Home Posts tagged "Off-Season Training for Baseball" (Page 3)

Eric Cressey’s Best Articles: 2010

With 2010 winding down, I thought I'd use this last week of the year to direct you to some of the most popular content of the past 12 months here at EricCressey.com, as this "series" was quite popular last year.  Today, we start with the most popular articles of the year; these are the pieces that received the most traffic, according to my hosting statistics. 5 Reasons You Aren't Getting Stronger - This post came during the launch week of Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better.  With some of the unique programming strategies outlined in Show and Go, it seemed like a good opportunity to outline some of the common mistakes folks make that I really sought to avoid when writing the program. How to Find Your Fitness Niche - The popularity of this post surprised me.  I suppose it means that I have more fitness professionals (and aspiring fitness professionals) reading my blog than I'd previously thought.  This piece discusses how I "fell" into my baseball training niche. Make My Kid Run Faster - Apparently, I'm not the only one who has to deal with the occasional crazy father who tells me how to train his kid! Clearing Up the Rotator Cuff Controversy - This post discusses my approach to structuring rotator cuff exercises throughout the training week. The Fascial Knock on Distance Running for Pitchers - This was a fun article to write because it combined a review (of Thomas Myers' presentation at Perform Better) with a summary of my own experiences training pitchers.  It's always great to take the perspective of another and see how it meshes with your own philosophy - whether it confirms or refutes what you're doing. High Performance Training without the Equipment (Installment 1) - I'm glad that I checked back on my statistics to find that this was so popular, as I haven't gotten around to writing any subsequent installments.  I'll pick it up soon. I'll be back soon with the top product reviews of 2010. Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter:
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Quads Pulls, Regular Joes Getting Athletic, and Why Your Coach Might be a Schmuck

Today's peek back to the archives brings us an interesting assortment of articles you should check out: Quad Pulls in Baseball - Why do they happen?  And, what are they really?  This old post of mine actually gets a ton of traffic - presumably because a lot of people run into "quad pulls" quite frequently and immediately search for information on it on Google. The Regular Guy Off-Season Program - Looking for a good four-week program to test drive?  Give this one a shot; you might just get more athletic on top of being bigger and stronger. My Coach Says I Shouldn't Lift - I have some fun with this one.  It's great "ammo" for any athlete who deals with a coach who doesn't know his ass from his elbow.
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7 Reasons to Buy Show and Go Before Midnight Tonight

In lieu of my normal "Random Friday Thoughts" blog, I thought I'd use this morning's post to highlight why you ought to purchase Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better today.

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1. The most obvious reason, of course, is that at midnight tonight, the early bird discount (40% off) ends.  Forever.  There won't be any of this "our system was maxed out, so we're extending the sale by 2 days because I really care about you, friend!"  You know you've all heard it before - but you won't hear it here. 2. To follow up on that one, let's be honest: I'm not really sure if you're my "friend."  You could be a crazy internet person, for all I know.  In fact, many of you probably are - and acquiring a program like Show and Go could be really good for you to attend to your social awkwardness by heading to the gym to do the program and, in the process, meet some new people.  You might even get diesel and attract a member of the opposite sex, settle down with them, and name your first child "Eric Cressey."  No pressure on that one, though. 3.  The feedback thus far from customers has been excellent.  In addition to all the testimonials you'll see from the "guinea pigs" I put through the program, I've gotten some immediate one from people who have purchased the program via email; here's one quick example that just came in this morning. "Eric, I've just purchased Show and Go. Have started to use this straight away, and can definitely say that it makes training and writing programs for clients very easy and effective especially with the massive data base available. Plus all the add-ons from the other coaches - such as conditioning and glute exercises - are awesome." - Chris Carter 4. At first glance, this simply looks like one demonstration from the huge Show and Go video library (don't worry; trap bar deadlifts are not mandatory).

However, if you look closely, what's going on in the background is possibly more significant.  You'll see a few of my pro baseball guys starting up their sessions with foam rolling and mobility warm-ups.  Most of these guys are just now arriving for their off-season training - as the product is released.  In other words, this video was filmed back in February or so - which tells you that it literally took seven months (an entire professional baseball season) to bring this sucker to market because we spent so much time tinkering with it and trying to make it perfect (and putting a host of people through it as a pilot program over a four-month period).  In a day and age when some folks are kicking out new products each week, you have my word that this is not a fly-by-night operation; we invested a lot of time, thought, and energy into making this something of which we could be really proud.

