Recap Show: Dana Cavalea

Welcome to The Baseball Awakening Podcast where we dive into the raw, unfiltered, unsexy side of player development.

Summary:

On this episode, Host, Geoff Rottmayer,recaps his conversation with Dana Cavalea. The biggest takeaways that he discussed on this show are:

  • Dana story and the sacrifices he made to become the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach.
  • The key to anything strength program is to get assessed.
  • The importance of building a solid foundation.
  • His in-season programming.
  • His off-season programming.
  • How his training is mostly preparatory work over weight training,
  • Be careful when using the internet for information or exercise routine.
  • What he learned from the best in the world.

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Email Address:geoff@baseballawakening.com

Transcribe:

Hey guys Geoff Rottmayer here with The Baseball Awakening recap show where I share with you the biggest takeaways I got from my conversation with Dana Cavalea – as well as share how I plan to implement what I have learned with my players that I train at my academy in Tulsa Oklahoma. 

Again, as I alwasy say, we want to hear from you because different things mean different things to different people so it would be interesting to see how you guy intrepret something that Dana said yesterday or something that I am going to say today. I will make a show reading off your emails because we can all learn something from it, so my email is going to be geoff@baseballawakening.com, so send me your thoughts, comment, or feedback. 

So the conversation started with me asking about his story and making his way into becoming the head strength and conditioning coach for the yankees. And whats cool about it, was that was the job he wanted, he worked for free for 4 years and he worked his tail off to get the opportunity that he got. He did training when he was back home waiting to return to spring training. The sacrifices he made to get to that level where the sacrifices that needed to be made. To get to a level where you are training the best athletes in the world, you got to be good at what you do and in their own right they are professionals. The have the same grind day in and day out because there are long hours at the level in any department of that level. SO its great to tell our kids, that if baseball doesn’t work out for you and you think you want to be a part of the MLB organization, there still a lot of work and sacrifices that need to be made just as there was to play baseball. 

While I feel like I know a bit on the strength & conditioning field it was great to interview someone who has worked with players at the highest level and the process he use to help them maintain the status in the professional ranks. We currently do not do strength and conditioning at my facility, although we would like to change that, but I get ask all the time about what is the best program for my son. People ask me about cross fit, they ask me about olympic lifting, they ask about yoga. 

I think Dana said it best, there is a place for everything but the key is to get assessed. So you need to find someone that will properly assess you and from there to move into building solid foundation. Now let me tell you, there is nothing sexy about the foundational building process but if you want to get strong fast and you want to move weight you hadn’t thought about moving – the foundation needs to be there. Get the foundation right. 

I go on to ask Dana about In-Seaon training, and in-season training is going to be different for a guy that is at the level where they play 162 games in 165 days or whatever then it would be for a high school guy or even a college guys. But i like what he said, when he said – never forgot that the number one priority is playing the game. So you training should never interfere with a guy being able to play. 

True story, I had a guy one time whose coach made his team lift super heavy within hour before the game and a lot of guys to include the one who shared the story with me had a horrible performance. This got in the way of the game, not if its part of your routine then so be it – but to make the entire team do it is crazy. SO you training cannot get in the way of a player being able to play the game. 

He talked about as the season progress and the workload progress then the training volumes goes down. But he also said that the key through out the season is to stay on top of mobility issues. There is a common belief that the way things are done at MLB – they are way being, and maybe that is the case, but it seems with Dana Cavalea that he is not behind and he takes the individual part seriously instead of a one for all program. So that the other thing I tell guys and this ia s problem with cross it or some weight programs is that everyone is doing the same thing and I get it its easier and limited on time and resources, but i would find a PT that can assess you through out the year, especially if baseball is what you want to do. Its easier to stay on top and maintain then having to start from ground zero all the time. 

The other thing Dana said that I liked was that –  he created a conveyor build system where everyone knew what was going on and they was structure. He goes on to talk about how player want and need structure to include players at the big league level. He also said that professional athletes do not need variety, they don’t need the latest and greatest and coolest thing out there.  His programming is 25-30 percent weight training and 70% prepatory work. Not sexy at all. but they know what works and they will repeat a routine until its exhaugthed. Problem with a lot of people is that they do not stick to something long enough to see the benefit of it. So when you are constantly changing things you may get a initial boost because its exciting and different but the results is not consistent and not sustainable. I tell my guys this all the time, everything we do at my place is a routine and because they stick to it they get results. What we see alot of time is players will joint their team and everything will fall apart and then they come see me and i dont see if – why because we have a routine they follow that allows them to be the best. If they would have a routines at their team practice or prior to games and they repeated it each and overtime you will see a different player. So this is why for someone like me, i have to get out and watch guys play because they do well at my place because its consistent. So, as dana says – routine is the foundation to success. 

I go on to ask Dana what the off season looks like and he said, the first 4 weeks do nothing. You have to unplug, everyone has to unplug at some point throughout the year. Go go go mentality robs alot of people from being the best they can be because they need to be able to unplug. Once they return to training is starts with getting back into the movement of things and back to building the foundation. Too many guys do not want to take care of their foundation work, if you want to keep improving then the foundation has to be strong and stable. Taking a few steps back to ensure the foundation is strong and stable will allow you to jump forward. So this is something we have to talk about with kids, and we do the same things at our place with the hitting and throwing/pitching motions during the off-season. We will take a step back and rebuild the foundation and then move forward. So same concept – the foundation in anything is huge. 

The other thing he shared that I thought was good is understand that putting on size and mass isnt the goal as a baseball player – its about improving power output. This is something I will add to the conversation when parents ask me about what type of program their son should be on: I am going to say they need to be assess, the need a solid foundation and the focus needs to be on power output. 

I went on to ask about a guy going on to the internet, you have to be careful what you read on the internet. There are a lot of bad information that can hurt you from a strength and conditioning point and really anything in baseball. The program you found on the internet that Mike Trout does is not going to have the same effect for you. You need to get with someone who can assess you and design a program specifically for you and your goals. 

Toward the end of the conversation I got to ask Dana what he learned from some of the best players in the world and the first thing he said was that he learned it wasn’t so much the time on the job, it’s what they were doing when they were there. They didn’t waste time. I tell kids all the time that you don’t need to spend 4-5 hours a day training. You need find 1 hour a day and get your work in, work that is outside of what your team does. Find one hour a day so 5-6-7 hours a week to work on just you, work outside of your team setting. That extra hour you put in will show up and it will accumulate. Pick 5 things and do them really well with precision and attention to detail. Check in boxes and you will be amaze what you get done. 

One of the last thing dana said in our conversation was you have to trust the process, and there are going to be days where you dont see progress but that doesnt mean its not happening. so you have to trust the process. This is a say i say to our kids all the time. Trust the process, check in boxes and it will all come together.