Home Posts tagged "Cressey Sports Performance"

5 Reasons to Use “Fillers” in Your Strength and Conditioning Programs

One of the first things some individuals notice when they come to observe at Cressey Sports Performance is that we often pair “big bang” strength and power movements with lower intensity drills. This is also a common programming theme many of those who have completed my High Performance Handbook program have noticed.

As an example, we might pair a prone trap raise with a deadlift…

…or a hip mobility drill with a bench press.

We call these low-intensity inclusions “fillers.” Truthfully, though, I’m not sure that this name does them justice, as “filler” seems to imply a lack of importance. In reality, I think these drills have a profound impact on improving each client/athlete’s session. Here are five reasons why.

1. Fillers slow advanced athletes down on power and strength work.

Optimal training for strength and power mandates that athletes take ample time between sets to recharge. Unfortunately, a lot of athletes have a tendency to rush through this type of work because it doesn't create the same kind of acute fatigue that you'd get from a set of higher-rep work. Muscular fatigue is a lot easier to perceive than neural fatigue. In other words, you'll want to rest more after a set of six squats than you would after a set of six heidens, even if you were attempting to put maximal force into the ground on each rep with both.

By pairing the strength or power exercise with something a little more mellow, we “force” athletes to take adequate rest and get quality work in on subsequent sets of the “meat and potatoes.”

2. Fillers provide extra opportunities to work on basic movement competencies and corrective exercises.

If something is important, do it every day. For some people, this might be hip mobility work. For others, it might be some rotator cuff work. You might as well do it when you’d otherwise be standing around resting.

3. Fillers improve training economy – and may even allow you to shorten the warm-ups a bit.

This point is best illustrated with an example. Let’s say that I would normally do an 8-10 exercise dynamic flexibility warm-up before my lifting-specific work. Then, I’m warming up to a 600-pound deadlift like this:

135x8
225x5
315x3
405x3
455x1
495x1
545x1
585x1
600x1

On that warm-up progression, I have eight “between-set” breaks to get in a little extra work. Sure, I’m loading on plates, but that doesn’t mean I can’t bang out a few quick reps of ankle mobility or scapular control work. This can be pretty clutch – especially once I’m at the heavier warm-up sets that require a bit more rest – as it can actually allow me to shorten my earlier general warm-up period a bit.

When it comes to training economy, everyone wants to talk about exercise selection (picking multi-joint exercises) and finding ways to increase training density (more volume in a given amount of time). However, don’t forget that movement quality work is still “work.”

4. Fillers help to prevent “backups” in the training facility.

This is a double-edged sword. If you’re doing some hip mobility work between sets in a busy commercial gym, if you aren’t careful, it probably will increase your likelihood of someone stealing your squat rack.

However, in the collegiate, professional, and private sectors, incorporating fillers can be invaluable in preventing log jams where many athletes are trying to use the same piece of equipment at the same time. If you’ve got three athletes sharing the same trap bar, fillers can help things flow a bit smoother – particularly because it keeps less-than-attentive athletes from screwing around between sets.

5. Fillers may give deconditioned clients active recovery between sets to make the most of their time with you.

For some clients, the warm-up is the workout. In other words, they may be so deconditioned that even a set of the Spiderman with hip lift and overhead reach will get their heart rate up. If you paired this mobility drill with an inverted row, it might be a perfect fit for their fitness level. Conversely, if you paired that inverted row with a Bulgarian split squat, it might crush them. In this case, the filler is hardly a filler!

Fillers might have a connotation of “unimportant,” but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Try incorporating them in your programs to get higher quality work, improve training economy, and bring up weak links.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 7/31/17

I hope you all had a great weekend. My wife and I had a fun time in Chicago over the weekend at the Perform Better Summit and got a chance to catch the White Sox/Indians game. Here are a few good reads for the weekend:

2017 Cressey Sports Performance Fall Seminar - We just announced that this popular annual event will take place October 22 at our Massachusetts facility. We hope you can make it!

Mike Irr on Winning an NBA Championship - I've been friends with both Mike Robertson and Mike Irr for close to 15 years now, so how can I not love this podcast? There are some excellent insights from Irr, who just won a world championship with the Golden State Warriors.

Skills Capture a Niche: Relationships Help You Retain It - This was a great post from my business partner, Pete Dupuis. He discusses the concept of niche development in the fitness industry.

Teammate - I just finished David Ross' autobiography and really enjoyed it. I'd highly recommend it to any baseball player, coach, or parent without hesitation.

