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

Philosophizing from Goliath’s Shoulders

Sorry for the delay in getting this one posted, everyone; I just got back from a seminar with Pavel Kolar in Phoenix and my brain is fried (in a good way!).  Luckily, Matt Blake has provided some more excellent content - and it is incredibly appropriate, as I spent the entire weekend with physical therapists, athletic trainers, chiropractors, and strength and conditioning coaches in an awesome learning environment.  Check it out:

Philosophizing from Goliath's Shoulders

By: Matt Blake

In continuing the theme of discussing some of the basic tenants of the Elite Baseball Development Program here at Cressey Performance, I wanted to follow up on one of the thoughts I had in a previous post. This idea is that the leaders in most fields are polymaths. This is something that I think should be expounded upon and I'm going to take that opportunity in this post. For those of you who are not sure what a polymath is and do not feel like looking it up, I'll provide the definition for you here from Wikipedia: "A polymath (Greek polymath?s, ?????????, "having learned much")[1] is a person, with superior intelligence, whose expertise spans a significant number of subject areas." I think this term can be used on many levels. In the post to which I'm alluding, I used it to describe people who reach outside their own field and acquire knowledge from other disciplines. I also think this is a term that should apply to people who stay within their niche and look to other thought leaders and how they go about their business. For Eric, this would be like pulling from physical therapists, strength coaches in other sports, manual therapists, athletic trainers, powerlifters, golfers, tennis coaches, Olympic lifters, sprinters, and vision experts. By doing this, he is acknowledging that he doesn't know everything and is working to fill in some of his own gaps. He is making his personal philosophy and his own school of thought that much more solid.  Look at his latest product, Assess and Correct,as an example: it's a collaboration of two strength and conditioning coaches and a physical therapist with great soft tissue treatment skills.  It brings together three people who specialize in the shoulder, knee, and lower back.

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Eric doesn't have to like everything that each of these people teach or preach, but if he blends one new thought into his own training, then he just made himself a better trainer. Applying one piece of someone else's puzzle doesn't have to signal a 100% endorsement of an individual. There should always be some level of individuation and originality if you expect to contribute at the highest level.  I'm not even talking about being inventive in nature, but simply blending up the same ingredients, in your own proportions, to create a different concoction that is unique to you. I think this applies in the very same way in the baseball industry, and particularly with respect to teaching pitching. Both of these fields share similarities in that they have been around a while, and if you're attempting to reinvent the wheel in these fields, you are failing to acknowledge that people have been able to do some pretty amazing things with what's already there. For me, it is looking at what the great pitchers and great pitching coaches before me have done. Obviously, Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens, and Greg Maddux are modern day legends who can show us a thing or two about pitching, and, more importantly, pitching healthy.


To look even further back, take guys like Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, and Whitey Ford (just to name a few). When building what we'll call post-modern pitchers, wouldn't it make sense to grab a little bit of each and apply it on a case-by-case basis? A little rhythm here, some little knee lift there, and maybe mix in a type of stride for a particular body type, and top it off with the signature arm action? We have the same components, but a new pitcher - unique to his build.


The same could be said for all of the pitching coaches and pitching gurus that have preceded me.  Dave Duncan, Lee Mazzone, Tom House, John Bagonzi, Ron Wolforth, Paul Nyman, and dozens more: each one presents something a little different from the next. I don't have to love everything that Ron Wolforth or Tom House does to appreciate that they are tremendous teachers of pitching and get great results. Wouldn't I want to know how they're doing it and see if there is anything I can borrow from their brand of pitching? I would never sell these thoughts as completely my own, but the fact that I understand them and can apply them properly allows me to use them, assuming I make the necessary acknowledgements. For example, I love Ron Wolforth and Brent Strom's ideas for developing velocity using specific drills to activate and optimize different pieces of the mechanics (pitchingcentral.com). I like the way Tom House advocates controlling the body with different mechanical cues (tomhouse.com). I like pieces of Alan Jaeger's arm care and long toss program (jaegersports.com). I even like how Dick Mills breaks down video (pitching.com). All of these guys have pieces I like, and pieces of which I'm not a huge fan. I'd like to think if I blended a little bit of all of them into my own philosophy, I'd have a pretty good starting point to teach people about pitching. I also think the reason it has to be my own is because I don't have the same experiences or resources as these people do, so naturally I have to make the most of my own ingredients. What we lack in warm winter throwing sessions outdoors, we make up for by optimizing individual strength training and throwing programs indoors in an attempt to condition pitchers to throw the ball as hard and healthy as anyone in the country. That's the reality of the situation. We wouldn't complain about the hand we are dealt in the Northeast, we would just make the most of what we have available to us.


