Home Posts tagged "Mike Boyle" (Page 3)

Random Friday Thoughts: 12/11/09

1. Sorry for the slower week here on the blog.  In addition to trying to catch up from my three days in Houston, I had a few projects that needed to get sorted out this week.  For starters, we had to finalize the agenda for my seminar in Vancouver in March. And, the bigger task of late has been finishing up a chapter (on baseball testing and training) that I'm contributing to Dr. Craig Liebenson's newest book.  Others contributing include Dr. Stuart McGill, Sue Falsone (Athletes Performance), Dr. Ben Kibler, Dr. Pavel Kolar, Ken Crenshaw (Arizona Diamondbacks), and Mike Boyle (among others).  Needless to say, I'm lucky to be in such awesome company, and you'll definitely want to check it out once it's available.  In the meantime, you might be interested in Liebenson's most popular work, Rehabilitation of the Spine: A Practitioner's Manual.

rehabofthespine

2. Mike Reinold and I are also working on getting our seminar, Testing, Treating, and Training the Shoulder: From Rehabilitation to High Performance, ready for production and sale.  We're hoping it'll be ready by the first of the year, but only time will tell; editing takes time, and it's out of our hands now!  Speaking of Mike, he just posted a blog outlining the recently revised pitch count rules.  If you coach young players or one of your kids plays ball, definitely check it out HERE.

3. On the topic of little league, the clinic with Matt Blake and I at Cressey Performance on Tuesday night was pretty popular with local coaches.  One of the things that Matt and I tried to stress is that kids almost never get hurt for JUST one reason.  Usually, injuries are multifactorial, so you have to look at a host of different causes - from overuse, to physical limitations (weakness or immobility), to mechanical flaws in the pitching delivery.

The questions we received gave me some ideas for future posts, so keep an eye out for those in the not-so-distant future.  Along those same lines, if there are specific baseball development questions you'd like covered, feel free to post some suggestions here as a reply to this blog.

4. I got the following question the other day, and thought it might make for a quick Q&A here:

Q: I am planning on training Westside style but I do not have access to bands and chains (or any other special equipment for that matter). What should I do to change up my dynamic effort days? Should I just use variations of the lifts (i.e. close grip vs regular grip bench, sumo vs conventional deadlifts)?

A: The whole idea that you absolutely have to have bands, chains, and specialized bars to learn from the Westside school of thought (which is constantly evolving anyway) couldn't be further from the truth.  There are bits and pieces borrowed from Westside teachings in Maximum Strength, and you'll see that there is plenty of rotation among movements in the four-month program - and the assumption is that you don't have any of these goodies.  Rotating among back squats and front squats (without a box, with a box, or from pins) and deadlifts will give you a great rotation of movements.

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Regarding dynamic effort days, I don't think it's as important to rotate exercises on a regular basis, as this speed work is there to improve bar speed on that specific movement and help you groove the movement pattern itself.  However, if you want to change it up, it's not too difficult.

In the lower body, simply go to a different deadlift or squat variation, or change the percentage at which you're working.  In the upper body, you can change the grip width on the bench press, do some plyo push-ups, or even just throw the medicine ball around.

5. I'm going to see The Nutcracker tonight with my fiancee.  In the words of Forrest Gump, "That's all I have to say about that."

6. I will, however, say that I'm a little bummed that Jim Breuer is in town tonight about ten minutes from where I live, and I'm not going to get to see him.  Doh!

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The Squat: Good Exercise Gone Bad?

A few weeks ago a video of strength coach Mike Boyle presenting at a seminar hit the Internet, and boy did it piss some people off. Why? Just take a look at this quote from Boyle: "This is going to be the hardest thing for people to accept. The muscle-head crowd, the T-Muscle crowd...they're gonna be like, 'Mike you're saying don't do squats any more.' Yes, I'm saying don't do conventional squats any more."  I watched the clip again. No more squatting? But isn't it the king of lower body exercises? Just what the hell was going on? So I called Boyle to get his thoughts. Then, because I wanted to hear other points of view, I called Dave Tate, Christian Thibaudeau, and Eric Cressey. Click here to read more...
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Random Friday Thoughts: 11/27/09