Top Tweet of the Week

Top Instagram Post of the Week

 

Catcher @jake_clinard knocks out a set of plate-loaded slideboard lateral lunges. -- This is one of my favorite exercises for enhancing hip mobility and stability in multiple planes of motion at the same time. The counterbalance in front helps the athlete to get a clean hip hinge without moving through the spine. And, the slideboard increases the eccentric challenge and makes the athlete more cognizant of not racing through reps. -- Resist the urge to hold more than 10 pounds in the hands, though, as it usually makes technique worse. You're better off going to a DB or KB in the goblet position if you want to progress the loading on this one. -- Nothing better than building strength through full range-of-motion if you want to preserve that ROM over a long season (or lifetime!). This kind of work is huge for catchers for preserving mobility as the season progresses. #cspfamily #catching #mobility #centralcatholic #hudsonma #teamnb #sportsperformance #performbetter

A post shared by Eric Cressey (@ericcressey) on

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Register Now for the 6th Annual Cressey Sports Performance Fall Seminar!

We're very excited to announce that on Sunday, October 22, we’ll be hosting our sixth annual fall seminar at Cressey Sports Performance. As was the case with our extremely popular fall event over the past five years, this event will showcase the great staff we're fortunate to have as part of our team. Also like last year, we want to make this an affordable event for everyone and create a great forum for industry professionals and fitness enthusiasts alike to interact, exchange ideas, and learn. We're happy to have Perform Better as our official sponsor again this year as well.

Here are the presentation topics:

Pete Dupuis -- Gym Ownership In Hindsight: A Decade of Lessons Learned

After designing three different gyms, negotiating five different leases, and building a team of ten fitness professionals, Pete has an informed opinion on gym design and management. In this presentation, he'll introduce you to five of the best, and five of the worst decisions we've made along the way in ten years of operating Cressey Sports Performance.

Miguel Aragoncillo -- Improving Performance for Rotational Athletes

In this presentation, Miguel will analyze performance for rotational athletes, along with discussion on case studies and techniques as they relate to asymmetries, kinetic chains, and biomechanics. This two-part presentation will feature a lecture discussing the understanding the possible origins of dysfunction, and a hands-on component which will dive into a live assessment and exercise selection.

Chris Howard -- Low Back Pain: A New Perspective on the Same Old Problem

Nearly every fitness professional has encountered an athlete or client dealing with lower back pain. In this presentation, Chris will blend his experience of anatomy and muscular referred pain patterns with strength and conditioning and soft-tissue strategies to illustrate how he treats clients experiencing lower back pain. Whether you are new to strength and conditioning, or a seasoned veteran, you will see lower back pain from a new perspective following this presentation.

Nancy Newell -- Constructing Female Confidence in a Male-Dominated Gym

Some male coaches feel uncomfortable coaching female clients. They struggle to formulate an approach with which they're confident, and the client experience is often negatively impacted as a result. In this presentation, Nancy will help coaches learn how to “dance” the line between being awkward and awesome, while sharing her personal philosophy on how to build female confidence in a male dominated gym.

Eric Cressey -- How Posture Impacts Pain and Performance

Posture is one of the most controversial topics in the fields of health and human performance. In this presentation, Eric will look at the related research and present anecdotal evidence and case studies to bring some clarity to the debate on just how important having "good posture" - if it even exists - really is.

John O'Neil -- Foundational Strength: Laying Groundwork for the Untrained Youth Athlete

In this presentation, John will take a comprehensive look at how we acclimate our untrained youth athletes to the training process at Cressey Sports Performance. This information will include the technical and tactical aspects of executing training sessions in our semi-private group-training model.

Jordan Syatt - How to Build Your Own Successful Online Fitness Business

With this presentation, we kick off a new CSP Fall Seminar tradition: bringing back an accomplished former CSP intern to present from his/her realm of expertise. We're excited to have Jordan back for a no-nonsense open dialogue in which he fields your individual questions and outlines everything you need to know to make a name for yourself in the fitness industry while helping thousands of people all over the world.

**Bonus 3:00PM Saturday Session**

Frank Duffy w/Andrew Zomberg -- A New Approach to Mobility and Injury Prevention

It is important to understand the difference between functional mobility and flexibility in order to help maximize your movement capabilities. In this interactive presentation, Frank will demonstrate the protocols he implements in improving his CSP Strength Campers' movement quality for long-term success.

Location:

Cressey Sports Performance
577 Main St.
Suite 310
Hudson, MA 01749

Cost:

Regular Rate – Early Bird $129.99, Regular $149.99
Student Rate – Early Bird $99.99, Regular $129.99

The early bird registration deadline is September 22.

Date/Time:

Sunday, October 22, 2017
Registration 8:30AM
Seminar 9AM-5PM

**Bonus session Saturday, October 21 at 3:00pm.

Continuing Education

0.8 National Strength and Conditioning Association CEUs (eight contact hours) Pending (each of the previous five CSP fall seminars have been approved)

Click Here to Sign-up (Regular)

or

Click Here to Sign-up (Students)

We’re really excited about this event, and would love to have you join us! However, space is limited and most seminars we’ve hosted in the past have sold out quickly, so don’t delay on signing up!