The real importance in all of this comes down to whether or not Eric and I are able to get the desired results for our players. Your philosophy is only as good as the results it can continuously demonstrate. Can my pitchers throw the ball harder because of what I have showed them? Can they command the ball better than before because of what I explained to them? Will our players stay healthier because of what Eric has provided them in programming? Do our players understand the importance of a diligent work ethic, because of our collective training platform?  At the end of the day, whether or not we get them to perform at the level they decided to commit to is all that it comes down to. If they don't, then the philosophy needs to be continuously shaped based on the evidence available to us.


I would like to believe the X factor in all of this is: can we effectively communicate our ideas to the point that the people around us understand how to apply these thoughts into their own world? The ability to command the attention of an individual to a degree that they are willing to open up their mind and acknowledge that there is a different way of doing things to get better is a tremendous skill that needs to be constantly refined. There are a lot of facets to this idea of effective communication that I will touch on in a future post, but one of the foundations is simply having something worth communicating, whether it be one idea from many fields, or many ideas from one field.  Either way, viewing your methodology as limitless in its capacity for development, and embracing all knowledge as a potentially worthy addition is a good starting point. Matt Blake can be contacted at mablak07@gmail.com.

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MRIs vs. Movement

As many of you know, earlier this week, I spent three days at a huge sports medicine conference organized by Mass General Hospital in conjunction with the Harvard University Medical School.  It was a great event geared toward sports orthopedists, radiologists, physical therapists, and athletic trainers; I was very humbled to have been invited to present alongside some of the brightest minds in the sports medicine world.  The discussions on surgical technique, physical examinations, etiology of injuries, biomechanics, rehabilitation, and return-to-play guidelines were absolutely fantastic.  The stuff that caught my attention the most, though, actually came in the discussion of imaging - MRIs, MRAs, and x-rays - by some of the best radiologists in the world. Several of these brilliant radiologists made specific points of commenting on how not every abnormality you see on diagnostic imaging constitutes a symptom-causing issues.  A perfect example would be a SLAP 1 (superior labrum fraying) in a baseball pitcher, which is completely normal for 79% of major league pitchers.  Just because the labrum is fraying doesn't mean that the pitcher is going to be in pain; it's a passive stabilizer, and the active restraints (rotator cuff, scapular stabilizers) can get stronger to pick up the slack.  Likewise, just because a player is having shoulder pain and he has a SLAP 1 lesion on imaging doesn't mean that the frayed labrum is the cause.  It could be coming from the biceps tendon or rotator cuff, for instance, and the labral issue is just "there." So what does that mean for strength and conditioning professionals?  Well, as I wrote in Inefficiency vs. Pathology, there isn't a whole lot we can do to effect favorable changes in what diagnostic imaging looks like, but we can go out of our way to ensure that clients and athletes move efficiently and have adequate muscular strength, stability, and tissue quality.


This is actually my exact topic on the Perform Better tour (next stop is Long Beach at the end of July).  If you can't make it to Long Beach, I'd highly encourage you to check out these previous writings of mine: Inefficiency vs. Pathology (noted above) To Squat or Not to Squat An Interview with Dr. Jason Hodges The Proactive Patient
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13 Things That Drive Me Nuts

By popular demand, some of the clients at CP who appreciate my cynical side requested that I pull together a list of things that annoy me.  I turned to our intern, Chris, and asked him to pick a number between 1 and 20, and he chose 13.  So, in lieu of Random Friday Thoughts, here are 13 things that drive me nuts... 1. It recently occurred to me that my Random Friday Thoughts are no longer very random - and not just because I do them every Friday.  Truth be told, I am the Random Pioneer, and countless individuals have attempted to randomly follow in my random footsteps with their own random attempts at random brilliance in random blogs.  I have a random message for these random copycats: you might as well give it up, as my randomness cannot be matched, so you might as well throw in your towel (and no, Steph, we aren't getting towels for you at CP). I believe this cat reflects my random sentiments quite nicely:

2.  I can't believe Joe Dirt didn't win an Oscar.

3. It's a written rule at CP that when you have one week remaining on your current program, it's your responsibility to notify a CP staff member that you'll need a new program printed out and ready to go within a week.  It's an unwritten rule (as one 17-year-old athlete found out this week) that those who forget to tell us that they need a new program - and then show up to lift on the day the new program would have started - are rewarded with the following program for the day: A1) Barbell Bulgarian Split Squats: 8x8/side A2) Neutral Grip Pull-ups: 8x6 I don't think we'll be having this problem much more... 4. I always love it when a fitness professional sets up a new program or opens his/her own facility and writes his own press release.  It usually comes out something like: "World-Renowned Fitness Expert Announces Plans to Revolutionize the Fitness Industry "In a move that has been called revolutionary, forward-thinking, bold, and daring, Ben Dover, CPT, QRS, ASAP, AEIOU is now personal training adults ages 18-65 in his mother's basement to help them loose [note from EC: this is intentionally spelled wrong, because people always spell lose incorrectly] weight.  Dover graduated with honors from Moldy Gordita Community College in Burnt Scrotum, New Mexico. "Says Dover, 'My Moldy Gordita and Burnt Scrotum experiences have made my outlook on fitness very unique.*   Unlike other personal trainers, I encourage clients to eat right and exercise.' *Note from EC: yes, I know you can't be very one-of-a-kind, but Ben doesn't. "Dover has limited availability, but is now accepting new clients for 22 available hour-long time slots between the hours of 1AM and 11PM." I see this at least once a week - seriously.  As I think about it more, though, it's pretty amusing. 5. I need to see another story on TV about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie like I need to gouge out my eyes with a hot poker. 6. Sometimes, a video says it all.

(for the record, it isn't Tony that drives me nuts; it's the universal acceptance of the stability ball as training implement for everybody) 7. If you Google "medial deltoid," you get 7,710 results.  You know what?  There is no such thing as a medial deltoid!  It's the middle deltoid - and yes, it is a pretty big difference anatomically (the medial deltoid would technically be the anterior deltoid, if you really think about it).  You don't get Google search results for rhombazoids or upper trapezoids - and medial deltoid isn't much better. 8. In my article series on running programs for pitchers, I alluded to how I dislike it when pitchers run to get fit.  Rather, I feel that they need to get fit to run.  Truth be told, this doesn't just apply to pitchers; it applies to everyone, endurance athletes included.  Taking up running to lose weight is a recipe for disaster for a lot of people.  These people may include: dentists, professional wrestlers, eskimos, Starbucks employees, politicians, elves, laywers, and even superheroes.  Yes, the only thing worse for Superman than kryptonite is distance-running-induced plantar fasciitis. If you're a marathoner or triathlete, have at it - but be sure you're prepared to start it in the first place. 9. Can somebody tell me why we're just arresting this guy now?  He should have been incarcerated for that hairstyle the seconds the 1980s were over!

10. The only thing worse than a close-talker is a close-coacher.  This may include standing on top of an athlete, or shouting as many cues as possible during a set.  Step off, dude. 11. Inside-Out doesn't get much love, but it is the single-best upper extremity injury prevention product out there.  If you have shoulder or elbow issues, you should have bought this over a year ago!

Give Bill and Mike (and your rotator cuffs) some love. 12.  I really could use about 28 hours in the day.  I'd even settle for 27 - but 24 just doesn't seem to be cutting it.

13. It drives me nuts that I really couldn't come up with #13, but then I realized that I could just go back to my mainstay.  Good Lord, this is atrocious.  I don't even know where to begin...

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Can Little Leaguers Strength Train?

