Home Posts tagged "Rotator Cuff Rehab" (Page 2)

Stuff You Should Read: 3/17/10

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  I was actually going to take today off - not just in honor of my Irish heritage, but because I was hoping to work from home and catch up on work.  As it turns out, I went in to the facility for our staff in-service (given by Brian St. Pierre, who is featured below), some coaching of a dozen or so of our in-season baseball guys, and a quick training session of my own.  Long story short, my "day off" turned into six hours at the facility, plus almost three hours in the car thanks to Boston traffic and a bunch of detours due to flooding after all the rain we've received. Long story short, all this means that I didn't get around to writing a blog today - but fortunately for me, a few other bright minds did: The China Study Fallacy - This is a great piece from Brian St. Pierre on how flawed the perspectives of many "experts" is when it comes to interpreting the results of the China Study.  It's an awesome read. Measuring Humeral Retroversion - This blog from Mike Reinold will interest those in the crowd who are (like me) shoulder geeks.  If you train overhead throwing athletes, you definitely better understand retroversion.  It's a concept Mike and I spend considerable time on in our new Optimal Shoulder Performance DVD set. The Proactive Patient - This is definitely one of the articles that I enjoyed writing the most, as it teaches people to be advocates for themselves during the process of trying to get/stay healthy.
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CP Internship Blog by Sam Leahey – Taking Your Turn Serving Others

Disclaimer: This blog/article is not about being humble or putting your time in getting coaching experience, though those are good and necessary things. It's specifically about something else that I feel is one of many variables in the equation of success. And that very specific thing is Serving/Benefiting Others. It goes without saying that we don't just wake up strength and conditioning experts one morning. A necessary process must play itself out first. We've all read the book Outliers, where bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell articulates the 10,000 hour rule to becoming an expert in anything.

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However I'd like to discuss the particulars of those 10,000 hours. Eric Cressey would be the first to tell you that those hours have to come from several different avenues - not just "live" coaching. Personally, I think you need 10,000 hours of: 1. Training/Coaching Others 2. Training/Coaching Yourself 3. Educating Others 4. Educating Yourself Notice what I did NOT mention. There is no mention in the list above of any kind of selfless acts of service. There also isn't any mention of doing things entirely to benefit someone else beside oneself. Yet, any strength and conditioning expert we all look up to can point to times in their lives when they either worked for someone else or occupied a role that required them to serve someone, something, or someplace higher up the priority list. This is because doing acts of service to benefit someone else is a VERY necessary process. This can come in the form of a collegiate coaching staff where the hierarchy goes from intern to graduate assistant to assistant to the head coach. Even still, the head strength and conditioning coach is accountable to the athletic director who is further accountable to the institution. The same thing goes for a private training facility. The flow of benefitting others goes from intern to staff to owner. In some capacity, everyone in our field will perform a task at some point to serve or benefit others. It's inevitable! The important question is do you do it willingly with joy or grudgingly with hate? In reality we may be somewhere in between, but I'd urge you to daily commit to falling on the positive side of fence. If you're an intern, do you smile and gladly move to action when asked to mop the floor? Do you willingly clean up the weightroom after hours? Do you take the initiative and change the facility trash or do you wait until it's overflowing so you can be told to do it? Do you vacuum or fill the water bottle fridge up without any grief? I'm sure many of the young people reading this have similar experiences as me. As an intern, I personally have mopped and vacuumed the entire Cressey Performance facility.

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Last summer I did the same at Mike Boyle Strength & Conditioning and before that College of the Holy Cross. . . and on and on and on.  You get my point, though.

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If you are already an assistant coach in a collegiate setting do you try and usurp authority of the head coach by pushing your own training philosophies? Do you get upset when you are the one who gets asked to come in and supervise the 6AM football lift, which is supposed to be the head coach's team? Do you just do your job and go home without having a personal commitment to the institution for which you work? If you are on staff at a private training facility do you cringe when you're asked to take on some additional forms of responsibility, like intern education or facility scheduling? Do you try and avoid interactions with the facility owner for fear of him/her asking you to do something else? Do you just do your job and go home without having any kind of personal investment in the business for which your work? The wise person will accept this message. You don't always have to be the beneficiary of your actions. It's necessary and unavoidable to help others. It is part of the process to pursuing strength and conditioning greatness! Learn to enjoy the process! Sam Leahey can be reached at sam.leahey@gmail.com.
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Overbearing Dads and Kids Who Throw Cheddar

Q: I run into a TON of Fathers who want their son to gain throwing velocity.  What are your keys to gaining velocity?

