Home Posts tagged "Cressey Sports Performance"

Counterbalance Corrections

We often use an anterior counterbalance to improve an athlete's ability to get depth, particularly on squat patterns. However, I've found that cueing a reach at the same time gets us even higher quality movement. A quality reach drives the scapula into rotation around the rib cage via the serratus anterior instead of just a dump into scapular anterior tilt. Think of it as the difference between an active and passive counterbalance. As you can see in the video on the right, adding a light band can help an athlete feel that reach better.

And while I've got your ear, don't forget about the current Black Friday/Cyber Monday 25% off deals we having going on right now. You can learn more HERE.

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5 Drills for Dynamic Trunk Deceleration

Today's guest post comes from Cressey Sports Performance - Florida coach, Eduardo Valle.

Coaches and athletes often get fixated on power production and forget about force absorption, or deceleration. Deceleration is an important quality for athletes to possess, as it will help them stay within themselves when performing a task and lessen injury risk. A pitcher or a hitter that can't decelerate may spin wildly out of control. A rotator cuff that can't slow your arm action down is a recipe for an arm injury. A hitter that can't decelerate sufficiently can't check his swing. There are countless other examples - and this is why we take deceleration training quite seriously. With that in mind, here are five non-traditional drills to implement dynamic trunk deceleration into your training.

1. Anti-Rotation Landmine Windmill: With this drill, you are trying to control the weight on the way down without rotating through your hip, as this will promote trunk deceleration without hip involvement. This is also a good strengthening exercise as you have to then rotate back to the center and repeat to the other side. Choose your weight carefully, as this is an easy one to cheat.

2. Split Stance High to Low Aquabag Chop (over Front Leg): This is a more dynamic exercise overall and one that has immediate transfer to the field, as every baseball player throws and needs to be able to decelerate properly to avoid spinning out of control or missing their target. This will also help athletes to learn how to absorb force into that lead hip.

3. Pallof Press with Deceleration: This exercise is reactive in nature. You're going to set-up like a normal Pallof Press, and then you're going to let go and rapidly catch the handle again. This will challenge your core to quickly stop your trunk from going into excess rotation.

4. Proteus Straight Arm Anti-Rotations: This is a more dynamic progression from the landmine anti-rotation drill I demonstrated earlier. Here, we're rotating our upper body as fast as possible and coming to an immediate stop at end-range. This is extremely challenging because if you are unable to stop properly, you simply lose your balance and fall off to the side. We want to ensure that our trunk can stop itself independently from our hips so as to not put too much stress or rely too much on our hips when everything is working together.

5. Proteus Split Stance High to Low Chop (over Front Leg): Similar to the Aquabag chop, we are going through a modified throwing motion, trying to exert as much force as possible. If we are able to properly absorb our high output here, then we should be able to have more success on the mound maintaining good posture after a pitch instead of spinning uncontrollably.

The lighter/faster drills here typically work well as part of "pre-work." In other words, we'll integrate them after warm-ups and before we get to our lifting for the day. They pair well as fillers between medicine ball drills, too. Conversely, if the loads are heavier, they're best integrated as assistance exercises during strength training sessions.

About the Author

Eduardo Valle is a strength and conditioning coach at Cressey Sports Performance - Florida. He graduated from the University of Virginia with a BS.Ed in Kinesiology. A Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA, Eduardo also works as part of the UVA Sports Medicine Staff as an Athletic Training Student; this experience helped shape his view of exercise as medicine being an integral part of both mitigating injury and maximizing performance. He's currently in a Master's program at Florida Atlantic University for Exercise Science and Health Promotion. You can follow him on Instagram at @edu_valle2.

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Why You Can’t Feel Your Serratus Anterior Working

Recently, I received an inquiry from a follower who asked why it's so hard to "feel" serratus anterior targeted exercises. There's a fair amount to unpack in this regard, so I recorded a video on the topic:

I dig in much deeper in my popular resource, Sturdy Shoulder Solutions. You can learn more at www.SturdyShoulders.com.


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Now Available: Short-Sleeve Black CSP Hoodies!

I'm happy to announce that we're making the 2022 edition of the Cressey Performance Hoodie is available for purchase.  These have been super popular with our in-person athletes, and with hoodie season upon us, it seemed like a good time to share them with a larger audience!