If you have additional questions, please direct them to cspmass@gmail.com. Looking forward to seeing you there!

PS - If you're looking for hotel information, The Extended Stay America in Marlborough, MA offers our clients a heavily discounted nightly rate of just under $65.00. Just mention "Cressey" during the booking process in order to secure the discount. Their booking phone number is 508-490-9911.

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Brandscaping and the Fitness Industry

When we are changing diapers, my 2-year-old daughters always request the ones with "Big Bird" on them. The images on the diaper don't change how effective it is at doing its job, of course.

And, if the paper towels don't have a picture of Olaf from "Frozen" on them, a temper tantrum might very well occur - even if any regular ol' paper towel would get the job done just as well.

They adore the Mickey Mouse sippy cups my mother bought them even though they aren't any better at delivering the beverage than a generic cup.

All of these are perfect examples of Brandscaping, a concept to which I was introduced by Andrew Davis in his outstanding book by the same name.

In its simplest form, brandscaping is an approach to developing partnerships with other brands who also cater to your target market. Davis spends considerable time discussing how Tony Bennett's resurgence in the past decade has a lot to do with joint ventures with Lady Gaga and the Muppets; they've modernized his classic approach to create a new synergy.

As an more applicable fitness industry example, Cressey Sports Performance (baseball strength and conditioning) and New Balance (baseball training apparel and shoes) are a great synergistic fit - and it even led to a limited edition training sneaker.

Referrals to and from physical therapists are another example, and the list could go on to include pitching instructors, massage therapists, meal preparation services, and a host of other complementary services. If we look at the classic "here's how you can grow your business," brandscaping is likely the single-best way to grow the "same product, new market" component. Your brandscaping partner recognizes your specific expertise/offering and brings new folks to it. You, in turn, do the same for them. Everybody wins.

Unfortunately, though, a lot of fitness professionals get in their own way and "obstruct" opportunities for brandscaping. A big mistake is definitely trying to be everything to everyone. If you're training everyone from cardiac rehab patients, to fitness competitors, to basketball players, to powerlifters, chances are that potential partners are going to struggle to see the specific realm in which you'd be a good partner. When you have a really broad collection of offerings, it's a challenge to market to them. The cardiac rehab patients might hate the internet, the fitness competitors love Instagram, the basketball players are on Twitter, and the powerlifters are on Facebook.

Moreover, some fitness professionals mismanage their web presence, even if they have a specific, marketable niche. As an example, if you train high school athletes, but a huge majority of your social media posts are about beer and partying, that's going to be a huge turnoff to their parents (who pay the bills). And, if you're a rockstar when it comes to training middle aged corporate executives, they're likely going to be turned off if all your social media content is shirtless photos of you from your recreational bodybuilding hobby.

In wrapping up, there are really three huge takeaways for you as you try to grow your business.

First, someone else has your ideal customers. Think about how you can partner with them in a mutually benefical relationship.

Second, your ideal customers or brandscaping partners might not be able to appreciate how good a cross-referral or co-banding relationship with you could be because you keep getting in your way. Think about the image you're creating publicly for your business or brand.

Third, don't let your two-year-old daughters boss you around like mine do to me.

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Fitness Business Entrepreneurship Thoughts: Lead Generation

Most fitness industry folks are convinced that their single biggest area for improvement is lead generation. If only they could get more people to know about their gym - and possibly even take a tour - then they'd absolutely blow up.

I hate to burst your bubble, but while your lead generation might need work, in the overwhelming majority of businesses, systems and retention are where the biggest opportunities for improvement exist. You see, if you shore things up on these two fronts, you'll create a better product and dramatically increase the number of word-of-mouth referrals you get. Over the life of your business, word-of-mouth should blow any direct mail or Facebook advertising you do out of the water, so why not work on the things that impact it the most?

Now that I've gotten that off my chest, I should actually talk a bit about lead generation, as the truth is that it's probably more complex than it's ever been.

If you look back 15-20 years, a lot of folks weren't on the internet - and they certainly didn't have social media. It was really, really hard to get in front of people affordably if you were a small business. If you didn't have the cash to pay for radio, TV, newspaper, or billboard ads, your only option for generating leads began and ended with pounding the pavement to shake hands and kiss babies. Nowadays, things are a whole lot different; you can get in front of just about anyone pretty quickly and easily.

If this wasn't the case, a kid from small town Maine named Cressey - who didn't even play high school baseball - wouldn't be training more than 100 professional baseball players each offseason.

This modern marketing world creates opportunities, but also a lot of noise. People are bombarded by more marketing messages than ever before because we have more devices (phones, tablets, computers, radios) and mediums (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Email, etc) than ever before. There is so much noise that people are completely desensitized to the marketing messages that are being sent their way. That means that top of mind awareness is substantially harder to achieve.

