Home Posts tagged "Pitching Coach"

Elite Baseball Development Podcast: Beyond Pitch Design with Mark Lowy

We’re excited to welcome Cressey Sports Performance - Florida associate pitching coordinator and strength and conditioning coach Mark Lowy this week’s podcast for an in-depth discussion on how we create comprehensive development programs for our professional pitchers. Mark flies under the radar, but he's a tremendous asset to our offerings at CSP-FL and has built a loyal following of elite arms.

A special thanks to this show's sponsor, Athletic Greens. Head to http://www.athleticgreens.com/cressey and you'll receive a free 20-pack of Athletic Greens travel packets with your first order.

Show Outline

  • How Mark Lowy and Brian Kaplan have expanded analytics in the off-season preparation of pitchers at CSP-FL
  • What work the CSP-FL pitching staff is doing to create individualized pitching reports for their pitchers
  • How Mark approaches collecting and compiling each pitcher’s pitching report and what makes CSP’s model and application of evaluating pitchers unique
  • How Mark’s role at CSP involves the translation of data and biomechanics into simple, understandable recommendations
  • Why Mark aims to be subjective before objective and apply a human element to his coaching and analysis of pitchers
  • Why you can’t make pitch design or pitch usage recommendations based purely off data
  • How understanding a pitcher and their approach influences how data is applied to their game
  • What is Mark’s primary focus when developing pitching skills with younger athletes and why building pitchability should evolve from what an athlete’s body allows them to do and what their delivery does for them
  • Why coaches need to appreciate pitchers’ unique attributes and avoid coaching towards average
  • How a player’s movement capabilities influence their mechanics and why appreciating how a player moves can explain the authenticity of their throwing motion
  • What aspects of the delivery impact horizontal and vertical release points in pitchers and how identifying and understanding specific release point trends can lead to the proper mechanical fixes
  • What vertical approach angle is and how it impacts how a hitter perceives a pitcher
  • When diving into player analytics, what are some numbers that blew Mark’s mind and caught his attention to look into further
  • How coaches need to appreciate how a pitcher’s arsenal plays uniquely to hitters
  • Why synergy between skill development coaches, strength and conditioning coaches, and sports medicine professionals is differentiated at CSP and how Mark uses his resources to create the best experience for his pitchers
  • What high school and college pitchers can do to best prepare themselves for success in baseball
  • You can follow Mark on Twitter at @Mark_Lowy and on Instagram at @CSPFL_Pitching.

Sponsor Reminder

This episode is brought to you by Athletic Greens. It’s an all-in-one superfood supplement with 75 whole-food sourced ingredients designed to support your body’s nutrition needs across 5 critical areas of health: 1) energy, 2) immunity, 3) gut health, 4) hormonal support, and 5) healthy aging. Head to www.AthleticGreens.com/cressey and claim my special offer today - 20 FREE travel packs (valued at $79) - with your first purchase. I use this product daily myself and highly recommend it to our athletes as well. I'd encourage you to give it a shot, too - especially with this great offer.

Podcast Feedback

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

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

Thank you for your continued support!

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

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CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast: Justin Dunn

We're excited to welcome Seattle Mariners pitcher Justin Dunn to this week's podcast. A special thanks to this show's sponsor, Athletic Greens. Head to http://www.athleticgreens.com/cressey and you'll receive a free 20-pack of Athletic Greens travel packets with your first order.

