Eric Cressey | Strength & Conditioning Coach Spotlight
Eric Cressey, CSCS is president and co-founder of Cressey Sports Performance, with facilities located in Hudson, MA and Jupiter, FL. A highly sought-after coach for healthy and injured athletes alike, Eric has helped athletes at all levels, from youth sports to the professional and Olympic ranks, achieve their highest levels of performance in a variety of sports. Eric is perhaps best known for his extensive work with baseball players, with more than 100 professional players traveling to train with him each off-season.
Could you share more about the athletes you work with?
While we work with athletes from a variety of sports, we are best known for our work at Cressey Sports Performance with baseball players. We work with players from all 30 Major League teams. Overall, our clientele ranges from ages 12 well into adulthood.
You have written 5 books and published over 500 articles. What topics do you like to research most?
I like to share information in many areas in the strength and conditioning sphere. Most of my work has been related to baseball in terms of corrective exercises, skill acquisition, and development. I also use my powerlifting background to help guide some of my research and thought processes.
What injuries do you see most commonly?
In baseball, the main goal is to keep arms healthy. We see all different types of injuries. In the pitching world, most of the injuries are upper extremity in nature, so we spend a lot of time taking care of elbows, shoulders, and necks.
What is your philosophy in regards to strength and conditioning?
There are always two diagnoses: a medical and movement diagnosis. The medical diagnosis describes the pathology of the injury. With the movement diagnosis, I have to look at the person in front of me and ask, “What is the movement issue that led to the injury?” Movement inefficiencies can lead to pathology. I try to treat each person as an individual when reviewing both diagnoses. And, sometimes, there may be no medical diagnosis in someone’s history, so you’re either digging deeper or pinning your approach almost exclusively on the movement aspect of things.
What shifts have you seen in strength and conditioning throughout the years?
I have seen shifts in the field and shifts in people.
In terms of the field, more strength and conditioning specialists are very specialized in the field and only work with a specific population. Obviously, my specialization is baseball and other overhead throwing sports. You’ll see folks in hockey, football, soccer, and a host of other niche opportunities.
In terms of the people, I think the average athlete we see on Day 1 is now less developed than when I started my career. I think this is due to early sports specialization with young athletes. When an athlete specializes too soon in a specific sport, that athlete’s movement variability goes down substantially. I am a big believer in kids playing as many different sports, for as long they can.
How were you introduced to the Marc Pro?
I had heard of related products to the Marc Pro in training rooms and college strength and conditioning centers. I was originally stubbornly resistant to try the Marc Pro. I viewed it initially as a passive modality and my mindset has always been to encourage athletes to move in order to heal themselves.
My interactions with Corey Kluber changed my mind. I have worked with Corey for more than a decade, and he’s one of the most regimented, hard-working athletes you’ll meet. Corey does absolutely everything we ask of him in a program. And, he was an avid Marc Pro user (has used it after every time he’s thrown for years). With the Marc Pro being such a meticulous part of his recovery routine, I started looking into the benefits of the device further.
Ultimately, I want to optimize an athlete’s blood flow and stimulate the lymphatic system. Movement is always ideal, but not always convenient to get in. The Marc Pro offered a ton of convenience and was a lower “buy in” from athletes who already had busy schedules that might not have been able to accommodate another training session – even if it was recovery oriented. In short, I liked the fact that it was a somewhat passive modality that allows you to actively recover. It also served as a great complement to other recovery initiatives we utilize, ranging from nutrition to manual therapy.
What is the protocol for using a Marc Pro?
We use the Marc Pro for proactive recovery and also for athletes coming back from injury. We have found that it is also impactful to combine in conjunction with manual treatments.
Typically our athletes are using it at the end of the day when it’s most convenient for them. They can just use it as they relax or eat and it is logistically easier than trying to use it right after practice. We know that recovery methods need to be absurdly easy for the athlete. The ultimate goal is for the athlete to recover, and to recover often.
What is the most difficult aspect about your position?
Geographic logistics. Late in the season, I haven’t seen a lot of our athletes for six months, and I wish I could be everywhere to check in. Unfortunately, I can’t be in 200 places in the U.S. to help all of our guys!
What advice would you give athletes about recovery?
There is a recovery hierarchy. People want to go for the sexy stuff. But the foundation is most important like sleep, nutrition, and an appropriate training stimulus. People like to make really advanced solutions to simple problems, but if you are only sleeping 3 hours a night and eating sugary cereal for breakfast, the fanciest of devices won’t help you recover.
What is your favorite part about working with athletes on a daily basis?
The relationships. You get to work with amazing athletes – and it’s an honor that they trust you to be part of their “team.”
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