The other day the Yankees announced the hiring of Eric Cressey to oversee their strength and conditioning programs.
For those of you who follow my blog and social media pages who don’t know me personally, my educational background is in biomechanics and I’ve been in the exercise and training industry in one way or another for over two decades. So trust me when I tell you that Cressey is a great hire for the Yankees. He is to baseball S&C what Gerrit Cole is to pitching.
It should go without saying he’s extremely knowledgeable about biomechanics and physiology not just from a textbook standpoint but from a practical application standpoint. (“There is what you know then there is what you can apply – you need to know the difference.” is a popular saying in the field). I’ve read a lot of Cressey’s materials and have followed him online for a while as well and his information is always sound scientifically but also logical from a practical application position. (And I am a very skeptical audience when it comes to processing information about human performance.) As far as his reputation goes in the field, I’ve never heard a bad word about him or a condescending tone used to describe his training. (Trust me, many S&C coaches who are popular aren’t very highly thought of by other experts behind closed doors after a couple of beers).
But if you’re just a Yankee fan who doesn’t care about the nerdy aspects of human movement and you just want to see Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge both play 150 games, this is the best reason you should like the Cressey hire:
He works with baseball players and only baseball players. This may seem like a minor distinction but it is not.
Every training population has challenges and obstacles that are common with that population that you may not be aware of until you start working with them.
Training youths presents different challenges than training senior citizens.
Training pregnant women presents different challenges than training the average Joe weekend warrior.
Training swimmers presents different challenges than training martial artists.
So one can be a master of biomechanics and physiology, but if one isn’t prepared for the obstacles that come up when training MLB players, one is going to have a big problem getting results.
I’ve had more than one discussion with S&C coaches for pro sports teams and they all say a different version of the same thing:
Some professional athletes think they know more than the trainer does. Some professional athletes trust their trainer “back home” more than they trust the team’s staff. Some professional athletes just don’t want to train.
As a result, quite often things don’t work out because there is some combination of trust, communication and/or compliance issues.
One can’t say for sure, because compliance can never be assumed, but I think it’s a safe bet that when the message is coming from someone who’s been there and done that with baseball players and only baseball players, the right message is more likely to get through and be implemented.
Just like in baseball, S&C has innumerable variables that go into every decision. But like with Gerrit Cole, the Yankees have stacked the odds in their favor with the Eric Cressey hire.
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