A: To be blunt, Step 1 is getting away from your crazy overbearing father and realizing that if you're going to throw the baseball harder, it's because YOU want to do it, and are willing to put in the hard work.  There are millions of American fathers who want their sons to throw 95+mph, but only about eight guys in the big leagues who consistently throw that hard.

Taking it a step further, the average fastball velocity is actually higher in A-ball than it is in professional baseball, so while throwing hard is important, it's just one piece of the puzzle.  I'd love to hear more fathers talking about learning to command the fastball and master a change-up.  And, most importantly, I'd like to see more fathers who are interested first and foremost in keeping their kids healthy so that they can have the continuity necessary to realize their potential.

Next, you have to consider what kind of velocity we're actually discussing.  Is it what the radar gun reads: actual velocity?  That's really just one of three kinds of velocity.

You also have perceived velocity - which is higher in a pitcher who gets down the mound further than his counterparts and therefore gives the hitter less time to react. Chris Young (at 6-11) gets the benefit of perceived velocity in spite of the fact that his average fastball velocity doesn't even approach 90mph.

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Perceived velocity also explains the success of many pitchers with deceptive deliveries where the ball seems to just jump up on hitters.  Often, these pitchers stay closed and throw across their bodies.  While it may not be healthy, correcting it could take away their effectiveness.

Lastly, back in 2008, Perry Husband introduced me to the concept of effective velocity, which is a bit more complex.  The effective velocity a hitter appreciates is actually impacted by:

1.     pitch location (high and inside are faster, and low and away are slower)

2.     previous pitch location, type, and velocity (coming up and in with a fastball makes it seem harder if it follows a low and away change-up)

3.     the count (when behind in the count, the hitter must cover a larger strikezone, and therefore a larger effective velocity range)

If you need any proof of the value of effective velocity, just watch Jamie Moyer or Tom Glavine.  They nibble away over and over again, and then they come back inside on a guy and he looks blown away by the velocity even though it may only be low-80s.

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That said, getting down to the nuts and bolts of throwing the ball hard (actual velocity) mandates that you understand that there are tons of factors that contribute to velocity, but they aren't the same for everyone.  Very simply, there isn't just one mechanical model that allows one to throw harder than others.

Some guys have congenital laxity that allows them to contort their bodies all over the place.  Others "muscle up" and shotput the ball to the plate.  Most pitchers are somewhere in the middle and rely on a balance of elastic energy and mobility to make things happy.  With that in mind, having mechanical efficiency and thousands of perfect throwing reps in this efficient model is what every pitcher should strive to achieve - just as a golfer would practice his swing or an Olympic lifter would practice the clean and jerk or snatch.

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Second, it's imperative to prepare young pitchers' bodies for the rigors of throwing a baseball.  I've written extensively about the overwhelming extremes the throwing arm faces, and while it's important to improve arm strength, flexibility, and soft tissue quality, the rest of the body cannot be ignored.  Improving function of the scapular stabilizers, core musculature, and lower half is essential for taking stress of the throwing arm.  We encourage kids to get started with foam rolling, targeted flexibility work, and resistance training as soon as their attention span allows.  As I have written previously, the "stunting growth" argument doesn't hold water.

Third (and this piggybacks on my last point about resistance training), it's important to understand how to manage a young pitcher throughout the year. Contrary to popular belief, playing year-round is not a good idea.  In fact, it isn't even good enough to qualify as a "bad" idea; it is an atrocious idea.

If you want my ideal competitive season for a youth baseball player, it's to pick up a ball and start tossing around Thanksgiving, progressing to bullpen wok in early January after long-tossing distance has been progressed.  Then, the athlete throws up through his competitive high school season (late March- early June) and summer ball (through early August).  That's about 8-8.5 months of throwing throughout the course of the year - and it's plenty.

You'll see that this competitive year fits quite nicely with participation in a fall sport - whether it's football, soccer, or something else.  And, athletes can still "get away" with playing winter sports as long as they're willing to commit to a throwing program, even if they have to start playing a bit late.  If I had to give my ideal scenario, I'd say play football or soccer, and then play pick-up/intramural basketball in the winter alongside a throwing and lifting program.

