Home Posts tagged "Pitching Velocity"

5 Key Traits of Successful Pitchers

Today's guest post comes from Cressey Sports Performance - Massachusetts pitching coordinator, Jordan Kraus.

As we prepare for the 6th annual summer program here at CSP-MA, I find myself reflecting on the principles and traits we prioritize with respect to pitching development. Narrowing the focus on the essential qualities provides clarity for planning and simplifies the process for enhancing these characteristics that successful pitchers possess at the higher levels. Individuality is incredibly important, but the commonalities that exist among elite pitchers deserve the greatest investment of time and resources. The five components of high level pitchers highlighted in this discussion are:

1. Movement Efficiency
2. Outlier Characteristics
3. A Process-Driven Approach
4. Strong Mental Preparation
5. Authenticity

1. Movement Efficiency

The barrier to entry at each level of the game continues to climb as player development progresses and the talent level rises. The result is a requirement for even higher outputs and consistency in order to compete, which places a greater demand on movement efficiency. Movement efficiency is a popular term discussed in the baseball realm, but what does it really mean? Our ability to quantify movement continues to improve and helps to shape the definition, but essentially it comes down to movement that produces high outputs with high levels of consistency. We all have our perceptions on what we think efficient movement is, but the reality is perfect does not exist. There are trends that are widely agreed upon among high performers; however, our current ability to quantify movement does not provide a complete picture. Plenty of outliers exist that do not fall into the bandwidth of “efficiency,” yet they are succeeding at the highest levels. These outliers typically possess other unique or outlier characteristics and often offset a lack of efficiency in one area by being efficient everywhere else.

[bctt tweet="Since perfect does not exist, optimal movement is what we strive to create. Finding optimal requires a thorough understanding of anatomy and preferred movement strategies, and this will vary for every athlete."]

Appreciating how each body is designed to move and how it prefers to move through key positions is a much more effective strategy than isolating certain positions themselves. When an intervention is needed, there are countless ways to refine and enhance these movement strategies and a variety of tools to do so. This process typically starts by establishing movement competency as a prerequisite before picking up a baseball. After the baseline movement is sufficient, there are countless ways it can be progressed and challenged. The movement can be progressed by adding a dynamic component, challenging with perturbations, manipulating the environment and task, changing time pressure, and many more. Additionally, the movement can be challenged with medicine balls, waterballs, different types and weights of balls and implements, and an infinite number of other tools. Creativity can be useful, but there has to be transfer into catch play and ultimately to the mound where the carryover to performance matters.

There are many variables at play and movement changes need to consider the implications for health, velocity, execution, sequencing, pitch characteristics, deception and more. An alteration to one piece may lead to improvement on a biomechanical report, but if there are negative consequences elsewhere, the potential trade off needs to be carefully evaluated. Finding the optimal movement solution for each athlete is critical for performance, and a holistic view and consideration to all variables at play needs to be appreciated.

2. Outlier Characteristics

The ability to make hitters uncomfortable is a distinct quality among successful pitchers. There are a number of ways to accomplish this and being unique with outlier characteristics is a significant advantage. Essentially, pitchers want to develop outlier traits that lead to swings and misses. There’s a reason the phrase “dead zone fastball” (a fastball with equal vertical and horizontal movement) has some merit, and it’s because hitters love seeing what they see often, and they hate facing "different."

The term, however, can be a bit overhyped, as there are plenty of pitchers having success with a fastball with a similar spin-axis and movement profile. However, the profile is typically paired with some other outlier characteristics, which can include a combination of velocity, spin, movement, release angles, approach angles, deception, execution, and elite secondary pitches. These are the critical desired traits that should be considered when evaluating a pitch and overall arsenal. Execution is included in this mix because there are pitchers having success at the big league level that may appear to have relatively average stuff, but their ability to execute is exceptional and becomes an outlier trait in itself. A reliance on sequencing and execution with relatively average stuff can work, but the margins for error are much smaller and highlights the distinct advantage that comes with outlier characteristics.