These run pretty true to size, and are $39.99 plus shipping.  You can pick up your size by clicking on one of the following links:

Small

Medium

Large

Extra Large

XXL

Enjoy!

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Vertical Bat Angle: A New Way to Look at Batter vs. Pitcher Matchups

Today's guest post comes from Cressey Sports Performance - Florida associate hitting coordinator, Tyler Wolfe.

In the 8th inning of a recent NLDS game between the Dodgers and the Padres, the Padres went to their left handed closer, Josh Hader, who possesses one of the better fastballs in the game. The second batter he was set to face was a left-handed hitter, Cody Bellinger, but Dodgers manager Dave Roberts chose to pinch hit for Bellinger. His two most likely options he was deciding between were right handed batters Chris Taylor and Austin Barnes. Taylor would be the obvious choice to most because he is more of an offensive threat than Barnes. Roberts decided to go with Barnes, but unfortunately the move didn’t work out as Barnes flew out to center field to end the inning. Roberts was questioned about the unusual decision after the game and had this to say: “Hader’s tough on anyone but I felt that Austin’s short swing, flat path…Hader throws the 4-seam rise fastball, CT swings uphill, and Austin has had success against Hader.”

The old school approach when playing matchups from an offensive perspective is to put in a hitter who hits from the opposite side from the pitcher's throwing arm. This has been the standard go-to matchup maker in baseball for a long time and makes complete sense because it is a much more comfortable at bat for most because the breaking balls will move into them instead of starting at or behind them and moving away. Today, I want to get a little more in depth on playing matchups to play to the hitters strengths instead of just putting in a righty hitter because it’s a lefty pitcher.

So back to the Dodgers story, what exactly is Roberts referring to when he says this? My guess is that he was referencing Vertical Bat Angle (VBA). It could also have to do with Attack Angle, but VBA is what I want to discuss today. What exactly is Vertical Bat angle you might be wondering if you haven’t heard of it before? The bat sensor company Blast Motion gives a good definition of what VBA is:

“Vertical Bat Angle is the angle of the bat with respect to horizontal at the moment of impact. Vertical Bat Angle is measured in degrees and provides the location of the barrel of the bat relative to the knob of the bat at impact. Vertical Bat Angle will be zero when the barrel of the bat and the knob are parallel to the ground. Vertical Bat Angle will be negative when the barrel of the bat is below the knob of the bat at impact.”

Here's an example of two very good hitters with very different VBA’s to the exact same pitch: High School hitter Whitey Ossenfort on the left (Average -47.1 degrees of VBA) and Blue Jays minor leaguer Karl Ellison on the right (Average of -28.7 degrees of VBA).

Chris Taylor has a very steep average vertical bat angle of -39 degrees. Austin Barnes has an average vertical bat angle of -27.6 degrees. These two are drastically different in their swing paths and it leads to very different results. In my opinion, neither one is right or wrong, but as Dave Roberts’ quote implies, they can help to understand a hitter and what pitches and locations each guy might hit better than others.

I wanted to do a deeper dive into VBA to see if it could be an even better predictor of what kind of pitches and locations certain hitters could handle better than others. This could go for both the college and pro level because VBA is something that is very simple to measure. You could do so with just a camera if needed, but a Blast Motion or Diamond Kinetics sensor are probably easiest and both a relatively inexpensive option that gives you the data real time in both training and game.

The two examples I want to look at are two of the best hitters in baseball: Mike Trout and Juan Soto. They are the perfect examples for looking at VBA because they are at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to VBA, but both are very successful hitters. The Average VBA in Major League Baseball over the last 4 years (2019-2022) is -32.2 degrees according to SwingGraphs (subscription required, but $5 gets you full VBA’s from the last 4-5 seasons).

• Trout has had an average VBA of -37.1 degrees over that four year period
• Soto has had an average VBA of -27.4 degrees over that same four year period

With that in mind, let’s look at some of the Baseball Savant illustrations for both Soto and Trout so we can get a better idea of what parts of the zone they handle best and what their approach might be.