Show Outline

  • How Justin transformed from a 5-foot, 100-pound high school freshman into an MLB draft pick by his senior year
  • How being a late bloomer affected his college recruiting process
  • How developing size and strength took Justin from a 70 mph arm into the mid 90s arm he is today
  • How following a structured training program allowed Justin to make the most of his natural athleticism
  • Why Justin decided to attend Boston College instead of immediately entering pro ball out of high school
  • How Justin made the transition from closer to starter
  • Why Justin has always been a big proponent of long toss
  • How promoting athleticism in his throwing motion and remaining free and loose with his arm action through long toss has helped Justin
  • How Justin has learned to listen to his arm, manage his workload throughout his career, and make adjustments to his throwing routine whether throwing as a reliever or a starter
  • How Justin manages soreness and tightness following a day of heavy throwing
  • What differentiated Justin as a college junior that led him to be a first round draft pick out of BC
  • Why throwing a changeup gave Justin trouble as he progressed into his starting role at BC and how establishing a routine of throwing his change up in catch play allowed him to develop and master this pitch
  • How Justin initially learned to throw his slider and what his thought process is when throwing it nowadays to keep it consistent
  • How simplifying his process on the mound and mastering his secondary pitches have allowed him to become the big leaguer he is today
  • As a young big leaguer, what key competencies is Justin working to develop to ensure his longevity in the show
  • How becoming immersed in the daily routine of Major League Baseball and learning from the experienced players around him will help him become a mainstay in a big league rotation
  • What Justin’s pre-bullpen routine is and how he structures his bullpens
  • Who Justin loved to watch dominate as a pitcher growing up and who he likes to watch now

    You can follow Justin on Twitter at @Dunn_Deal19 and on Instagram at @Dunn_Deal35.

Sponsor Reminder

This episode is brought to you by Athletic Greens. It’s an all-in-one superfood supplement with 75 whole-food sourced ingredients designed to support your body’s nutrition needs across 5 critical areas of health: 1) energy, 2) immunity, 3) gut health, 4) hormonal support, and 5) healthy aging. Head to www.AthleticGreens.com/cressey and claim my special offer today - 20 FREE travel packs (valued at $79) - with your first purchase. I use this product daily myself and highly recommend it to our athletes as well. I'd encourage you to give it a shot, too - especially with this great offer.

Podcast Feedback

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

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

Thank you for your continued support!

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

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CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast: Kyle Hendricks

We're excited to welcome Chicago Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks to this week's podcast. A special thanks to this show's sponsor, Rawlings. We're ecstatic to announce a new partnership between Rawlings and Cressey Sports Performance, and they've set up a 20% off discount code on select products for our listeners. Just head to www.Rawlings.com and enter coupon code CRESSEY20 and you'll receive 20% off on your order. Certain items are excluded, but there's still a ton of great baseball training gear to make you a better player and coach.

Show Outline

  • Why Kyle chose to move across the country out of high school and attend Dartmouth College
  • How Kyle has developed his ability to manipulate the baseball to create movement
  • How Kyle worked diligently to develop his changeup and how players can better develop this feel pitch
  • How throwing a quality changeup actually helped Kyle learn to throw a two seam fastball
  • How grip, specifically pinky position on the baseball, impacted the effectiveness of his changeup
  • What Kyle’s thought process is when throwing his changeup and how late hand speed out front trumps early, forced pronation with the pitch
  • How Kyle developed a cut changeup, which is differentiated from his “regular” changeup
  • How Kyle approaches attacking hitters and why he emphasizes throwing first pitch strikes and controlling counts against hitters
  • Why Kyle’s four seam fastball usage increased in 2016 and why this change allowed him to have more margin for error and improve the effectiveness with his fastball
  • How Kyle learned to read swings and bat paths in pro ball and how this has influenced how he competes against hitters
  • How Kyle prepares by utilizing coaches’ scouting reports along with video to develop a plan for success against the opposition
  • Why Kyle has always been intrigued by the mental side of baseball and how he has used it to develop an edge in the game
  • How simplification has revolutionized Kyle’s ability to master his mentality, control the game, and play to his highest ability
  • Why Kyle works to find a balance between using analytics and relying on his intuition
  • What pitch clicks in the bullpen when Kyle is set to have a great game and how Kyle knows when he is locked in
  • How Kyle attacks throwing his various pitches in his daily throwing progression
  • How individuals who lack elite velocity can identify their strengths and learn to separate themselves from the competition

Sponsor Reminder

This episode is brought to you by Rawlings. If you want to develop faster, and train better, you need the best gear. Well, we have some good news for you. The #1 baseball brand in the world, Rawlings, has partnered with Cressey Sports Performance to make getting the best training gear for you more affordable. Simply head to www.Rawlings.com and use the code, CRESSEY20, at checkout and you’ll save 20% off your order! This offer is only valid on select items, but there’s a ton of great gear you’ll save 20% on that will help you become a better player, so shop now!

Podcast Feedback

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

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

Thank you for your continued support!