1. First off, I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.  Before I get to the video footage from yesterday morning, I wanted to give you a couple of quick heads-ups on some seminars at which I'll be speaking in 2010 (just confirmed):
  • January 30, 2010: Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning 4th Annual Winter Seminar - Winchester, MA
  • March 7-8, 2010: NSCA Personal Trainers Conference - Las Vegas, NV
  • March 27-28, 2010: Vancouver Seminar (click here for details)
  • May 8-10, 2010: Sports Medicine 2010: Advances in MRI and Orthopaedic Management - Boston, MA
Hope to see some of you at one or more of these events! 2. A big congratulations goes out to CP athlete CJ Retherford, who hit the game-winning HR in the championship of the Arizona Fall League (Video HERE).  CJ will be out to Boston to train when January rolls around. 3. And, just when we thought the post-baseball-season celebration was over, we learned that CP athlete Tim Collins was named Toronto Blue Jays Organizational Pitcher of the Year.  Congratulations, Tim!

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4. John Berardi is running a great sale on Precision Nutrition through December 1.  They're offering them the Precision Nutrition System - including Gourmet Nutrition Version 1 and an all-access membership to their private Member Zone - plus a one-year subscription to their Results Tracker program, and free shipping to the US and Canada for just $99.00. If you haven't checked it out - or you have a family member or friend who could use some help on the nutrition side of things - I'd strongly encourage you to check this out.  It's the single-best nutrition resource available on the web today: Precision Nutrition

precision_nutrition 5. We'll have the pictures and videos from the CP Thanksgiving lift posted as soon as possible.  A camera was lost and we're in the process of finding it! 6. In the meantime, here are some recommended readings from the past here at EricCressey.com that might interest you: Hip Injuries in Baseball: My take on the huge increase in hip issues in MLB players. Stagnancy vs. Stability: Even in a dynamic field like strength and conditioning, the status quo is sometimes still just fine. 7. Just got this little bit of feedback on Assess and Correct from Mark Young of markyoungtrainingsystems.com: "As a strength coach myself, I have literally read thousands of studies, textbooks, and articles relating to assessment and correction.  But when I heard that Mike, Eric, and Bill were going to be putting together a product on this very subject I wanted to be first in line to put my hard earned money on the table. I think this product is going to change how people prepare for performance and that owning it is a must for anyone who is absolutely serious about results." Check it out for yourself: Assess and Correct.

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Random Friday Thoughts: 10/30/09

1.Just a quick heads-up: today is the last day you can get the new Functional Strength Coach 3 DVD set from Mike Boyle with all the sweet bonuses he's offered as an introductory special.  Definitely check it out (here). 2. There's some great new research out in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research that compares front and back squats with respect to stress on the knees.  Not surprisingly, you actually see higher compressive forces and knee extensor moments with the back squat - which would imply that the front squat is a safer option for most folks.  This actually isn't a huge surprise to me, as we've integrated front squatting well in advance of back squatting in returning folks with lower extremity issues to "normal training."  However, there is a bit more. You see, we'll have people do a box squat variation before going to a front squat.  There is more of a sitting back motion, and a bit less knee flexion, so more of the stress it put back on the posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings) than the quads.  It not only takes the stress off the knees, but also allows folks to maintain a great training effect while they're on the mend.  And, in reality, it probably helps to address some of their inefficiencies, as a good chunk of folks with knee issues tend to have weak posterior chains and be very quad-dominant.  While the majority of these individuals' training focuses on deadlifting variations and single-leg work, when the time comes to squat, we'll first use a front box squat:

From there, we'd go to a back-loaded box squat variation (giant cambered bar, safety squat bar, or straight bar), and then on to regular ol' front squats.  (FYI, I covered front vs. back squats from a different perspective HERE)

3. When it comes to shoulder health, one thing folks miss out on all the time is the important role of the subscapularis, one of the four muscles of the rotator cuff.  This is a huge mistake if you want healthy shoulders.  Why?  As the picture below shows, this sucker has a big cross-sectional area (CSA).  In fact, according to Bassett et al., its CSA is the second largest (behind only the deltoid) of any muscle crossing the glenohumeral joint.