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5.  On the financial side of things, I'm getting married next weekend...and it would be nice to use this book to pay for a wedding, honeymoon, and protective helmet to wear for the rest of my life.  Just kidding, honey! 6. On a more urgent note, tomorrow night is my bachelor party - and we're going to need bail money to get Tony out of prison after he's incarcerated for causing a scene at the casino when he realizes that they only serve free alcohol - and not almond milk - at the blackjack tables. 7. One afternoon earlier this week, just for the heck of it, I counted the professional baseball players in our facility.  There were 12 - two Royals, one Blue Jay, one National, four Braves, one Met, two A's, and one Tiger - and this is just minor leaguers, without the major league season even having wrapped up.  All told, we'll be over 40 professionals from all over the country.  This is not to blow sunshine up my own butt; it's to make a very important point: I actually train people six days a week.  I write a ton of programs, do a ton of evaluations, and love to coach.  And all this give me a great perspective from which to program for the "masses" - as I see everything from 10-year-olds to 70-year-olds in just about every athletic and weekend warrior population. This shouldn't even be something I have to mention, but I do - because you'd be surprised how many people write and sell programs when they aren't out there seeing it first hand.  Theories are all well and good, but the best programs are rooted in principles that have proven effective time and time again in the real world. Give it a shot; you've got nothing to lose: www.ShowandGoTraining.com.
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Nutrition, Medicine Ball Training, and Overhead Pressing for Baseball Players

In honor of the end of the minor league baseball season yesterday, I thought I'd go with a baseball-only theme today for our "Stuff You Should Read." First, though, I thought I'd give you the heads-up that I finally broke down and got a Twitter account, on the recommendation of a few people.  If you're interested in following me, you can do so HERE.

With that out of the way, some baseball articles that may interest you: Athlete Profile: Shawn Haviland - This is a great feature at Precision Nutrition on one of our athletes, Shawn Haviland, who was recently named a California League All-Star after striking out 169 batters in 153.2 innings, with a 3.65 ERA.  Shawn has worked really hard to get where he is, and this article shows just how tough getting in proper nutrition can be during the professional baseball season. Medicine Ball Madness - This piece touches on our unique medicine ball training program.  At some point, I'm going to get around to writing up a detailed resource on this, but for now, this will do.  Suffice it to say that our guys will get a little bit of a break over the next few weeks, and then we'll be destroying a lot of med balls up through the first of the year. Should Pitchers Overhead Press? - The following video is an excerpt from Mike Reinold and my Optimal Shoulder Performance DVD set.  It's a great resource for fitness professionals and rehabilitation specialists alike - especially if you are working with baseball players.

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Three Years of Cressey Performance: The Right Reasons and the Right Way

Though a somewhat "normal" day at the gym, yesterday marked Cressey Performance's three-year anniversary. While my business partner's blog post yesterday did an excellent job of doling out "thank yous" to a lot of the important people who have been so involved in our success - from clients to parents, coaches, interns, and significant others - I wanted to add my own two cents on the matter today.  More than anything, I really wanted to highlight a sentence that illustrates what makes me the most proud about where CP has been, where it is, and where it's going.

We've done this for the right reasons, and we've done it the right way.

newcp21 I read a business development blog post by Chris McCombs the other day where he wrote something that really hit home for me.  When he was talking about how he decides to accept or reject a new project/opportunity, here is one of his guidelines: "Only Take on Projects That Are In Line With My Current Values and Fulfill Me Beyond Just The Money - A project must fulfill me in some way BESIDE just money...too many people spend their life JUST chasing a buck; to me, that's no way to live.  For me, the money must be there, but it should fulfill me personally, be fun, help a lot of people, and build and be in line with my current brand and brand equity." Back in 2007, I had a tough decision to make.  My online consulting business had really taken off, and the Maximum Strength book deal was in the works.  My other products - Magnificent Mobility, The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual, and Building the Efficient Athlete - were selling well and getting great reviews, and I'd just had a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.  This website was growing exponentially in popularity, and I had just wrapped up my first year on the Perform Better tour - so lots of doors were opening for me on the seminar front to present all over the world - and I could have stayed home and just written all day, every day. I was getting really crunched for time, as I was already training clients 8-13 hours per day, seven days per week, as my in-person clientele had rapidly grown. My phone rang off the hook for about three weeks after Lincoln-Sudbury won a baseball state championship after I'd trained several of their guys, and one of my athletes was named state player of the year.  And, after being featured on the front page of the Boston Globe with a nipple so hard I could cut diamonds, I was in demand as a t-shirt model (okay, not really - but it made for an awesome blog post, The School of Hard Nipples).

