with weight that seems small compared to barbell squat variations. This way, I get high muscle stress with low joint stress. For this reason, it’s my #1 squat choice for players when training in season.

Trains: upright posture, interaction with ground, core control, arm control


 

4. Dynamic Rows

This exercise has the athlete in a hinge position, which challenges the posterior chain. However, while maintaining that hinge, rotation of the torso is accelerated and decelerated bilaterally. The dynamic nature is an additional challenge from standard rowing exercises. It also forces the rotator cuff and scapula stabilizers to work and work quickly.

Trains: upright posture, core control, arm control

5. Open Half-Kneeling Hip Mobility

Improving stride length is something a lot of pitchers need to do. Improving this mobility so that it sticks can sometimes be a challenge. I think the reason this drill works so well is because of the load of the kettlebell. The weight of the bell assist the player into “depth,” and because he’s doing this actively, the weight seems to give the nervous system more to feel. The gains seem to stick. Players also seem to universally like how it feels to them. Any exercise that is liked gets done more often. This one feels good.

Trains: upright posture, stride

I hope you find these kettlebell exercises useful. If this is your first exposure to kettlebell training I would recommend you seek professional coaching when you are able. Keep in mind some of these exercises take time to master. But like other investments they are worth the payout in the end.

A special thanks to Cardinals pitcher Ian Oxnevad (@ioxnevad) and University of Washington commit Cole Fontenelle (@cole.fontanelle) for their modeling services.

About the Author

Dan Swinscoe, MPT, CSCS is a physical therapist in Issaquah, WA. He practices at Peak Sports and Spine Physical Therapy and teaches his own class, Kettlebells for Clinicians. You can follow him on Instagram (@danswinscoe) and email him at baseballrehab@gmail.com.

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CSP Summer Training Strategies for College Baseball Players

I recently received an email from someone asking if I could delve into how we approach summer training with our college baseball players. It's a pretty loaded question, as we have to consider a number of factors in making the recommendation:

Is it a position player or a pitcher?

Is the highest priority getting bigger, stronger, and faster? Or is it getting as much game experience as possible?

Is it a pitcher who needs to make a mechanical adjustment or learn a new pitch? A hitter who needs to rework his swing?

Does the player have an injury history?

What are the player's plans after college? Is professional baseball a goal and/or legitimate possibility?

What are the player's geographic and fiscal constraints?

To attempt to remedy this, we've got a few options we employ with respect to college baseball guys and training with Cressey Sports Performance. Whether you plan to train with us or not, it should help you work through some options for your short- and long-term development.

Option 1: The Collegiate Elite Baseball Development Program at Cressey Sports Performance - Massachusetts

This will be the third summer in which we run this all-encompassing program at our Hudson, MA location. It's a perfect fit for pitchers who need to develop a new pitch and/or improve their physiques and athleticism. It's a 10-week program where players have a predictable schedule conducive to development. The guys train six days per week with a combination of throwing and strength and conditioning work, and we utilize considerable technology (Rapsodo, high-speed cameras) and incorporate classroom education sessions covering everything from nutrition, to sports psychology, to pitch design, to game preparation. We've routinely had athletes gain over 20 pounds and add 6-8mph over the course of ten weeks as part of this program. For more information, click here or email cspmass@gmail.com.

Option 2: The Collegiate League of the Palm Beaches (CLPB) or other nearby league -

The CLPB was co-founded by Cressey Sports Performance - Florida co-founder Brian Kaplan ("Kap") when he saw a large gap in the college summer baseball market. All too often, players who really needed game experience would have to go to the middle of nowhere to get at-bats or innings, and those experiences would come on an unpredictable schedule and with lengthy road trips for away games. They'd often be miles from a good gym or even a solid restaurant, and host family situations were often not all that favorable.

To overcome these challenges, Kap and his team established a league in Palm Beach County, Florida, where teams had predictable schedules of 3x/week games. Most of the players train at CSP-FL 3x/week, have access to manual therapy, and receive nutritional direction. Plus, the host family and food options nearby are outstanding. It's ideal for the athlete who wants to develop physically while still getting at-bats and/or innings on the mound - as well as some exposure in the process. And, it's a good fit for players who feel like they're a year away from being ready to play on the Cape. This league has seen plenty of players from SEC and ACC schools, and also has included some rising college freshmen. To learn more, check out www.clpalmbeaches.com.

I should not that we have also regularly trained athletes participating in several leagues - the Futures League, New England Collegiate Baseball League, Park League, Yawkey League, and Cranberry League, and Central England Baseball Association - located in the greater Boston area. Effectively, we meet you "where you're at." You can email cspmass@gmail.com for more information on that.

Option 3: One-Time Consultations at CSP-MA or CSP-FL

We also see many players who come to one of our facilities for 2-3 day stints to get assessed and receive distance-based programs that they can utilize while playing in various college leagues in other parts of the country. This is particularly common for players in the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League. Most of the teams are a 60-120 minute drive from CSP-MA, so players will come up in the morning or on an off-day. Over the years, we've seen a lot of big name eventual draft picks who have taken advantage of this proximity. Travis Shaw (Brewers) and Walker Buehler (Dodgers) are a few CSP Cape League visit alums, as examples.

As I noted, we also see a lot of one-time consultations in May and June at both our facilities for players before they head off to summer ball. Our goal with one-time consultations is to teach you as much as possible about your body in a short amount of time - and get you set up with safe, effective program you can execute from afar.

For FL, please email cspflorida@gmail.com, and for MA, please email cspmass@gmail.com.

Option 4: Just train.