What does this mean for lead generation in the fitness industry? You have to get in front of people regularly and via a number of different marketing channels. If you're reading this blog, you probably hear from me here, on various social media channels, and via email. Perhaps you read an article by or about me on another website or print magazine or newspaper. We might have interacted with one another at a seminar, or we might have a mutual friend who recommended that you check out EricCressey.com.

The point is that you have to stand on your head to make expertise easy to perceive. It's just not good enough to just pay for a newspaper ad and hope for people to show up.

This is particularly complex because everyone will perceive expertise differently - and in different places. Teenagers aren't really on Facebook very often, but it's a great marketing avenue for those over the age of 30. Some of the people there might like video content, and others may prefer writing. Every lead must be generated via a unique marketing mix, and that can make it very challenging to be really successful across multiple niches. At Cressey Sports Performance, we can easily market to baseball players, coaches, and parents, but it'd be really hard for us to build a successful discharge program for cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation patients. It's an entirely different demographic that we'd struggle to access.

Bringing things all back together, some closing thoughts:

1. You probably generate a fair amount of leads but need to do better at making sure they aren't disappearing out the back door while you're so focused on getting more people in the door.

2. You may need to prioritize optimizing your systems to put yourself in the best position possible to deliver a high-quality product (both training and environment) that will yield more word-of-mouth referrals.

3. Make expertise easy to perceive across a variety of marketing mediums, especially if you're trying to cater to multiple demographics.

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Fitness Business Entrepreneurship Thoughts: Long-Term Planning May Not Be For You

In my blog the other day, I alluded to how I never really thought I'd open a gym. It kind of just happened. And, this experience has led me to the belief that the concept of having a ten-year plan is absurd. Heck, even five years seems like a prohibitively long time to have a plan in today’s rapidly changing world.

I went to college in 1999 thinking that I was going to be an accountant. I transferred in 2001 to pursue exercise science, and went to graduate school to pursue a career in strength and conditioning research. In 2003, after a month on campus, I realized I hated organic chemistry and loved training athletes. I moved to Southern Connecticut in 2005, and then to Massachusetts in 2006, then Florida in 2014. These were twists and turns in every direction that couldn’t have been accommodated by a rigid career plan.

There are a lot of people reading this blog who are probably stressing about moving to a different college major, making a career change, or relocating for a change of scenery or new opportunity. There are also business owners who are super concerned about building a brand that they can ultimately sell. They're focused on writing books and delivering seminars about the training they do with their clients before they've even truly evaluated whether that training actually works well.

As is usually the case with the training side of our industry, a quick solution is always to simplify. Before you start looking at being hugely successful in the long-term, try focusing on being consistently successful in the short-term with whatever it tackling. To paraphrase a hackneyed expression, you have to win the battle before you win the war - and in entrepreneurship, you have to have a successful business before you make the leap to truly building a brand. As this graph from the Bureau of Labor Statistics demonstrates, why have a ten year plan when less than 40% of small businesses are even around at that time period? And, you can bet that this number is substantially lower in the fitness industry, where many start-ups are trainers who have zero business training.

I think that this can actually be a big challenge for some upstart companies when they deal with business consultants who are very focused on developing something that can eventually be sold for $100 million dollars. In the push to create systems for scaling things larger, entrepreneurs can lose sight of shorter term opportunities to be profitable and evolve as a business. For this reason, small business consultants usually have much more to offer to fitness start-ups.

The fitness business is challenging. Competition is high, the industry is constantly evolving, and there is a lot of "noise" that can distract consumers from pursuing even the highest quality training options. For this reason, most fitness businesses are better off focusing on "winning the day" than "winning the decade."

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Fitness Business Entrepreneurship Thoughts: Opportunity Cost

As I noted in my post on Cressey Sports Performance's 10th anniversary, I wanted to use the next few days to outline a few thoughts on the entrepreneurial side of fitness over the next few days. They'll be quick ones - just a few paragraphs each - but hopefully impactful for those of you interested in the business of fitness.

To kick things off, I'll talk about opportunity cost, a concept that is actually remarkably applicable to all industries, not just fitness. Briefly, dictionary.com defines opportunity cost as "the money or other benefits lost when pursuing a particular course of action instead of a mutually-exclusive alternative."

It's probably best explained with an example. If you go on vacation, the opportunity cost of that time is continuing to work. You leave town and spend a bunch of money on flights, hotels, and touristy things - all while forgoing income at work during that time period. Most people only consider what they spend on the vacation, but your opportunity cost is that lost income. It might also be experiences that you could have had during that time you're vacationing.

To be clear, I'm not saying that you should skip all your vacations and just work all the time. I'm just saying that absolutely everything in life has an opportunity cost. The opportunity cost of the coffee I'm drinking as I type this could be a glass of water or tea.

Early in your career, the opportunity cost of your time is far less expansive. You need to make money and build your reputation, so you should take on just about every client and continuing education opportunity that comes your way. And, if you want to be successful in writing and speaking, too, then you need to write and speak at every opportunity, even if nobody is or reading listening. The opportunity cost of your time is basically just watching the same episode of Sportscenter for the 47th time.

