Performance directors are people who perform an all-encompassing role beyond what coaches, PTs, and traditional athletic trainers can offer. In this episode, Performance Director and Nutritionist to the stars, brit Dave Hancock reveals his methodologies in helping athletes perform at their optimal level. He works with Odell Beckham, Kevin Durant, The NY Knicks, Man United & Chelsea FC, to Rock stars like U2 and Movie stars too. Dave shares their inside health and fitness tips and tricks as well as discusses his world, what he does, and offers some advice on how to stay fit, lean, and keep the weight off just like the stars!
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Get that perfect body ’ with celebrity fitness expert, Dave Hancock
How to get and stay fit and skinny, with celebrity expert, Dave Hancock
I’m super excited for my special guest. He is a performance director, strength coach, and a physical therapist for the stars. He’s worked with probably some of the best sportsmen and sportswomen all over the world. I’ll let him tell you all about it. Please welcome to the Behr Essentials the one and only, my old mate from old Blighty Dave Hancock. Dave, how are you doing?
Dani, how are you doing?
I’m doing good. It’s nice to have you on. Thanks for joining me.
It’s a pleasure.
Are you in the gorgeous state of Connecticut?
I am. It’s home for me now. I’ve moved to the burbs. I was in Manhattan for a period of time and then decided to go to come up in the burbs and get away from the hustle and bustle of New York City.
How long were you in New York? When did you move from England over to the States?
I’ve been here for years. I left Chelsea in 2008 and I was posed to come to the New York Knicks where I was there for a few years and then fell in love with the country and moved over.
Let’s start off with, what is a performance director? What is a strength coach? Most people know what a physical therapist is. Why don’t you tell us about what those mean and what that encompasses?
Performance directors are people, whether you’re from sports science, science in sports, strength coaches, physical therapy, chiropractic, osteopathy and have vast experience in working in elite sport. The positions came about over the last few years to oversee all of the development and performance of athletes in the sport. A lot of teams have a performance director or a couple of performance directors. That’s how it tended to come about, to be more cutting edge. The idea is to give the team a bit more of an edge than only having the traditional athletic trainers, PTs and strength and conditioning coaches. The job title for me at the Knicks, for instance, is I oversaw all of what went on from an injury prevention point of view from a performance point of view from dietary to tracking of data, which is now big in the sport. It’s an all-encompassing role to oversee a bigger department.
When you think about it, you’re dealing with the most skilled and successful sportspeople in the world. Chelsea Football Club, New York Knicks, you’re talking about the top caliber. It doesn’t get better than this as far as the level goes. Your job, when you think about it, it’s so important because of the health and fitness of these players and sportsmen, it’s paramount for them even to have a career. I suppose the question is, “Do the people and the team see it that way or are you part of the entourage partner as it becomes more important as time has gone on?”
No. It’s become a lot more important. Athletes, entertainers and people at the top of the game, they realize if they’re injured, they can’t perform. Whether that’s on stage as a musician or on a movie set as an actor or an athlete on the court or on the pitch or on the mound on the baseball field. If they’re not there to perform at an optimal level, that can be the difference between winning and losing and those are small percentages at the top level. If you lose your best players, teams fail.
There’s a lot of money at stake. This is big business.
It’s a lot of money. The money each year gets more and more.
Knowing how important your role is to make sure that the fitness and the health of these players and entertainers are on track, have they made your role more important over the years? Have you seen that from behind the scenes? Not from the artist and the sportsman cells, but from the cut clubs and the coaches are management. Are people realizing, “This is serious and maintenance is more important than reacting to a problem.” Preventative over reaction area, have you seen that change?
Absolutely, it’s a huge chunk of change. I don’t get affiliated from being employed by one club or organization. I’ve decided that I want the variety in my life and my profession. That’s opened up many doors for me and seeing clients and even being funded by the clients rather than by the teams. These guys now, the top-level are investing their own money in people like me because they see the edge of that. That is even better when you’ve got the athlete on board rather than purely from the organization’s point of view.
Can you name some of these clients? You’re a big celebrity physio here in LA and they come in all the time with all the big stars. Can you name drop a few, so we can give the audience a feel of what level you’re on?
A lot of people I can’t because of HIPAA compliance. Some of them are in public knowledge. Kevin Durant, there was an article in the Wall Street Journal, so I’ve been working with Kevin in LA and we’re back in New York. Odell Beckham Jr. I’m often with for the last few years in LA in the offseason and training with him and his team. There are a couple of athletes. You know about my tours and experiences with you two for the last few years.
He’s being humble, I’m sure. It’s because of the confidentiality that he has to keep shushed as they say. He’s working on about as high level as it gets, so I’ll leave it to your imagination. How does one get into that? Did it happen by accident one day? Were you a kid who wanted to be a footballer like every other British kid out there? Did you ended up getting into this life by default or was this a goal for you from a young age?
