Home Posts tagged "Cressey Sports Performance"

French Contrast Training and the Rotational Athlete

Today's guest post comes from current Cressey Sports Performance - Florida intern, Chris Larrauri.

Athletes often ask coaches, “How does this relate to my sport?” And, my internship at Cressey Sport Performance – Florida was no exception; athletes want to know how the work they’re doing is going to transfer to baseball performance. Some athletes are adamant that everything they do should be specific to their sport, and although I wouldn’t stick to SPP (Specific Physical Preparation) year round, I believe that it is necessary to get as specific as we can in the weight room when the time calls for it. This is where a method like French Contrast comes into play.

French Contrast training has been a hot topic in the S&C field for quite some time. Invented by a former French track and field coach, Gilles Cometti, but widely popularized by one of my mentors, Cal Dietz, the French Contrast method has shown to increase explosive strength and speed endurance. Strength may be king, but sometimes it’s necessary to stimulate the organism to create a different training effect. It’s great to produce high amounts of force, but as we know the rate at which an athlete develops that force also matters. In baseball, this impulse could be the defining factor between a 89mph and 95mph pitch, or a weak ground ball and 400-foot homerun.


Figure 1.1 – Graphic showing the difference in rate of force development and overall power output. Ben’s impulse is higher causing more total power output. Graphic is from “Triphasic Training: A Systemic Approach to Elite Speed and Explosive Strength Performance”

If an athlete already has a great strength foundation, then methods such as the French Contrast can take them to the next level. Now, I know what you are thinking: “How are some jumps going to increase velocity on the mound?” My response is, “Does it have to be jumps?” I love jumping for various reasons, but when it’s time to transfer skill acquisition to the field of play, jumps aren’t all that specific to the rotational proficiencies baseball requires. There is a time and place for jumps with rotational athletes, but more during the GPP (General Physical Preparation) phase. For the SPP phase, let’s break down what French Contrast training is.

The French Contrast method is simple. It’s a combination of complex and contrast training. Complex training is a heavy compound lift (around 85% 1RM) followed by a plyometric that’s close to the same motor pattern. Contrast training is a maximal or near maximal compound lift paired with a “back-off” lift around 50-60% of the initial lift or something that mimics the initial lift’s motor pattern. In both situations, the heavy lift is causing a PAP (Post Activation Potentiation) effect for the subsequent movement. French Contrast put its own spin on these two methods to create its own stimulus. The sequence of French Contrast training is as follows:

When people think of French Contrast, they typically think of the basic exercise selection in the table above, but what if we apply the principles to focus more on the transverse and frontal planes instead of sagittal? I believe this can be a game changer for the rotational athlete.

Let’s take a look at what a plyometric is so we can better understand the principles behind French Contrast training and how we can apply them in different ways. Yuri Verkhoshansky created what’s known as the “Shock Method,” and later, an American named Fred Wilt pioneered the term “plyometric,” (plyo, for short) from Verkhoshansky’s research on the method. Fred’s interpretation of a plyo is “an overload of isometric-type muscle action which invokes the stretch reflex in muscle.” This is crucial because you can get this muscle action in other ways besides just jumping. Medicine balls are a great way to replicate this action. We can replace the jumps with, say, rotational medicine ball shotputs and scoop tosses to get an adaption that is more specific to the rotational athlete.

With this premise in place we can now put our attention toward exercise selection. Below are a few examples that can be used (you'll rest 30 seconds between each exercise, but I've edited the videos to cut out the rest time) :

1. Split Squat Overcoming Iso (Maximal Effort): 7s/side
2. Rotational Med Ball Shotput (6lb): 3/side
3. Proteus Shotput (30% or 3-4RPE): 3/side
4. Accelerated Rotational Med Ball Shotput (6lb + band): 3/side

1. Landmine Lateral Lunge (85% 1RM w/070 Tempo): 1/side
2. Heiden (BW):3/side
3. Band-Resisted Heiden (BW+Band): 3/side
4. Accelerated Heiden (BW + Band): 3/side

1. 1-arm DB Bench Press w/Bridge (85% 1RM w/330 Tempo): 2/side
2. Med Ball Drop Chest Pass (6lb): x4
3. Rotational Landmine Press (30% or 3-4 RPE): 3/side
4. Accelerated Rotational Med Ball Shotput (6lb + band): 3/side

In conclusion, the principles of French Contrast can be manipulated to optimize transfer for almost any sport. That said, although this article may be covering how to adapt French Contrast training for different sports, I now understand that it may not be for every individual. So, you’ll need to assess the person in front of you to determine if it is appropriate or not. I will say that a nice discovery with using this method is that it’s not only effective, but also a lot of fun. And, if you come across an approach that safely delivers results while keeping athletes engaged, chances are that it deserves a place in your overall programming strategy.

