Home Posts tagged "Steve Hammond"

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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Not a bad Sunday (or Saturday) at all…

It was a great Sunday all around yesterday. First, my fiancee officially became a doctor.  Yep, I picked a good one. Second, Cressey Performance athlete Dede Griesbauer won Ironman-Brazil, setting a course record by ten minutes in the process.  Congratulations, Dede! Third, Lincoln-Sudbury came from behind to win their D1 second round playoff game, 8-7.  CP athletes Justin Quinn, Derek Lowe, and Erik Watkins all hit homeruns for LS, and Watkins won it with a single with two outs in the ninth inning.

lswin

Fourth, CP athlete Sahil Bloom got a win and a save in Weston's D3 playoff win yesterday.  Sahil struck out nine and walked none in 6.2 innings of work - and went 3-4 at the plate. Fifth, on Saturday, Wayland upset the #3 seed to advanced to the second round of the D2 state baseball tournament. Sixth, Tyler Beede pitched a shutout in his team's opening round win in the D2 state tournament on Saturday. The week gets off to a good start today, as I'm picking up my new car, and a host of the college guys start training today as the New England Collegiate Baseball League kicks off.  And, we've got two CP athletes (who also happen to be good buddies and off-season roommates) going head-to-head in a AAA match-up.  Will Inman (Portland/Padres) will be facing Steve Hammond (Fresno/Giants) in Fresno tonight; I will be pulling for both to go eight innings of shutout ball and get no-decisions!
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Random Friday Thoughts: 4/10/09

1. On Monday, pretty much every baseball game in the state of Massachusetts was rained out.  To our delight, we had three of our high school baseball player show up at 2:30PM (they had the last period of school free) race in to get in training sessions before they headed to their 4:30PM indoor practice (in lieu of the game). These guys actually thought that the game was going to be played the next day, so they were planning on having lighter days in the gym.  When I informed them that the game had actually been pushed back to May, one of them looked up at me and said, "So that means I can just go crazy today?" That, folks, is how you make a strength coach smile.  And, it's also how you inspire a Random Friday Thoughts blog on "Things You Can Say to Make a Strength Coach Smile." a. "I think cottage cheese tastes like poo, but I'm going to eat it anyway, because it'll make me diesel." b. "I know that distance running is destroying my body, so I'm going to stop for real this time - unlike the last three times I promised to give it up forever." (cough, Steph, cough) c. "Can you tell Tony to turn this techno crap off?" 2. John Berardi just ran a feature on Howie Clark, from the Toronto Blue Jays system.  I just started to work with Howie about two months ago on his in-season training program, and this interview talks a lot about the interaction of his training and nutrition.  Check it out HERE. 3. On a related note, here's a cool local article where I got a shout-out recently: Pitch Count an Inexact Science 4. It wouldn't be baseball season in Boston without a drunk dude busting a move in the stands at Fenway.  My girlfriend and I watched it live on Wednesday night and knew it was sure-fire blog material:

5. Here's a little compilation of where Cressey Performance pro baseball guys are starting out this season.  If you live in the neighborhood of their ballparks, go check out our guys!

  1. Chad Rodgers (Braves, LHP) - Myrtle Beach, SC
  2. Will Inman (Padres, RHP) - San Antonio, TX
  3. Tim Collins (Blue Jays, LHP) - Dunedin, FL
  4. Shawn Haviland (A's, RHP) - Kane County, IL
  5. Steffan Wilson (Brewers, 1B/3B) - Brevard County (Viera), FL
  6. Steve Hammond (Giants, LHP) - Fresno, CA
  7. CJ Retherford (White Sox, 2B/3B) - Birmingham, AL
  8. Matt Morizio (Royals, C) - Wilmington, DE
  9. Howie Clark (Blue Jays, utility) - Las Vegas, NV
  10. Andy D'Alessio (Giants, 1B) - Norwich, CT
We've got a few more guys in extended spring training and independent ball who should find out their destinations shortly.  If you know one of the guys above, though, get out and show 'em some love!
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Random Monday Thoughts: 3/2/09