-The first row of charts below is K% for each guy in each section of the zone
-The second is Launch Angle for each guy in each section
-The third row is wOBA
-The last chart is Batting Average, for the old school folks in the crowd 

                                  BaseballSavant: Trout - K Rate                                     BaseballSavant: Soto K-Rate


BaseballSavant: Trout - LA                                BaseballSavant: Soto - LA

BaseballSavant: Trout - wOBA                              BaseballSavant: Soto - wOBA

BaseballSavant: Trout - BA                                     BaseballSavant: Soto - BA

These four charts all show very different results for both of these two elite hitters. Trout does much better in the lower 2/3 of the zone than he does in the top 1/3 in all four of the charts. Soto, on the other hand, is best in the top 2/3 of the zone. Not to say they can’t handle that section of the zone but they have much less success in that one section of the plate and it’s likely due to the path their bat takes to get to pitches at that height/location.

So, let’s go into a hypothetical game example. Let’s say it’s that same 8th inning situation in that Dodgers/Padres game with runners on first and second, with two outs and Josh Hader on the mound – and the Dodgers trailing 5-3. You have the Josh Hader scouting report and know that he throws nearly 70 percent fastballs and lives primarily glove side upper half of the zone with it (heatmap of his fastball over the last four years below).


BaseballSavant - Hader FB Heatmap

You’re in Dave Roberts shoes and you have Soto and Trout on the bench (for some insane reason they’re on your team and not playing) and you need to send one of them up. Who would you think would have a better chance of success in this situation? The old school theory is to send up Trout because he’s a right handed batter. If I’m in the manager's shoes and these are my options, I’m sending up Soto every time in that situation because of the type, percentage, and location of fastballs Josh Hader throws. For reference, Trout has never faced Hader and Soto has faced him three times and is 2 for 3 with 2 RBIs off of him.

Let’s look at one final example. We will go with almost the same situation, where we’re down 5-3 with runners on first and second, but let’s say only one out now in the 8th inning. You have the same two options for pinch hitters off the bench. This time, though, we’re facing Seattle and Luis Castillo is still throwing. Castillo has had a 51% ground ball rate over the last four years and does throw both a 4-seam and a sinker. His heatmap of all pitches over the last four years is below. Trout has three plate appearances against Castillo. He has a walk, a homer, and a single against him in those three plate appearances. Soto has had 10 plate appearances against Castillo and has also had some success, as he has two hits – including a homer and three walks. However, he does have a 67% ground ball rate against him.


BaseballSavant: Castillo - FB Heatmap

Once again, the old school approach would say to send up Soto in this situation because he is a left handed batter against a right handed arm. With what we have looked at so far, which guy are you going with if you’re managing? For me, it’s Trout every time because he is going to be able to get the ball in the air more, especially off a guy who strength is to throw more pitches down in the zone. From an offensive perspective, the worst thing that could happen in this situation is a double play, and Soto has a much tougher time elevating balls at the bottom of the zone, as you can see by his launch angle chart (above). This is why I would send up Trout in this situation.

As I close out this article, I want to emphasize that VBA is not a perfect stat for measuring what pitches and locations guys handle best because there is so much more that goes into hitting, most notably timing and approach. It is, however, a great measurement for getting a better understanding of what your players swing path looks like and how this may affect their ball flight and contact rates. VBA changes for each hitter based on height and location. For pitches up in the zone (especially with fastballs), hitters need a flatter bat path (VBA closer to 0), and for pitches lower in the zone, they need a much steeper bat path. Like I said, it doesn’t mean that they can’t handle the opposite pitch of what their average bat angle is, but it does make it harder to square it up because of the direction of their bat path to the pitch. Soto has a tough time getting the low pitch off the ground and Trout is susceptible to hitting the high pitch too high in the air.

