Home Posts tagged "Brian Kaplan"

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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Exercise of the Week: Half-Kneeling Cable Lift w/Flexion-Rotation Hold

The half-kneeling cable lift w/flexion-rotation hold is a new variation on an old drill, and we've been implementing it quite a bit with guys of late. It's a creation of CSP-FL co-founder and pitching coordinator Brian Kaplan.

Like all cable chops and lifts, we're training anti-rotation core stability. However, in this variation of the cable lift, the athlete drives thoracic (upper back) rotation and flexion, two crucial pieces of getting to an ideal ball release position during throwing, or completing a swing during hitting.

Simultaneously, the athlete should be actively pulling into the front hip (adduction and internal rotation) to simulate the same front hip force acceptance you get during the pitching delivery and hitting motion.

Of course, there are many functional performance benefits that extend far beyond the baseball world. This drill will benefit anyone who competes in extension-rotation sports, not to mention your casual weekend golfer. In short, it trains core stability and thoracic mobility, so it has almost universal application.

We'll usually program this for 6-8 reps per side. On each rep, we have a 2-3 second hold at the lockout position with a full exhale. You should really feel the core turn on - and in some cases, you'll even see athletes get a little cramp in the abs.

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Random Thoughts on Long-Term Fitness Industry Success – Installment 8

I'm long overdue for a new installment on this series, so here are some thoughts that have been rattling around my brain on the business side of fitness.

1. Unique skill sets help you fill in the cracks.

I'm going to let you in on a little secret: most of the strength and conditioning resumes that come across my desk are painfully similar. Seriously, they are 90% the same. Here's an excerpt from a presentation I gave earlier this year when I touched on the topic:

As you can probably infer, experience like this is really abundant - and what is abundant is rarely coveted. I'm not saying any of things are bad to have on a resume; I'm just saying that they're prerequisites, not differentiating factors.

So how does an up-and-coming strength and conditioning professional stand out from the crowd? Here are a few examples:

a. Fluency in another language (Spanish is incredibly useful at CSP, where we train quite a few bilingual baseball players)

b.Technology proficiency beyond the "norms" (I can't tell you how many times long-time CSP employee Chris Howard has helped out with everything from Powerpoint issues to wiring speakers)

c. A demonstrated history of lead generation and conversion (Have you built and grown a business? Have you found value where others missed it?)

d. An internship at an established facility (I'm going to look more fondly on someone who's interned at IFAST, Mike Boyles, EXOS, or something comparable - as opposed to the person who chose a random YMCA on the other side of the country)

e. Playing AND coaching baseball (have you seen it from both sides of the lens?)

The possibilities are endless, but the point is that these unique skill sets are differentiating factors that make it easier for someone to justify hiring you.

2. Your bio is probably more important than you think.

Most of the time, when someone posts their bio on a website, it's to make sure that prospective clients review it and recognize two things:

a. This person is qualified (Allison graduated from XYZ university with ABC degree, and has achieved these certifications)

b. This person is relatable (In his spare time, Doug enjoys walking his two pet schnauzers and eating ice cream with his wife of 27 years, Peggy.)

An experience the other night reminded me that it's important to give equal attention to each.

This guy lost out on a pretty big time client because he focused too much on being relatable; almost his entire bio was targeted toward potential patients, but not other practitioners who might be looking to evaluate his clinical skill set for the purpose of referrals.

When you write your bio, make sure you include components of both - and that might mean you have to trim the fat on some of the non-essentials.

3. Slow and steady still wins the race.

Have you ever heard the story of the small company who gets a big breakthrough to get their product on the shelves of Wal-Mart or Target - and then goes out of business just months later because they didn't have the short-term cash flow to keep up with a huge surge in production demands and inventory needs? Their systems couldn't keep up with their lead generation.

Many trainers would kill to add 20 new clients, but most fail to realize that they don't have the systems in place to take on that many new people and still deliver a high quality product. This is a classic story when a fitness bootcamp runs a Groupon to bring in a surge of new prospects - only to see their long-term members get irritated at crowded classes, watered down programming, and "flightly" training partners who go from one gym to the next each month. The systems weren't ready for the surge in leads.

Last summer, my business partner, Brian Kaplan, co-founded The Collegiate League of the Palm Beaches near our Jupiter, FL Cressey Sports Performance location.

In a matter of weeks, we added over 60 new college baseball players as 3-5 days/week clients for a two-month period. It took months of planning to make sure that we were staffed accordingly, and included loads of email outreach to schedule evaluations. It even meant that there were a few cases when we had to turn away "drop-in" evaluations from college guys who hadn't scheduled in advance. I even flew down from Massachusetts for a week to help out with the initial surge.

As Aaron Ross and Jason Lemkin wrote in From Impossible to Inevitable, "Speeding up growth creates more problems than it solves." It only makes sense that this would be a huge issue in the fitness industry, where we have people who are often skilled technicians, but not very savvy entrepreneurs and managers. So, unless you have your systems fine-tuned, be careful what you wish for when it comes to expanding your offering to new markets or within the existing market.

4. Read this post from my business partner, Pete Dupuis.

This is an excellent lesson that can apply to any endeavor in business and in life.

The Value in Giving More Than You Take

If you're looking for a longer read on this front, I'd highly recommend Adam Grant's Give and Take.