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I was exhausted and stressed - but absolutely, positively, "living the dream" that I'd always wanted. To make matters a bit more interesting, I had just started dating a great girl (now my fiancee) who I really had a good feeling was "the one" after about three months.  The work days, however, were insanely long and I was worried that I'd screw up a good thing by not spending enough time with her. Every business development coach out there would have seen a "simple" answer to all my problems: stop training people in person.  Just write, consult, make DVDs, and give seminars.  It would have cut my hours by 80% and still allowed me to earn a pretty good living - and enjoy plenty of free time.  There was a huge problem with that, though; as Chris wrote, it wouldn't "fulfill me personally, be fun, help a lot of people, and build and be in line with my current brand and brand equity."  I like doing evaluations, writing programs, coaching, sweating, training with my guys, cranking up the music, helping people get to where they want to be, collaborating with and learning from other professionals, and watching my athletes compete - whether it's at some high school field or at Fenway Park.  Giving that up wasn't an option; I guess I'd have just been a crappy business coaching client, as I would have been stubborn as an ass on giving that up.

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Fortunately for me, Pete Dupuis, my roommate from my freshman year of college, had just finished his MBA and was in the midst of a job search.  And, during that MBA, he'd started to train with me and packed on a ton of strength and muscle mass - making him realize and truly appreciate the value in what I was doing (especially since he was and is a goalie in a very competitive soccer league).  Pete had also met and become friends with a ton of my clients - and taken a genuine interest in my baseball focus, as a lifelong Red Sox fan.  Almost daily, Pete would encourage me to do my own thing and let him handle all the business stuff for me. Simultaneously, Tony Gentilcore was ready for a change of scenery on the work front.  Having been Tony's roommate and training partner for almost two years at that point, I knew he was a genuinely great guy, that he'd read everything on my bookshelf, and that he could coach his butt off and "walk the walk."  He, too, had met a lot of my clients - so there was continuity from the get-go. So, on July 13, 2007, Cressey Performance was born.  Here is what we started with.

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Boatloads of renovations and equipment additions later, it wound up looking like this.

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Of course, we outgrew and demolished this space after about nine months and moved three miles east to a facility twice the size.  And, we've continued to grow right up to this day; June was our busiest month ever, and July should be busier.  We've got regular weekly clients who come from four states (MA, NH, CT, RI), and in the baseball off-season, I have college and pro guys who come from the likes of OH, AZ, CA, SC, NC, GA, FL, and VA.  And, we had 33 applicants for this summer's internships.

To be very candid, though, I don't consider myself a very good "businessman."  No offense to Pete or Tony, either, but I don't think they even come close to the textbook definition of the word, either.  We just try to be good dudes. "We've done this for the right reasons, and we've done it the right way."

We don't allocate a certain percentage of our monthly revenues to advertising.  In fact, we haven't spent a single penny on advertising - unless you count charitable donations to causes that are of significance to us.

We don't search high and low for new revenue streams to push on our clients.  In fact, if I get one more MonaVie sales pitch, I'm going to suplex whoever delivered it right off our loading dock.  Rather, we bust our butts to set clients up for success in any way possible - and trust that those efforts will lead to referrals and "allegiance" to Cressey Performance.  We ask what they want from us and modify our plans accordingly.  It's what led to us bringing in manual therapy, a pitching cage, and, of course, pitching coach/court jester Matt Blake's timeless antics.