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Within this year, you have several crucial blocks during which to increase resistance training volume.  One, there is the entire winter break, obviously.  Two, there is generally a decent break between spring and summer baseball (late May-early June), and another during the month of August.  Three, kids can (and should) still train in-season, regardless of the sport.

This, of course, speaks to the high school athletes who have practice/games just about every day.  Managing a 10-year-old is a lot easier.  His sport practice may only be 2-3 days per week - meaning that he can participate in different activities throughout the week.  However, he can't do that if Dad thinks that playing on four different AAU teams at once is the secret to getting him to the big leagues.  He has to play multiple sports at a young age.

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So, if I had to give the synopsis of my thoughts on how to get a kid to throw hard, it would go something like this:

1. Appreciate that throwing hard is just one piece of the "being a successful pitcher" puzzle - and that there are different types of velocity (actual, perceived, and effective).

2. Clearly outline his competitive season and stick to that outline.  Don't add showcases, camps, and additional teams.

3. Let him play for two teams: one spring (school) and one summer (AAU, Legion, etc.).

4. Find a skilled pitching instructor to work with him to optimize mechanical efficiency.  Before you start working with this instructor, have him explain his approach to managing your son both during a typical lesson and throughout the competitive season.  Then, go and observe him as he works with other pitchers.  Do they just "show and go," or do they warm-up before even picking up a ball?  Does he ask kids how they feel prior to each session, and does he pace them throughout the session?  Or, does he just grunt and spit dip juice all over the place.

5. Get him involved in a comprehensive strength and conditioning program that incorporates resistance training, medicine ball work, flexibility training, and movement training that all take into account the unique demands of baseball.  The strength and conditioning coach should provide a thorough evaluation that screens for all the mobility deficits and stability issues we commonly see in throwers.

6. Make sure that the pitching coach and strength and conditioning specialist communicate and collaborate. The CP staff is fortunate to have this kind of productive collaboration with Matt Blake all the time:

 

Kidding aside, very rarely will a pitching coach know about strength and conditioning, and very rarely will a strength and conditioning coach know about pitching.  It's unfortunate, but true.

7. Have him play multiple sports.  The younger the pitcher, the more sports he should play.  Specialization shouldn't come until age 17 at the earliest.

8. Make sure he continues to take care of his resistance training and mobility work in-season.

I could go on and on about all the subtle details of what we do with pitchers on a daily basis, but the truth is that I envision this blog as something that will be most popular with the Dads in the crowd who really just want to help their kids realize their potential and remain injury-free.  So, I'm keeping it more general - and referring you to the Baseball Content page for the more "geeky" stuff.

I do have one more closing thought, though.  We deal with a lot of very talented young pitchers who throw the ball very hard.  One anecdotal observation has been that their fathers are the ones who "get it."  These are the guys who are concerned about the important things: staying healthy, enjoying baseball, finding the right college, etc.  They don't boast about how many guys their sons struck out in little league. They are genuinely humble and respect the game - and this carries over to their kids, who work hard and carry themselves the right way.

Conversely, the kids who are always told that they're the best and get raved about by their fathers are the ones who invariably struggle to succeed long-term.  It may be because they're overworked, over-pressured, or just overrated in the first place.  It may be because coaches get frustrated with having to deal with an overbearing father, and the kid gets punished for it.  It may be that the kid doesn't think he needs to work as hard because he's already the best - because Dad told him so. Or, maybe he misses out on crucial development because he spends all his time playing in baseball games when he should be practicing, training, or participating in other sports - or just having fun and being a normal kid. Worst of all, a kid may just flat-out start to dislike the game because all the fun has been taken out of it because of Dad's hype and excessive pressure.

Is velocity important? Sure.  Can it sometimes be the trees that prevent us from seeing the forest?  Absolutely.