Having spent two years at business school before transferring into an exercise science program, opportunity cost was something of which I was keenly aware of at a young age. With that in mind, during my undergraduate and graduate years, I worked like a dog. I eschewed a social life in order to pick up every hour at the gym I could and do as much reading and writing as I possibly could. This tradeoff proved to be wildly important, as it helped me to build invaluable career capital and financial stability that opened many more doors for me down the road. As an example, I took time off from work, paid for a hotel room, traveled to Washington, DC, and spoke for free at this event in 2006 - and it proved to be a huge boost for my career.

Now, many years later, I have harder opportunity cost decisions. In the past week, I've gotten invited to speak in China, Brazil, Poland, and Minnesota. Each one of these poses different travel demands and compensation scenarios that all need to be weighed against time with family, hours coaching at CSP, what I could earn devoting that time somewhere else, and the impact I could have in other capacities. Eleven years after speaking at that DC event, there really isn't any circumstance under which I'd take that particular gig again.

A seminar halfway around the world would have been an instant “yes” in 2007, but now, it requires 18 months of planning and time away from family that I’m reluctant to take on. And, I’ve turned down multiple jobs in collegiate and professional sports over the past few years that would have been absolute dream jobs ten years ago. The "dream" changed – and it happened far faster than I could have ever imagined.

With all that in mind, here are three important takeaways from today's post:

1. [bctt tweet="Good decisions when opportunity cost is low set the stage for high opportunity cost choices later."]

2. [bctt tweet="Say 'yes' a lot when young and building a career. Say 'no' more than 'yes' once more established."]

3. [bctt tweet="Before you say 'no' or 'yes,' think about how you can shift that decision from 'either/or' to 'and.'"]

With respect to point #3, I'd highly recommend Chip and Dan Heath's outstanding book, Decisive.

That'll do it for this post. I'll have another brain dump for you soon.

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10 Years of Cressey Sports Performance

“I never want to open a gym.”

Those are the exact words I spoke in casual conversation over dinner on a first date on April 22, 2007.

82 days later I co-founded a gym. When we first moved in, it looked like this.

And, 727 days after that conversation, I proposed to the woman across the table from me.

That gym turns ten years old this week - and looks like this.

We even opened a second gym 1,500 miles away in Jupiter, FL in 2014. Also along the way, I started my consulting company and my wife opened her optometry practice – so we actually have four businesses.

This October, Anna and I celebrate seven years of marriage. We have two-year-old twin daughters. She even still likes baseball enough to be my "date" at the All-Star Game.

Suffice it to say that – in light of my own personal experiences – I think it’s silly to expect anyone to have a “10-year-plan.” I couldn’t even have a ten month plan. Usually, when my wife asks me what I want for dinner, I stumble all over my words; I often don't even have a ten hour plan.

And, I can tell you that we sure as heck didn’t know much about entrepreneurship. If you need proof, my business partner, Pete, and I wrote our business plan on a napkin at Applebees. The truth is that we kind of got lucky and were smart enough to figure things out as we went. I guess you could say that CSP's success has really been reflective of the old quote, "Luck is where preparation meets opportunity."

This blog could go in a lot of different ways from here.

I could list out a bunch of different business lessons I’ve learned – and I’ve definitely learned a ton.

I could talk about all the things I love about my “job” – and encourage you to go start your own gym.

I could talk about all the things that drive me bonkers at my job – and do my best to talk you out of opening one.

Instead, though, I’ll just end it with a heartfelt thank you. Everyone who reads this blog – whether you’ve actually stepped foot in a Cressey Sports Performance facility, purchased one of my products, or attended a seminar with us – has had an immeasurable impact on us getting to this day. To my family, co-founders, staff, friends, mentors, customers, and suppliers: I appreciate you all tremendously, and the truth is that we are most "lucky" to have so many great people supporting us.

I hope to be writing another one of these posts when we get to Year 20, but I’m afraid I don’t have a great track record with ten-year plans. I guess you’ll have to stay tuned.

In the meantime, though, I'm going to use the next few days to write up some lessons we've learned over the course of decade of fitness business entrepreneurship. I'll roll multiple posts out per day, so be sure to check back regularly.

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Random Thoughts on Sports Performance Training – Installment 29

I didn't get in a May installment of this series, but the good news is that it gave me two months to gather my thoughts for a big June! Here goes...

1. Athleticism is doesn't have to be max effort if you have a strength and power "reserve."

Cressey Sports Performance athlete Logan Morrison is currently second in Major League Baseball in homeruns. I came across this video of #22 on Twitter and it immediately got me thinking:

Hitting bombs in the big leagues - particularly on 95mph sinkers - is really challenging, but that looked absurdly easy. He put some force into the ground, got himself in a good position to succeed, and athleticism "happened."