Along those same lines, we don't measure our success based on revenue numbers; we measure it based on client results.  In three years of seeing LOADS of baseball players non-stop, we've only had three arm surgeries: one shoulder and two elbow.  All three were athletes who came to us with existing injuries, and in each case, we kept them afloat as long as we could and trained them through their entire rehabilitation.  I don't want to toot our own horn, but this is a remarkable statistic in a population where over 57% of pitchers suffer some form of shoulder injury during each competitive season - and that doesn't even include  elbows!  And, our statistics don't even count literally dozens of players who have come to us after a doctor has told them they needed surgery, but we've helped them avoid these procedures.  The college scholarships, draft picks, state titles, individual honors, and personal bests in the gym are all fantastic, but I'm most proud of saying that we've dedicated ourselves to keeping athletes healthy so that they can enjoy the sports they love.

The same goes for our non-competitive athlete clients.  The fat loss and strength gains they experience are awesome and quantifiable, but beyond that (and more qualitatively), I love knowing that they're training pain-free and are going to be able to enjoy exercise and reap the benefits of training for a long time.

We don't penny-pinch during our slowest times of the month (late March through mid-May - the high school baseball season).  We see it as an opportunity to do more staff continuing education, renovate the facilities, and get out to watch a lot of baseball and support our athletes.  And, we adjust our hours to open up on Sundays and stay later on weeknights during the baseball season to make it easier for athletes to get in-season training in whenever they can.  If a pitcher wants to come in and get his arm stretched out before or after an outing, he stops by and we do it for him - but don't charge him a penny for it.  It's about setting people up for success.

We don't try to just "factory line" as many clients through our facility as possible with everyone on the same program.  You might walk into CP and see 20 different clients on 20 different programs - because a 16-year old pitcher with crazy congenital laxity is going to have a markedly different set of needs than a 16-year-old linebacker with shoulder mobility so bad that he needs help putting a jacket on.  One program on one dry erase board for hundreds of athletes isn't training; it's babysitting.

Taking this a step further, we don't boot clients out after a certain amount of time.  Clients take as long as needed to complete the day's program. And, when they're done (or before they even begin), loads of our clients spend time hanging out in the office just shooting the breeze and enjoying the environment.  As an example, Toronto Blue Jays Organizational Pitcher of the Year Tim Collins spends a minimum of five hours a day at CP all off-season.

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Tim has sold girl scout cookies for the daughter of one of our clients, and he's been our back-up front desk guy when Pete is out of town.  Yesterday, he was back to visit on his all-star break - and he said hello to every client he saw - and remembered them by name.  If you're a 15-year-old up-and-coming baseball pitcher, how cool is it to get that kind of greeting when you walk into the office?  Well, at CP, kids get that greeting from 10-15 pro guys all the time.  And, if they're lucky, they might even get to throw on a bobsled helmet and join these pro guys in a rave to Miley Cyrus, apparently.

At least once a week, I get an email from an up-and-coming coach asking for advice about starting a facility.  When I get these emails, I now think about how Rachel Cosgrove recently mentioned that more than 80% of fitness coaches leave the industry within the first year. In most cases, this happens because these people never should have entered the fitness industry in the first place - because their intentions (money) were all wrong.  They usually leave under the assumption that they could never make a living training people, but in reality, these folks are going to have a hard time making a living in any occupation that requires genuinely caring about what you do and the people with whom you work, and being willing to hang your hat on the results you produce.

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As such, the first advice, in a general sense, is obvious: do it for the right reasons, and do it the right way.  Sure, making a living is essential, but only open a facility because it would fulfill you "personally, be fun, help a lot of people, and build and be in line" with who you are and what your values are - which together constitute your "brand." Making the move to start up this business was one of the most daunting decisions I have ever had to make, and all the efforts toward actually getting the business started were equally challenging.  However, in the end, it has been more rewarding both personally and professionally than I could have ever possibly imagined.

Thank you very much to all of you - clients/customers, parents, EricCressey.com readers, seminar attendees, and professional colleagues - for all your support over the past three years.  We couldn't have done it without you - and look forward to many more years of doing things for the right reasons and in the right way.