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Random Friday Thoughts: 3/12/10

1.I spent about 2.5 days in Las Vegas earlier this week to present at the NSCA Personal Trainers Conference.  I really enjoyed the event, as it was a chance to interact with a lot of new people (I don't speak out west very often) and hopefully help some enthusiastic, up-and-coming trainers add to their skill sets.  In my last presentation, Shoulder Assessment and Corrective Exercise, (to about 50 people), when I asked who had heard of scapulohumeral rhythm, not a single hand went up.  I was very surprised that this was something that hadn't been covered sufficiently in undergraduate curricula or the certification process, as it's really important, in my eyes. The good news, however, is that Mike Reinold and I covered this topic (and many others) in great detail in our Optimal Shoulder Performance DVD set.  We'll be making the final revisions in the next few days, and it should be available within 2-3 weeks.  If you want to be among the first notified of the awesome one-week only pre-sale price, definitely subscribe to my free newsletter HERE.

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2. If you're looking to have some fun and help CP athlete Kevin Youkilis raise some money for a great cause, check out the "Facial Hair Frenzy" fundraiser at Youk's Hits for Kids.  For each dollar you donate, you get one vote for which facial hair style - Goatee, Mustache, Clean Shaven, or Fu Manchu - Youk rocks on opening day.

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Just click on "Mirror Mirror on the Wall" at Youk's Hits for Kids.

3. All my "guinea pigs" for my new project are completing Phase 1 today/tomorrow, and will be embarking on phase 2 on Monday.  The feedback has been great thus far, and I'm pretty excited for the June/July release of the comprehensive program (which, unfortunately, still remains unnamed).  The beginning of each new phase means that I have to do about 45-50 exercise demonstrations, and that fun 90-minute task was yesterday.

4. In What I Learned in 2009, I alluded to the fact that we're doing more ground-to-standing transitions in our training, and mentioned that Rollover Get-up and Go Starts were one of those drills.  Unfortunately, the video was accidentally omitted from the article, so I thought I'd feature it here.  Thanks to Blue Jays prospect Tim Collins for the demonstration.

5. We're picking out the color schemes for all the rooms in our new house this week, and I have to be honest here.  While I'm unbelievably excited about moving into a new house, I am likely going to jab a hot poker in my eyes if I have to stare at a color sample for another 20 minutes to determine the difference between "nantucket fog" and "james river gray."  The humor in all of this is that my fiancee is an optometrist and has come right out and said that she believes me to be partially color blind - which means that I shouldn't even be allowed to have an opinion on the matter in the first place!

Up next, picking out a refrigerator and mailbox.  And here I was thinking that I'd get a mini-vacation now that the baseball season was underway!

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The Top 10 Mistakes Intern Applicants Make – Part 2

In my last blog post, I talked about the professionalism side of things with respect to narrowing down our applicant pool for Cressey Performance internships.  Today, I want to talk about a few more things an applicant can do to separate himself/herself from the remaining pack at final cuts. Mistake #6: Not reading - You can bet that I am probably going to ask you what the last thing you read was during your interview.  Unfortunately, required school reading and Barstool Sports don't count.  And, don't say in your application that you read all my stuff if you aren't subscribed to my FREE newsletter; I can quickly check up on that. Mistake #7: Not applying early - Generally, applications that are received on deadline day or right before it are already playing from behind the 8-ball.  Honestly, we normally have 1-2 applicants we already really like well before this final rush because they have gotten on our radar screens by applying early.  So, get your application in early; it shows you are really excited and care. Mistake #8: Not finding a go-between of significance - Most of our internship selections are individuals who have been, in one way or another, "connected" with a member of our staff, one of our previous interns, or some industry colleague of ours.  When these individuals can speak directly to your personality, skills, and work ethic, it immediately gives you a leg up on the competition.  Obviously, people who go out of their way to visit Cressey Performance and experience our environment and culture are putting themselves in a better position as well.  However, if you're applying from afar and can't make it to Boston, go out of you way to visit one of our colleagues elsewhere - whether it's at their facility or at a seminar.  These initiatives show that you care about getting better and can win people over.

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Mistake #9: Not showing that you can and have coached before - We don't care about your GPA.  The fact that you started an exercise science club at your college is nice, but it doesn't speak to your abilities as a coach or how successful you'd be in our model.  What we want to see is that you've gotten out there and coached before - regardless of whether it's personal training, collegiate strength and conditioning, previous internships, or even just your little sister's soccer team.  It means that you'll have gotten past the initial awkwardness of coaching someone when you aren't comfortable with your abilities yet.  Just as importantly, it means that you are better prepared to deal with clients and athletes who may be intimidated by a new training experience.