1. There were no Random Friday Thoughts last week, as my girlfriend and I were in Fort Lauderdale for a quick 3-day "the guys are off to spring training, so Eric is going to regain his sanity" vacation.  As you read this, I'll have just returned to Boston (Sunday night), refreshed and ready to go for the last three weeks before the high school baseball season starts. 2. With almost all the guys done for the off-season, I figured that this was as good a time as any to send out some spring training well wishes to all the Cressey Performance pro baseball guys:
  1. Chad Rodgers (Braves)
  2. Will Inman (Padres)
  3. Tim Collins (Blue Jays)
  4. Tim Stronach (Mets)
  5. Shawn Haviland (A's)
  6. Nate Nelson (Blue Jays)
  7. Steffan Wilson (Brewers)
  8. Steve Hammond (Giants)
  9. CJ Retherford (White Sox)
  10. PJ Zocchi (Indians)
  11. Matt Morizio (Royals)
  12. Ryan Reid (Rays)
  13. Matt Kramer (Braves)
  14. Dave Wasylak (Nationals)
  15. Jason Lavorgna (free agent)
  16. Matt Cooney (free agent)
  17. Chris Gusha (free agent)
Good luck this season, fellas.  Thanks for all your hard work. 3. I often get asked what we do with folks who can't go right to foam rolling with the Foam Roller Plus (a more diesel version that is just foam on top of PVC).

foam-roller-plus

In these folks, we usually start them with a foam-only roller - and ideally one that has been "broken in."

1roller

Another option that Cressey Performance has pioneered is suited up in catcher's gear before rolling.  Safety first, folks.

4. Just wanted to give you a quick heads-up on an upcoming seminar (4/17-4/19) in Central Virginia with an outstanding line-up of speakers.  I'm bummed that I can't make it, but you should definitely check this out if you're in the area: Central Virginia Performance Seminar They have limited the event to 75 attendees, so be sure to register sooner than later. 5. My girlfriend had the Oscars on last weekend, and I couldn't help but wonder who the heck this guy is and what he did to Ferris Bueller!

broderick

Have a great weekend!

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27 Things I’m Thankful For

1. Yesterday, the defending state champion Lincoln-Sudbury baseball team clinched a share of its 8th consecutive Dual County League title.  Over 25 current L-S players – including virtually the entire starting varsity lineup – train at Cressey Performance during the off-season and in-season.  We also had five LS baseball graduates in to train yesterday to kick off their summer session – and four of them are playing D1 college baseball.  These guys realize that winning programs are largely built in the off-season.

2. Speaking of L-S, Sam Finn is currently batting over .400 at the cleanup spot, and on the mound, he’s 5-0 with a 1.54 ERA, and 49 strikeouts in 41.1 innings.  Last year, Sam had one at-bat and he struck out.  As a testament to his hard work in the off-season (during which time he added 20 pounds to his frame), Sam was the first athlete to train at CP’s new facility last Saturday; how many high school athletes do you know who show up to train at 8:45AM on a Saturday morning?

3. Speaking of new facilities, the new place is open – and I’ll have pictures soon.  The move was an absolute nightmare that basically amounted to 39 hours of heavy (and messy) manual labor over a three-day period, including two “days” that didn’t wrap up until 3AM.  Pete, Tony, Brian, and I agreed that it was the longest three days of our lives.  On Day 1in the new facility, we all walked around barefoot because the blisters on our feet were so bad that we couldn't wear shoes – and our hands were really raw from moving all the flooring.  However, every cloud has its silver lining: we commiserated, but not one person complainedor even thought about leaving early.  Everyone gave up Thu, Fri, and Sat nights to get things done.  It made me realize how lucky I am to have a great group of guys around me at work.  And, from now on, when I hire, I'm going to think about whether my potential employee would have stuck around for all that work.