Q: Mr. Cressey, I was given your name and website from my massage therapist, who is a big fan of yours. I was wondering what your opinion is about when a child should start muscle strength training (not weight training) for baseball? I have a 10-year old son who pitches and I always worry about his shoulder since I have had to have surgery on both of mine. He is playing up in age so he is pitching from 50 feet and pitches a consistent 48 mph. I always ice him down after for 30 minutes, but what do you recommend him to do to prevent injuries? A: This is a great question, and the timing is actually perfect (as I'll explain in the last paragraph). In a nutshell, assuming good supervision, I'd start as early as possible. While most of our work is with athletes in the 13+ age range, we run a group of 9-12 year olds every Saturday morning at Cressey Performance. There is a lot you can to with kids at that age to foster future success - but, more importantly, have fun. It was actually started by popular demand of some of the kids who had older brothers in our program; they wanted to jump in on the fun. Now, we look at it as a feeder program of sorts; by teaching things effectively early-on and exposing them to a wide variety of movements, it makes it easier for them to become athletes down the road. We work on squat technique and/or deadlift technique, with the majority of the time aimed at just keep them moving by performing various circuits that include things like jumping jacks, med ball throws, lunges, and wheelbarrow medleys, etc. We also have tug-o-war battles and SUMO wrestling where we have them grab onto a SWISS ball and try to maneuver each other outside of a circle. All in all, we have fun while at the same time improving their motor skills. That is what's most important. I don't want the kids to dread coming to the gym, which is what I think happens when trainers and parents start taking it too seriously. There's going to come a time when things will get more specialized, but ages 9-12 isn't that time. Truth be told, kids nowadays are more untrained and unprepared than ever - yet they have more opportunities that ever to participate in spite of the fact that they are preparing less. It's one of several reasons that youth sports injuries are at astronomical rates. As perhaps the best example, you can now see glenohumeral internal rotation deficit (GIRD) in little leaguers, as this study shows. The GIRD isn’t the problem; that’s a natural by-product of throwing. The problem is that kids throw enough to acquire this structural and flexibility anomaly, but have no idea how to manage it to stay healthy. So, in a nutshell, find someone who understands kids both developmentally and psychologically - and make it fun for him. Looking for someone affiliated with the IYCA (www.iyca.org) would be a good start. Also, among the products out there, Paul Reddick's stuff is a great start if you're looking for things to do with up-and-coming baseball players.

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Random Thursday Thoughts: 9/17/08

We are publishing this on Thursday night again, as I am going to be up early tomorrow to train, do an evaluation on a pro baseball pitcher who is in town from South Carolina, and then hit the road to get to Stamford, CT in time to speak on a roundtable at Ryan Lee’s Bootcamp. I’m looking forward to a great weekend and catching up with plenty of friends in the industry – including Mike Roussell and Alwyn Cosgrove, which leads me to… 1. For those who missed it, it isn’t too late to get the EricCressey.com subscriber-only discount on Warp Speed Fat Loss. Check out this week's newsletter for more details – or just head over to pick up a discounted copy through the following link (coupon code is embedded already): Warp Speed Fat Loss 2. Still overpriced and lame. 3. Alan Aragon had a great article published at T-Nation yesterday. Definitely check it out: A Musclehead’s Guide to Alcohol 4. Anyone who can find me a good study that shows that you can isolate the vastus medialis effectively gets a gold star. If you want to save yourself a few days of frustrating Pubmed searching, you’ll give up now, because you aren’t going to find it. 5. Someone asked what I thought the best substitute for front squats would be in the Maximum Strength program if one didn’t have access to a power rack. I’d probably go with walking dumbbell lunges – mostly because it’d be funny to see someone do clusters with lunges! For the record, that was a joke, folks; lunge clusters would be stupid. 6. Some researchers say that we all would die of heart disease eventually if we “outlasted” everything else. I, on the other hand, would likely die from the monotony and pure frustration of trying to explain to baseball players and coaches why distance running is stupid. To tack a few years onto my life, please do me a favor; if you are a baseball player or coach, you need to read these two articles – and then forward them on to everyone you know who also plays or coaches. Part 1 Part 2 7. Someone asked me the other day if I thought all problems were related to anterior pelvic tilt. While it’s a big problem in athletes, I would not attribute any of the following problems to anterior pelvic tilt: gonorrhea, shingles, global warming, diarrhea, traffic jams, or that annoying cashier at Trader Joe’s who always insists on commenting on how I’m buying a lot of eggs. I do hope that bastard’s hip flexors are tight, though; he rubs me the wrong way. Michelle would probably kill him for a stupid comment like that. 8. I’ll be introducing a new product next week. While many of you might be disappointed that it won’t be the 2009 Mike Robertson Pin-up Calendar (March is the Funky Knee Surgery Scar Month; it drives the ladies wild), I’m sure you’ll be delighted with the content. This is absolutely, positively, a must-read for all personal trainers and strength and conditioning coaches. And, I suspect that a lot of you everyday gym-goers will like the content as well. If you aren’t already signed up for my free newsletter, sign up using the opt-in feature to the top-right of your screen (Name and Email Address) and you’ll be among the first to know. Have a great weekend, folks!
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Random Friday Thoughts: 8/29/08