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Mistake #10: Not being energetic - For us, this is huge.  We know we can teach you everything you need to know to be successful at Cressey Performance.  The only things we can't teach you are professionalism (as I noted in my last post) and energy.  You don't necessarily have to be an always clapping, in-your-face, "rah-rah" coach (although there is a place for folks like that), but it is important to show excitement about working with clients, learning, and becoming a part of something special.  So, when you're on the phone for your interview, enunciate!  Ask questions. Talk about how we fit into your career plans. Show an interest in what we do and we'll show an interest in you. Obviously, the attitude and energy you'll need for a given position will depend on the facility in question, so go out of you way to learn about a facility's culture before you apply and, later, interview. Hopefully, these ten tips give you some insights into what we look for when we review applications and carry out interviews.  I can't say that it's the same across the board for all facilities in our industry, but I think you'll find a lot of similarities between us and our colleagues.
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The Top 10 Mistakes Intern Applicants Make – Part 1

At Cressey Performance, we have a few interns in the spring (1/5 - 5/10), summer (6/1 - 8/30), and fall (9/1-12/23).  Over the past three years, this internship program has "kicked out" some coaches who are doing great things in the industry, including names you'll recognize like Brian St. Pierre (who we wound up hiring as our first employee), Kevin Neeld (now a hockey expert and director at Endeavor Fitness), Kevin Larrabee (now on staff at Mike Boyle's place), Chris Howard (Cressey Performance's newest employee), and Roger Lawson (World-Class Rock, Paper, Scissors Competitor):

There are several more who are either still in school or out in the world doing great things - and we're really proud of them. In light of the successes of these folks (and, presumably, the outlandish intern-hazing death circuits we've featured in this blog), Cressey Performance internships have become coveted ones.  In fact, for the three internship positions we had available for this summer, we had 33 applicants.  It proved to be a huge challenge for us to narrow it down to our final few, as we had strong applicants, and many of them came with recommendations from good friends/colleagues of mine in the industry. With that in mind, since I know we have a lot of industry up-and-comers reading this blog, I thought I'd throw out my top five mistakes that intern applicants make - at least in my experience.  Not surprisingly, most (if not all) of these bulletpoints also apply to to the application process for a job. Mistake #1: Spelling "Cressey" incorrectly. - I'm dead serious; this really happened.  One international applicant read about the internships at www.ericcressEy.com and download the application form at www.cressEyperformance.com, but somehow found a way to spell my last name "Cressy"on the mailing envelope and at least 4-5 times in his application essay - which was stapled to the application with the word "Cressey Performance' across the top.  Attention to detail and the ability to follow directions are important - and this cut us down to 32 candidates pretty darn quickly.

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Mistake #2: Not proofreading your application essay. - This was an issue for quite a few others.  It's really unfortunate, as some folks may be great coaches who are articulate in speaking, but just don't come across well in writing.  However, we're talking about a 500-word essay.  It wouldn't be wrong to ask 2-3 friends, parents, or colleagues to have a look at it to make sure it's clean.  So, you could say that in my eyes, a poorly written application essay doesn't just show that you're unprepared in the context of a crucial skill in the working world, but also that you aren't comfortable asking for help.  I want all of our interns to be secure (and humble) enough to admit when they don't know/understand something so that we can teach them.

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Mistake #3: Glazing right over the application. - We had this issue with a few applicants for different reasons.  Two applicants glazed over the application and just included their essay and resume, and while they were good candidates in terms of the essay and their qualifications, the simple fact that they did not include the application added five minutes to our internship coordinator Pete's day as he tried to track down their contact info, references, and desired internship period (spring, summer, or fall).  A few others had such poor handwriting that we had to contact them with follow-up emails to determine what they were really trying to relate.  Pete is already a super-busy guy with the regular goings-on of CP, so someone who comes up short on such a simple task stands out to us as someone who is going to throw up "inefficiency roadblocks" as an intern down the road, as opposed to becoming a thriving member of the team. Mistake #4: Acting like an immature bag-of-worthlessness in your social networking profile(s). - Research from the University of Dayton's Career Services showed that approximately 40% of employers check out job applicants on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc. before making a hiring decision.  CP is proud to be among those 40%.  Dropping F-bombs left and right and posting pictures of you boozing are not good ways to win over potential employers and internship supervisors - especially since we know many of our interns become very popular with clients and eventually form Facebook friendships.  And, many of our clients are impressionable young athletes; you need to prove to us that you are mature enough to be role models for them.