4. Jon Lester tossed a no-hitter for the Red Sox last night.  Here’s a guy who beat cancer and pitched the clinching game in the World Series last year.  Talk about a great story – and a guy who deserves every bit of success that comes his way.  This should make you feel good whether you’re a Red Sox fan or not…

5. …which reminds me: I need to remind the Yankees fans in the crowd that you’re in last place in the AL East.  Sorry to rain on your parade, folks.  On a brighter and related note, I have to chuckle when I see a signed baseball in my office from Yankees AAA pitching prospect David Robertson: “To Eric, you are the best bullpen catcher I have ever seen.  You should definitely look into baseball as a career.”  He got up to 91 mph – and I didn’t break a thumb.

6. In the past two years, CP client Steph Holland-Brodney has raised over $6,000 for Boston Medical Center with her Boston Marathon participation.  Her giving doesn't stop there, though; on Day 1 at the new place, she also showed up with a full meal from Whole Foods: an entire chicken, green beans, and almonds.  She even brought Pete cupcakes - and added two balloons to our office. Thanks, Steph! 7. How many 68-year-old men do you know who can do eight neutral pull-ups? Tony Hughes can.  Tony’s my only one-on-one client – and I think that he’d be the first to tell you that success in training is a marathon, not a sprint.  Consistency keeps you healthy and functional.

8. Worcester, MA native and CP athlete Tim Collins has posted an ERA of 0.00 with 15 strikeouts and only two hits and five walks in 10.0 innings of work for the Lansing Lugnuts in the Toronto Blue Jays system.  That’s not the best part, though: you’ll see Tim listed (generously) at 5-7, 155 pounds – yet he’s touching low 90s on the radar gun.  At 5-7, 155, most kids are lucky to be able to reach the cookies on the top shelf – but Tim is living the dream as a professional pitcher.  Awesome kid, too.

Not to be outdone, CP athlete Steve Hammond of the Huntsville Stars (Milwaukee Brewers AA) is currently leading the Southern League in strikeouts and boasts a 5-1 record along with a 2.61 ERA.  He gets mentioned second only because he's 6-2 and not 5-7.  Sorry, Steve - but great job nonetheless!  For your amusement, here is Steve throwing a 2-seam fastball at me over the winter.

9. A few weeks ago, after approximately 20 years of trying (during which time she completed 11 Ironmans, won three NCAA championships as a swimmer at Stanford, and spent five years on the US National Team as a swimmer), Cressey Performance athlete Dede Griesbauer finally did an unassisted chin-up.  It also happens to be her wedding anniversary, so Happy Anniversary, Dede (and Dave)!

10. Last week, my girlfriend had The Today Show on while she was eating breakfast – and New Kids on the Block were performing live.  Now, the reappearance of NKOTB nearly made me gag on my eggs, but I took solace – and definitely cracked a smile – when they had to perform in the pouring rain.  Apparently, Mother Nature and I share a similar taste in music.  You think she likes Disturbed, too?

12. Combat Core by Jim Smith is hands-down the best product of 2008 thus far.  If you don’t own it, buy it.

13. Last summer, Gillian Roddie, an Irish powerlifter, came over to train with us for a week.  While at CP, she commented that she was very impressed that in the time she spent there, not a single one of our athletes squatted high.

14. StrengthCoach.com.  Mike Boyle has done an excellent job of quickly establishing this forum as one of the best place to exchange training ideas on the web.  I check in on it daily.

15.  On Sunday, at age 39, PJ Brown had 10 points and 6 boards in 20 minutes of action for the Celtics during their Game 7 win over Cleveland.  Here’s a guy who came out of retirement only a few months ago.  Never underestimate the positive impact a veteran can have on younger players.  It’s one of the reasons why we try to get our high school athletes to interact with our collegiate and professional athletes here and there at the facility; success rubs off on them.