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A Dominant Decade on the Diamond

Great article here about Lincoln-Sudbury baseball, including their training at Cressey Performance: A Dominant Decade on the Diamond
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Programming for Athletes vs. Training Athletes

A while back, I wrote an article that went into quite a bit of detail on appropriately allocating CNS-intensive stress.  Check it out HERE.  Likewise, a bit later, Mike Boyle introduced a fantastic DVD of a presentation on CNS-intensive training. In hindsight, a lot of the concepts in both my original article and Mike's DVD are probably best appreciated by taking a look at some sample programs.  Some stuff we are doing right now with one of my pro pitchers is a perfect example, so I thought I'd turn it into a feature for today's blog. First off, we're talking about one of the most gifted natural athletes I've ever seen.  He has some incredible reactive ability, and just as significant to this discussion, he doesn't hold back...ever.  We are talking an incredible motivation to train and a complete willingness to do everything put in his program to a "T."  He is every coach's dream, but it can certainly pose more of a challenge with respect to program design.  Here's what his October training schedule looked like: Monday: Medicine Ball Work (88 total throws), Low-Volume, Less Intense Plyos (24 total landings), Lower Body Lift Tuesday: Upper Body Lift Wednesday: Medicine Ball Work (80 total throws), Plyos and Movement Training Thursday: Full-Body Lift Friday: Easy Flexibility Circuits (recovery-oriented) Saturday: Medicine Ball Work (88 total throws), Low Volume Sprint Work, Full-Body Lift Sunday: Off Looking at this schedule, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday are really the CNS-intensive days - and a schedule like this had worked well for him in two previous off-seasons when he wasn't quite as highly trained.  Each year, he dropped body fat, gained a ton of strength, increased his power numbers, and directly transferred those gains to increased velocity on the mound and zero injury issues.

Last month, though, our guy was feeling a little banged up two Thursdays in a row.  The challenging sprint work on Wednesday was taking too much out of him prior to Thursday's lift.  So, we simply decided to consolidate things a bit more, and drop our sprinting volume a bit.  Here's what this month's schedule looks like: Monday: Movement Training, Lower Body Lift Tuesday: Medicine Ball (68 total throws), Upper Body Lift Wednesday: Easy Flexibility Circuits (recovery-oriented) Thursday: Movement Training, Full-Body Lift Friday: Rotational Medicine Ball Work (66 total throws), Easy Flexibility Circuits (recovery-oriented) Saturday: Overhead Medicine Ball Work (12 total throws), Less Intense Plyos (24 total landings), Full-Body Lift Sunday: Off In this set-up, our CNS-intensive days are Monday, Thursday, and Saturday.  In other words, he's got one less training session per week that's really challenging - and he's seeing great progress without any of the little issues that he noticed last month. This off-season, we will have over 30 professional baseball players.  Some are big leaguers, some are on the cusp of making the big show, and others have a few years of work ahead of them to reach that dream.  No two of them are identical.  Every evaluation is unique.  There are different health histories, different positions on the field, different ages, and different training experience levels.  Every program needs to reflect these differences. This is a great opportunity to talk about the interaction of programming for athletes and training athletes.  Early on in an athlete's career, it's all about training them: teaching techniques, educating them on when to push and when to hold back, and how to progress.  As they get more advanced, they know a lot about this stuff - so the programming gets more challenging as they get more individualized. This is the main tenet upon which we have built our Elite Baseball Development Program at Cressey Performance. While many facilities will just put a program on the board and train a group of individuals off of it, we firmly believe that the real work to make athletes successful goes on behind the scenes when we're reviewing their evaluations, watching videos of them throwing/hitting/sprinting, and compiling a program that's right for them. It's also an observation that led Bill Hartman, Mike Robertson, and I to create Assess and Correct: Breaking Barriers to Unlock Performance.  If you aren't assessing, you're just assuming - and that's a recipe for mediocrity at best.

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A Semi-Related Note While we're on the topic of baseball, I wanted to send out a quick congratulations to my buddy Dana Cavalea, the strength coach for the NY Yankees, on his first world championship.  Admittedly, I'm not a Yankees fan, but Dana's a great dude who does an excellent job, so you have to give him some love for an outstanding season. That said, Dana and some colleagues are putting on the 2nd Annual Major League Strength Coaches Clinic at St. John's University in New York on November 21, 2009.  I won't be able to present with my schedule, unfortunately, but I did present last year and can assure you that it's a top-notch event.  I'd strongly recommend you check it out HERE.
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The Be-All, End-All Throwing Program from your Favorite Snake-Oil Salesman

Note from EC: Today marks our second guest blog post from pitching expert Matt Blake.  I couldn't agree more with everything he says! [Cue the annoying, overly excited infomercial salesman voice] This is the throwing program that you have all been waiting for, it's the super-duper secret that people haven't been telling you about 95 mph throwers, and lucky for you, it is now available for F-R-E-E !!(For the first 5 days and then one incredibly low payment of $449 if you do not return the product within those 5 days).....All you have to do is order the product, follow it for a week and 95mph is a snap of the fingers away, it is just that easy...