The only reason this is possible is that he's developed a strength and power "reserve." LoMo is strong - and more importantly, he's a powerful dude. When he throws a medicine ball, in many cases, the entire gym stops and watches because it sounds like he's going to knock the wall down. When you've got a foundation of strength and know how to use it quickly, this kind of easy athleticism happens. It does not, however, happen if you're a) weak or b) strong and not powerful. I'd call LoMo a nice blend on the absolute strength-to-speed continuum.

2. If you're struggling to feel external rotation exercises in the right place, try this quick and easy fix.

One of the reason some throwers struggle to "keep the biceps" quiet during external rotation drills is that they start too close to the end-range for external rotation. A quick strategy to improve this is to simply build a little success in a more internally rotated position. This video goes into more depth:

3. Be cautiously optimistic with new surgical advances.

On a pretty regular basis, we hear about remarkable sports medicine breakthroughs that will revolutionize the way we prevent and treat both acute and chronic diseases and injuries/conditions. Unfortunately, they usually don't live up to the hype. Most of the time, we're talking about a "miracle" supplement or drug, but sometimes, we have to ponder the benefits of a new surgical procedure.

In the mid 1990s, the thermal capsulorrhaphy procedure was introduced to attempt to treat shoulder instability. It gained some momentum in the few years that followed, but the outcomes didn't match the hype in spite of the fact that the initial theory seemed decent (heat can shorten capsular tissues, which would theoretically increase shoulder stability). Failure rates were just too high.

Conversely, in 1974, Dr. Frank Jobe revolutionized the way elbow pain was treated in baseball pitchers - and saved a lot of careers - when he performed the first successful ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction (better known as Tommy John Surgery). More than 1/4 of MLB pitchers have had Tommy John, so you could say that this procedure revolutionized sports medicine even though it's taken decades to fine-tune it.

More recently, a new surgery - the UCL repair with internal brace -  has been gaining some steam as an alternative to Tommy John surgery. The initial results have been very promising, particularly in situations where the patient is a good match (depending on age, activity level, and location and extent of the UCL tear). I've actually seen two of these surgeries in the past week myself. One pitcher (Seth Maness) was able to successfully return to the Major Leagues after having it - but we still have a long way to go to determine if it might someday dramatically reduce the number of Tommy John surgeries that take place. Why? 

Right now, we only have statistics on a limited number of these cases, and they're usually in the high school and college realms. All that is reported on is return to previous level of competition (e.g., varsity baseball). We don't know whether a kid that has it at age 16 is still thriving with a healthy elbow at age 22 during his senior year of college.

Additionally, Seth Maness has really been an 88-90mph pitcher throughout his MLB career. We don't know if this same level of success will be seen with 95-100mph flamethrowers. 

Dr. Jeffrey Dugas has become known as "the guy" when it comes to these procedures, and I loved the fact that he reiterated "cautious optimism" in his webinar at the American Sports Medicine Institute Injuries in Baseball course earlier this year. If this gets rolled out too quickly and in the wrong populations, the failure rate could be significantly higher and give an otherwise effective surgery a bad name.  I think it's important for all of us to stay on top of sports medicine research to make sure we don't miss out on these advancements, but also so that we know to be informed consumers so that we don't jump behind new innovations without having all the information we need.

Speaking of the ASMI Injuries in Baseball Course, it's on sale for $100 off through this Sunday, June 24, at midnight. I've enjoyed going through this collection of webinars, and I'm sure you will, too. You can check it out HERE.

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A Letter to This Year’s MLB Draft Picks

It’s been over ten years since we first had a Cressey Sports Performance athlete selected in the Major League Baseball. Each year, the number grows – especially since the addition of a FL facility to complement our original MA operation. Over the past four years, exactly 100 athletes have been selected, so the early part of June is always an exciting time around both facilities.

This decade of draft picks has been accompanied by countless hours each off-season interacting with the professional players we train. They range from 1st rounders to 50th rounders. They come from all over the US and abroad. There are both high school and college draft picks – and to all 30 MLB organizations. Several races and ethnicities are represented in the CSP Family, and they come from all sorts of socioeconomic backgrounds. Some of these athletes trained with us as early as middle school, too.

The point is that I’ve seen the draft – and the professional careers that follow – from a variety of angles. In the process, I’ve learned a lot of lessons. If you are fortunate enough have your named called in the next few days – or you know someone who is – consider these ten suggestions.

1. Don’t stop learning.

Signing to play professional baseball serves as either the temporary or permanent halt to formal education. Either high school has ended and you head to the working world, or you’re drafted as you leave college. In many cases, players return to start or finish a college degree at some point. This does not mean, however, that your education has ended – and I’m not just talking about learning about the game of baseball.