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Mistake #5: Attempting to always go through Eric. - Yes, I just referred to myself in the third person, but that's not the point.  We had a few applicants who would call or email constantly to request more information about the internship: dates it runs, application deadlines, housing recommendations, etc.  As I noted above, in addition to being our business director, my business partner Pete is also the internship coordinator.  He took this position not only because he's beyond qualified for it, but because I don't have the time or desire to manage the logistics of the preparation for the program.  My responsibilities are working with the interns once they arrive, and - to that end - I refer all inquiries directly to Pete during the application process.  Still, we have had several people call/email who big-leagued Pete by refusing to interact with him, instead requesting to always speak with me.  Invariably, when I speak with them (if I do contact them at all), the questions all wind up being ones that Pete could have fielded easily - and with more detail than I could.  So, the take-home lesson is to always deal with the internship coordinator - because he a) controls your future more than anyone else, b) will immediately black-list you if you big-league him, and c) will actually give you the best responses of anyone in the process. Remember that there is a difference between being proactive and being a pain in the butt; persistence is fine, but cumbersome is something difficult is another thing altogether. You'll notice that none of these five mistakes had anything to do with coaching ability, academic performance/GPA, and previous experience.  Very simply, we can rule out a good 50% of candidates simply because they haven't established themselves as professionals.  As an example, Roger Lawson was one of our most popular interns of all time with clients - and he did it with ZERO academic background in fitness (he graduated with a degree in English Literature).  However, his application and essay were thorough and professional, and he was humble and "politely persistent" - so he made it past the first round over people who had as much as six years of experience in the classroom and training world than he did. Some recommended reading for those out there who are worried about making it past this first stage: How to Win Friends and Influence People - It should cost you about $1 on Amazon, and you should read it within a day. Made to Stick - Discusses the importance of first impressions and how to make yourself "stick" in someone's mind during the selection process. Never Eat Alone - It's about networking, but not the cheesy kind where you just name drop.

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Peak - This book explains a lot of why our business  (or any business) is successful. In my next post, I'll talk about what separates the folks in the final decision process after the initial "cuts."
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Stuff You Should Read: 3/9/10

I just got back from speaking at the NSCA Personal Trainers Conference in Las Vegas, so I'm a bit short on content as I play catch-up now that I'm back in Boston.  Luckily, Bill Hartman put together an excellent two-part series on femoral anteversion as it relates to hip mobility.  Check them out: Hip Mobility: Femoral Anteversion - Part I Hip Mobility: Femoral Anteversion - Part II Along similar lines, this old video blog of mine might interest you: Measuring Hip Internal Rotation
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6 Dirty Tricks to Instantly Increase Muscle and Boost Performance

When we were seven, my friends and I loved to eat spinach. Not because we liked the taste. God no. Raw spinach tasted like, well, leaves, and the goop we'd spoon out of the can was vile, smelly stuff. No, we ate spinach because Popeye ate spinach. It made him instantly muscular and powerful-a can of spinach and he could punch through brick walls. We could only imagine how it would transform our pre-pubescent bodies into superhero physiques. We shoveled it down our throats, testing our gag reflexes, and satisfying our mothers. Continue Reading...
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Wrapping Up a Great Pro Baseball Off-Season

Today marks the end of one of the funnest "eras" of my life. Back on September 9, we officially kicked off the pro baseball off-season with Tim Collins' arrival at Cressey Performance for his first training session of the off-season.  Coming off a great season that included a promotion to Double-A at age 20 and a Blue Jays organizational pitcher of the year award, Tim was ready to get after it - and that's exactly what he did.  From that day in September through February 6 (when he was called to Florida for mini-camp), Tim added 21 pounds to his frame while getting leaner - and increased his vertical jump by four inches (to 37.9 inches).

Tim was one of over 30 pro guys we had this winter.  Results were typical. Chad Rodgers (Atlanta Braves organization) went from 206 to 233 while adding just under three inches to his vertical jump.  And he dominated "No Shave November."

