Home Posts tagged "Off-Season Training for Baseball"

CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast: Offseason Planning with John O’Neil

Episode 25 of the podcast features a collaborative effort between Cressey Sports Performance - Massachusetts Director of Performance John O'Neil and me. We go in-depth on the topic of planning out an effective baseball offseason for high school, college, and professional players. This week's episode is brought to you by Joovv Red Light Therapy. The research on the wide-ranging health benefits of red light therapy are compelling, and Joovv is at the forefront of delivering this technology to improve your health and performance. Head to www.Joovv.com/eric and enter coupon code CRESSEY to get a special gift with your purchase.

Show Outline

  • How John and Eric model their training programs to optimize an individual’s off-season
  • What John’s off-season training priorities are when working with high school, college, and professional athletes
  • How having a single sport high school athlete impacts off-season training
  • What factors high school ball players should consider when deciding to play fall ball
  • Why consistency is the most important aspect of a training program and how John emphasizes this message to his youth athletes
  • Why health and performance are not mutually exclusive in the world of performance enhancement
  • How coaches can find success with athletes by identifying the duration of time they have them, honing in on low-hanging fruit in their development, and working backward to drive favorable changes in their abilities
  • What training qualities John focuses on developing early in an individual’s offseason and how these strategies are progressed as an athlete transitions to being in-season
  • Why building a robust aerobic base is of high priority early in the off-season and how this idea transforms into more power related development as the off-season progresses
  • How John conceptualizes his sprint progressions for athletes
  • Why off-season training slowly builds athletes to move more explosively as they approach the season and how John specifically translates general motor potential into skill specific activity
  • What a typical professional off-season training program looks like
  • How John and Eric model off-season training programs around throwing programs to make sure their baseball players are prepared for all facets of their sport

You can follow John on Instagram at @oneilstrength and Twitter at @oneilstrength, and reach out to us at cspmass@gmail.com for offseason training inquiries.

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!

Name
Email
Read more

A Sneak Peek Inside Corey Kluber’s Off-Season Training at Cressey Sports Performance

Earlier this week, a crew from MLB.com visited Cressey Sports Performance in Massachusetts for a feature on former Cy Young winner Corey Kluber's offseason training.

kluberoffseason

Today, the article ran at MLB.com; check it out:

Indians Corey Kluber Training Hard for 2017

Some of the topics covered included:

  • Weighted ball training
  • How we've modified Corey's off-season after his big workload in the 2016 regular season and post-season
  • Transitioning from "rested" to "ready" each off-season
  • "Money-maker" exercises

Again, you can check it out HERE.

Have a great weekend!

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more

Specificity, Delayed Transmutation, and Long-Term Baseball Development

We had a great staff in-service on strength and conditioning programming yesterday, and it really got the wheels turning in my brain. The end result was this video, which is especially timely, given that many professional baseball players are about to begin their off-season training.

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!

Name
Email
Read more

It Needs to Be Said: Throwing Doesn’t Build Arm “Strength”

Today, I'm going to tackle one of my biggest pet peeves in the baseball world: people saying that throwing builds arm "strength."  Sorry, but it doesn't. 

What I'm going to write below might seem like wordplay, but truthfully, it's a very important differentiation to make.  If young athletes believe that throwing builds arm strength, they'll quickly convince themselves that year-round throwing is safe and acceptable, when it's actually one of the worst things they can do for long-term health and development. Here's what you need to know:

1. Throwing builds arm speed - which is power.  Power is heavily reliant on muscular strength.  If you can't apply much force, you can't apply much force quickly.

2. Throwing also builds muscular endurance in the arm.  Muscular endurance, too, is heavily reliant on muscular strength. If you don't have strength you can't have strength endurance.

If you enhance muscular strength, power and endurance will generally improve.  That's been shown time and time again in the research, both in throwers and other athletic situations.  However, if you train power and endurance, strength almost never goes up.  Otherwise, we'd see loads of athletes stronger at the end of seasons than they were at the beginning. In reality, if you check rotator cuff strength and scapular stabilizer proficiency at season's end, it's generally much lower.  As physical therapist Mike Reinold describes it, managing arm strength during the season is a "controlled fall."

This underscores the importance of using the off-season (including a period with no throwing whatsoever) to improve rotator cuff strength and optimize scapular control.  Simultaneously, athletes gain passive stability at the shoulder as the acquired anterior instability (secondary to increased external rotation from throwing) reduces.

Now, we need more research to see if it's the case, but I think that one of the hidden benefits of throwing weighted baseball is that doing so essentially helps us blur the line between arm strength and speed, as I outlined in this presentation a while back:

Of course, it depends heavily on the volume, frequency, load, and type of weighted ball drills utilized, as well as the time of year at which they're utilized.  However, as I mentioned, it is somewhat of a noteworthy exception to the rule of throwing a 5oz baseball.  Weighted balls surely still take a toll on arm strength over the course of time, but that might be a "slower fall."