subscap

As an interesting little tag-along to that fact, I recall reading that research has demonstrated that subscapularis cross-sectional area was the only factor that predicted powerlifting performance.  While the primary focus of the subscapularis is dynamic stabilization of the humeral head (and, more specifically, creating anterior stability with its posterior pull), it also assists in internally rotating the humerus, so it's lumped in as a "bad guy" with the other internal rotators: pectoralis major, latissimus dorsi, anterior deltoid, and teres major. In reality, in most folks, some subscapularis activation work during the warm-up should be done in conjunction with lengthening drills for the other internal rotators and posterior rotator cuff in order to establish a good shoulder groove before training.  We go into great detail in Assess and Correct with two of our progressions, but to get the ball rolling, try putting your hand behind your back (as if handcuffed) and then lifting off without extending your elbow or flexing your wrist.

shoulder_subscapularis

If this isn't happening easily (both getting the arm back there and lifting off), you need to get to work!

4. Speaking of Assess and Correct,  the feedback thus far has been fantastic - and folks haven't even received the DVDs yet!  Here's a little sample from some of the emails I've received:

"I ordered a copy last night and have been looking over the e-manual this morning and I’ve got to say, it looks awesome! Can’t wait to put it to use." "I got it yesterday. It's awesome and the DVDs haven't even arrived yet!" Needless to say, the DVDs alone will be 100% worth the deal, but the in-depth bonuses take things to the next level.  Remember that the one-week only introductory price of $97 expires on Sunday at midnight, so pick up your copy ASAP!

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Have a great weekend! EC PS - I'm looking for a good trainer/S&C coach in the State College, PA area.  If you are located there or know someone good nearby, please email me ASAP at ec@ericcressey.com.  Thanks! PPS - I'm doing the Fitcast with Kevin Larrabee this morning.  I'll get the link posted as soon as it's available.
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So What Does a Pitching Coach Do, Anyway?

EC's Note: Today marks the first of what I hope will be many guest blog posts from Matt Blake, an absolutely fantastic pitching coach who works out of the cage at Cressey Performance.  Matt is way ahead of the curve with what he's doing, and the results he's gotten with a lot of our athletes - from high school all the way up to the professional ranks - are nothing short of fantastic.  I consider myself tremendously lucky to have him as a resource with whom I can interact every day. Today's post from him is a bit of an introduction and preview of what's in store from us in the months to come. Since Eric mentioned to me a couple of weeks ago that he would like me to start contributing some articles to his blog, I have been debating about how to introduce myself to the EricCressey.com crowd and what his audience might want to hear. All sorts of thoughts had run through my head on whether it should be oriented toward pitching mechanics, maybe talking about what Eric and I are doing together that separates us from other Elite Baseball Development programs, or maybe even a tidy little piece about who I am. Lucky for us, though, we have Eric's business partner Pete around, and he conveniently gave me my first blog topic on Saturday. As everyone on this blog probably knows, Mike Boyle recently released a new product called Functional Strength Coach 3.0 last week. So, on Friday, Eric loaned me his copy to take home to view. I did my part and watched 6 of the 8 DVDs that night (for those of you counting at home that was about 5-6 hours of material straight to the dome on Friday Night; I promise I'm not that big of a geek normally). Upon return on Saturday morning, and much to Eric's shock, I gave him back the six DVDs that I had already watched and told him I would only need the other two for the afternoon.

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Here is where the crew of pro baseball guys from Pete's office chimes in. "Why would you spend six hours of your Friday night watching DVDs that have nothing to do with your field?" At first, I was kind of tongue tied, like, "Yeah, I guess that was pretty foolish, I teach pitching, so why would I want to know how to train people for functional strength?" And, to be honest, I continued to think about this most of Saturday, trying to justify why I just did that.  As I came to my contemplative answer, I realized the very exact same reason I am working with Eric at all, is why I'm watching these DVDs on Friday night. When it comes down to it, I believe to be the best at anything, you need to understand the inherent depth of complexities for what you're dealing with and this more often than not may involve pursuing multiple fields of knowledge to truly grasp your own discipline. In some sense, I believe the leaders in any field are polymaths of sort and this is something Eric clearly demonstrates in his own regard. With that said, for me to provide the most knowledge and best service to an individual, a team, or camp of baseball players, I should understand why we are using foam rolling before we static stretch. Why would SMR of this nature would make sense before stretching and then proceeding into a dynamic warm-up?