 

It’s important to note that considerations to health, previous performance, movement efficiency and all other variables need to be accounted for prior to the discussion of pitch characteristics. These variables, especially movement efficiency, have a strong influence on pitch characteristics and the resulting pitch shapes. In the previous example with an unremarkable fastball, if other unique traits with the pitch or complementary off-speed pitches aren’t present, there are a few avenues to consider.

As an obvious first, enhancing velocity will almost always improve the quality of the pitch. Velocity is a nuanced and lengthy discussion for another day, but it involves a combination of a number of variables, including adjustments to the throwing program, strength and conditioning program, recovery modalities, movement efficiency in the delivery, intent, and more.

A second potential solution to consider is adjusting the delivery to alter the release and spin-axis, but prior to considering this solution...

[bctt tweet="It’s important to appreciate that trunk tilt dictates arm slot, and any attempt to change spin-axis via arm slot needs to maintain integrity with respect to the trunk and plane of rotation of the shoulders."]

Another example, spin efficiency, is a common point of emphasis for players looking to improve the grade on their fastball, often chasing more induced vertical break. It could be as simple as grip and pressure change or cueing additional pronation, but it is often much more complex.

[bctt tweet="Timing within the delivery will have a significant impact on how the hand works through the ball at release, and as a result influence the spin efficiency, axis, and movement of the pitch."]

If timing within the delivery causes the arm and hand to carry in a linear fashion - rather than unwinding in a curvilinear nature that allows for proper timing of extension, internal rotation, and pronation - the result can be an increase in gyro degree.

Another example could be a pitcher with limited front hip internal rotation and a stride direction that carries them across their body. For some pitchers this could work, but with limited lead hip internal rotation there may be insufficient space to continue rotation around the front hip, which often results in a ball that is cut with lower spin efficiency.

To add further complexity, not all spin efficiency is created equal, and higher efficiency does not always result in a more effective pitch. Sometimes leaning into the gyro degree can create an outlier pitch potentially as a sinker using “seam shifted wake” or a fastball that has unique cut and ride. There are many causes to gyroscopic spin and many factors that influence all different pitch characteristics. These examples provide only a glimpse into the complexity that can be involved with designing an individual pitch and arsenal, and highlights the importance of maintaining a holistic approach that considers all variables.

3. A Process-Driven Approach

Time and energy are limited resources and appropriate allocation is important for long- term success. High-performers choose to invest them into the process, rather than wasting energy focusing on outcomes. Results matter, but they are inherently uncontrollable. The outcomes that we wish to control are the direct consequence of the processes and systems in place. A favorite quote of mine is, “We don’t rise to the level of our expectations; we fall to the level of our training.” Essentially, the level of preparation and the level of success will eventually meet. This especially holds truth in a game like baseball: a long season with plenty of time for things even out. This process will have some individual variance, but quality preparation requires attention to a few fundamental areas.

Continuity and alignment of these fundamental areas within the process are critical components that need to be appreciated. The end goal is to improve performance on the mound in a game environment, not to become a weight room or bullpen hero. To this end, we've always taken great pride at CSP in the synergy among the throwing program, strength and conditioning program, physical therapy, manual therapy, recovery modalities, and mental performance training.

Each of these elements should be used as tools to support performance and should be prioritized based on a thorough assessment. The assessment process is a key driver behind decisions made and typically includes a discussion on training history, routines, injury history, movement screens, video breakdown, and an assessment of pitch characteristic data and sequencing. Each component needs to consider the individual needs and goals obtained from the assessment from an integrated viewpoint, as well as the time of year. There are similarities, but an in-season program might look vastly different than during the off-season or our 10-week college development program. It’s important to also remember that even the best program can be derailed by outside variables such as sleep, nutrition, hydration, and other outside stressors. These variables have an enormous impact on the efficacy of a program and need to be considered as part of the overall process.

Each component of the process could be an entirely separate post, but it’s important to appreciate what a quality throwing session within a throwing program looks like. Whether it’s a physical movement adaptation or a change geared more toward approach, execution, or a pitch characteristic, there needs to be a goal for each session. Going through the motions of a throwing session with no real intention is a recipe for mediocrity. For example, if a certain movement adjustment is the goal, the warm-up and pre-throwing choices should help facilitate that specific adjustment. Again, the objective is to transfer the movement or feeling into catchplay with a baseball in hand, and then to the mound. The same adaptation can be layered through the other areas of development, which ties in the importance of collaboration between departments during the training process. These decisions need to also consider principles of skill-acquisition and individual learning styles in order to maximize the efficiency of each session.