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

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Exercise of the week: Rear Foot Elevated 1-arm Low Cable Row

This week's exercise of the week features a new spin on an old favorite of ours. By elevating the rear foot, you can get more weight shift into the front hip on split-stance low cable rows.

In both pitchers and hitters athletes, we're constantly seeking better ways to teach front hip pull-back - and this is an awesome exercise for feeling the involved musculature. If you want to see this in action, check out the 29-30 second mark in this video of Zach Greinke:

I was surprised at how heavy we've been able to go on this exercise, as I expected a big drop off in resistance utilized because of the balancing component that's involved. In athletes with some single-leg proficiency, though, the rear-foot elevated 1-arm low cable row is an awesome progression.

If you're looking to learn more about how we assess, program, and coach at the shoulder girdle, be sure to check out my popular resource, Sturdy Shoulder Solutions.

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Elite Baseball Development Podcast with Brandon Kintzler

We're excited to welcome Chicago Cubs reliever Brandon Kintzler to this week's podcast. A special thanks to this show's sponsor, Athletic Greens. Head to http://www.athleticgreens.com/cressey and you'll receive a free 20-pack of Athletic Greens travel packets with your first order.

Show Outline

  • How Brandon progressed from being a two-time 40th round draft pick out of Dixie State University to an MLB All-Star (while being released and going to Independent ball along the way)
  • How training to be healthy and durable allowed him to become a student of the game, recover from his injuries, and find success in pro ball
  • How Brandon has learned to effectively throw a sinker
  • Why having good direction in your delivery and mastering your lower half mechanics is essential to be able to stay behind the baseball, create late arm speed, and power through a two-seam fastball
  • Why Brandon chooses to stick to his strengths and hold firm in his belief in the effectiveness of his two-seam even while so many MLB pitchers shift toward 4-seamers
  • How Brandon’s velocity has steadily increased since coming back from injury and why he chooses to live in his sweet spot for velocity rather than throwing as hard as he possibly can
  • Why Brandon is throwing more off-speed pitches in recent years and how simplifying his mechanics have allowed him to have more consistent, repeatable stuff
  • Why Brandon struggled in the 2018 season and how straying from his game plan to chase more strikeouts turned out to be detrimental to his game
  • Where Brandon is most misunderstood by the public and why he has chosen to spend his energy being his genuine self rather than worrying about his image portrayed by the media
  • How beating Steve Cishek in a round of golf has led to a hilarious prank war between the two teammates
  • How Brandon has developed a relationship with Cy Young Award winner, Max Scherzer, and how the two challenge each other to be better pitchers year in and year out

Sponsor Reminder

This episode is brought to you by Athletic Greens. It’s an all-in-one superfood supplement with 75 whole-food sourced ingredients designed to support your body’s nutrition needs across 5 critical areas of health: 1) energy, 2) immunity, 3) gut health, 4) hormonal support, and 5) healthy aging. Head to www.AthleticGreens.com/cressey and claim my special offer today - 20 FREE travel packs (valued at $79) - with your first purchase. I use this product daily myself and highly recommend it to our athletes as well. I'd encourage you to give it a shot, too - especially with this great offer.

Podcast Feedback

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

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

Thank you for your continued support!

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

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Elite Baseball Development Podcast with Miles Mikolas

We're excited to welcome St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Miles Mikolas to the podcast for Episode #13. A special thanks goes out to this show's sponsor, Versaclimber. It's my absolute favorite conditioning option, and they've got a great 10% off offer going for our podcast listeners at http://www.Versaclimber.com/Cressey.