Regardless, when you're talking about a throwing program, feel free to say that you're building "arm speed" or "arm endurance," but let's all appreciate that you definitely aren't building "arm strength." 

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!

Name
Email
Read more

21 Reasons You’re Not Tim Collins

On March 31, 2011, Cressey Performance athlete Tim Collins made his major league debut on opening day for the Kansas City Royals.  As one of the shortest players in Major League Baseball, Tim made for a great story, especially considering he was an undrafted free agent sign who never received interest from any college baseball programs, let alone Division 1 schools.  In light of this unlikely ascent to baseball's biggest stage, Tim's story was featured on Yahoo Sports, MLB.com, and Men's Health, and I also wrote up this post, which was among my most popular of all time.  By the end of the day, Tim was trending worldwide on Twitter when my business partner and I went out to dinner with Tim and his folks to celebrate his big-league debut - even though nobody in downtown Kansas City recognized him outside of his uniform.

Not surprisingly, Tim's phone was bombarded by text messages and phone calls all that afternoon and evening. However, I never could have imagined that we, too, would get bombarded with requests after Tim got to the show.  Since that date, we've received hundreds of emails (in addition to some phone calls to the office, one of whom asked to speak with Tim - in the middle of July while he was in-season) that all essentially go like this (this is copied and pasted):

"Hi, I am a 5-7 lefty pitcher that also weights 170lb but only throws 80 mph. I read the articles about Tim Collins and was wondering if you could send me the workouts that he does in the off-season with you because I'm just like him. What leg exercises/lifts did he perform. Also did he just focus on legs, core and light upper body. If I lifted upper body I get really stiff because I have a similar stature like Collins, so did he basically avoid upper body lifts or did he just perform light lifts on the upper body. Finally after I lift I have been running a mile after that to loosen up my muscle to stay flexible, is that a good or bad idea. Thanks."

Now, don't get me wrong; I think it's absolutely awesome that Tim's story has inspired guys to want to work hard to achieve their goals in spite of their stature - and we've certainly received loads of comments from folks who always put a smile on my face in this regard.  However, it frustrates (and entertains) me to think that some guys assume that they are just a program (actually, five year worth of programs) away from throwing 97mph and pitching in the big leagues.  Programs are just a bunch of words and numbers typed into Microsoft Excel and printed out; it's how they're carried out that really matters.  Additionally, there is a lot more to long-term baseball success than just following a strength and conditioning program; you also have to prepare on the baseball side of things and attain a skill set that differentiates you.  To that end, I thought I'd take this time to highlight 21 reasons you're not Tim Collins.

1. You don't have Tim's training partners.

Tim's had some of the same training partners since back in 2007, and in addition to pushing him in the gym, they've also served as a network for him to share ideas and solicit feedback.  If you just do "his programs" in a commercial gym by yourself (with obnoxious Nicky Minaj music in the background), you're not going to get the same outcome. True story: in the fall of 2009, Tim trained alongside Paul Bunyan. This experience gave him the size, strength, and courage needed to grow a beard that would become a beacon for humanity in Kansas City and beyond.

2. Your beard is not this good.

Everyone knows that beards improve the likelihood of baseball success, not to mention all-around happiness in the rest of one's life. I can't send you a strength and conditioning program that will make your facial hair grow.

3. You don't put calories in the right place like Tim does.

Tim can eat a ton of food and a LOT more of it goes to muscle than fat.  Just because you're 5-7, 150 pounds and left-handed doesn't mean you won't become a fat slob if you crush 8,000 calories a day.  Sorry.

4. You don't have Tim's awesome support network.

Tim is fortunate to have a great family, from his parents, to his sisters, to his fiance.  This is especially important for an undrafted free agent who didn't get much of a signing bonus.  His parents put a roof over his head and fed him while he worked his way through the minor leagues.

More significantly, though, people don't realize that the foundation of becoming a big leaguer doesn't come from a training program; it comes from the values that are instilled in you by those around you when you're young.  As a perfect example, Tim's father, Larry, is one of the hardest-working guys you'll ever meet.  He teaches, has a painting business, and even just accepted a prestigious award for outstanding community service in the Worcester area.  A few sheets of paper with exercises, sets, and reps written on them won't foster the kind of habits that will get you to "the show."

5. You probably don't enjoy the process like Tim does.

Tim likes training.  In fact, all of our clients knew Tim well before he made it to the big leagues, as he was always at the gym. He has been putting in eight hour days of hanging around the office (on top of his training) for five years now.  If you don't enjoy training, you probably around going to become a gym rat.  And, if you don't teach yourself to enjoy the training process, your chance of getting to your ideal destination will surely be diminished.  This was taken at 7pm on a Tuesday night, as a frame of reference:

6. You might not have Tim's luck.

Then Blue Jays general manager JP Ricciardi "discovered" Tim by accident when he was out to scout another player.  How many of you have GMs just "pop in" to your Legion games - and conveniently do it on a day when you strike out 12 straight guys?