The training environment is an often overlooked component of this process. It may seem obsolete, but it can have a considerable impact on the development process by enhancing intensity, motivation, accountability and consistency. Learning from peers can be just as impactful as a coach, maybe even more if you surround yourself with the right people. Plus, there's something different about training alongside other people on the same mission with similar goals, so being selective with the environment can be an added bonus to a training program.

4. Strong Mental Preparation

At each increasing level of the game, the gap in talent continues to narrow. The result is often a shift in priority and value from physical tools to intangibles. The mind becomes a key differentiator and it plays a pivotal role in success or failure on the field. Preparation - both physical and mental - is the foundation to building a strong mindset. This means adhering to the previous process driven approach and developing a physical and mental routine for pregame, pre-pitch, and mid-game adjustments. As with physical preparation, there is considerable variance and individuality when it comes to different mental strategies, routines, and characteristics. There isn’t a single solution; rather, the goal is to develop effective strategies that prepare you for each competition, each pitch, and a strategy for righting the ship when things go south. While appreciating individuality and variance within mental strategies is important, there are similar qualities among elite level pitchers.

[bctt tweet="Watching a MLB veteran and a high schooler play catch are very different things. The focus and attention to detail must improve with each increasing level of the game, and a pitcher’s mentality must progress to support these key habits."]

A few additional critical attributes for high performing pitchers are confidence, conviction and resiliency. The three of these are grouped together because there is a distinct relationship between them. Accountability to your own process and true belief in your preparation prior to stepping on the field is where confidence starts. It stems from an innate belief in yourself and a combination of previous success and preparation. If there is trust in the process and preparation, then stepping onto the field with confidence becomes automatic.

That same confidence in knowing that you are prepared leads to an increased belief in your stuff and your ability to execute. If there’s confidence in your stuff and ability to execute, then throwing a pitch with conviction becomes unconscious. Conviction is one of those things that’s essentially impossible to quantify, yet it plays a pivotal role to the success of a pitch. If you don’t believe you can compete, or believe the pitch you are throwing will succeed, more times than not, it won’t. The level of preparation and confidence lay the foundation for handling adversity. If you’ve overcome adversity and have proven to yourself and trust your ability to do so, toughness and resilience become second nature. Knowing and believing that you can and will overcome adversity feeds back into a further level of confidence and conviction, and it becomes a cycle. An unwavering mentality can be built through an effective process, and these intangibles are key to success at the highest level where the gap in talent is miniscule.

5. Authenticity

Every pitcher has an individual skill-set that comes with certain strengths and weaknesses. An understanding of what makes you successful and relentlessly adhering to those strengths is an overriding principle among high-performers. Being openminded and willing to try new things to improve is absolutely important to the process; however, it should be used as a complementary piece to enhance the core of what already makes you successful. A continuous cycle of too many new variables without a foundation to build around inhibits the establishment of a true identity. This principle of authenticity ties in the previous four components into one fundamental trait: be yourself.

To start, an understanding of your own delivery and physical limitations can help to understand how you move, where your delivery breaks down, and what your body needs to perform optimally. This knowledge accelerates readiness as well as your ability to make adjustments, both in game and between outings.

Next, a comprehensive understanding of your pitch arsenal and its strengths and weaknesses can simplify your approach and lead to higher execution. Simply put, use your unique traits and best pitches to create swings and misses and get outs, while avoiding getting beat with your worst pitches or by trying to get cute.

[bctt tweet="It’s easy to get caught up in scouting reports and relying only on attacking weaknesses. Finding holes in your opponent is a part of the process, but it’s equally or more important to double-down on your strengths and what you do well."]

Understanding your own process and what your body and mind need to prepare lead to confidence and conviction on the mound. Consistency in the routine facilitates a feeling of preparedness and allows for a shift into the appropriate mindset required for high performance. Taking ownership for this process and combining these components can help you find the best authentic version of yourself. A good coach will help guide players down a path of self-exploration, but the best pitchers are accountable for their own process, preparation and performance.