Show Outline

  • Why Miles decided to stay close to home and attend Division 2 powerhouse Nova Southeastern in FL
  • How adding weight, gaining strength in the right places, and improving body awareness while in college allowed Miles to make a velocity jump and become an MLB draft pick
  • How Miles quickly ascended through the minor leagues, but realized the consistency needed to be a mainstay in MLB
  • How he worked to become a more consistent pitcher in all facets of his game as a result
  • How Miles transitioned from a reliever to a starter
  • Why Miles added a slider to his pitch arsenal as a starter and how this shorter, harder breaking ball complements his big, loopy curveball to challenge hitters in a different dimension
  • Why Miles chose to bet on himself and leave MLB after the 2014 season to play in the Nippon Professional Baseball League in Japan
  • How being exposed to the Japanese style of baseball taught Miles many invaluable lessons
  • How Miles refined his arm action in 2015 to 2016 to take unnecessary stress off his arm
  • Why Miles values first pitch strikes and works to play the percentages to efficiently get hitters out
  • How Miles models his throwing and lifting program in season on a 5-day rotation
  • What it is like for Miles to pitch to one of the greatest catchers of all-time, Yadier Molina, and what young catchers can take away from this legend’s unbelievable knowledge and skill set

You can follow Miles on Instagram at @magic_mikolas39 and Twitter at @lastoneformiles.

Sponsor Reminder

This episode is brought to you by Versaclimber. In addition to being a phenomenal option for training all across the energy systems continuum, the Versaclimber exposes individuals to important fundamental movement patterns: scapular upward rotation, hip extension, and a synced-up crawling pattern. It's also non-impact, and can therefore be used with a wider variety of clients than other conditioning modalities. They've set up a great discount of 10% for our listeners; you can learn more at http://www.Versaclimber.com/Cressey.

Podcast Feedback

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

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

Thank you for your continued support!

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

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Elite Baseball Development Podcast with Scott Oberg

We're excited to welcome Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Scott Oberg to the podcast. A special thanks to this show's sponsor, Athletic Greens. Head to http://www.athleticgreens.com/cressey and you'll receive a free 20-pack of Athletic Greens travel packets with your first order.

Show Outline

  • What Scott’s college recruiting process was like as a late-blooming pitcher from the Northeast and why he chose to attend the University of Connecticut
  • How Scott persevered to overcome multiple injuries/conditions over his college baseball career
  • How Scott advanced quickly through the ranks of pro ball
  • How Scott’s journey through adversity has molded his mindset and what his advice is to young players looking to remain resilient through obstacles in their baseball career
  • Why Scott favored a two-seam fastball in college and how reintroducing a four-seam fastball back into his repertoire improved his game in pro ball
  • How becoming more self-aware and instilling confidence improved Scott’s command and transformed him from a fringe big leaguer to a mainstay in a big league bullpen
  • How controlling the count and competing from 0-0 makes pitching easier and allows pitchers to play the games within the game of baseball
  • How Scott developed a relationship with Texas Rangers minor league pitcher Tyler Phillips and what lessons Scott passes on to the aspiring big leaguer in their offseason training.

You can follow Scott on Instagram at @scottoberg45.

Sponsor Reminder

This episode is brought to you by Athletic Greens. It’s an all-in-one superfood supplement with 75 whole-food sourced ingredients designed to support your body’s nutrition needs across 5 critical areas of health: 1) energy, 2) immunity, 3) gut health, 4) hormonal support, and 5) healthy aging. Head to www.AthleticGreens.com/cressey and claim my special offer today - 20 FREE travel packs (valued at $79) - with your first purchase. I use this product daily myself and highly recommend it to our athletes as well. I'd encourage you to give it a shot, too - especially with this great offer.

Podcast Feedback

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

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

Thank you for your continued support!

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

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The Best of 2015: Baseball Articles

With baseball athletes being the largest segment of the Cressey Sports Performance athletic clientele, it seems only fitting to devote a "Best of 2015" feature to the top baseball posts from last year. Check them out:

1. Common Arm Care Mistakes - Installment 6 - In this article, I talk about how important it is to select arm care exercises that truly appreciate the functional demands placed on the shoulder and elbow during throwing.

2. Changing Baseball Culture: A Call to Action - Physical therapist Eric Schoenberg makes a call to action to step away from four baseball traditions so that we can more easily prevent baseball injuries.

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3. What is a "Big League Body?" - Big leaguers come in all shapes and sizes. Your baseball strength and conditioning programs need to appreciate that.

4. 6 Physical Attributes of Elite Hitters - Here are six physical characteristics that elite hitters seem to share.

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5. Projecting the Development of High School Pitchers -  Cressey Sports Performance Pitching Coordinator Matt Blake shows what a difference a year can make in projecting high school pitchers for college baseball success.