7. Your name isn't Matt O'Connor.

Meet Matt O'Connor, Cressey Performance athlete and student at Emory University. He is sometimes mistaken for Tim when he's at CP.

If we were going to pick anyone to be "just like Tim Collins," it would be Matt - purely for efficiency's sake.

8. You might not have a switch you can flip on and off.

One of the things most folks don't know about many high level lifters is that they joke around all the time during training sessions.  When I was lifting at one of the best powerlifting gyms in the world, guys were always busting each other's chops between sets. However, when the time comes to move weights, they get very serious very quickly.  They know how to flip the switch on at will. 

However, they also know how to turn the switch off when they don't need it.  This is true of a lot of the most successful baseball players I've encountered; they leave work at work.  The guys who are constantly "on" and let the game consume their lives often have bad relationships with teammates and stress themselves into bad results.

I think part of what has made Tim successful - especially as a relief pitcher - is that he can turn his brain and his body on at a moment's notice, but knows how to go back to "normal Tim" when the time is right.

9. You probably don't even have a bulldog, and if you do, I guarantee you that his underbite isn't this awesome.

10. You don't have Tim's curveball.

I actually remember reading somewhere that Tim's curveball had more top-to-bottom depth than any other curveball in Major League Baseball, and I spoke to one MLB advanced scout who said he rated it as an 80.  Keep in mind that average fastball velocity is higher in Low A than it is in the big leagues.  Tim's velocity improvements might have been a big part of him advancing through the minor leagues, but he doesn't even get his first opportunity unless he has a great curveball.  And, no, I don't have his "curveball program" to send you.

11. You don't have Tim's change-up.

If Tim's curveball is what got him to the big leagues, it was his change-up that has kept him there.  Interesting fact: he threw two change-ups in the 2010 season - and both led to home runs. It took a lot of work to develop the change-up he has now.  But you just need his programs.  Riiiight.

12. You can't ride a unicycle.

I don't know of the correlation between unicycling ability and pitching success, but there has to be something there.

13. You might not respond to success like Tim has.

I often see one of two things happens when guys are successful in pro sports, and everyone comes out of the woodwork asking for something.  They either a) trust everybody or b) trust nobody.  I think Tim's done a great job of finding a happy medium.  He puts his trust in others and doesn't second guess them, but still guards his network carefully.

14. You might not be as willing to make sacrifices as he is.

This might come as a surprise, but Hudson, MA really isn't that beautiful in the winter.  Most pro guys move to Arizona, Florida, or California in the off-season, but Tim sacrifices that lifestyle to train with us and be close to the support network I mentioned earlier. Asking to just have a program (actually, 50+ programs) emailed to you means that you aren't willing to make sacrifices on that level, which leads to...

15. You wouldn't be doing your program in the same training environment.

I know a lot of pro guys who struggle to find a throwing partner in the off-season.  If that's an issue, it's a safe assumption that they don't exactly have many (if any) training partners or a good training environment in which to execute the program, either.  You don't just need the right people; you need quite a few of them, with the right equipment at your fingertips. At risk of sounding arrogant, I think we've done a great job of creating that at CP.

16. You don't have just the right amount of laxity.

Congenital laxity is a big consideration in training throwing athletes.  Some guys have naturally looser joints, while others tend to be very stiff.  The really "loose" guys need more stability training and little to not flexibility work, while the tight guys need a hearty dose of mobility drills.  Generally speaking, the best place to be (in my opinion, at least) is middle-of-the-road.  Tim falls right there, with a small tendency toward being a bit more loose, which favors his aggressive delivery.

17. You don't throw to a left-handed catcher in the off-season.

And, even if you do, your left-handed catcher probably doesn't have a mitt with his name on it. It's definitely a crucial part of the Tim Collins developmental experience.

18. You probably can't score a 21 on the Functional Movement Screen.

Many of you are probably familiar with Gray Cook's Functional Movement Screen, a seven-part assessment approach used in a number of fitness and strength and conditioning settings nowadays.  A perfect score is a 21, but you don't see it very often - usually because everyone gets dominated by the rotary stability test, where a perfect score (3) is essentially a same-sided birddog. The first time I saw Tim drop to the floor and do this effortlessly, my jaw just about hit the floor.  Luckily, he can repeat it on command like it's nothing, so I snapped a video (this was the first try, with no warm-up).

He's scored a 21 on this two spring trainings in a row - and that implies that he actually moves quite well.  Most people don't need his program, as they have a lot more movement quality issues to address.