Learning is a skill that needs to be refined just like hitting, throwing, and taking ground balls. It’s very easy to detrain the “academic” portion of your mind, and that’s a terrible thing in the 18-22 year-old age range, when your brain is still developing. Don’t get to age 30 and realize that you’ve forgotten how to learn; be a student for life. Read books, listen to audiobooks, watch Ted Talks, attend seminars, take college courses, and ask questions of the smart, experienced players and coaches you meet. Don’t let baseball make you dumb.

As a start, I would recommend Decisive by psychologists Chip and Dan Heath. It’s an invaluable read that will teach you about the decision-making process – especially if you’re on the fence about whether or not to sign. I’ve given it to many of our high school draft picks over the years.

2. Remember that your money is your money.

Last week, in a text message with an agent, he commented to me, “A signing bonus is about so much more than performance.” In other words, teams don’t just pay you for what you’ve done; they pay you because they’re betting on your future. Effectively, they’re investing in you. That money is intended to put you in the best position possible to help them down the road.

That money should be used to make sure you don’t need to have an offseason job. It should cover travel, training, massage therapy, equipment, or whatever else you need to be the best baseball player you can be.

What shouldn’t it go to? The second cousin who wants you to invest in his real estate idea. Or the entourage that thinks you should always pick up the tab for dinner because you’re a “bonus baby.” This leads us to…

3. Invest in yourself and appreciable assets.

I’ll be blunt: that expensive car you want will depreciate 10-20% the second you drive it off the lot. It won’t be a tax deduction, and it sure as heck won’t make you any better at baseball. The same goes for jewelry, boats, tattoos, and a host of other luxuries. Additionally, if you consider a 7% historical rate of return of the stock market, that money would likely double every ten years in the stock market if you were to invest it. So, that $80,000 car at age 20 really was worth $1.28 million at age 60. There's a big opportunity cost to your decision. 

On the other hand, investing in your training, equipment, and education will be tax deductible. The same goes for investing in your retirement.

I always love hearing about players and their agents and financial advisors preparing budgets not only because it creates a sense of fiscal responsibility, but also because I know small hinges swing big doors. If you take a calculated approach to your finances, you’re also far more likely to take a calculated approach to preparing for training and games.

Stop investing in “stuff” and prioritize experiences. Recognize the difference between a “want” and a “need” before it’s too late.

4. Figure out your team.

It’s remarkable how many people come out of the woodwork and want something from you the second you’re drafted. Sure, it probably doesn’t happen to the 39th rounder, but you can bet that there are a lot of people out there looking to take advantage of the 18-year-old kid who became a millionaire overnight. Think long and hard about the people – parents, siblings, coaches, agents, friends, sports medicine professionals – you trust and how they each help you in unique ways. Once you’ve got your team in place, think long and hard any time you bring someone into that circle of trust. Too many cooks in the kitchen can quickly ruin the finished product if they aren’t agreeing on the recipe.

5. Be a better person next week, month, and year than you are today.

It takes hard work to become a draft pick. It takes even harder work to get to the big leagues and make a career out of it. Your work ethic should actually improve when you get to the next level as you’re challenged by better competition and you recognize how hard it is. Sadly, money can change that pursuit of excellence for a lot of players, as that paycheck comes with a lot of distractions. Aim to treat people even better and work even harder than you did before your occupation and bank account changed, especially because there will be more eyes watching you. Think back to the aforementioned team; which one of them will you count on to set you straight when you start straying from the habits that have made you successful in the first place? Tell them now that you expect that honesty from them.

6. Communicate with your families and significant other about what is ahead.

Several years ago, I had a great conversation with the wife of a retired MLB player. They were still happily married well after his career ended. I asked her what she thought the key was to marriages that lasted when it’s well established that a shockingly high percentage of professional baseball marriages end in divorce.

She told me that the secret – in her mind – was for the wife/girlfriend to either have “her own thing” or be “100% invested.” In other words, she had to be able to keep herself busy with her own education, occupation, or charity work. If she didn’t do that, she needed to be 100% invested in the baseball life by helping the player with everything from cooking healthy foods to managing a crazy travel lifestyle (this particular wife had actually learned massage therapy to help). What always failed was the wife or girlfriend who spent the majority of her life harassing the player about how he was at the park too early or late, or complaining that she was bored. I know it sounds harsh, but I’ve seen it over and over again – and I’m really just relating her words, not mine.

I think a big issue is that most players honestly have no idea how hard the professional baseball lifestyle is until they experience it. And, if players don’t understand it, how are players’ families and significant others supposed to understand what to expect and how to act?

Just imagine: you’re 18 years old and just told your girlfriend of four months that you love her because you’ve spent every single minute of the month of June with her. She’s in for a very rude awakening when the only time you can call her is at 2am in the middle a nine-hour bus ride in the Midwest League. And, chances are that you’d rather sleep than talk on the phone, anyway.