A couple of Cy Young Award winners and CSP athletes, Max Scherzer and Corey Kluber, both provide great examples of authenticity. Each has a unique delivery, different set of elite pitch characteristics, different processes to prepare, and are renowned for essentially opposite mentalities on the mound. Both are incredible talents, but if one tried to be like the other, the results would likely be different. At the end of the day, the pitchers who understand who they are and don’t try to be anybody but the best version of themselves have significantly more success.

While there are a number of important qualities to consider when it comes to successful pitchers, the previous five consistently emerge among the game’s top performers. The process of development requires a comprehensive approach that understands quality movement, effective pitch characteristics, efficient and synergistic processes and routines, and the mental capacity to support them. An integration of these qualities with a pitcher that remains authentic and true to himself is a dynamic recipe for success. The development process truly requires a holistic approach with clearly defined end goals to enhance the processes that facilitate improved performance on the mound.

If you're looking to experience how we work to develop all these traits, be sure to check out the CSP Elite Collegiate Summer Development Program. This will be our sixth summer of running the program, and the average velocity increase over the course of the ten-week program is >4mph. Previous participants have not only been draft picks, but are now pitching in the big leagues. You can learn more HERE.

About the Author

Jordan Kraus serves as a Pitching Coordinator at Cressey Sports Performance-MA. You can follow him on Twitter at @_JordanKraus_ or Instagram at @CSPPitching, or email him at JordanRKraus@gmail.com.

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CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast: March 2022 Q&A

We're long overdue for a listener Q&A, so I cover three questions from our audience in this week's podcast:

  1. Now that we're in the inseason period, are there particular strategies you think are important to prioritize with players across all levels?
  2. College baseball injuries seem to be up early in the season, particularly among high profile arms. What are some of the biggest mistakes you're seeing that you think are contributing to these injury rates in the college game today?
  3. What are your go-to strategies for righting the ship when a pitcher's velocity is down in-season?

A special thanks to this show’s sponsor, Athletic Greens. Head to http://www.athleticgreens.com/cressey and you’ll receive a free 10-pack of Athletic Greens travel packets with your first order.

 

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 – 10 FREE travel packs – 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.

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

Thank you for your continued support!

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CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast: Should Pitchers Take Time Off From Throwing?

For this week's podcast, I'm flying solo as I tackle a commonly debated question in the world of developing pitchers: should pitchers take time off from throwing? This is something I've pondered a lot over the years, and my position on it has evolved considerably.

A special thanks to this show’s sponsor, Athletic Greens. Head to http://www.athleticgreens.com/cressey and you’ll receive a free 10-pack of Athletic Greens travel packets with your first order.

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 – 10 FREE travel packs – 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!

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CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast: March 2020 Q&A with Eric Cressey

For this week's podcast, in lieu of a guest, I'm going to do a Q&A on a collection of baseball training questions that were submitted by listeners.

A special thanks to this show's sponsor, Marc Pro. Head to www.MarcPro.com and enter the coupon code CRESSEY at checkout to receive 10% off on your order.

Show Outline

  • How bullpen arms can arrange their lifting schedule to optimize their performance and feel prepared for each outing
  • How hitters can mitigate the stressors placed on the lead shoulder of their swing
  • What recent history and research says about bicep tenodesis and recovery and what baseball players should be aware of when considering this procedure
  • What high school coaches can do to best prepare their pitchers for week one of spring season

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This episode is brought to you by Marc Pro, a cutting-edge EMS device that uses patented technology to create non-fatiguing muscle activation. Muscle activation with Marc Pro facilitates each stage of the body’s natural recovery process- similar to active recovery, but without the extra effort and muscle fatigue. Athletes can use it for as long as they need to ensure a more full and quick recovery in between training or games. With its portability and ease of use, players can use Marc Pro while traveling between games or while relaxing at home. Players and trainers from every MLB team - including over 200 pro pitchers - use Marc Pro. Put Marc Pro to the test for yourself with their new "Try Before you Buy" program, and use promo code CRESSEY at checkout at www.MarcPro.com for 10% off on your order.