19. You ice after you throw.

Tim iced after pitching one time, and hated it; he'll never do it again.  Not everyone is the same, though; some guys swear by it.  You might be one of those guys.

20. You've never personal trained a nine-week old puppy.

21. You "muscle" everything.

One of the traits you'll see in a lot of elite athletes is that they don't get overly tense when they don't have to do so.  If you're squatting 500 pounds, you want to establish a lot more rigidity, but if you're participating in the vast majority of athletic endeavors, you want effortless, fluid movement - almost as if you aren't trying.  If you just tense up and try to muscle everything, it becomes harder to take advantage of the stretch-shortening cycle.  Teaching an athlete to relax is challenging - but I never had to even address it with Tim; it was something he just "had."

There's a saying in the strength and conditioning world that "it's easier to make a fast guy strong than it is to make a strong guy fast."  I think this quote applies perfectly to Tim's development.  Not everyone has that natural reactive ability from the get-go, so different training approaches are needed for different individuals. 

Again, in closing, I should emphasize that it's great that Tim has become an inspiration to shorter pitchers to pursue their dreams.  However, as is always the case, young athletes simply following the exact training programs of professional athletes is a bad idea, as these programs may not be appropriate for their bodies or point on the athletic development continuum.  To that end, I encourage all young athletes to educate themselves on how they are unique - and find the right people and programs to pursue their dreams in accordance with those findings. And, for the record, Tim agrees!

Sign-up Today for our FREE Baseball Newsletter and Receive a Copy of the Exact Stretches used by Cressey Performance Pitchers after they Throw!

Name
Email
Read more

Cressey Performance Elite Baseball Mentorships

I'm extremely excited to announce a project that has been in the works for quite some time: Elite Baseball Mentorships at Cressey Performance.  Folks have been requesting these for years, but I resisted the urge to go through with it until the time was right - and that time is now! 

Working with me on these mentorships will be two awesome minds who play a big role in helping CP provide comprehensive, synergistic programs for baseball players. Matt Blake is the pitching coordinator at Cressey Performance, and Eric Schoenberg is a physical therapist who handles some of our toughest cases.  The rest of the Cressey Performance staff will also be on-hand to assist with the practical portions of the event, and answer questions during the observation periods.

The first mentorship will take place January 6-8, 2013. Here are the specifics:

Cressey Performance Elite Baseball Mentorship
Phase 1: Understanding and Managing the Pitcher

Sunday, January 6

Morning Session: Lecture

8:30-9:00AM – Registration and Introduction (Eric Cressey)
9:00-10:00AM – Understanding the Status Quo: Why the Current System is Broken (Eric Schoenberg)
10:00-11:00AM – Functional Anatomy and Proper Movements of the Shoulder and Elbow (Eric Cressey)
11:00-11:15AM – Break
11:15AM-12:15PM – Common Injuries and their Mechanisms (Eric Schoenberg)
12:15-1:00PM – Lunch (provided)

Afternoon Session: Lecture and Video Analysis

1:00-2:00PM – Flawed Perceptions on "Specific" Pitching Assessments and Training Modalities (Eric Cressey)
2:00-3:15PM –Key Positions in the Pitching Delivery: Understanding How Physical Maturity and Athletic Ability Govern Mechanics (Matt Blake)
3:15-3:30PM – Break
3:30-4:45PM – Video Evaluation of Pitchers: Relationship of Mechanical Dysfunction to Injury Risk and Performance (Matt Blake)
4:45-5:30PM – Case Studies and Q&A

5:30PM Reception (Dinner Provided)

Monday, January 7

Morning Session: Practical

8:00AM-10:00AM – Physical Assessment of Pitchers: Static and Dynamic (Eric Cressey and Eric Schoenberg)
10:00-11:30AM – Prehabilitation/Rehabilitation Exercises for the Thrower (Eric Cressey and Eric Schoenberg)
11:30AM-12:00PM – Lunch (on your own)

Afternoon Session: Observation at Cressey Performance – 12PM-6PM*

Tuesday, January 8

Morning Session: Practical

8:00AM-9:00AM - Preparing for the Throwing Session: Optimal Warm-up Protocols for Different Arms (Eric Cressey and Eric Schoenberg)
9:00-10:15AM – Individualizing Drill Work to the Pitcher (Matt Blake)
10:15-11:30AM – Throwing Program Progressions (Matt Blake)
11:30AM-12:00PM – Lunch (on your own)

Afternoon Session: Observation at Cressey Performance – 12PM-6PM*

* The afternoon observation sessions on Monday and Tuesday will allow attendees to see in real-time the day-to-day operation of the comprehensive baseball training programs unique to Cressey Performance.