I should understand what flexibility deficits are and why they are affecting a player's performance.  I need to know why mobilizing the hips and thoracic spine while stabilizing the lumbar spine is allowing us to create more torque and whip for a pitcher. All of these things have huge ramifications for both player and coach, and if I want to optimize my players' talent, then I need to be able to convey to them the importance of our drills and Eric's exercises. There is a reason for all of it, we're not just throwing darts at the wall and hoping it works out for the player.  I'm also not going to claim to have all the answers for this, and that is why I am constantly searching for the next piece to add to my arsenal. It could be a psychological book about focus, or even an Eastern Martial arts book about how Tai Chi helps you find your center. Not any one of these books would have all of the answers on how to be a great pitcher, and they may even have none...but, at the end of the day, if I can take one thing away from Mike Boyle and add it to my knowledge of pitching in any way, then I just made myself better as a "Pitching Coach," whatever that may be loosely defined as. So I guess to answer their question: I was really watching Functional Strength Coach 3.0 because I plan on helping Eric turn out a large number of pitchers in Hudson, MA who are capable of throwing a baseball freakishly hard and stay healthy while doing so.

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Obviously, there is a lot more to pitching and what we are working on together than that, but I think that should get the ball rolling. Over the next few months, I will be contributing more substantive articles that will cover a lot of the biomechanical aspects of a pitcher's delivery that Eric and I see daily and how best to activate and optimize awareness for each piece of the puzzle. We'll talk about what a flexibility deficit looks like in a pitcher and what its ramifications are in a player's mechanics. We'll discuss how we attack something of this nature with soft tissue/mobility/strength work and then how we teach the player to incorporate this back into his personal mechanics through progressive drill work. The end goal is obviously to remove the limitation, and in turn, raising a pitcher's velocity ceiling and keep him healthy. This could include anything from hip mobility, to thoracic spine mobility, to glenohumeral internal rotation deficit (GIRD), to a host of other issues. All of these issues could be holding a player back from optimal performance and maybe even putting a pitcher at a serious risk for injury. Well, that is more than enough for one blog, and I want apologize for ransacking your daily allowance of blog reading time if you made it this far with me. I tried to get a word count limitation on my post from Eric, but he told me to just let it rip. I guess this was my definition of letting it rip... Matt Blake can be reached at mablak07@gmail.com. Please enter your email below to sign up for our FREE newsletter.
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Random Friday Thoughts: 10/23/09

1. I got a question earlier this week about how I felt about swimming for pitchers.  To be honest, I'm not a huge fan for pitchers.  Swimmers actually have a lot of the same issues as pitchers in terms of adaptive changes in the shoulder: an acquired anterior scapular tilt, glenohumeral internal rotation deficit (GIRD), and generalized laxity.  I guess when it really comes down to it, I'd rather have guys actually throwing if they are going to develop imbalances.

2. Last, but not least, Mike Boyle has a good video up in conjunction with the release of his new Functional Strength Coach 3 product.  Check out The Death of Squatting.

3. Even if he never scores another goal in his life, this kid is a stud - quite possibly on par with the West Virginia Ninja from last week.

4. Tony Gentilcore just switched his blog over to a new site.  If you guys want to be entertained and learn something in the process (infotainment), check out www. TonyGentilcore.com.

5. Speaking of Tony, the two of us tested 1RM deadlifts yesterday (yes, together; it's kind of like when women go to the bathroom together).  This came after a month-long deadlift specialization program that kicked the crap out of us (let's just say it was 4x/week deadlifting for three weeks, then one week of rest).  Tony pulled a personal-best 550 pounds; here's our boy in action:

6. As for me, well, there was no PR.  In fact, I got sent down to the JV team.  I got 700 about three inches off the floor, and that was it.  A subsequent attempt at 675 went only slightly better in my fatigued state.  And I put a crater in the middle of my hand when a callus ripped off.