If you're interested in learning more about how we assess, program for, and train baseball players, I'd encourage you to check out one of our Elite Baseball Mentorships. The next course will take place January 17-19, 2016 at our Hudson, MA facility. You can learn more HERE.

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

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Projecting the Development of High School Pitchers: Training Habits Matter

Today's guest post comes from Cressey Sports Performance pitching coordinator, Matt Blake. Matt is a key part of the Elite Baseball Mentorships team.

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It happens every year. Inevitably, I talk to college coaches about players with whom I work, and without fail, the conversation always comes back to the question: "what type of kid is he and how hard does he work?"

These are two loaded questions and they’re becoming incredibly important in the evaluation process for college coaches. Because the recruiting timeline is getting faster paced every year, coaches are dipping into increasingly younger talent pools to get commitments. This process is forcing coaches to become more reliant on their ability to project what a 15 or 16 year old pitcher is going to look like three years down the road and project what that player might become at ages 18-22 in a new environment. If this is the case, then it becomes essential for coaches to be able to balance who the teenage boy is that he is currently watching, with the man he’s inherently going to become in a few years under his watch.

In order to do this, you need to have the ability to look at the individual’s actions and behaviors, as movement patterns that you think indicate potential for continued growth as this player moves forward. This topic could expand into a entire book, but I’m going to simplify this thought and condense the discussion down to one athlete to help demonstrate the point I’m trying to make.

In this instance, I want to highlight an athlete I've coached over the last few years and show what a drastic difference a year can do in the context of mechanical development. I think it will bring to the forefront how important it is to allow a player to grow into himself and not force the process for these athletes. While doing that, I want to flush out some of the character traits that are involved in refining this process on a larger scale.

Here’s a video of the same athlete one year apart (we’ll break it down in detail later in the article):


To give you some context, you have a 5’9 150lb sophomore on the right and a 5’10” 170lb junior on the left. The 150lb sophomore version of this pitcher pitched around 78-82mph with an above-average change-up and above-average command. This allowed him to develop into a consistent high-level performer on the 16U summer circuit playing in national travel tournaments, but yet the phone isn’t ringing off the hook for this type of 16U player unless he shows “projection” in the body or above average velocity now (neither of which apply to him).

I can understand how it would be very easy to write this type of player off as "average," because every high school RHP in America throws 78-82mph. As such, how could you possibly see this player and offer him a scholarship to play in college? Well, if you’re paying attention, and look at this pitcher one year later with an additional 20lbs on his frame and see that the delivery has continued to refine itself, you’re going to begin to gather a positive sense of direction for this athlete and realize that this RHP is going to conservatively throw 84-87mph this year with a very good chance to throw harder.

Now, 84-87mph still may not get a lot of people excited in this day and age, but I would go out on a limb and say that by the time this athlete is physically maturing in college, you’ll be looking at an 88-90mph RHP with three pitches, who knows how to compete in the strike zone at a high level because he wasn’t blessed with velocity from an early age. There’s a spot for that type of pitcher on any college staff; I don’t care who you are.

One could also certainly say that’s a large leap to make in projecting a 5’10” 170lb pitcher, but it all comes back to knowing what type of person they are and how hard they work. That’s why I think intimate knowledge of their overall training activity is crucial, because you can find out if this player is willing to go away from the “fun” part of developing their skills and identify that they’re willing to buy into a much larger process to make themselves a more technically proficient player on the field.

This is important, in my eyes, because there are only so many reps you can expect a thrower to execute, due to the stressful nature of the activity. So, in order to maximize the efficiency of their development, they have to be able to handle concepts that transcend the actual throwing process itself to be able to refine their throwing motion. If they can grasp why learning how to create stability is important, or why learning to manage their tissue quality on a daily basis will increase their training capacity, then you can give them larger and larger windows to create adaptation as an athlete on the field.