There are many factors that go into VBA, but we will have to save that for another article. Some of those factors include:

  • Height/Location of the pitch
  • Height/Posture of the hitter
  • Timing: If a hitter is either on time, early, or late this will make a difference
  • A hitter’s mobility, strength, and stability all the way up the chain

Conclusion

In my opinion the best thing that understanding a player's VBA can help with is creating a better approach for each hitter. Mike Trout probably isn't going to look to swing up in the zone until he has to with two strikes or if a situation allows for it. Juan Soto probably is going to look for a pith up in the zone. This isn’t to say that they don’t train to work on these locations they struggle with; my guess is that they actually spend a lot of time working on these weaknesses. There are videos of Trout talking doing about some high tee work trying to stay on top and flat and hit ground balls up the middle. This seems like a great drill to help him feel what he needs to do in order to get to these balls up in the zone when he has to hit them. As any great hitter would agree, having a good approach is likely the most important thing to being a good hitter but it’s hard to individualize that approach if you don’t know what pitches/locations a hitter can handle best.

*A big thanks to CSP Associate Pitching Coach Matt Ellmyer for the idea to put this into a blog, and for helping with some of the research as well.

About the Author

Tyler Wolfe serves as Associate Hitting Coordinator at CSP-FL. Prior to joining the CSP staff, he worked as a minor league hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals. Tyler played baseball at Des Moines Area CC and Kansas State University as an infielder and pitcher before being drafted as an infielder by the Houston Astros in 2016. He went on to play four years of professional baseball before starting his coaching career. His first coaching role was as the assistant hitting coordinator for the Minnesota Blizzard, a premier Midwest youth and high school travel organization. Tyler holds a B.S in Psychology from Kansas State and a M.S in Sports Management from Indiana State University.

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CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast: Building Better Catchers with Craig Albernaz

We’re excited to welcome San Francisco Giants bullpen catching coach Craig Albernaz to this week's podcast. Craig is a retired Cressey Sports Performance athlete and long-time friend of mine who has an outstanding perspective on how the catching position has evolved and where it's headed. In this podcast, he speaks to the culture shift and key competencies that enabled the Giants to win a franchise record 107 games in 2021.

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.

 


You can follow Craig on Twitter at @CraigAlbernaz and on Instagram at @CraigAlbernaz.

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 (valued at $79) - with your first purchase. I use this product daily myself and highly recommend it to our athletes as well. I'd encourage you to give it a shot, too - especially with this great offer.

Podcast Feedback

If you like what you hear, we'd be thrilled if you'd consider subscribing to the podcast and leaving us an iTunes review. You can do so HERE.

And, we welcome your suggestions for future guests and questions. Just email elitebaseballpodcast@gmail.com.

Thank you for your continued support!

Sign-up Today for our FREE Baseball Newsletter and Receive Instant Access to a 47-minute Presentation from Eric Cressey on Individualizing the Management of Overhead Athletes!

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Cressey Sports Performance – Florida Job Posting: Pitching Coach

We seldom post career opportunities publicly for Cressey Sports Performance, but with the growth of our Palm Beach Gardens, FL facility, the time has come.

To that end, we'll be hiring a pitching coach to join the CSP-FL team this fall. This position will be involved with working with clients ranging from middle schoolers all the way up to major leaguers.

Responsibilities for this position include:

  • Pitching coaching in both semi-private and private formats
  • Overseeing pitching consultations, including video breakdown and data analysis
  • Writing throwing programs
  • Participating in staff and intern educational in-services
  • Assisting with the setup and analysis of pitching biomechanics assessments
  • Working as part of a staff in youth baseball camps and community outreach

Qualification Requirements:

  • Experience working with baseball populations
  • Willingness and ability to collaborate with sports medicine professionals and strength and conditioning coaches
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Proficiency in written communication and with Microsoft Excel
  • Familiarity with social media platforms
  • Experience working with pitching-related technology (Rapsodo, Trackman, Edgertronic cameras)
  • Familiarity with modern analytics
  • Desire to work as part of a team

Applicants can submit resumes and cover letters as a single PDF document to CareersatCSP@gmail.com. The deadline for applications is October 15, 2022.

Cressey Sports Performance is an equal opportunity employer. Applicants will be considered regardless of race, gender, creed, sexual orientation, marital status, citizenship status, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, or any other status protected under local, state, or federal laws.

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CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast: What Makes a Fastball Elite with Matt Ellmyer

We’re excited to welcome Cressey Sports Performance - Florida associate pitching coordinator Matt Ellmyer to this week’s podcast for an in-depth discussion on how we evaluate the most important pitch in baseball: the fastball. Matt discusses the evolution of fastball usage in the game today, and highlights key metrics utilized to measure its effectiveness. Finally, he covers what pitch characteristics beyond just velocity that pitchers can develop to optimize their fastballs.