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Alright, well I can honestly say I just made myself throw up in my mouth a little bit writing that out, and the sad part is that this type of advertising and promotion letters both the baseball and fitness industry. There are two main points that I want to touch on surrounding this type of promotion. 1) Yes, there are some good products out there, I'm not denying that, but I can promise you, anything that is worth having is not free, and does not pretend to be free to lure you in. 2)  There is no single product on the market that is the be-all, end-all in either industry. Eric and I have had this talk many times. Yes, he likes the kettlebell. No, it is not the end of the world. We can keep our squat racks; they still have use. And you know what? Product A may even work better when complemented by Product B.  Whoa, whoa whoa....are you trying to tell me that the kettlebell can be used in a program with dumbbells and barbells? That's not how this thing was sold to me. Yes, scary thought I know, but let's think about this for a second. And, I'm going to bring this back to the baseball side of things to avoid really stepping on my tongue. People ask Eric and me all the time whether or not we like long toss, medicine balls, weighted balls, aggressive velocity drills, lead-up drills, mound work, flat-ground bullpens, etc...and the answer I almost always give is "Yes." "Wait, what? I just asked you if you like seven different types of training for pitchers and you gave me one 'yes.'" That's correct, and to take it a step further and really complicate the matters, we even like kettlebells and different squat variations for pitchers among other things.  And we use a ton of different weights of both baseballs and medicine balls.

My perspective on this is that all of these modes of training have an application in building a pitcher capable of throwing the ball 95mph. Obviously, there are some genetic limitations and other factors involved in getting there, but to really optimize the training, I think all of these need to be applied in the right proportions. These proportions would be determined based upon the individual's current makeup (age, weight, relative strength, mechanical understanding, etc...) and their developmental goals, which should be discussed between player and coach to make sure everyone is on the same page and being realistic. A great example of this is the throwing program Eric used last winter for Shawn Haviland, a pitcher in the Oakland A's system that was drafted in the 33rd round in 2008. For Shawn's particular case, he was a player who pitched in the mid-to-high 80's with a good feel for pitching. As Eric wrote previously, as good as this is, late round draft picks do not get a lot of leeway to prove themselves and can be released in the blink of an eye. To give Shawn the best chance to succeed, Eric thought it might make sense to be a little more aggressive with his throwing program in an attempt to boost his velocity. So, aside from the strength training and mobility/flexibility work, throw in some med ball variations, aggressive long toss, a weighted ball program, and some extensive decelerator work and one might think we're playing with fire here. Well, this season Shawn took his velocity from 87-88 to 90-94.

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So, which piece of the puzzle gave Shawn this huge velocity gain? Was it the med ball throws or was it the weighted ball program? Was it the aggressive long toss or the increased strength? I'd like to believe that it was the individual's commitment to the program in its entirety. Each piece served to complement the next.  This was a program designed for Shawn Haviland to execute in the winter of 2008-2009; that's it. This same program may not make sense in the winter of 2009/2010. I'm sure some similar pieces will be involved, but in a different context with different proportions depending on where Shawn is in his developmental path. This same program certainly wouldn't be prescribed to a 15-year-old just learning about pitching mechanics and strength development, and probably would not be prescribed to a 1st round draft pick with a 92-95mph fastball and a million dollar signing bonus hanging over his head. That's the reality of the situation. Each case needs to be looked at in its own regard and after deciding on a strategic vision of where the player wants to be, then a comprehensive program would be built with the appropriate drills and exercises to help the player take his game to the desired level.  The X factor in all of this is how much time and effort a player is willing to commit to becoming a better player, because this ultimately determines where the player will end up. In the end, this all relates back to the first thought in this blog: there is no one single be-all, end-all answer for pitching development. There are modes of training that should be considered and blended to come up with the right recipe for the particular individual.  Yes, there will be crossovers for players at similar points in their development because we have a finite number of training applications, but they would be applied based on reason. So, before you jump at the next best gadget that is going to give you the 95mph arm you have been looking to buy, make yourself an informed consumer and do some active research to get multiple viewpoints. Believe me, the same product/program that claims to have given someone 95mph, probably has someone claiming that it ruined their arm. I would go as far as to say that neither of these claims are right in their entirety and that there are a lot of external factors involved, but it is your job to do the homework and decide for yourself. Matt Blake can be reached at mablak07@gmail.com. Sign-up Today for our FREE Baseball Newsletter and Receive a Copy of the Exact Stretches used by Cressey Performance Pitchers after they Throw!
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The Biggest Mistake Pro Baseball Players Make?