1. As you probably know, I haven't been updating here quite as frequently of late, but fortunately, it's with good reason. The summer's winding down, so we've been getting our fall schedule all squared away with the high school guys - plus some local college guys at programs that don't have organized S&C programs. Additionally, all of our minor leaguers are in the final few days of their seasons right now, so coordinating with them and a few agents has been a priority right now. Fortunately, though, there are also some exciting things in store for this blog... 2. Basically, we're going to be combining EricCressey.com with EricCressey.Blogspot.com. So, my blog will be available directly from EricCressey.com. In the process, we have to transfer a ton of content - but the good news is that the finished product will look a lot more professional and organized when all is said and done. In the meantime, thanks for your patience as we make this switch. 3. I was chatting yesterday with Doug Carroll, a great hitting coach with whom we work. Doug played professional baseball to a very high level in both the Mariners and Devil Rays organizations. We both agreed that one thing you’ll notice in the majority of high level athletes is that they really don’t give a crap what anyone outside their family thinks of them. I think that if more people approached their lifting with this mindset, we’ve have a lot more people who were really big and strong. Interestingly, this closely parallels my approach to internet forums - and, thus far, ignoring what the haters say has been a great decision. 4. Never forget that you don’t have to leave the gym exhausted for the session to be considered productive. Take a 300-pound lineman and have him run five miles; he’ll be completely exhausted by the end of the session. He’ll also be slower, more likely to get injured, and definitely more likely to want to kick your teeth in. 5. Something you might not know: there are estrogen receptors on the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) that – along with several other factors – make females more susceptible to ACL ruptures. The cyclical nature of estrogen and progesterone markedly influences ACL strength via fibroblast activity – so at certain times of the month, the ACL is more likely to tear. The ACL may also be predisposed to dramatic mood swings that make everything your fault, fellas. 6. I had a new article published yesterday, in case you missed it: 5 More Common Technique Mistakes. 7. I got two separate bills from Comcast in the past two days for a total of over $314. Do you think they read my blog, or is their billing system simply as hopelessly inadequate as their customer service? 8. Someone asked me yesterday, "Are single-leg leg press a good unilateral leg exercise? I hate lunges." Sorry, dude; single-leg leg presses don't count for anything. 9. I'm working on a detailed write-up on my views on running for pitchers right now. I think it'll open a lot of eyes - if I ever get time to finish it! I also have a new e-book in the works that I think will open a lot of eyes. 10. Have a great holiday weekend, everyone.
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Cressey Performance Athlete Commits to Stanford

Cressey Performance athlete and Weston High pitcher Sahil Bloom committed late last week to Stanford. Here's a great article from the Boston Globe on his signing and training with us. Weston High pitcher buffing up his body as well as his scores Congratulations, Sahil!
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Diminutive Reliever Shows Stature Isn’t Everything

Here's a great article about Cressey Performance athlete Tim Collins in the Toronto Blue Jays system. Diminutive Reliever Shows Stature Isn't Everything Atta' boy, Tim!
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Cressey Performance in the Boston Globe

Training for On-Field Rewards: Local Ballplayers Flock to Hudson Gym EDIT: It was actually a double-dip on publicity on Sunday, as it turns out: On Campus: Ostrander, Scanlan get northern exposure
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Athletes aren’t as smart as we think….

It never ceases to amaze me when we have an athlete do a 30-second isometric hold (such as a side bridge), and then they'll finish the set at 12 or 13 seconds and think that they're good to go. Apparently, I'm not the only one that noticed this phenomenon - and athletes will unintentionally go overboard as often as they'll underachieve. According to Wilk, Meister, and Andrews, when professional pitchers were asked to throw at 50% effort, the radar guns showed that they were actually throwing at 83% of peak velocity. And, at a requested 75%, they were popping 90% fastballs. Perhaps we should stop worrying about ascending oscillatory conjugated inverted periodization, and instead teach athletes how to count and follow the perceived exertion chart.
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