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.

 


You can follow Matt on Twitter at @MattEllmyer and on Instagram at @CSPFL_Pitching.

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 (valued at $79) - with your first purchase. I use this product daily myself and highly recommend it to our athletes as well. I'd encourage you to give it a shot, too - especially with this great offer.

Podcast Feedback

If you like what you hear, we'd be thrilled if you'd consider subscribing to the podcast and leaving us an iTunes review. You can do so HERE.

And, we welcome your suggestions for future guests and questions. Just email elitebaseballpodcast@gmail.com.

Thank you for your continued support!

Sign-up Today for our FREE Baseball Newsletter and Receive Instant Access to a 47-minute Presentation from Eric Cressey on Individualizing the Management of Overhead Athletes!

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5 Warm-up Options to Improve Hip Extension

Today's guest post comes from Cressey Sports Performance - Florida coach, Dylan Lidge.

The ability to access hip extension while the opposite hip flexes is crucial in sprinting, throwing, hitting, and a myriad of other athletic endeavors. To ensure true hip extension, the heel, knee, pelvis, rib cage and head need to be stacked. Here are few dynamic ways to challenge hip extension in a warm-up.

Side-Lying Hip Extension Iso Holds to Wall - You should be able to draw a straight line from the bottom knee to the ear. Keep full foot contact onto the wall. Aim for a 30 second hold.

DB Goblet Hip Flexion End-Range Lift-offs - The goblet load keeps the athlete in a stacked position and is a great way to get the core activated. The athlete should “push the floor” under them and “stay tall” to ensure the glute extends the hip. Aim for a 5 second hold.

Arms Overhead High Knee March with Med Ball - The med ball challenges the athlete to go into hip extension and shoulder flexion without compensating. Control the pace for 15yds.

Split Squat Iso Hold - Back Heel Pressed to Wall - The back heel into the wall helps the athlete utilize their glute and hamstrings for hip extension. Hold for 30 seconds.

2-arm KB Racked High Knee March - Cue the athlete to exhale at the top of each rep. The kettlebells challenge the athlete to establish good core stiffness in a stacked position. Perform 8 reps on each side.

About the Author

Dylan Lidge serves as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at Cressey Sports Performance - Florida. Prior to joining the staff, Dylan completed an internship at CSP-FL in the summer of 2020. He graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a B.S. in Kinesiology. He is currently studying at the University of Illinois-Chicago for his MS in Kinesiology with a concentration in Biomechanics. At UIC he holds a position as a teacher's assistant in an exercise technique course, as well as an instructor for a personal fitness course. In 2019, he interned with the UIC Strength and Conditioning staff assisting with the baseball team. Dylan has coached baseball at the collegiate, high school, and youth levels.

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CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast: Digging Deeper on Dietary Supplements with Nick Milazzo

We're excited to welcome Examine.com editor Nick Milazzo to this week's podcast. In Nick's role, he scrutinizes research in the realm of health and human performance, specifically involving dietary supplements. Some of the observations in this interview will blow your mind and make you take a close look at the supplements you take and recommend.

In lieu of a sponsor for this podcast, I'm going to encourage you to check out Examine 2.0, the newly launched update to their flagship offering. Examine offers unbiased reviews of supplements with no conflicts of interest, distilling thousands of studies into actionable insights. They also include monthly updates of the latest research, helping you to stay on top of what's new in the industry (and get CEUs in the process). Through 8/25, you can get a big discount as one of my listeners at http://examine.news/cressey.

 

Podcast Feedback

If you like what you hear, we'd be thrilled if you'd consider subscribing to the podcast and leaving us an iTunes review. You can do so HERE.

And, we welcome your suggestions for future guests and questions. Just email elitebaseballpodcast@gmail.com.

Thank you for your continued support!

Sign-up Today for our FREE Baseball Newsletter and Receive Instant Access to a 47-minute Presentation from Eric Cressey on Individualizing the Management of Overhead Athletes!

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