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!

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“Coil” in the Pitching Delivery: Friend or Foe?

I came across this awesome still-frame of Nationals pitcher Patrick Corbin on the Nationals instagram the other day. This positioning at the top of his leg lift offers an important reminder of how the transverse plane can be your biggest ally or enemy in the pitching delivery.

As you can see, Corbin has some "coil" to his leg lift, which creates more internal rotation on the trailing hip right as he starts to progress into his hip load (hinge/flexion). This pre-tensioning allows him to store a little extra elastic energy as he heads down the mound toward front foot plant. It also can provide a bit more deception to make the hitter's job more challenging. And, perhaps most importantly, it sets up more of a "sweeping" slider, similar to what we see with pitchers like Chris Sale and Steve Cishek. All good, right?

Well, the challenge is that being this rotational can also give some athletes problems. It's a slightly more high maintenance delivery because you have to take all that transverse (rotational) motion and convert it into a more linear motion at ball release so that you are getting through the baseball, not just around it. And, if you can't stop this rotation at the hips, it gets transferred up to the spine. This is where optimizing strength, mobility, and timing of the lead hip is essential: it's a torque converter (rotational to linear).

Understanding this should make you realize that just coaching knee extension on the front leg isn't a useful strategy; it ignores the hip. And, just calling it lead leg blocking is insufficient, as "blocking" doesn't appreciate the rotational component that the lead hip can take on. That's why we talk a lot about "front hip pull-back" and select exercises that challenge it to accept forces in all three planes of motion.

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CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast: Believing in the Basics with Kyle Driscoll

We're excited to welcome Cressey Sports Performance - Massachusetts strength and conditioning coach and associated pitching coordinator Kyle Driscoll 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 the CSP staff onboarded and assessed each college athlete for the Elite College Development Program
  • What specific strategies Kyle used to assess the pitchers in the program, including subjective evaluations and the use of technology like Rapsodo and high-speed camera
  • Why evaluating each pitcher’s routine is key component of an initial assessment
  • How understanding exactly where a pitcher is on day one allowed Kyle to structure realistic, obtainable goals for each player to achieve over the 10 week program
  • What the most surprising lessons Kyle took away from initial evaluations of the college summer program were
  • What goes into matching up throwing partners
  • What Kyle’s approach was for designing each athlete’s throwing program and why he made sure to teach them how to effectively program for themselves following their experience at CSP
  • How the synergy of CSP works to consolidate stress in the college summer program and how Kyle specifically programs throwing alongside the strength and conditioning component
  • What specific positions Kyle looks for pitchers to hit in their throwing delivery – and how they can reinforce these positions in the weight room
  • Why Kyle emphasizes certain positions early in the delivery so quality movement is persevered as the throwing motion becomes faster down the chain
  • What specific pitch design and velocity changes individuals made over the summer
  • What the most influential takeaways for the pitchers that attended the Elite College Development Program and how these takeaways stretch far beyond mechanical adjustments

You can follow Kyle on Twitter at @kdrisc35  and on Instagram at @bigdriskk.

Sponsor Reminder

This episode is brought to you by Athletic Greens. It’s a NSF certified 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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Why the Overhead Angle Matters in the Pitching Delivery

The overhead view in a pitching delivery can enable you to see certain things that can’t be appreciated from other perspectives. Foremost among these is the ability to differentiate between thoracic rotation (upper back motion) and horizontal abduction (shoulder motion).

In this image taken just prior to stride foot contact, Gerrit Cole's pelvis has already rotated counterclockwise toward the plate while his torso is still rotating clockwise. This is the hip-shoulder separation throwers seek for generating big time velocity.

However, when a thrower lacks thoracic rotation - or gives up thoracic rotation too early (usually by chasing arm speed too early in the delivery) - he’ll often resort to creating excessive horizontal abduction (arm back) to find the pre-stretch he wants to generate the velocity he covets. This is not only an ineffective velocity strategy, but it also can increase anterior shoulder and medial elbow stress - all while leading to arm side misses, accidental cutters, and backup breaking balls.