The other day, I got to chatting with Tim Collins and Matt Kramer, two of Cressey Performance's longest tenured pro baseball guys.  These two guys were among my first pro baseball guys to get back from the long season and start up training.  Tim's notorious for getting back in the gym just a day or two after his season ends!

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We were discussing baseball development, and one of them mentioned that one of his teammates had just commented on how he was taking a few weeks off and then was going to start training again.  Keep in mind that this conversation took place on October 1, and just about every minor league baseball team wrapped things up on September 7 (playoffs excluded).  While some guys were called up to play at high levels, and others shipped off to instructionals or the Arizona Fall League, most guys went straight home. Now, "home" is a big improvement from the typical professional baseball lifestyle, which (as I described here) consists of a lot of late nights, long bus rides, unhealthy food, alcohol, and (specific to the topic at hand) erratic training.

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In most cases, the weight rooms aren't even close to adequate.  And, obviously, you can never have a great training stimulus in-season; guys just do what they can to "get by."  Yes, they "get by" for almost seven months per year - which obviously makes the other five months incredibly important. Now, if someone takes an extra month off after the season, he's only getting 80% of the benefit of the off-season that his teammates are getting.  In a sport where only 3% of draft picks make it to the big leagues, if I'm a prospect, I don't like my chances if I only have 80% of the preparation of those around me. Let's do the math on that for a guy who gets released after three years in the minor leagues.  That's three months of preparation down the tubes.  Next, consider how many guys who have COMPLETELY OVERHAULED their physiques and performance in preparing for the NFL combine in less than three months. Last off-season, we put 17 pounds of meat on one of our pitchers (and he got leaner!) between November 11 and February 20. He looked like a completely different person - in just three months and nine days.  His broad jump went up ten inches and vertical jump up 4.3 inches in spite of this big jump in body weight, meaning that he improved in both relative and absolute power.  This is not uncommon at all in the baseball guys with whom I've worked, particularly those who were drafted out of high school and never got the benefit of college strength and conditioning. All that said, in my eyes, guys should be back in the gym as soon as possible after the season ends - even if it's just a few days per week.  Simply getting the ball rolling on the endocrine, immunological, and rehabilitative benefits of strength training will do wonders in itself.  Getting started on improving soft tissue quality and addressing mobility/stability deficits is also tremendously valuable, as it paves the way for better training as the December-February "crunch time."  These guys can take a week to gather their thoughts, and then get back to work; otherwise, they'll have more vacation time when they're out of work!

Truth be told, it's one of just a few common mistakes we see, and this could be applied to just about any professional sport; I just chose baseball because it's what I see the most.  Of course, the guys who probably ought to be reading this are the ones who are probably sitting poolside sipping martinis, or cuddling up in their snuggies and then having Mom's homemade pancakes for breakfast at 1PM!

(For the record, I worked really hard to resist the temptation to insert the "In a Snuggie Rap" video here.  Search for it on Youtube, if you're interested.)

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How Baseball Pitchers Should Approach the Start of the Season

Most of you will show up to tryouts and realize very quickly that they are tremendously physically demanding, in most cases, as a coach want to find out quickly who has worked hard in the off-season (hopefully, you!) and who deserves a spot on his roster (hopefully, also you!). You’ve already taken care of the performance aspect of this challenge with your hard work this past fall/winter – and now it’s time to continue that work while integrating more sprint work over these final few weeks to prepare you for what’s ahead. Continue Reading...
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