6 Things We Learned From Yankees’ Trainer, Dana Cavalea [Podcast]

03 Mar 6 Things We Learned From Yankees’ Trainer, Dana Cavalea [Podcast]

Imagine working with some of the most legendary athletes in the world. This is exactly what today’s guest Dana Cavalea did for years — and he got tons of powerful insights from that experience.

If you’re baseball fan you’ll appreciate that he worked closely with Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mariano Rivera, Mark Texeira, and other legends.

On a recent trip to New York, I sat down with Dana Cavalea, former head trainer for the New York Yankees and owner of ML Strength. Dana is a smart guy and great at distilling powerful insights from top performers.

Here are some of my top takeaways:

  1. Ask Why Things Are the Way They Are — When he joined the Yankees as an intern ‘being paid in supplement packages’ Dana immediately and constantly started asking why and how he could improve the players’ strength and conditioning programs. Based on his constant analysis, he’s come up with ideas and pitched them to Yankees’ manager, Brian Cashman. This got him noticed and he moved up the ranks to eventually become head trainer.
  2. Build your support system and trust your routine. The challenges of being a top performer will always meet with difficult times. Players slump. Teams go on losing streaks. The best players relied on the same two sources to solve difficult problems every time: their support system and their routines. Dana shares the story of Yankees’ slugger Mark Texeira, who was mired in a horrible slump. When Dana asked him how he was dealing with it, he said, “I’m sticking to the exact same routine.”
  3. A powerful routine is a personalized routine. One of the biggest mistakes Dana sees regular people making is to try copying others’ routines. The best players’ routines were highly personal. Mariano Rivera got an extensive massage an hour before pitching, even though common physiological wisdom says this is a bad idea. It worked for him and that’s all that mattered.
  4. Top performers never get too high or too low. When Dana asked Mariano Rivera about high pressure situations, he said, “There are no big situations, they’re all the same. It’s just a matter of how we approach it.” By treating every single pitch the exact same, Rivera was remain at his best in the face of high pressure.
  5. The greatest performers stay within themselves. Long before the concept of essentialism became popular, Dana had noticed that the great athletes kept their lives simple and just focused on what the did best.
  6. Confidence comes from the big picture. The best players always kept their big picture goal at the forefront of their mind. Derek Jeter knew he wanted to be a first ballot hall-of-famer. This allowed him to remain focused and stick to his routine every day, which in turn led to him being a top performer for years.

Show Notes:

Dana Cavalea is a peak performance coach who spent 12 years with the New York Yankees as their Director of Strength and Conditioning & Performance Enhancement. Dana has worked along side baseball greats like Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and a whole lot more.

In this episode we dive into fitness, what works best for people in terms of daily routines, nutrition and share a bit about his time with the Yankees.

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Some questions I asked…

  • Could share a defining moment for you? (2:16)
  • How did you get to be involved with the Yankees organization? (5:17)

  • How did you differentiate yourself in the field? (12:15)
  • Can you share some things you see with routines? (21:26)
  • What are some foundational things about strength and conditioning you can share? (38:13)

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Thank You to the Team:

Editing & Mixing by: Aaron Johnson
Theme music by: Parlange & Latenite Automatic

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For more episodes visit us at ManTalks.com
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