Observation of live training on the CP floor with our professional, college, and high school baseball players will allow you to experience firsthand our approaches to:

• Programming
• Proper coaching cues for optimal results
• Soft tissue techniques
• Activation and mobility drills
• Strength/power development
• Medicine ball work
• Multi-directional stability
• Metabolic conditioning
• Sprint/agility programs
• Base stealing technique

In addition, you will experience:

• Live throwing sessions
• Biomechanical video analysis using the Right View Pro system
• Movement evaluation
• Live case examples

Location:

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

Cost:

$899 early-bird (before December 6), $999 regular. No sign-ups will be accepted on the day of the event.

Continuing Education:

NSCA CEU pending

Registration Information: SOLD OUT

Please note that space is extremely limited. We are keeping the size of this seminar small so that we can make it a far more productive educational experience. Additionally, this event will not be videotaped. As such, I’d encourage you to sign up as soon as possible.

Hope to see you there!

Sign-up Today for our FREE Baseball Newsletter and Receive a Copy of the Exact Stretches used by Cressey Performance Pitchers after they Throw!

Name
Email
Read more

EC Talks Transfer of Training for Baseball Players

Back in July, I presented at the NSCA National Conferences in Providence, RI.  My topic was "Individualizing the Management of Overhead Throwers: How to Spot What Your Throwers Need."  The NSCA films all the presentations, and this excerpt was just made available online, in case you'd be interested in checking it out. You can access this video HERE. A special thanks to the NSCA for making this available online.

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more

25 Questions to Ask During the College Baseball Recruiting Process

When I got into the strength and conditioning field, I always assumed my job would just be about getting athletes bigger, stronger, faster, leaner, and healthier.  And, I was right that those would be constituents of my job, but I failed to realize that there was actually a lot more to consider if I wanted to be successful in the private sector and working with up-and-coming baseball players.

Those unexpected responsibilities included learning about the Major League Baseball Collective Bargaining Agreement, interacting with advisors/agents, helping kids plan out their competitive year, creating a solid physician and physical therapist network, and even jumping in to catch some bullpens.

eccatcher

However, none of these tasks could possibly be more important than the interactions I have with a lot of high school baseball players as they work to select the right college/university for them.  While there are a lot of college advisory services out there, very few of them truly understand the athletic side of things; they're more heavily focused on the academic and social components, as there is no way they could ever possibly keep track of what each college baseball (or football, hockey, basketball, or whatever) program is doing. Coaching staffs change, universities move to different conferences, new facilities/fields are added, and new training methods are established.  With that in mind, here are 25 questions I ask of all our kids who approach me about the college recruiting process:

1. Will you have an opportunity to play right away?  If not, are you comfortable waiting?

It's very easy to fall in love with a campus and the thought of playing in front of thousands of fans, but "s**t gets real" when you've been riding the pine for your first two years of college.  Find out who is on the team who'll be playing ahead of you, as well as who else they are recruiting in your class at your position.

This, for me, is also a roundabout way of asking a kid if he is really good enough to play at a school.  If you didn't even pitch for your high school team, chances are that you aren't going to be able to pitch for a College World Series team.  In this instance, you'd be better off going to a team that will provide the innings you need to develop.

2. Do you have aspirations of playing baseball after college?

Will this program facilitate that objective? If it's going to do so, you need to see a history of players drafted.

3. Have you spoken to alumni who have played at these colleges (or for these coaches at different schools)?

Do they speak highly of their experiences, or do they rip on the coaches?  Do they go back to their college town to visit often?

4. How would the coaching staff describe their approach to coaching to you?

Some guys do well with the "in your face" coaching style, and others struggle with the regular confrontation.

5. What is the program's track record of success with developing players like you?

What do they do that will make you a better left-handed pitcher, second baseman, or catcher?  Do they have examples?

6. What (if any) scholarship or financial aid amount are you being offered?

College isn't cheap.  While full rides are rare in college baseball, the difference between a 25% scholarship and 50% scholarship can work out to $60,000 over the course of four years.  Don't forget transportation costs to and from campus several times per year, too.

packs-163497_960_720

7. How tenured are the coaches, and do they see themselves leaving the school in the next few years?

At the Division 1 level, while you have some wiggle room (usually) in leaving a school if the head coach that recruited you leaves, you don't get that luxury with pitching and hitting coaches.

8. How tenured is the team athletic trainer, and what is his/her approach to treatment?  

Does he/she just fill Gatorade buckets and stay out of the way, or get involved with manual therapy and individualized rehab programs?

9. How tenured is the team strength and conditioning coach, and what is his/her approach to training both in-season and off-season?

Do guys get bigger and stronger over their four years, or do they just run poles and waste away?  Observe a lift: is he/she a respected figure in the players' lives? Also, is he/she considered a true part of the coaching staff to allow for maximum synergy, or does the head coach never interact with him/her?  Are players on unique programs based on their positions and injury history, or does everyone do the same?