16. Yesterday, an online consulting client emailed me to tell me that he saw Maximum Strength at the front of the largest bookstore in Bangkok, Thailand.  I’m flattered – and really hope that they can read English, or else they’re going to be pissed, because we haven’t done any translated copies yet.  I also heard that we were in a Borders in Idaho – and I hope they actually speak English there, too. :)

17. I love the giant cambered bar.  It’s fantastic for working with overhead athletes you want to keep out of the at-risk position with back squatting, and it’s an excellent way to rotate in some variety without getting rid of squatting altogether.  It’s been a huge help with keeping my shoulder intact in spite of all the problems I had with it back in my early 20s.

Coincidentally, the spotter in that video text-messaged me at 7:14AM to wish me a happy birthday; thanks for letting me sleep in on my big day, George.

18. My girlfriend not only does chain push-ups; she also looks up and smiles at the camera in the middle of a set.

19. Tony Gentilcore tomfoolery.

20. Jon Boyle is a guy who flies under the radar, but is an integral part of the success of my newsletter and, in particular, my blog.  If you enjoy what you read here, Jon deserves a ton of the credit for his help behind the scenes.  I’m lucky to have him; thanks, Jon.

21. I actually laugh out loud when I hear some of the things that people have said about me since I opened my own facility last July.  I’ve heard everything from “Cressey is injuring people” to things that I don’t even want to put into writing on the internet.  If I was so bad at what I do – and so unethical – then I probably wouldn’t have gone from zero clients in a new town in August of 2006 to over 300 clients in our database today.  Roughly 200 are active – and another 100 or so were one-time evaluations who came from all over the country (and abroad) to experience my ignorance and dim wit.

Keep talking, folks.  It’s pretty amusing.

22. I love variety.  While we work with a ton of athletes, I get some variety thrown in there to keep my life interesting.  In about an hour, I’m heading to the track with four college baseball players, a pro hockey guy, and a full D1 scholarship soccer player.  They’ll all be in later – and lift alongside a professional triathlete, high school athletes, and weekend warriors from a variety of disciplines.

23.  I love it when an athlete comes to us with a shoulder injury that hasn’t responded to traditional physical therapy (ultrasound and rotator cuff exercises).  I don’t love the fact that the athlete is in pain; I love the fact that there are a ton of approaches we can still exhaust to get him/her better.  So, we get to work on scapular stability, mobilizing the thoracic spine, improving glenohumeral internal rotation, improving hip and ankle mobility, and working on soft tissue quality.

24. There was a slight mix-up with the editing on our new book, and one of the photos on page 68 is incorrect (our publisher confused the bottom position of a scap push-up with a regular push-up on the first production run).  While I wasn’t too happy about the mix-up, I will say that I was pretty darn proud when three of our athletes picked up on it when reading the book.  I guess they’re actually learning something.

25. I’m proud to say that I have never used an agility ladder with an athlete.  I’m sure Todd Hamer is proud of me, too.

I did, however, once MacGyver-it-up by tying together several agility ladders along with a bicycle tire and broomstick to rescue a beached whale from certain death.  The Greenpeace folks loved it.

Just kidding, actually.  Agility ladders are still stupid.

26. My girlfriend introduced me to a Brita water filter two weeks ago – and it makes the water taste a ton better.  I don’t even want to think about what I was drinking from the tap before; Lord only knows what it filters out.  Needless to say, if you aren’t drinking enough water, get one of these; it’s well worth it.

27. Perform Better is awesome. Chris Poirier and his staff not only provide awesome equipment and educational materials, but they also host the most informational seminars in the fitness industry.  I’ll be speaking at the last PB Summit for 2008 in Providence, RI at the end of this month; I’d highly recommend you checking it out, if you can make it.

I’m headed to the track to sprint, and I’ll be lifting later on – before heading to eat approximately 387 fajitas for my birthday dinner.  Fajitas aside, exercise and coaching athletes are huge parts of my life, obviously, and I wouldn’t imagine not having them on my one day of the year to enjoy myself.  I love what I do.  Thanks for subscribing to this newsletter and for continuing to support me.

All the Best,

EC
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