Sometimes, a player's workload during the season is high enough that the best move is simply to shut down baseball for the summer and instead focus on building the body. To that end, we often have athletes move to FL or MA just to train. On the pitching side, I think that any pitcher who tops 100 innings on the mound in the spring season ought to nix summer ball and instead use the summer to get the body right. And, of course, injured athletes may use the summer to get healthy and prepare for the fall.

For FL, please email cspflorida@gmail.com, and for MA, please email cspmass@gmail.com.

Of course, every situation is unique, so if you have questions about your specific case, feel free to email us and we'll work through the decision with you.

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5 Non-Traditional Exercises for Catchers

Today's guest post comes from Cressey Sports Performance - Florida Director of Performance, Tim Geromini. Tim takes the lead with our catchers at CSP-FL, so I'm excited that you'll get a chance to take a glimpse into the expertise he brings to the table each day. Enjoy! -EC

With spring training right around the corner, most of the media attention is on the pitchers coming in to camp, but what about the guys catching them? The demands of catching a full season are unique and with that in mind, here are 5 non-traditional exercises we use with our catchers at Cressey Sports Performance.

1. Catcher Pop-up to Shotput

Although nothing can truly simulate working on technique like being in pads and actually being on the field, you’ll see a number of things in this exercise that look similar to what a catcher might do in a game situation. We start by getting into the catcher’s stance with a runner on base and have them close their eyes. I will then roll or place the ball to a random spot, forcing them to react when I clap my hands and they open their eyes. From there, the goal is to get to the ball as fast as possible and in a position to throw the ball as hard as possible into the wall. The reason we have them close their eyes and find the ball is to work on reaction time and identifying a loose ball. In game situations, a catcher doesn’t always know where the ball is after the initial block. One of the main benefits of the exercises is working on hip mobility and being strong getting from the crouch position to an upright throwing position. We usually program this for 3 sets with 3 reps per side with a 6-8 pound med ball.

2. 1-leg Kettlebell Switches

A lot of focus for catchers is centered around hip mobility, as it should be. However, losing sight of ankle stability is a mistake. Enter the 1-leg Kettleell Switches. In order to execute the exercise properly and get the most out of it, I recommend being in just socks or barefoot. The kettlebell doesn’t have to be heavy at all for this to be effective; most of the time, I start athletes with 10 pounds.

As you can see, the first movement is a hip hinge with a slight knee bend. From there, we cue the client to “grab the ground” with their feet and make sure the toes stay down. Go as wide with your arms as you can while maintaining balance, and switch the kettlebell from side to side. Your goal is to keep your foot from deviating into pronation/supination and your hips to stay level. From the side view, you want to make sure the athlete maintains a neutral spine. You may notice that if your client has a flatter foot, this can be more challenging to stay away from the foot pronating in. Likewise, if your client has a high arch, it can be challenging to maintain the big toe staying down.

We usually program this as part of a warm-up or paired with an explosive lower body exercise. We'll do 3 sets of 8 reps per side.

3. High Tension Ankle Mobilization

A Functional Range Conditioning (FRC) inspired exercise, the high tension ankle mobilization is working on taking your ankle through end-ranges of dorsiflexion with control of that range. It is important to go through this exercise slowly, as rushing through it generally doesn’t lead to as much tension or control of your range.

Start by getting into a good half-kneeling position, making sure not to sit your hips into abduction or adduction. From there, imagine pushing your foot through the floor and slowly take your knee as far over your middle toes as you can without your heel coming off the ground or the ankle pronating in. Then, slowly lift your heel off the ground maintaining your knee staying out in front of your toes as much as possible. Once you go as far as you can then slowly return while driving your foot through the floor. Now that you are back to the original starting position with your knee over your toe pause, the lift your toes towards your shin and start to lift the front of your foot off the ground, still pushing your heel through the ground. Once you can’t go back anymore, slowly return to the starting position.

Because this exercise requires a lot of tension and effort, we usually program this for 2-3 reps. You can put this in a warm-up or pair it with an ankle stability exercise such as the 1-leg kettlebell switch. If you deem the client has sufficient ankle mobility, this exercise isn’t always necessary and the focus can be more on stability.

4. Seated 90-90 Hip Switches w/Hip Extension

Another drill of FRC origin, seated 90/90 hip switches are a great hip mobility exercise, but often are not performed correctly if they are rushed. What do we get out of this exercise? Hip internal rotation, external rotation, flexion, extension, abduction, and adduction...all while maintaining a neutral spine. It doesn’t get any better than that!

Before prescribing this exercise, make sure to check your client’s hip range of motion and medical history first. If your client has femoroacetabular impingement or some other pain in their hip, this may not be the best fit for them.

The key coaching cues are to keep your hips as far separated as possible during the exercise and maintain a neutral spine. If you notice your lumbar or thoracic spine flexes, then use your hands on the ground as support. We usually program this exercise for 3 reps per side.

5. Deep Squat Anti-Rotation Press

There are many variations of the anti-rotation press (better known as the “Pallof Press”), but this version gets as specific to catching as any of them. Make sure the cable or band is set up at sternum height. When you press out, make sure your hips and feet stay neutral (don’t rotate toward one side). From the side view, you want to make sure the spine is neutral. You can hold this for breaths, time, or reps.

Wrap-up

These are just a small piece of the puzzle that is training catchers, but hopefully it gets your mind working to innovate and individualize for these athletes!

About the Author

Tim Geromini is the Director of Performance at Cressey Sports Performance - Florida. Prior to joining the CSP team; Tim spent time with the Lowell Spinners (Class A Affiliate of the Boston Red Sox), Nashua Silver Knights (Futures Collegiate Baseball League), Cotuit Kettleers of (Cape Cod Baseball League), and UMass-Lowell Sports Performance. You can contact him at timgero@gmail.com and on Twitter (@timgeromini24).

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