Over the past few years, I’ve heard of a few pitchers being advised to work to increase the horizontal abduction in their deliveries. I don’t think you can make this recommendation without the overhead view, and even then, it’s likely taking a distal (arm) solution to a proximal (trunk and timing) problem.

I covered hip-shoulder separation in the pitching delivery in great detail in a free presentation I gave away earlier this year when we launched our podcast. You can still get it by subscribing below:

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When Pitching Goes Poorly: 5 Strategies for Righting the Ship

Pitchers can struggle for a number of different reasons, whether it's command, velocity, "stuff," or actual pain/soreness. Historically, when players run into these tough patches, they've been conditioned to look to their mechanics first - and often unnecessary modifications are made on this front before looking deeper into the situation. With that in mind, I thought I'd use today's post as a quick look at some of the other "big picture" considerations.

1. Health

Very simply, if you hurt, it will alter movement patterns. It will change the way that you prepare and, in turn, execute pitches.

When it comes to optimizing pitching performance, the challenging thing (and this will sound crazy) about pain is that it can be covered up. Anti-inflammatories/pain killers can make symptoms and allow throwers to get away with bad patterns over an extended period of time.

2. Movement Quality

There are also instances where an athlete may have a significantly out-of-whack movement pattern, but without any symptoms. The goal with these individuals is obviously to optimize movement quality to get improvements without having to touch mechanics - and before pain kicks in.

3. Fatigue

Fatigue both acutely (within a game) and chronically (over the course of a season) can markedly impact a pitcher's consistency. It's a topic that also warrants much deeper digging, too, as it can be impacted by nutrition, initial work capacity, sleep quality, environmental conditions, and a host of other factors. We know that fatigue impacts not only mechanics, but also the motor learning we're trying to achieve in our preparation work.

4. Extrinsic Factors

Some guys pitch (and feel) terribly in cold weather. For others, really hot, humid days are the problem.

Pitching on a poorly maintained mound can minimize the effectiveness of even the most elite pitchers.

Throwing to an inferior catcher - or in front of a bad umpire - can have a dramatically negative impact on pitchers' success.

Only some of these factors can be modified, but the important thing is being able to recognize them so that you don't automatically assume that the struggles are coming from a different category from this list.

5. Feel

This is likely the most subjective and hard-to-describe issue. Some days, guys just don't have "feel" for a particular pitch on a given day, week, or month. At the younger levels, it is usually secondary to one of the first four factors I've outlined. At the more advanced levels, though, you almost have to chalk it up to a bit of random variation. Even the best pitchers on the planet have some considerable variation in their spin rates and extension numbers from pitch-to-pitch (as I outlined in a previous blog, Are Pitching Mechanics Really That Repeatable?)

I think this "feel" discussion reminds us that we don't want to throw the baby out with the bath water just because a guy struggles in one outing. When someone is struggling on the mound, look for trends and ask a lot of questions.

Wrap-up

These factors don't exist in isolation. For example, sometimes a physical issue (e.g., shoulder pain) can become a mechanical issue (e.g., lower arm slot). Moreover, thoracic outlet syndrome would qualify as a condition that spans the health, movement quality, feel, and fatigue realms.

There is a time and place for mechanical corrections, but before you go down that path, check these factors out first. We apply this sequential approach to development with all of our pitchers, aiming to identify "big rocks" early on that will deliver the most profound performance improvements.

This comprehensive approach to developing pitchers will be utilized heavily in our Elite Collegiate Baseball Development Summer Program. For more information, click here.

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2018 Cressey Sports Performance Collegiate Elite Baseball Development Program

Registration is now open for the 2018 Cressey Sports Performance Collegiate Elite Baseball Development Program. This event takes place at our Hudson, MA facility, and runs from 6/4/18 through 8/11/18.

During last year's offering, we had pitchers move to Massachusetts from eleven different states (plus Australia!). This summer, we anticipate another awesome collection of motivated athletes who'll push each other to get better in conjunction with the same training opportunities and expertise we provide to our professional athletes.

This program is a good fit for pitchers who need to prioritize development over just getting innings or exposure. In other words, it's a suitable replacement for those who still need to throw, but also need to gain 20 pounds, learn a new pitch, sort out old aches and pains, or improve their mobility.