Take the athlete in the video, for example. He’s becoming one of the most consistent performers on the field, and it’s no surprise, because he’s learning to become one of the most consistent athletes in the weight room as well. If you are familiar with the pitching delivery, you’ll notice that he has upgraded at least four critical components of the throwing motion:

  • Postural control of his leg lift/gather phase
  • Rhythm/timing of his hands and legs working together during his descent into the stride phase
  • Lead leg stability and postural control from landing to release
  • Ability to maintain integrity and directional control of his deceleration phase

The interesting piece of these four components is that three of these are reliant on the athlete improving his overall ability to create stability in the delivery. At Cressey Sports Performance, I talk with our athletes all the time about understanding if their adjustments are mobility, stability or awareness issues. In this instance, we probably had both stability and awareness issues to resolve. The thing is, once you’re aware of the issues, it still takes deliberate work to iron out a stability problem in the delivery, which is why the athlete’s training habits are so important. Simply throwing the baseball over and over again may help you with your timing and repeatability, but we need to actively attack the strength training if we expect to impact an athlete’s pattern of stability in the throw.

In order to examine this a bit further, let’s walk through each of these components and identify a couple key things in video form:

Postural Control during Leg Lift/Gather Phase

Rhythm of Descent into Stride Phase

Stability from Landing to Release

Control of Deceleration

Now, don’t get me wrong: there’s obviously a long way to go for this athlete to get to 90mph. However, when you look at the development of this individual in the last 365 days, and you consider that there are over 730 more days before this athlete will even play his first college baseball game as a freshman, it becomes that much more important to know who the athlete is. Will the player you’re recruiting be comfortable with who they are, and become stagnant in their development, or will he use his time efficiently to keep improving both on and off the baseball field?

In the short time that I’ve been doing this, I’ve found that there’s usually a progression for athletes that involves learning how strength training can benefit them. It usually starts with showing up to the weight room from time to time thinking that’s good enough. Once they start plateauing there, they realize they actually need to be consistent in showing up to the weight room to make gains. The problem is, they eventually start plateauing there as well, and if they decide they really want to be good, they proceed to make the all-important psychological jump, and realize it’s not good enough to just show up to the training environment anymore. They realize they need to make positive decisions in their daily routines in order to make the most of every training session, whether it’s on the field or in the weight room. If they’re not willing to do that, there’s always someone else who is, and it doesn’t take long before these athletes are passing them by and they’re left wondering what happened?

When the athlete makes the jump from simply showing up to giving a consistent effort to make positive decisions for themselves inside and outside of the training environment, it becomes real easy to tell a college coach, "This is a guy you want, not only on the field or in the weight room, but in your locker room as well."

If you're interested in learning more about our approaches to long-term baseball development, be sure to check out our Elite Baseball Mentorships; the next course will take place in January.

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Random Thoughts on Sports Performance Training – Installment 8

It's time for the December edition of my musings on the performance world. Our twin daughters were born on November 28, so this will be a "baby theme" sports performance post.

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1. Sleep might be the great equalizer in the sports performance equation.

For obvious reasons, I've been thinking a lot about sleep quality and quantity since the girls were born. Obviously, how well you sleep is a huge factor in both short- and long-term performance improvements (or drop-offs). I think everyone knows that, but unfortunately, not everyone acts on it.

Additionally, I'm not sure folks realize that sleep is probably the only factor in the performance training equation that isn't impacted by socioeconomic status. Good coaching, gym access, massage therapy, and quality nutrition and supplementation all cost money and can be hard to find in certain areas. Getting quality sleep really won't cost you a penny (unless you're forgoing sleep to try to earn a living), and it's easily accessible. tweetSure, you can buy a better mattress or pillow, turn the air conditioning up, or get reinforced blinds to make your room darker, but the truth is that these aren't limiting factors for most people. Usually, the problems come from using phones/tablets/TVs on too close to bedtime, or simply not making time to get to bed at a reasonable hour. That might be why this Tweet I posted a few days ago was well-received.

I think the lesson here is that if you're struggling to make progress, begin by controlling what you can control. Sleep is usually a good place to start.

2. You need a team, but not an army.

Without exception, everyone who has ever had a child is willing to offer advice. Unfortunately, while it's always incredible well-intentioned, it isn't always useful. We've found this to be particularly true because we have twins, which is a total game changer as compared to a single baby. It's like getting a pitching lesson from a golf professional; he might "get" efficient rotation, but have no idea how to apply it to a new sport.