 

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Building a Better Baseball Athlete: October 19 – Jupiter, FL

On Thursday night, October 19, the Cressey Sports Performance - Florida staff will be presenting a three-hour workshop, "Building a Better Baseball Athlete," at our Jupiter, FL location.

This seminar will run from 7pm-10pm and be targeted toward coaches, scouts, parents, and players. Registration is only $20, with all proceeds going to Volunteer Florida, "the state’s lead agency for volunteers and donations before, during, and after disasters." This organization has been heavily active in light of the recent hurricane season in Florida, and we're excited to do our part to help the cause.

Here's an agenda for the evening:

7-8pm: Eric Cressey - "Identifying and Addressing Windows of Adaptations in Baseball Athletes"

8-9pm: Brian Kaplan - "The What, When, and Why of Weighted Ball Training"

9-10pm: The CSP Staff - "Making Sense of Medicine Ball Training"

Given the low price point and limited space available, we expect this event to sell out quickly - so please register early to reserve your spot.

Location:

Cressey Sports Performance - Florida
880 Jupiter Park Dr.
Suite 7
Jupiter, FL 33458

Click here to register!

Questions? Please email cspflorida@gmail.com.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 9/5/16

Happy Labor Day! I hope you all are enjoying the long weekend with friends and family. This is always a fun time of year at Cressey Sports Performance, as a lot of our minor league players are starting their off-seasons, and many of our high school athletes are getting back in the swing of their "true" off-season training. And, of course, we've got MLB playoff baseball coming up soon! I won't digress too much, though; here are the goods!

Will a High Protein Diet Harm Your Health? - Dr. John Berardi has been at the forefront of the "understanding protein needs vs. optimization" debate for a long time, and this article is a great summary of the current literature on the subject.

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5 Concepts of Modern Manual Therapy - I know I have a lot of rehabilitation specialists who read EricCressey.com, and this excellent post from Erson Religioso is for you!

Time to Break up with Your MRI Report - Physical therapist Andrew Millett authored this excellent post for Dr. Jarod Hall's website.

Top Tweet of the Week:

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Top Instagram Post of the Week

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Coaching Cues to Make Your Strength and Conditioning Programs More Effective – Installment 13

It's time for another installment of my series on coaching cues we utilize at Cressey Sports Performance on a daily basis. Today, I'll feature some of my favorite medicine ball coaching cues:

1. "Keep the head behind the belly button a bit longer."

Creating good "separation" is absolutely essential for producing power in rotational sports. This separation occurs when the pelvis rotates toward the target as the torso continues to rotate (or at least stay back) in the opposite direction. In the example of a right-handed pitcher, the pelvis rotates counter-clockwise toward the plate while the torso is still rotating clockwise toward second base. This separation stores elastic energy - but can also predispose athletes to injuries (as I wrote in 2008) if the motion doesn't come from the right places. 

med ball

In this regard, one of the biggest mistakes we see is the athlete "leaking" forward at the torso. This is a bad habit to get into in terms of power production (loss of separation), injury risk (can make a pitcher's arm "late" and subject the elbow and shoulder to undue stress), and effectiveness (hitters can't stay back to adjust on pitches, pitchers make struggle with "catching up" to find a consistent release point, etc.). 

My feeling is that the head goes where the torso tells it to go, so trying to keep the head back a bit longer will force the torso to stay back long enough for the athlete to get sufficient hip rotation to create the ideal stretch. 

2. "Make your front leg and back legs work like a slingshot."

Throwing a medicine ball - whether it's an overhead or rotational variation - is all about putting good force into the ground on the back leg and then accepting it on the front leg. In the analogy of a slingshot, if the back leg doesn't create enough eccentric preloading and subsequent force production, it's like not pulling back hard/far enough on the elastic portion of the slingshot. Athletes usually "get" this really quickly.

What they often fail to recognize is that the front foot has to stiffen up to accept force and - particularly in the case of overhead variations - help to create an effective downhill plane. One of the things I watch for on the front foot is whether athletes "spin out" of their shoes; you'll actually see some guys roll right over the sides of the sneakers if they don't stiffen up enough on the front leg to accept all the force that's being delivered. This is just like having a "limp" front arm when using a slingshot.

In over ten years of coaching these drills, CSP athletes and Royals pitcher Tim Collins is probably the absolute best example of effective "slingshot" force transfer on medicine ball work. He's got excellent reactive ability and absolute strength/power to create force, but is equally proficient at knowing how to stiffen up at the right time on his front side. I firmly believer that this proficiency plays a big role in his ability to create a great downhill plane and throw one of the best curveballs in baseball even though he's only 5-7. 

3. "Take your hand to the wall."

This is a cue I blatantly stole from my business partner, Brian Kaplan, who is the best coach I've ever seen when it comes to cleaning up medicine ball technique - and also creating context for our pitchers and hitters so that the drills carry over to what they do on the field.

One of the common issues we see with athletes with scoop toss variations is that they use too much wrist and get around the ball. You'll see the spin on the ball, and it won't sound as firm when it hits the wall. Effectively, what's happening is that the athlete is cutting off hip rotation and using the wrist redirecting the ball to the intended target. This causes the athlete to be around the ball instead of through it - so it's analogous to throwing a bad cutter with a baseball. By encouraging the athlete to take the hand to the wall, the ideal direction of force production is preserved, and we train hip and thoracic rotation more than just compensations at the wrist and hand.

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