References

Dietz, C. & Peterson, B. (2012) Triphasic Training: A Systematic Approach to Elite Speed and Explosive Strength Performance. By Dietz Sports Enterprise.

Verkhoshansky, Y. & Siff, M. (2009) Supertraining. Sixth Edition. Ultimate Athlete Concepts.

Verkhoshansky, Y. & Verkhoshansky, N. (2011) Special Strength Training Manual for Coaches. Verkhoshansky SSTM.
 

About the Author

Chris is a current intern at Cressey Sports Performance-Florida, where he works with baseball players at all levels ranging from professional to middle school. He assists in initial evaluations and exercise supervision. Prior experience to CSP includes time spent at the University of Minnesota under Cal Dietz; Jenks High School; Oklahoma Christian University; and as Owner of Synergy Performance. Chris graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology from The University of Central Oklahoma. He is certified through the NSCA, PN-1, RPR & FRC. For more information, follow Chris on Instagram at @chris_larrauri.

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The Best of 2021: Strength and Conditioning Videos

With my last post, I kicked off the "Best of 2021" series with my top articles of the year. Today, we'll highlight the top five videos of the year.

1. Cross-Behind 1-arm Cable Row with Alternate Arm Reach - Courtesy of the imagination of Cressey Sports Performance – Florida co-founder Shane Rye, the cross-behind 1-arm cable row is a new horizontal pulling variation we’ve been using quite a bit in 2021. I elaborated on why that's the case here.

2. Band-Assisted Vertical Jump - Drew Cobin authored a great guest post on where this can fit into a power training program; check it out here.

3. 1-arm, 1-leg Kettlebell Swing with Rack Assistance - Published just lack week with an assist from CSP coach Josh Kuester, this one became an instant hit. Learn more about it here.

4. Prone External Rotation End-Range Lift-off to Internal Rotation - Many rotator cuff exercises focus on building strength/motor control/timing in positions that aren’t specific to the throwing motion, but this one forces overhead athletes to be proficient in positions that really matter.

5. Understanding and Measuring Passive Range of Motion - Measuring passive range of motion is a crucial step in any thorough movement assessment. However, it’s often – both intentionally and unintentionally – measured inappropriately.

I'll be back soon with the top podcasts of 2021!

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Exercise of the Week: 1-Arm, 1-Leg Kettlebell Swing with Rack Assistance

Today's guest post comes from Cressey Sports Performance - Florida coach, Josh Kuester.

In some cases, baseball players (especially pitchers) are told that they are fragile, and consequently a heavy dose of “corrective exercises” are handed out. But throwing a baseball is the fastest motion in sports, and hitting a baseball might be the most challenging task in all of sports. Baseball players are not merely finesse athletes; they are power athletes. I love integrating exercises that challenge both of these ends of the spectrum to some degree, and the 1-arm, 1-leg Kettlebell Swing with Rack Assistance is a perfect example.

Here are four reasons why I like this exercises with some of my thoughts as to how I might implement this variation with athletes:

1. Beauty in Simplicity

For coaches who train large groups of athletes with limited time (and/or resources), you understand that there is beauty in simplicity. Additionally, for baseball players, I think simplicity in the weight room is really important because their sport is highly complex. For a long time, CSP has been implementing medicine ball training as a staple for power development. There are numerous benefits to medicine ball training: plane specific power, fascial system development, lower and upper half connection. However, one element that might be overlooked is that throwing a medicine ball is relatively simple, and simple exercises have higher intent. The learning curve on the 1-Arm, 1-Leg KB Swing with Rack Assistance is very low and allows athletes to move a moderate load on a single leg with high intensity.

