Clayton Kershaw is the most feared pitcher on the planet. The 27-year-old southpaw mowed down much of the National League last year, picking up his third Cy Young and his first MVP award along the way. And, in a league in which 95 mph fastballs are the norm—and so are Tommy John surgeries—Kershaw has somehow gone on the disabled list only once since he entered the majors in 2008. So we checked in with Brandon McDaniel, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ strength and conditioning coach, to talk about training an indestructible pitcher and how to really unleash a fastball.
How do you prepare a guy like Clayton Kershaw for the season?
My philosophy is that the body doesn’t recognize you’re throwing a baseball. The body recognizes that you put it under stress. And so we put the body under similar stresses in the offseason that mimic what happens when you throw, hit, run, and field. It’s about doing intervals and core work that is going to work the same muscles they’ll use in the game. Everything we do, we’re mimicking the biomechanics, and we’re mimicking the energy systems.
What’s the secret to his dominance?
Consistency. Clayton’s going to do exactly what he set out to do—all the way down to what time he gets a stretch the day before a game. Today, Kersh had three innings, so he stretched at exactly 12:31—because we stretch 34 minutes before the game.
How does this mindset apply to the normal dude?
In the weight room, everybody has good days and bad days. Clayton Kershaw has a lot more better days than most, but over time, if you can stay reliable and on that regimen, you have a much better chance of succeeding in your program.