I’ll end this point with a story. This offseason, one of our most well-known MLB clients and I got on the topic of vacations. I was surprised to learn that he’s never been to Europe, as he could afford any vacation he’d like. His logic was straightforward: too much missed training time, and too much travel. He’ll get to it when he retires. What are you going to say when a two-week family vacation comes smack dab in the middle of your offseason training program? It’s better to have these conversations now than later.

7. Be an awesome teammate, and learn conflict prevention and resolution strategies.

In professional baseball, you’ll have teammates from all over the world. They’ll speak multiple languages and have all sorts of different tendencies. You’ll hate some of their music and find some of them to be terribly obnoxious. You’ll probably hate your manager, pitching, or hitting coach at some point, too. In many cases, all these frustrations will be magnified by a 14-game losing streak or the fact that everyone is sleep deprived after brutal travel circumstances. Maybe you’ll even be pissed off that your second baseman booted a ground ball behind you. If you pick fights with everyone, though, you’ll have a very short career unless your on-field performance is incredible. Nobody wants to play with or employ a jerk.

Steve Cishek is a long-term CSP athlete and close friend of mine. He’s played for three teams since his MLB debut seven years ago. Everywhere he goes, he creates raving fans because he’s such an awesome teammate and unconditionally positive person. Be like Steve; try to find the good in people instead of chasing down conflict.

To that end, a book I’d recommend on this front would be Legacy. There are some tremendous lessons on leadership and being an awesome teammate. Just read some of the replies to this Instagram post, if you don't believe me.

 

A little reading material for our collegiate baseball development program guys. #leadership #legacy #cspfamily

A post shared by Eric Cressey (@ericcressey) on

8. Be an advocate for yourself.

I know a 100mph+ arm who received close to $1 million in the draft a few years ago. Before he’d even thrown a professional pitch, a minor league pitching coach was trying to overhaul his delivery. He was 6-6 and more of an East-West delivery; they wanted to stand him up tall and bring his arm over the top. Those are massive changes – and it effectively ruined his first three years in pro ball. The results were subpar, and things spiraled out of control because he had 7-8 different pitching coaches all giving him different cues. This happened in part because he was a nice guy who never wanted to be perceived as uncoachable – so he got pulled in many different directions and wound up pleasing nobody, especially himself.

He finally walked in to the minor league pitching coordinator’s office, slammed the door behind him, and demanded to be left alone. He’s been a completely different pitcher ever since.

There will surely be coaches who can help you a ton, and others who will make your life much more challenging. It’s your job to nurture relationships with them so that you can have dialogue about what has and hasn’t worked for you, and how you can work together to get to where you want to be. The best coaches I know never tell players what to do; they facilitate discovery by the player and regularly solicit feedback. And, the best developmental organizations are very meticulous about making sure that clear and consistent messages and cues are related by the entire coaching staff. If you are hearing mixed messages from different people, speak up and get clarification; you will always be your own best coach.

9. Control what you can control.

If you’re a 27th round pick, it’s going to be harder to get to the big leagues than if you were a 1st round pick – even if you have identical numbers to that first rounder. It’s not fair, but it’s the truth. Moreover, regardless of when you’re drafted or how much you’re paid, you probably won’t get promoted as soon as you deserve it. A lot of politics outside your control govern those decisions.

The sooner you recognize that the only things you control are your actions and your attitude, the better. Some accountants get frustrated with their bosses, and some nurses don’t get the promotions they deserve – so you certainly aren’t alone.

10. Develop your coping mechanisms.

If you’re getting drafted, there’s a strong chance that you were one of the best players – if not the best – in the history of your town. Now you’re competing against a bunch of guys who were also the best players in their towns – and you’re adding the best international players. And, you’re going from all the hoopla of the draft directly into the obscurity of minor league baseball. Make no mistake about it: there will be fewer people at your Gulf Coast League back field games than you had at your high school games.

Moreover, it’s only a matter of time until you get your butt handed to you on the field. It might be a golden sombrero as a hitter or giving up seven runs in the first inning as a starting pitcher – but it will happen. And, as Mike Tyson has said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

What’s your plan? How do you cope with failure and make sure that it doesn’t impact your next performance?

I know some guys who read the Bible to “reset.” I know others who play video games. Some call their fathers or high school coaches. Some watch video and take notes on what they learned. Some keep journals. I even know some players that said it was easier to handle the “lows” when they came home to their kids, as opposed to when they didn’t have children.

The game will humble you quickly and test you with physical and psychological challenges that you’ve never considered. I can’t speak to what playing 200 games in 230 days is like, but I can tell you that every player I've met finds it exhausting. I can’t tell you what throwing 200 innings is like, but I’ve trained plenty of guys who’ve given me perspective on just how hard you have to work to be able to do it year-in and year-out. You don’t have to learn all those lessons immediately upon your arrival in pro ball, but the sooner you can start making good decisions, the higher your likelihood of success will be. Good luck!

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