2. Unilateral and Sagittal Power Development

While the 1-Arm, 1-Leg KB Swing with Rack Assistance is more of a sagittal plane exercise, it is a unilateral variation and baseball is a unilateral sport. Additionally, in the early to mid-off season, we are not aggressively going after large volumes of transverse plane power development. In many cases, we are re-establishing sagittal plane mechanics before progressing to more frontal and transverse plane power exercises later in the off-season.

3. Contrast Training

Contrast training is something that we use at CSP from time to time. In short, contrast training is using a variety of exercises (anywhere from 2-4) that hit different points on the force/velocity curve to potentiate the neuromuscular system to produce more force. I like this variation because it fits in the rather large gap between absolute strength and absolute speed on the force-velocity cure.

This variation will fit nicely in a contrast training cluster of:

1. Safety Squat Bar Split-Squat from Pins
2. 1-Arm, 1-Leg KB Swing with Rack Assistance
3. Split-Squat Cycle Jumps
4. Band-Assisted Split Squat Cycle Jumps

Or:

1. 1-Arm, 1-Leg KB Swing with Rack Assistance
2. 1-Leg Broad Jump with 2-Leg Stick

4. Heel Connection

Pitchers and hitters alike often discuss the concept of “heel connection” and wanting to feel the ground. Staying connected in the back hip allows for better sequencing of hip and thoracic rotation when throwing/hitting, which results in more efficient transfer of energy from back-side to front-side. If an athlete gets into the ball of their foot too early, it can influence the magnitude and direction in which they apply force. I love this variation because it forces the athlete to feel the ground, and because the load is moderate, it forces the athlete to have heel reference; otherwise they will lose balance.

Final Thoughts on Performing and Implementing this Exercise

1. This is an exercise that I would only use for an athlete with a moderate to high training
age.
2. Pick a weight that you would use for a single leg RDL.
3. The added stability of holding the rack allows for high intent/speed with a moderate load.
4. The stabilizing hand should be just above hip height.
5. I prefer to have athletes perform this barefoot or in minimalist sneakers so that the athlete can feel the ground.

About the Author

Josh Kuester serves as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at CSP-FL. He began his collegiate career playing baseball at DIII UW-Whitewater where he played middle infield. After an injury plagued freshman and sophomore season, he ended up pursuing his bachelors from the University of Wisconsin and his masters from UW-Stevens Point. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), and a board-certified Athletic Trainer (ATC). He has been a strength coach at the high school and collegiate level. In addition, he has coached various ages of travel baseball for Impact Sports Academy, a club baseball program out of De Pere, Wisconsin. From the fall of 2020 to the spring 2021 he served as a Sports Medicine intern at Northwestern University where he primarily worked with the football team. You can follow him on Instagram at @JoshKuester.

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CSP Clothing Stocking Stuffers!

With December upon us, we've got some new designs available for holiday gifts with CSP logos. Specifically, our classic Elite Baseball Development Home Plate Logo t-shirt is now available in four colors: black, military green, navy, and sand. They're $24.99 + shipping/handling:

Click the links below to add shirts to your cart:

Black XXL, Black Extra Large, Black Large, Black Medium, Black Small

Military Green XXL, Military Green Extra Large, Military Green Large, Military Green Medium, Military Green Small

Navy XXL, Navy Extra Large, Navy Large, Navy Medium, Navy Small

Sand XXL, Sand Extra Large, Sand Large, Sand Medium, Sand Small

You can also purchase our classic royal blue CSP Camo Shirt for $24.99:

Click the links below to add shirts to your cart:

XXL, Extra Large, Large, Medium, Small 

Finally, we recently introduced Cressey Sports Performance headbands. They're available in five different colors/styles (top to bottom, below): red camo, black/red blend, black camo, white, and black):

They are $15 each or five for $60. 

Purchase Individually: Please note the style you'd like in the comments/special instructions box at checkout.

Bundle Purchase (5 for the price of four, so one of each color)

Happy Holidays!

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2022 Cressey Sports Performance Collegiate Elite Baseball Development Program

Registration is now open for the 2022 Cressey Sports Performance Collegiate Elite Baseball Development Program. This event takes place at our Hudson, MA facility, and runs from 6/6/22 through 8/12/22.

This will be the sixth year we’ve run the program, and each year, we’ve had pitchers move to Massachusetts from all around the country. This summer, we anticipate another awesome collection of motivated athletes who’ll push each other to get better in conjunction with the same training opportunities and expertise we provide to our professional athletes.