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7. If you're a strength and conditioning coach or personal trainer looking for work and are anywhere near (or willing to move to) just east of Philadelphia, please shoot me an email at ec@ericcressey.com.  I have a friend who is looking for some good coaches to work with athletes at his facility in that area.  It's a positive, learning environment - and he's a great dude.

8. And, last, but certainly not least: Assess and Correct will be up for sale on Monday!  Newsletter subscribers will hear about the product first, so if you aren't subscribed already, head HERE to get signed up.

Have a great weekend!

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Strength and Conditioning Programs: Efficiency May Be All Wrong…

In my strength and conditioning writing, I throw the term "efficient" around quite a bit; in fact, it's even in the title of our Building the Efficient Athlete DVD set.  I'm sure that some people have taken this to mean that we're always looking for efficiency in our movement.  And, certainly, when it comes to getting from point A to point B in the context of sporting challenges, the most efficient way is generally the best. And, just think about strength training programs where lifters simply squat, bench press, and deadlift to improve powerlifting performance.  The goal is to get as efficient in those three movements as possible. And, you can look at NFL combine preparation programs as another example.  Guys will spend months practicing picture-perfect technique for the 40-yard dash.  They might not even get faster in the context of applicable game speed, but they get super efficient at the test.

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However, the most "efficient" way is not always the right way. In everyday life, efficiency for someone with poor posture means picking up a heavy box with a rounded back, as it's the pattern to which they're accustomed, and therefore less "energy expensive."  This would simply prove to be an efficient way to get injured!  I'd rather lift things safely and inefficiently.

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And, take those who run long distances in hopes of losing fat as another example.  The research has actually shown that runners burn fewer calories for the same given distance after years of running improves their efficiency.  While this improvement is relatively small, it absolutely stands to reason that folks would be smart to get as inefficient as possible in their training to achieve faster fat loss.  In other words, change modalities, intensities, durations, and other acute programming variables. Training exclusively for efficiency on a few lifts might make you better at those lifts, but it's also going to markedly increase your risk of overuse injuries.  I can say without wavering that we'd see a lot fewer knee and lower back injuries in powerlifters if more of them would just mix in some inefficient single-leg training into their strength training programs.  And, shoulders would get a lot healthier if these specialists would include more inefficient rowing variations and rotator cuff strength exercises. In the world of training for athletic performance, it's important to remember that many (but not all) athletes perform in unpredictable environments - so simply training them to be efficient on a few lifts fails to fully prepare them for what they're actually face in competition.  A strength and conditioning program complete with exercise variety and different ranges-of-motion,  speeds of motion, and magnitudes of loading provides athletes with a richer proprioceptive environment.

In other words, inefficiency in strength and conditioning programs can actually facilitate better performance and a reduced risk of injury.

Taken all together, it's safe to say that we want inefficiency in our training, but efficiency in our performance - provided that this efficiency doesn't involve potentially injurous movement patterns. Related Posts Why I Don't Like 5x5 Strength Training Programs Weight Training Programs: The Basics, but with Variety Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!
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Mike Boyle on The State of the Sports and Fitness Industry

The newsletters for today and tomorrow consist of some outstanding stuff from two guys who really "get it" in our industry.  One of my biggest goals with this site is to make it a constant source of up-to-date, cutting-edge information - and that means that I'll often refer you to great stuff from colleagues who can help you, too. First up, I just couldn't resist posting this link to an excellent interview with Mike Boyle on the "status quo" in our industry.  Mike's had a lot of years "in the trenches" and has acquired a great perspective on training individuals of all ages, ability levels, and goals - and the business side of fitness. He talks about what separates good trainers from bad trainers, gives his honest appraisal of a variety of equipment, and the importance of a constantly evolving training philosophy. I'd highly recommend checking this out:

The State of the Sports and Fitness Industry

boyle-mike Tomorrow, we'll have a great guest post from Tim DiFrancesco, a forward-thinking physical therapist with an excellent tip on improving shoulder function. For now, though, check out Mike's interview - and be sure to post your replies here; I'm curious about everyone's thoughts!  On a semi-related note, Mike's got a new DVD coming out soon that I'm sure won't disappoint!