Each athlete will begin with a thorough initial movement and pitching assessment that will set the stage for individualized strength and conditioning and throwing programs, respectively. These programs correspond to six days a week of training. Generally, four of the six training days per week are double sessions, with throwing in the morning and strength and conditioning in the afternoons. A typical training week would look like the following:

Monday: AM throwing, PM Strength and Conditioning
Tuesday: AM throwing, PM Strength and Conditioning
Wednesday: Late AM throwing and movement training (at field)
Thursday: AM throwing, PM Strength and Conditioning
Friday: AM throwing, PM Strength and Conditioning
Saturday: Optional AM Kinstretch (mobility) class, followed by throwing and movement training
Sunday: Off

In our throwing programs, we integrate weighted ball work, long toss, and bullpens (including video analysis). We'll integrate Rapsodo and Motus sleeves in these bullpens as well.

All the athletes will receive manual therapy with our licensed massage therapist weekly, and nutritional guidance throughout the program. Also to help with recovery, athletes have access to Fatigue Science Readibands (to help monitor sleep quality and quantity), MarcPro, and Normatec.

Last, but not least, we'll incorporate a regular educational components to educate the athletes on the "why" behind their training. Last year, this consisted of not only staff presentations, but also conference calls with Alan Jaeger, Noah Syndergaard, Steve Cishek, Brandon Kintzler, and Oliver Drake.

The best part is that it'll take place in a motivating environment where athletes can push each other to be the best they can be. By optimizing the situation, you can help change the person.

Interested in learning more? Email cspmass@gmail.com - but don't delay, as spaces are limited; this offering sold out last year, and we'll be capping the group size.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 10/30/17

I hope you all had a great weekend and are enjoying these World Series games. You can't beat playoff baseball!

Here are some recommended resources for the week:

10 Daily Habits of Healthy Lifters - I contributed a few paragraphs for this compilation at T-Nation, and the end result included several excellent recommendations.

Bored and Brilliant - I had the long car ride from Massachusetts to Florida last week, and this is one of the audiobooks I covered to pass the time. Manoush Zomorodi took an outstanding look at how technology impacts our lives in negative ways. While it wasn't written from a strength and conditioning perspective, I could totally see how to apply its lessons to the fitness realm.

Should You Squat Tall Athletes? - Mike Robertson did a great job tackling this tall subject. Sorry, bad pun.

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Back in 2005, physical therapist John Pallof (@pallofpt) introduced me to an exercise he called the "belly press." It was an anti-rotation drill done with a cable or band in order to challenge rotary stability. 👍 It quickly became a mainstay in the programming at @cresseysportsperformance, and somehow became known as the "Pallof Press." We incorporated the traditional version (demonstrated here), as well as a host of other variations, including half-kneeling, tall kneeling, wide-stance, and split-stance. 👊 That same year, I signed my first book deal. And, as I wrote "Maximum Strength," including the Pallof Press was a no-brainer, as we used it every day in our programs. 👇 This picture was taken on September 16, 2007 for the exercise demonstration chapter. Look how much hair I had. 😲 The story could end here, but sadly, it doesn't. Not surprisingly, the Pallof Press caught on. In fact, if you Google "Pallof Press" today, you'll get 51,200 search results. 👊 Unfortunately, if you search for "Paloff Press," you'll also get 14,800 hits. 🤔 And "Palloff Press?" 18,100. 😕 And "Palof Press?" 5,310. ☹️ Just look at some of the well-known media outlets included in these hit counts, and you'll be embarrassed for them. 😠 This week, one of our college athletes sent me a copy of his program that included a "Pal Off Press." Thinking that there is no way anybody could possibly be this clueless, I Googled it. Sure enough, 512 hits (and 607 if you hyphenate it to "Pal-Off"). I've had enough. 😡 I learned this great exercise from John. And, if you're using it under that name, you learned it (directly or indirectly) from me. So - both as a favor to me and a measure of respect to him - how about you please spell his last name correctly? 🙏 (Sorry, John; thanks for your decade of patience.) #Pallof #NotPalof #NotPaloff #NotPalloff

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