Jeremiah Bayer (Red Sox organization) packed on muscle mass faster than just about any athlete I've ever seen - to the tune of 13 pounds in only two months - while adding an inch to his vertical.  That's a 5.6% improvement in predicted peak power in a short amount of time - and one that is carrying over to the mound already. Heck, Pat Bresnehan packed on 14 pounds and jumped 37.5 inches (a 6.3 inch) improvement - and got himself signed by the Mariners - after coming to us in the latter phases of his rehab period! Craig Albernaz (Rays organization) increased his vertical jump by over five inches while adding seven pounds before heading to big league camp - and this is a guy who has always struggled to put on any weight, let alone good weight! Cory Riordan (Rockies) and Steve Cishek (Marlins) win the awards for the longest commutes to train.  Cory drove two hours to CP, and two hours home to Connecticut to get in his work with us - and he's got a new body and a lot more athleticism to show for it.  Cishek wasn't far behind with his 1 hour, 45 minute commute from Cape Cod four times a week all the way up through January.  I can say without wavering that both of them would tell you that the ride was 100% worth it. Two other Braves guys - Derick Himpsl and Matt Kramer - also put in some great work that is already carrying over to the field.

Zach Piccola's headed to White Sox camp with a great few months of training under his belt alongside free agent Nick Asselin.  Jim Fuller (Mets) committed himself to train like he never had before, and looks fantastic now.  Another Mets guy, Tim Stronach, has busted his hump to get better alongside his rehabilitation from shoulder surgery. Steffan Wilson leaned out and dramatically changed the way he looks and moves - and it helped get him a much-deserved call-up to big-league camp last week.

Kevin Youkilis had a great off-season as well - due in part to his love of pushing the sled.  So far this spring, Youk's looked good (much better than his strength coach, as is shown below), and we're excited about the Red Sox season ahead.

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Will Inman (Padres), Phil Negus (White Sox), and Kevin Nolan (Blue Jays) put in a great few months in the fall, and Steve Hammond (Giants), Kevin Pucetas (Giants), Nick McBride (Rangers), Benji Johnson (Braves), Matt Morizio (Royals), Justin Edwards (Cardinals), and Howie Clark (Blue Jays) made the most of all their visits to Boston this winter.

And, some "distance-based" guys of mine - Chad Jenkins (Blue Jays) and Anthony "A-Tan" Seraterelli (Royals) - made some excellent progress by following everything to a "T."  A-Tan, Howie, and Morizio even made a hilarious video about their experiences (a joke, FYI):

One athlete, though, stepped it up big time on Thursday to set himself apart from all the rest. Tim Kiely (Angels) added 11 pounds and seven inches to his vertical jump, but his biggest claim to fame is that he took home the Gold in the first ever Cressey Performance Elite Baseball Olympics on the last day.  Granted, the "Olympics" were limited to five participants who collectively agreed to not tell the most athletic guys of the bunch about the event ahead of time - but that doesn't mean that the boys didn't bring their A games!  The Silver (5-lb) went to CP pitching coach Matt Blake, and the Bronze (2.5-lb) went to free agent Alex Szymanski.  Shawn Haviland (A's) finished fourth, but he has a Harvard degree, and probably would have won if Sabermetrics trivia and word searches had been part of the contest.  Here's the much-anticipated medal ceremony:

I am not sure where the championship belt fit in, but the entire day didn't make much sense, so it seemed right.  Congratulations, Tim.

From these videos, a lot of people might think that we're all about goofing around - but that couldn't be further from the truth.  Our guys have a good time, for sure, but it always comes after they've busted their butts in the gym.  And, frankly, if we didn't have such great camaraderie and the guys weren't such good friends, the motivation to train would never approach the level it has.  A good culture and outstanding results absolutely, positively go hand-in-hand.

Most of my writing on this blog is obviously geared toward educating folks on the training, research, nutrition, and other geeky science stuff.  However, I should make it absolutely clear that all the knowledge in the world in these regards won't matter if you don't have a good culture established for your athletes and clients.  They need to enjoy training and look forward to each and every session because they enjoy the process as much as the destination.

They need to be willing to come to you to critique the best man's toast they've written (happened this winter).  They need to feel comfortable staying at your place if they're in town for a few days (happened multiple times this winter).  They need to feel welcome spending Thanksgiving with your family (two of my athletes came home with me this past November).  And, they need to respect you enough as a person to value your opinion as a professional.  As the saying goes, they don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.