With that in mind, as an athlete, you have to have a filter when you create your team. Too many cooks can spoil the broth, and having too many coaches (and related professionals) in your ear can lead to confusion from over-coaching and mixed messages.

Taking it a step further, as a facility owner, this is why I love to hire from our Cressey Sports Performance internship program. We get a great opportunity to determine if folks can seamlessly integrate with our team while still providing unique expertise and value to our clients. It's also why we don't ever have independent contractor trainers come in to coach under our roof; the "team" becomes an "army"and the messages get diluted.

Speaking of internships...

Mastery_Cover3. Apprenticeships are tremendously important for athletes and coaches alike.

The current audiobook on my iPhone is Mastery, by Robert Greene. Greene goes to great lengths to describe the commonalities of success for many of history's great "masters:" Benjamin Franklin, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, and many others. One experience they all seem to have in common is a tremendous track record of apprenticeship (or internship) under a bright individual who has gone before them.

It goes without saying that we know this is the best way to learn in the fitness industry. If you need proof, just look at the loads of successful trainers out there who have never opened an exercise physiology textbook, but have logged countless hours "in the trenches" - much of it under the tutelage of a seasoned fitness professional - to hone their skills. As Greene notes, however, not all mentors are created equal, and you have to be very picky in selecting one that is a good match for you.

For us, that meant listening to parents of multiple babies, as well as the nurses at the hospital who had experience caring for twins. As strange as it sounds, it was a blessing that one of our babies needed supplemental oxygen for a few days after birth, as my wife and I effectively got a bunch of one-on-one tutoring from some incredibly helpful nurses in the neonatal intensive care unit. I could have tried to learn it from a book, but there's no way it would have come around as quickly as it did from performing various tasks under the watchful eye of a seasoned pro.

4. Don't take advanced solutions to a simple problem.

I'll admit it: screaming babies terrified me about three weeks ago. While I kept my normally calm demeanor on the outside, every time one of the girls cried, on the inside, I was actually as flustered as a pimple-faced teenager who is about to ask the captain of the cheerleading team to prom. I'd suggest to my wife that we play some music for them, try a different seat/swing, let them cuddle with one another, or play Monopoly (kidding). Not surprisingly, none of it worked.

In reality, the answer is a lot more simple: 99% of the time, they want to eat, get a diaper change, or be held. Seriously, that's it. Who wants to listen to sit in a nice swing, listening to Today's Country radio on Pandora when they're wallowing in their own turd?

Basically, the athletes needed to squat, press, deadlift, and lunge - yet I kept trying to program 1-arm, 1-leg dumbbell RDLs off an unstable surface while wearing a weight vest on a 12-6-9-4 tempo. This is a stark contrast to they way I live my life and how I carry myself as a coach. Lack of familiarity - and the stress it can cause - was the culprit.

Extending this to a coaching context, when you're working with a new athlete or in a new situation (i.e., sport with which you aren't familiar), always look to simplify. Remember that good movement is good movement, regardless of the sporting demands in question.

5. Different athletes need different cues.

Here are our two little angels:

twins10513433_10152423838035388_1402321289331943719_n

Even after only three weeks, they couldn't be any more different. Lydia, on the left, can be a little monster. Even the slightest disturbance throws her into a fit, and she wants to eat just about every hour. On the other hand, Addison, on the right, is as mellow as can be. In fact, as I type this, she's quietly sleeping next to my desk - while her sister is in the other room doing her best to wake my wife up from much needed sleep. While the goal is to get them on the same schedule, doing so requires much different approaches for each girl.

In applying this to athletes, you'll have different kinds of learners. Kinesthetic learners will need to be put in a position to appreciate it. Auditory learners can be told to do something and usually pick it up instantly. Visual learners just need to see you demonstrate it, and they'll make it happen shortly thereafter. Your goal as a coach is to determine an athlete's predominant learning style in the first 20-30 minutes of working with him. Most athletes will require a little bit of all three (depending on the exercise you're coaching), but determining which approach predominates makes your coaching more efficient; you can get more done in less time, and fewer words.

Wrap-up

This will be my last post before Christmas, so I just wanted to take a moment to wish you all a very happy holiday season. Thanks so much for your support of EricCressey.com in 2014!

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