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Random Friday Thoughts: 9/18/09

The theme of this week's random thoughts is "questions" (even though I know that having a theme makes it pretty non-random). 1. Yesterday, one of our high school guys was throwing - or tossing, I should say - the medicine ball with less than stellar velocity.  So, I went over and pinned a $20 bill to the floor with a dumbbell, and told him that if he broke a medicine ball, he could keep it.  He didn't break one, but at the very least, it got him throwing the ball harder. Seconds later, I hear a thud - only to look over and see that my fiancee had dropped a dumbbell directly on one of our stopwatches. Her question?  "Do I get $20 for breaking a stopwatch?" Sorry, honey, breaking stopwatches doesn't get you the $20 when you already have access to my credit cards and checkbook. 2. Do you watch The Biggest Loser? If so, you have to read this blog post by Robert do Remedios. 3. Can someone tell me why this kid doesn't just put down the controller? Weird.

5. Was that video just woefully inappropriate? 6. Does anyone think there is actually hope for Matt Forte as a legitimate fantasy football running back this year? He really let me down in Week 1 (five points, and I lost by one), and I have a bad feeling that it's going to be a looooonnnnggg year in this regard.  Some #4 overall pick... 7. For the record, I think it's a disgrace if Zach Greinke doesn't win the AL Cy Young award.  He'll be punished because he plays for a team that is isn't very good (four of his eight losses have been in games where the Royals were shut-out), but seriously, how can you ignore these numbers? He's got 244 strikeouts and just 44 walks in 210 innings right now.  Filthy numbers. 8. Have you watched Mike Boyle's Advanced Program Design DVD set?  I'm in the process of updating my resources page, and I came across it.  It made me realize what a great product it was, yet how it seems to get overlooked.  It's definitely worth checking out, if you haven't already.

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Have a great weekend!

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Strength and Conditioning Programs: Crossfit for Baseball?

I've received a lot of emails just recently (as well as some in-person questions) asking me what I think of Crossfit for strength and conditioning programs with baseball players and, more specifically, pitchers.

Let me preface this email with a few qualifying statements.  First, the only exercise "system" with which I agree wholeheartedly is my own.  Cressey Sports Performance programming may be similar in some respects to those of everyone from Mike Boyle, to Louis Simmons, to Ron Wolforth, to the Crossfit folks - but taken as a whole, it's entirely unique to me.  In other words, I will never agree completely with anyone (just ask my wife!).

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Second, in spite of the criticism Crossfit has received from some people I really respect, I do feel that there are some things they're doing correctly.  For starters, I think that the camaraderie and enthusiasm that typifies their training groups is fantastic; anything that gets people (who might otherwise be sedentary) motivated to exercise is a plus.  Moreover, they aren't proponents of steady-state cardio for fat loss, and they tend to gravitate toward compound movements.  So, good on them for those favorable traits. Additionally, I know some outstanding coaches who run Crossfit franchises, so their excellent skill sets may be overshadowed by what less prepared coaches are doing simply because they have the same affiliation.

However, there are several issues that concern me with applying a Crossfit mentality to the baseball world:

1) The randomness of the "workout of the day" is simply not appropriate for a sport that has quite possibly the most specific sport-imposed asymmetries in the world of athletics.  I've written about these asymmetries in the past, and they can only be corrected with specific corrective training modalities.

I'm reminded of this constantly at this time of year, as we get new baseball players at all levels now that seasons are wrapping up. When a player presents with a 45-degree glenohumeral internal rotation deficit, a prominent scapular dyskinesis, terrible right thoracic rotation, a big left rib flair, a right hip that's stuck in adduction, and a complete lack of rotary stability, the last thing he needs to do is a 15-minute tri-set of cleans, kipping pull-ups, and push-ups - following by some 400m sprints. It not only undermines specificity of exercise selection, but also the entire concept of periodization.