That's why most of our pro guys train six days a week from September/October all the way up until now, whereas many other places pro guys frequent consist of 3x/week "workouts" for the 4-6 weeks before spring training starts.  And, I feel like it is one of many things that differentiates us from our competition (whatever that may be).  We are about making athletes better, not just "working them out."

I'm proud of all our guys not only for their hard work this off-season, but for taking an ownership stake in Cressey Performance to make it something special now and in the future.

Thanks for an awesome 5+ months, guys.  We can't wait to do it again.

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Strength and Conditioning Programs: Acts of Commission vs. Omission

At the last Winter Olympics, Dutch speedskater Sven Kramer missed out on a gold medal because his coach, Gerard Kemkers, directed him into the wrong lane part way through the race.  Kramer finished the race with an Olympic record time - four seconds ahead of his nearest competitor - but was immediately disqualified because of an incorrect lane change with eight laps remaining on his long-time coach's cue. In the aftermath of the disqualification, Kemkers obviously came under a ton of scrutiny.  After all, he committed a pretty big coaching mistake - and it'll probably become a huge part of his legacy, as unfortunate as it is.

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Here is a guy who has likely helped thousands of speed skaters over the years, presumably devoting countless hours to research, coaching, and becoming the best he could be - both as a coach and an athlete (he won a bronze medal at the 1988 Olympics).  And, as Kramer noted, it is hard to argue with the success Kemkers helped him achieve:  "Three times world champion, four times European champion, so many World Cups and Olympic gold in the 5,000 meters." In the process, Kemkers had to have omitted little to nothing; otherwise, he wouldn't have been coaching at such a high level. Had Kemkers never endeavored to get to a high level - or taken shortcuts to get there - there would have been countless omissions along the way: gaps in his knowledge, an inability to befriend athletes, and a fundamental misappreciation for what it takes to compete at a high level.  He would have been mediocre at best.

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Kemkers' mistake was an act of commission, not omission. Meanwhile, millions of "armchair" quarterbacks around the world will criticize him for being an idiot, when in reality, the opportunity to make this mistake might never have come along if he hadn't spent so much time preparing to not be an idiot. Speedskating isn't really our thing here in the United States, so let's apply this to something that better fits our existing schema: ACL injuries in female athletes.  We know ACL tears are extremely common in female athletes, particularly those participating in basketball, gymnastics, and soccer.  I actually recall reading that the average NCAA women's soccer team has one ACL tear every year, and that typically, 1 in 50 female NCAA basketball players will blow out an ACL in a given season.  These numbers may be a bit dated now, but you get the point: if you don't train to prevent these injuries, you're omitting an insanely valuable initiative that protects your athletes...and mascots.

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Now, we need to see another "ACL Injury Prevention Protocol" on Pubmed like I need to experience another Tony Gentilcore Techno Hour.  In other words, there are plenty of them out there, and we know what kind of strength and conditioning programs work; it is just about execution. So, let's take your typical strength and conditioning coach who puts his female athletes through everything he should to protect them from ACL injuries - but one girl drops a weight on her foot and breaks a toe to miss the rest of the season. Had he omitted external loading from his strength training program, this never would have happened - but he probably would have had four times as many ACL tears as broken toes and his athletes wouldn't have performed as well.  Here, an act of omission would have been far worse than an act of commission - just like we saw with Kemkers.  This isn't always the case, but it's important to realize that two kinds of mistakes occur, and sometimes you're better being proactive and making a mistake than you are ignoring a responsibility and just keeping your fingers crossed. It's been said before that strength and conditioning programs are both a science and an art - and the art is interpreting what to leave out and what to include in light of risk-reward for each unique athlete.  For instance, a front squat is a fantastic exercise from a scientific standpoint, but on the art side of things, it may not be appropriate for an athlete whose spine doesn't like axial loading.  Or, it may be a problem if an athlete hasn't been front squatting, and introducing it right before competition would cause soreness that might be counterproductive to performance. Think about how this applies to the next strength and conditioning program you write, and the next client/athlete you coach. Related Posts Risk-Reward in Training Athletes and Clients Why Wait to Repair an ACL? Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a deadlift technique tutorial!
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