"You can observe a lot by just watching."
Today was day two a CSP Elite Baseball Mentorship in Hudson, MA. It was another long day of drinking baseball-related information out of a fire hose.
The day began with a lecture on strength training programming. Eric Cressey pointed out that training for baseball has traditionally gone one of two directions: excessive coddling or "do what the football guys do." He went on to contrast this with the idea of understanding the unique demands of the sport, the individual athlete, and knowing what acceptable movement patterns look like off and on the field. He went into little detail regarding why they do not perform Olympic lifts (something I've listed in more detail here).
Next we heard pitching coach Matt Blake regarding pitching mechanics. I've read some of Matts material and I love how he goes about the business of balance. How do we balance this idea of key positions in the pitching delivery (as typically identified by the pitching big-shots at AMSI) with how the pitcher moves dynamically to attain said positions? How do we balance the idea of "normative ranges" with the pitchers own rhythm and feel? How do we balance the nuts and bolts of biomechanics and movement patterns with *sensitive* personalities? How do we balance health and performance? Do you shoot for a bright spark of effectiveness or longevity? If you bring pitchers into an acceptable normative range, are they still peak performers?
I'm eager to stand in on a few of his assessments and lessons tomorrow. It was encouraging to see that some of my current ideas regarding assessing pitchers and analyzing mechanics is definitely on par with what Matt and the team at CSP are doing (though I certainly have some gaps to fill in).
For most of the afternoon we had the chance to wander and observe the trainers interacting with the clients on the floor. There is much to be said, but here are a few things that I noticed:
1. Every client had interaction with a trainer, some far more than others.
2. Every client had an individualized agenda for the day.
3. Cressey expects a LOT of his interns. He has a rigorous application process and they seem to function seamlessly with the clients and other staff.
4. The training is, well, a nice balance. The clients do a *smart* and individualized warm-up, plenty of mobility work, and fine-tuning motor control type exercises. It's not all knock-down-drag-out, go-until-you-puke-you-animal. But neither is it all (in their words) foo-foo. They do encourage heavy and hard. But it's far more about quality movement to apply to other endeavors and far less about being better at working out.
5. The culture: no weird gawks for foam rolling the hip adductors or whatnot, no extra attention for athletes doing huge or tiny resistance, no bros making noise for no reason, and not even one person on their cell phone between sets.
Lastly, they gave us open gym time from 5:30 to 7:00 pm. I got to train. On deadlift day! At Cressey Performance!!
My partner in crime David Drinks dead lifted a PR! I pulled well over 500 for reps and it felt easier than ever. I never realized that an official Olympic deadlifting bar could make such a difference. The bar is thin (and therefore easier to grip) and has a little flex to it (which effectively shortens the total arc of movement). I'm certain that it was 5 or 10% easier than pulling with the standard generic bar in my basement. We did some other lower- and upper body work, and I pulled out a massive farmers walk just for good measure.
Now of course, this new found strength could also have to do with resting well and being far less active for a few days. There were no kids or dogs or ducks to wake me up. Nothing to fix or organize or straighten up. Nobody to feed and clean up except myself.
Gosh. I miss my crew back home.