Getting guys strong isn't hard.  Neither is getting them powerful or building better endurance.  Finding the right mix to accomplish all these initiatives while keeping them healthy is the challenge.

2) The energy systems development found in Crossfit is inconsistent with the demands of baseball.  I wrote extensively about my complete and utter distaste for distance running in the baseball world, and while Crossfit doesn't go this far, in my eyes, anything over 60yds is "excessive distance" for baseball guys.  Most of my guys sprint two times a week during the off-season, and occasionally we'll go to three with certain athletes.  Let's just say that elite sprinters aren't doing Crossfit, and the energy systems demands of baseball players aren't much different than those of elite sprinters.

3) I have huge concerns about poor exercise technique in conditions of fatigue in anyone, but these situations concern me even more in a population like baseball players that has a remarkably high injury rate as-is.  The fact that 57% of pitchers suffer some sort of shoulder injury during each season says something.  Just think of what that rate is when you factor in problems in other areas, too!  The primary goal should not be entertainment or variety (or "muscle confusion," for all the morons in pro baseball who call P90X their "hardcore" off-season program).  Rather, the goals should be a) keeping guys on the field and b) safe performance enhancement strategies (in that order).

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As an example, all I need to do is look back on a program we used in one of our first pro pitchers back for the off-season last fall.  He had a total of 20 pull-up and 64 push-up variation reps per week (in addition to some dumbbell bench pressing and loads of horizontal pulling/scapular stability/cuff work).  This 84-rep figure might be on the low-end of a Crossfit program for a single day.  Just like with throwing, it's important to do things RIGHT before even considering doing them A LOT.

4) Several of the exercises in typical Crossfit programs (if there is such a thing) concern me in light of what we know about baseball players.  I'll cover this in a lot more detail in an article within the next few weeks, but suffice it to say that most have significant shoulder (if not full-body) laxity (acquired and congenital), abnormal labral features, partial thickness supraspinatus tears, poor scapular upward rotation, retroversion (gives rise to greater external rotation), and diminished rotator cuff strength in the throwing shoulder (particularly after a long season).  Most pro pitchers will have more than 190 degrees of total motion at the shoulder, whereas many of the general population folks I encounter rarely exceed 160 degrees.

totalmotion

In short, the shoulders you are training when working with baseball players (and pitchers, in particular) are not the same as the ones you see when you walk into a regular ol' gym.  Want proof? Back in 2007, on my first day working with a guy who is now a middle reliever in the big leagues, I started to teach him to front squat.  He told me that with only the bar across his shoulder girdle, he felt like his humerus was going to pop out of the socket.  Not surprisingly, he could contort his spine and wrists like a 14-year-old female gymnast.  This laxity helps make him a great pitcher, but it would destroy him in a program where even the most conservative exercises are done to the point that fatigue compromises ideal form.  And, let's be honest; if I was dumb enough to let someone with a multi-million dollar arm do this, I'd have agents and GMs and athletic trainers from a lot of major league systems coming after me with baseball bats!

5) Beyond just "acts of commission" with inappropriate exercise selection and volume, there are also "acts of omission."  For example, a rotational sport like baseball requires a lot of dedicated work to address thoracic spine and hip mobility and anti-extension and anti-rotatoin core stability.  If you exhaust your training time and recovery capacity with other things, there may not be enough time or energy to pay attention to these important components.

All that said, I would encourage anyone who deals with baseball players to learn to borrow bits and pieces from a variety of methods available today.   Along the way, take into account the unique characteristics of the overhead throwing athlete and manage accordingly.  Simply saying "I'm a Crossfit guy"  and adhering to an approach that was never intended for a baseball population does a huge disservice to the athletes that count on you to bring them the most up-to-date, cutting-edge training practices available.

If you're interested in learning more about some of the asymmetries and training techniques I noted above, I'd strongly encourage you to check out Optimal Shoulder Performance, where both Mike Reinold and I go into some detail on assessment and corrective exercise for pitchers in this seminar (and there's also a lot more fantastic information for anyone looking to develop pitchers). You can buy it HERE, or learn more about it HERE.

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