Hint: if the answer to every question is "clean, squat, bench," run away.  Quickly.

10. How successful are the coaches in placing players with competitive, well-managed summer teams?

Sadly, summer baseball becomes less and less developmental every year.  Fortunately, there are still some good summer coaches out there; is your coach placing you with those coaches?

11. How are the facilities, and will there be any construction going on during your college experience?

If they're building a new field, you might be playing elsewhere for your home games.  New weight room?  You might be pushing cars in the parking lot in the middle of winter (although that may be a good thing for some of you).

12. What is a program's track record in terms of injury rates?

Are they blowing arms out left and right?  Or, are guys avoiding surgery while pitching more effectively than ever?

elbows

13. What were starting pitchers' pitch counts over the past year?

Are they consistently sending guys out there for over 120 pitches? While it's not exhaustive, this is a cool pitch count page that looked at D1 programs across the country back in 2014, but it hasn't been updated in recent years.

14. How tough of an adjustment socially will it be for you?

If you're a New Englander headed to the Deep South, expect it to be an adjustment.  The adjustment is similarly challenging if you're a Southerner headed North. Are you prepared for that? A new social scene at the same time as a new coaching staff can overwhelm some guys.

15. Do they have the academic programs you want?

Sorry to burst your bubble, but only 2% of guys drafted actually make it to the big leagues.  That essentially works out to one guy per team pear year.  And, among the guys who make it to the big leagues, very few play there long enough to be financially set for life.  In other words, there is a 99.99% chance you'll be employed in some capacity after baseball, so you need to prepare for it.  Regardless of what our guys opt to study, I encourage them to take some finance courses, as everyone needs to understand money management.

16. Do they have a solid academic support staff in place if you need it?

Do you have a learning disability that warrants special assistance? Do you need organized study halls to help with getting your work done?  Or, do you just want people to stay out of your way?

17. What is the alumni network like?  

Will it help you to get internships or employment after graduation? Or, will you have to head to the local prison to interview them?

18. Does the coaching staff get out and attend different conferences to improve at their craft?

Are they teaching the same things they taught in 1978, or are you being introduced to more forward-thinking concepts?  "New" isn't always better, though, so that's why you ask the questions: it gives them a chance to provide rationale for their methods.

19. Are the hitting/pitching coaches more hands-off, or do they want to start tinkering with mechanics to solve problems they already see with your swing/delivery?

College coaches always see more things that need to be addressed than high school coaches ever can.  They get more hours with you, and they see you against better competition that may expose your weaknesses.  These weaknesses obviously need to be addressed.  However, how much will you be abandoning the horse that got you there in the first place?  Is it going to be tinkering or overhauling, and which are you willing to commit to?

20. How is the food on campus?

The food always tastes good...for the first month.  Then, most people get sick of it.  Don't become one of those people.

21. Who is the team doctor, and what is his background and accessibility?

If you're there four years, chances are that you'll roll an ankle or get hit by a pitch at some point.  Is the team doctor readily accessible, or do you have to book an appointment and then wait three weeks to see him?  Also, does he have a solid understanding of the management of overhead throwing athletes? Many doctors don't.

22. How competitive is the conference in which you play?

If you can go out and hit .500 or have a 0.00 ERA as a freshman, you probably aren't being challenged.

23. Have you watched this team play a game and practice?

Does the team go through a thorough warm-up, or do they just roll in, do ten seconds of arm circles, and then get to it?

Do players look coaches in the eye when they're being coached?

Do players cheer in the dugout, or is it completely silent?

I had one college kid tell me that his head coach didn't show up for a single fall practice; the assistant coach ran the entire thing.  Unbelievable!

24. What kind of throwing programs and pitch selection does a team use?

If you're a long toss guy, go somewhere that does long toss.  If you've thrived with weighted baseballs, go somewhere that integrates them in the throwing programs.  If you like to chuck ninja stars, go somewhere that you can fight crime.

If you're a guy with a history of elbow pain, don't go to a school where all pitchers learn sliders and are forced to throw them 60% of the time.

25. What is the team's graduation rate?

Graduation rate can definitely be impacted by a number of factors, including how many guys are drafted, but don't return right away to complete their degrees. As an interesting (and scary) fact, only 4.3% of those who have played in the big leagues this year have a college degree.  Still, graduation rates are something about which you should ask because it's a question that gives a coach a chance to show you what emphasis he places on academics.

In typing this up, I rattled all these questions off in under five minutes, and the truth is that there are a lot more.  The set of questions one asks will always be unique to one's situation.  The only commonality is that kids should ask questions - and lots of them, as this is going to be 3-4 years of your life.

