Physical Therapy Interview – Star Physical Therapist Jeff Cavaliere

Do you want to train one of the top baseball teams in the country?

I’m glad to have landed this interview, and am proud to have a colleague like Jeff.

I caught up with Jeff Cavaliere, from http://www.majorleagueinsidertraining.com/home, a 3 time physical therapist for the METS and managed to get Jeff to spill some insights into ‘training with the stars’.

Besides being featured on the cover of ADVANCE in August 2008, Jeff Cavaliere MSPT, CSCS served as both the Head Physical Therapist and Assistant Strength Coach for the last three seasons with the New York Mets.  He is both an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and a Certified Pilates Instructor. During his three seasons with the Mets, Jeff became an instant celebrity for his unique understanding of functional conditioning for baseball.

He is a specialist in biomechanics towards developing some of the most effective yet never before seen exercises for pitchers and position players alike, is second to none in the game. In the video, Jeff talks about the importance of understanding the biomechanics of the sport, a prerequisite to landing the ‘dream job’. He reveals how easy it is to ‘land a gig’ with smaller teams, since most major league teams have athletic trainers, but few (if any) physical therapists. He talks about ‘prehab’ and prevention in the athletic environment, the rigors of working with a team, the importance of passion, the variations between sports and the general requirements (you’ll be surprised) to survive the ‘prime time’ without burning up. I also put Jeff on the spot and ask him how to get involved with the team, and how to initiate contact with the team.

Did I mention that Jeff was recently named one of America’s Top 50 Greatest Trainers 2008 by Men’s Fitness? This guy is at the very top of the game!

Don’t forget to check out Jeff’s website at http://www.majorleagueinsidertraining.com/home/. He has an outstanding training program for young baseball athletes,  and it is indeed an outstanding resource.

HERE’S THE INTERVIEW!

Nitin C: Hi this is Nitin Chhoda from Nitin360.com.  I am here with Jeff Cavalier, from Major League insider training.  Jeff is a celebrity physical therapist and has trained the METs for three years from 2006-2008.  He has been featured in the cover of Advance magazine in August 2008.

Jeff:     You are welcome.

Nitin C:    I have a question for Jeff and a lot of therapists have been sending me emails with this particular question.  How do you become a physical therapist for a major league team like the METs?

Jeff:     I think you first have to identify what sport you are passionate about.  I loved baseball ever since I was a kid.  So in terms of a physical therapist’s point of view, you want to be able to understand the biomechanics of the sport.  You want to be able to understand the physical demands of the sport and what the common type of injuries are associated with that sport.  Obviously in baseball, elbows and shoulders get injured a lot of time. So you want to be able to have a firm understanding of that, because when the opportunity does come about, where you get into that situation where you might be ending in a job interview or trying to get a job in a team, you have to know they are going to test you and they are going to find out what your knowledge is.  That has to be the effort that you have to give in.  But in terms of things that you could do now, you have to read everything you can about your sport, but there are so many affiliate teams like minor league level that are around all much wherever we live within at least 50 miles.  I am sure you could probably find some affiliate teams, get your name known and get it known that you are interested in being there.  For physical therapists, there is a huge opportunity right now, because all teams have trainers but not physical therapists, I was one among the only seven when I took my time with the Met.  There is a growing demand, and more and more team owners are realizing that this is something that we need, different than what resources a lot of trainers could provide.  I believe that within the next five years, many physical therapists will be teaching in major league baseball teams.

Nitin C:    And if you are a physical therapist, would you ask physical therapists to design fitness program as well and not just restrict themselves to injuries?  What would you think the physical therapist can provide for the sports team?

Jeff:    My main image was in prehab more than it was in rehab.  I have always been a more pro-active guy the things you get some layout  on the right stuff now before they are injured, we could prevent a lot of these preventable injuries especially when you talk about in an athletic population.  Primarily, everything is overused, so if somebody teaches them how to use their muscles and joints, in the right way, biomechanically, you could prevent a lot of things.  There are lot pro-active prehab things that you should be aware of but you do need to have the rehab knowledge of the specific demands of your sport because they are going to come up in terms of job interviews and such other things.

Nitin C: Are there specific courses that you can recommend physical therapists can do or would it really depend on the experience level of the physical therapist in the courses in college?

Jeff:    Yes, it depends on your knowledge of the sports from passion’s standpoint.  Are you passionate enough on that sport?  Believe me, if I was not passionate enough of what I did, I could never have stayed there.  We have 162 games and about 180 days and every single day, the hours at night game are from 7 pm and I was already there since 11 am.  I am there working from 11 in the morning until midnight, so you really have to love what you are doing. Different sports have different demands. I have a friend who is in the NFL, and those guys will have one travel a day, eight times a year. They go away on Saturday, play on Sunday and they come home on a Sunday night and that only happen 8weeks out of 50week schedule.  That is pretty simple compared to baseball being 162 games, so you have to understand the demands of your sport and be comfortable to work with that environment without burning out.

Nitin C:    And how would you recommend a physical therapist approach a team and get involved with them.  You cannot just walk up a team.  You need to contact maybe the manager or how would they initiate it?

Jeff:    Maybe they need to contact the General Manager of that organization such as minor league team and get permission.  But you also have to understand their current medical roster. Whether they already have a physical therapist.  They are not going to pick him up on the street.  But if currently they do not have a physical therapist you can just briefly try to sell them in a letter the benefit the PT adds to the training staff—how do you complement what is already there and how do you enhance what is already there. More people will be receptive to that because in a competitive environment of sports, particularly in ball sports, any opportunity that a general manager gets to improve his team and the likelihood of having them winning.   Especially in the major league we had with the Mets we always ran somewhere between a $120 and $150 million dollar payroll, it only costs a fraction of that to hire a physical therapist to try to protect those assets.  So for them that makes the wisest sense from a business standpoint.

Nitin C:     How much does a physical therapist who works for a team like that expect to be paid, and is it more than the average physical therapist?  The average physical therapist makes about $75,000 a year.

Jeff:    Again we’re talking about physical therapist in major league baseball, so you’re talking about only 30 positions up for grabs, so they’re compensated accordingly for sure.

Nitin C:     Excellent.  Well, thanks guys and if you want to check out Jeff’s website, Jeff tell us a bit more about your website.

Jeff:     The website is major league insider training, and what I did is basically put together training manual for young baseball players, really high school age and college age that are aspiring to be in the big league.   This is the program that covers every single thing that they would need to know in terms of strength and conditioning, and flexibility and really bring it all for one step-by-step package they’re going to there.  This is coming from a guy that’s been in the big league and has worked with these guys.  So that’s where I get all the information from.  It’s actually endorsed by the top major leaguers in the game.

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