This program is a good fit for pitchers who need to prioritize development over just getting innings or exposure. In other words, it’s a suitable replacement for those who still need to throw, but also need to gain 20 pounds, learn a new pitch, sort out old aches and pains, or improve their mobility.

Each athlete will begin with a thorough initial movement and pitching assessment that will set the stage for individualized strength and conditioning and throwing programs, respectively. Speed and power testing (utilizing Proteus Motion) are integrated into the assessment process and tracked periodically throughout the summer to ensure that progress is being tracked consistently.

Your individualized programs will correspond to six days a week of training. Generally, four of the six training days per week are double sessions, with throwing in the morning and strength and conditioning in the afternoons.

A typical training week would look like the following:

  • MON: AM throwing, PM Strength and Conditioning
  • TUE: AM throwing, PM Strength and Conditioning
  • WED: Late AM throwing and movement training (at field)
  • THU: AM throwing, PM Strength and Conditioning
  • FRI: AM throwing, PM Strength and Conditioning
  • SAT: Optional AM Mobility Work and Recovery Session, AM Throwing and movement training
  • SUN: Off

In our throwing programs, we integrate weighted ball work, long toss, and bullpens (including video analysis). We’ll utilize detailed Trackman breakdowns and high-speed camera work in these bullpens as well. Pitchers also have opportunities to throw live to hitters, and we have historically placed a few arms in the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League late in the summer in light of the improvements they’d made.

All the athletes will receive manual therapy with our licensed massage therapist or physical therapist, as well as nutritional guidance throughout the program. Also to help with recovery, athletes have access to MarcPro, Normatec, and red light therapy.

Last, but not least, we’ll incorporate regular educational components to educate the athletes on the “why” behind their training. Previously, this has consisted of not only staff presentations, but also conference calls and in-person meetings with Major League players and established coaches from around the country.

The best part is that it’ll take place in a motivating environment where athletes can push each other to be the best they can be. By optimizing the situation, you can help change the person.

Interested in learning more? Email cspmass@gmail.com – but don’t delay, as spaces are limited; this offering sold out in each of our pre-pandemic summers of years past, and we’ll be capping the group size again this time around.

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CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast: October 2021 Q&A

For this week's podcast, I'm flying solo as I tackle three questions from listeners:

  1. Why do some pitchers come back to throw harder after Tommy John surgery?
  2. What are some of the bigger mistakes you see athletes make with long toss?
  3. What's your opinion of pitchers doing direct strengthening work for the forearm, wrist, and hand?

A special thanks to this show’s sponsor, Athletic Greens. Head to http://www.athleticgreens.com/cressey and you’ll receive a free 10-pack of Athletic Greens travel packets with your first order.

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 – 10 FREE travel packs – 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!

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Making Sense of the Cressey/Proteus Power Report

I published some articles (here and here) last year about how we were digging in really deep on using Proteus Motion not only as a training initiative for rotational power and arm care, but also as a way to test power and acceleration in rotational sport athletes. The culmination of a lot of collaborative work with Proteus is the Cressey Power Test. We used it all last offseason with a lot of professional, college, and high school athletes to build out a large sample size, and now it's being rolled out to facilities where a Proteus unit is housed. Check out this webinar to learn what the test tells us:

You can see the components of the test in the following video as well:

It's still a bit of a work in progress, and our data set is getting larger and larger with each passing day, but we're super excited about the findings thus far and - more importantly - how they're impacting the way we train our athletes. You can learn more at www.ProteusMotion.com.

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CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast: Jose Trevino

We're excited to welcome Texas Rangers catcher Jose Trevino to the latest podcast. In this episode, Jose discusses his background as a multi-sport athlete and how it facilitated his switch from infielder to catcher. Building on that, he shares insights on the challenges that went with learning the new position, as well as what the preparation of a MLB catcher includes. This was honestly one of my favorite interviews that we've done for the podcast; Jose is a great guy who has really worked for all the success that's come his way, and he has a lot to teach.

A special thanks to this show’s sponsor, Athletic Greens. Head to http://www.athleticgreens.com/cressey and you’ll receive a free 10-pack of Athletic Greens travel packets with your first order.

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 – 10 FREE travel packs – 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!