As an important addendum, it's important to realize that there isn't a single program in the country that is going to give you the exact perfect answer you want on all these questions.  Your goal is to find the best fit, not the perfect fit.  With that said, though, you are committing to the program as a whole, not just the parts of which you approve.  To that end, you'll need to prioritize certain things depending on your circumstances:

If money is tight in your family, the scholarship/financial aid question might be most important.

If you have a history of injuries, the athletic trainer/strength and conditioning coach/team doctor questions might be the most pertinent.

If you want to play baseball in college, but not beyond, the questions about graduation rates and alumni networks will be significant.

If you have a very funky delivery that's worked well for you and are afraid a pitching coach will change it, you need to ask those pitching coaches if they are open to that arrangement.  This scenario was made famous when Tim Lincecum headed to the University of Washington with his unique delivery.

There really are no right or wrong answers - but there are definitely a lot of questions that should be asked along the way. One friendly suggestion I make to players is to make sure that these questions come from you and not just your parents. Parents will have questions of their own, but they should never dominate the conversation; young athletes need to take a proactive role in learning about what could be their lives for four years.  It not only shows maturity to the recruiting coaches, but also makes sure that you get the answers to the questions that are most important to you.

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!

Name
Email
Read more

Opening Day Musings: Are You Willing to Put in the Work?

Earlier this week, Cressey Performance athlete Ryan Flaherty was named to the Baltimore Orioles opening day roster for today.  Ryan and I share a common trait in that we were both born and raised in Southern Maine, so we've had some good conversations about what it takes to compete on a national scale when you start out from what isn't exactly known as a baseball capital of the world.  When I heard the great news about Ryan, the logical first choice for reading about it was our hometown newspaper, the Portland Press Herald, in this article.

One of the things that stood out for me about this article was the quote about how Orioles manager Buck Showalter still got so excited to tell guys they made the big league roster - because, unfortunately, it's a conversation he gets to have much less often than the "You're cut" interaction.

Being successful - and, even moreso, world-class - is very difficult.

Only 3% of guys ever drafted into professional baseball ever make it to the big leagues.  When you factor in free agent signings, it's likely a 1 in 50 success rate.  Taking it a step further, if you look at the 118 first-round draft picks between 2004 and 2007 who actually signed, only 84 (71%) of them ever made it to the big leagues.  In other words, even if you are among the most coveted 30 prospects in all of the U.S. and Canada, you still have a long way to go, and a lot of time to fall flat on your face. I hear it all the time from kids: I want to make varsity. I want to play in college. I want to get drafted. I want to make it to the big leagues. While the goals are certainly incremental and far apart, the response needs to be the same: "It won't be easy, and you need to be willing to work for it - not talk about it." Ryan was no exception.  He was one of the best athletes - football, basketball, and baseball - in the history of the State of Maine.  Then, he was a three-year standout at Vanderbilt, one of the best college baseball programs in the country, before being drafted in 2008.  Three years of hard work in the minor leagues later, he's getting his shot in "the show" today.  Tim Collins was a great example from last year - and Tim had to work his butt off to keep his roster spot in the big leagues going in to 2012.

It would have been very easy to be one of the 98% who failed, though. There are thousands of ways in which kids go astray from their goals today, whether it's due to apathy, poor coaching, overassertive parents, drug use, behavioral issues, or simply not being honest with themselves about how much they need to improve.  And, it's getting worse with every participation trophy that's handed out, and every time that a parent races in to school to contest a grade on a report card. In the former case, the rewards should be the excitement of competition, the outstanding feeling that comes from being part of a team, the physical activity that comes with participating, and the character development that comes from dedicating oneself to a goal and working toward improvements to make it a reality.  What are we saying to a kid when he busts his butt and looks the coach in the eye every time they talk, yet we hand him the same participation trophy that we gave to the kid that shows up late to practice, refuses to pick up equipment, gets in the coach's face, and dogs it through drills?

In the latter case, the parent has missed a valuable opportunity to teach a valuable, yet dwindling characteristic in today's young kids: accountability.  When parent could be teaching a kid that "you reap what you sow," instead, he/she instead chooses to show that you can cut corners in life because there will always be someone around to clean up your mess.  I'm all for standing up to your kids - but I think a lot of people today need to stand up TO their kids, too.

It isn't just about showing up. It's about genuinely caring about what you do, honestly evaluating where your abilities are, having a passion to become a better person and make the the world a better place, and acting accordingly - while being humble, punctual, diligent, and respectful.

Don't get me wrong; we absolutely, positively need to encourage all kids, not just athletes - and overbearing parents absolutely crush kids' confidence.  However, there is a happy medium between the two; I think we do them a disservice when we aren't realistic with them about what it actually takes to be successful.  Only then can they appreciate the day-t0-day behaviors and practice they'll need to be successful: the process for their ultimate destination. Along these lines, over the years, I've had dozens of parents come up to me and say that one of the reasons they love Cressey Performance so much is that young athletes get to interact with and train alongside professional athletes so much.  The hard work they see from the pro guys does a better job of demonstrating what level of commitment it takes to succeed better than anything a parent could ever put into words.

I love seeing college and professional athletes involved with clinics for younger athletes, as well as charitable endeavors. It doesn't just help the kids and charities, but also the athletes themselves.  It gives them not only a chance to give back and an opportunity to reflect on how far they've come and the hard work it took to get to where they are. It's important to not just discuss the drive and character it takes to succeed, but give kids visual examples of it. What better day than opening day, when dreams are coming true all over Major League Baseball? It's a great starter to a conversation you ought to have with your kids and the players you coach; why not today? Related Posts Strength and Conditioning Program Success: The Little Things Matter Four Factors that Make or Break a Baseball Strength and Conditioning Program Sign-up Today for our FREE Baseball Newsletter and Receive a Copy of the Exact Stretches used by Cressey Performance Pitchers after they Throw!
Name
Email
Read more

Where Cressey Performance Pro Guys are Headed

As spring training wraps up, I wanted to give you a quick heads-up on where all the Cressey Performance pro guys are headed for their seasons.  Be sure to keep an eye out for them if they're in your neck of the woods: Arizona Diamondbacks - John Pedrotty (Low A - South Bend, IN) Atlanta Braves - Adam Russell (AAA - Gwinnett, GA), Cory Gearrin (AAA - Gwinnett, GA), Richard Sullivan (AA - Pearl, MS), Chad Rodgers (Extended Spring Training), Cole Rohrbough (Low A - Rome, GA) Baltimore Orioles - Ryan Flaherty (Major Leagues), Oliver Drake (AA - Bowie, MD) Boston Red Sox - Kevin Youkilis (Major Leagues), Will Inman (AAA - Pawtucket, RI), Jeremy Hazelbaker (AA - Portland, ME), Jeremiah Bayer (High A - Salem, VA) Chicago White Sox - Phil Negus (High A, Winston-Salem, NC), Kevin Moran (Extended Spring Training), Kevin Vance (Low A - Kannapolis, NC) Chicago Cubs - Bryan LaHair (Major Leagues), John Andreoli (High A - Dayton, FL), Scott Weismann (Low A - Peoria, IL) Cleveland Indians - Cory Kluber (AAA - Columbus, OH) Cincinnati Reds - Tim Gustafson (AAA - Louisville, KY) Colorado Rockies - Dan Houston (AA - Tulsa, OK), Cory Riordan (AA - Tulsa, OK), Brook Hart (Extended Spring Training) Detroit Tigers - Matt Perry (Low A - West Michigan) Kansas City Royals - Tim Collins (Major Leagues), Anthony Seratelli (AAA - Omaha, NE), Mike LiBerto (High A - Wilmington, DE), Crawford Simmons (Low A - Kane County, IL) Los Angeles Dodgers - Eric Eadington (Low-A, Midland, MI) Miami Marlins - Steve Cishek (Major Leagues), Joey O'Gara (AA - Jacksonville, FL) Minnesota Twins - Ryan O'Rourke (Low A - Beloit, WI) New York Mets - Jack Leathersich (Low A - Savannah, GA) New York Yankees - Jordan Cote (Extended Spring Training), John Brebbia (Low A - Charleston, SC) Oakland A's - Shawn Haviland (AA - Midland, TX), Murphy Smith (AA - Midland, TX), Max Perlman (Low A - Burlington, IA) Philadelphia Phillies - Kevin Quaranto (Extended Spring Training) San Francisco Giants - Keith Bilodeau (Low A - Augusta, GA), Kyle Vasquez (Extended Spring Training) Seattle Mariners - Jimmy Gillheeney (High A - High Desert, CA), Mike Dowd (Clinton, IA) St. Louis Cardinals - Chris Costantino (Extended Spring Training) Tampa Bay Rays - Craig Albernaz (AA - Montgomery, AL), Garret Smith (Extended Spring Training) Texas Rangers - Nick McBride (Low A - Hickory, NC), Joe Van Meter (High A - Myrtle Beach, SC), Kyle Fernandes (AAA - Round Rock, TX) Toronto Blue Jays - Trystan Magnuson (AAA - Las Vegas, NV), Chad Jenkins (AA - Manchester, NH) Washington Nationals - Chris McKenzie (Low A - Hagerstown, MD)

Sign-up Today for our FREE Baseball Newsletter and Receive a Copy of the Exact Stretches used by Cressey Performance Pitchers after they Throw!
Name
Email
Read more
Page 1 2 3
LEARN HOW TO DEADLIFT
  • Avoid the most common deadlifting mistakes
  • 9 - minute instructional video
  • 3 part follow up series