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Exercise of the Week: Half-Kneeling Wall-Press 1-Arm J-Band Trap Raise

Today's guest post comes from Cressey Sports Performance - MA coach, Ethan Dyer.

The Half-Kneeling Wall-Press 1-Arm J-Band Trap Raise is a new variation we’ve been using a lot with our more hypermobile (loose jointed) and/or younger athletes here at CSP. We get the same value as a traditional J-Band trap raise, but with a small tweak that can be a huge difference maker for certain athletes.

Important Coaching Cues:

Make sure we nail our half-kneeling position. Any postural issues down the chain will create interference up the chain. Undue lumbar extension and/or "hip hike" on one side needs to be taken care of before we can worry about the rest of the exercise.

Our wall press needs to be aggressive enough to make a difference. This is what separates this exercise from a standard J-Band trap raise or "Y." By actively reaching with our off hand, we push our rib cage back - allowing for better scapulothoracic (shoulder blade on rib cage) congruency and ideally more effective retraction/upward rotation. Reaching against a hard surface gives us even more stability in that position, and this is particularly useful for our looser, floppier guys (you know who you are).

As we perform the trap raise we need to be careful not to lose our initial posture. If we allow compensatory movement in the lower extremity or the torso, we are no longer isolating the desirable posterior tilt and upward rotation and end up performing what is essentially a full-body exercise.

To progress this, stand the athlete up (short-split or split-stance). Removing the wall will make this more difficult but may dramatically change the stimulus depending on the athlete.

We love the J-Band "Junior" resistance for this exercise; the traditional resistance J-Bands will bury a lot of people here. As with other J-Band drills, we get a lot of value without asking our athletes to grip anything (think high throwing volume or return-to-throw).

This variation is probably most useful in the 8 to 12 rep range, with a varying number of sets depending on its location in a program (part of a warm-up or movement day, or accessory work during a lift).

About the Author

Ethan Dyer serves as a Strength & Conditioning coach at Cressey Sports Performance. He started as a client at CSP and eventually went on to intern at CSP-MA. Following another internship at Indianapolis Fitness and Sports Training, Ethan joined the CSP-MA team. He was a pitcher at the College of the Holy Cross before transferring to Endicott College to complete his undergraduate work with a major in Exercise Science and minor in Psychology. A Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach through the National Strength and Conditioning Association, Ethan has been a volunteer with both the Miracle League and Special Olympics, and has a passion for working with young athletes to help them fall in love with training while avoiding injury. You can follow him on Instagram at @Ethan___Dyer.

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Cressey Sports Performance Business Building Mentorship: Online August 25-26

We’re excited to announce that on Wednesday-Thursday, August 25-26, Pete Dupuis and I will be hosting our sixth CSP Business-Building Mentorship. For the second time, this event will be offered in an online format over Zoom. Pete and I have spent over 13 years crafting the operational systems and strategies that fuel CSP today, and we’re excited to pull back the curtain for fellow gym owners.

It is our intention to foster an environment conducive to learning and the exchanging of ideas, so we will be capping the number of attendees who participate. The event will run from 11am-3:30pm Eastern time (Boston) each day so that we can account for attendees in many different time zones.

Here’s a look at our agenda for the offering:

Day 1 – Introduction, Lead Generation, and Lead Conversion

11:00am – 11:30am: Introduction: The Four Pillars of Fitness Business Success
11:30am – 2:30pm: Lead Generation: Strategic Relationship Development, Identifying & Connecting with Opinion Leaders, Social Media Strategies
2:30pm - 3:30pm : Lead Conversion: CSP Selling Strategy & Methodology

Day 2 – Business Operations and Long-Term Planning

11:00am – 12:00pm: Operations: Accounting for Gym Owners – Guest Lecture from Tom Petrocelli, Certified
12:00pm – 1:00pm: Operations: Internship Program Design & Execution
1:00pm – 2:00pm: Operations: Hiring Protocols, Staff Development & Continuing Ed.
2:00pm – 3:00pm: Long-Term Planning: Lease Negotiation Considerations
3:00pm – 3:30pm: Long-Term Planning: Strategic Brand Dev., Evaluating Opportunities, SWOT Analysis

Note: we will include Q&A opportunities throughout the presentations and at the end of each day, so the 3:30pm is not a "hard stop" time.

Cost: $899.99

Click here to register using our 100% secure server.

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