I played rugby. I didn’t play football. I played rugby at a reasonable level.
My dad would be happy about that. He’s a huge South African rugby fan.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed for them for the World Cup. They’re looking pretty sharp at the minute. In the UK, I played rugby, got injured and I went to a physio club and he started treating me. I thought, “This is quite cool.” You make people better. You’re involved in sports and I was a bit of a sports bunny as a kid growing up. I used to do all sorts of different sports. Rugby was my key sport. Ever since then I was fourteen, I was like, “This is what I want to do.” I had to study hard and I realized that I needed to get certain grades to get into medical school.
I went to medical school, continue playing rugby, got injured again. While I was injured, an opportunity came up to work in a semi-professional rugby team and I never look back. I was like, “This is exactly what I want to do.” I worked in the hospital I earned my stripes. At the right place at the right time, I kept on applying for different positions and jobs are never gave up. I got my first job up Wolverhampton Wanderers in ’93, ‘94 with Graham Taylor. He was the ex-England manager at the time.
For the audience who doesn’t know the UK sports, that’s soccer. Were they in the Premier League at the time or was that first division?
It was in the championship. They’ve done well and they’re flying high in the premiership. From there, I worked there for 4 or 5 years and learned my trade. I was lucky with the manager that I had and it’s the people around me. I thought I was 23 or 24 and learn the ins and outs of soccer. The club secretary moved to Blackburn Rovers. They came to me and asked me if I wanted to go with them to set up their Youth Academy design, the building and getting involved in the production of their youth players. In UK sport, the athlete is a real asset because not only do you have the performance of the athlete, but they’re worth the money.
It’s different in the US. You pay them a wage and you own their rights. In the UK, you pay their wage, but you own the right to trade them. That trade, if you produce a young soccer player now, who’s any decent, you’re talking $40 million, $50 million, $60 million-plus even over a $100 million for the rights. It’s a big business. I did that for two years and then I was lucky again. I got post again to go to Leeds United which was my big break. They were top-three team in the premiership in 2000. We went on a great run in the Champion’s League to the semifinals. I stayed with the team and built a training facility for them and established myself as the head of the department within the world of soccer.
I had an opportunity to come on up where I got a post to go to Chelsea, where that was the opportunity to win. I saw the difference between nearly winning and winning. I was fortunate enough to be there with José Mourinho’s first time around with the Premier League, the FA Cup, and the Carling Cup. In my last game there was the Champions League final against Manchester United. I experienced a great amount of winning and team spirit and all the things that come when the small nuances are differences between nearly winning and winning
How does that feel when you’re not out there being the player itself? How does it feel being part of the team’s entourage and because the adrenaline and the excitement must definitely run over to everybody that’s involved?
When you’re involved with a team no matter what you are, even if you’re the kit manager, the chef or whoever it would be, you’re involved with the team. It becomes a family. You want to do well for your team. You get paid well, but you don’t get paid anywhere near what the athletes get paid and you’re not purely doing it for the money. There’s more that you do. If you look at the hours that these people work within, the sports and the dedication they give to be in the back room from coaching to performance staff to strengthening and conditioning staff, nutritionists and whoever it would be you want to win. You want to get a ring and you can’t buy that. The one experience is if you speak to anyone who’s worked with the team, that’s one thing that they would cherish the rest of their lives. You could have the best team in the world and be paid the most money, but there’s a big difference between having that team and the team winning. That’s something no one can ever take it back from us.If you lose your best players, your team basically fails. Click To Tweet
Those are memorable moments in your life regardless of anything else. As a performance director with all these amazing top-notch teams around the world, what have you seen change in nutrition and fitness? What are the differences from the last 20 years to the last 10 years and 5 years? What’s the trend and where is it going?
A lot more science has come out. There’s a lot more data in the world of sport from years ago. I remember in soccer, the players use, “Gone on 5-mile runs.” If you said that now to any top football player they’ll look at you as if you’re mad.
Why is that?
They don’t run for 5 miles. They walk and sprint. Technology is giving us that understanding of what they do in a game. This data allows us to get more and more precise information about, what do they do in the game? Therefore, you can train them around their peak performance in the game. You can also look at training load, so you can look at how much someone is training and if they’re overtraining, injury and risk management of the athletes becomes important. You can use this technology in many different ways even in nutrition.
People used to think that you need to eat loads of meat and protein. Science has come out that you can be a vegetarian and be a top-level elite athlete. I remember when we first started, it was steak and eggs before pre-match and there was more bias towards protein and then everyone went to carbohydrates. Everyone’s come back down to different mixtures. There’s a huge change. You look at organic food versus processed food. You’re looking at what athletes are doing and what fuel they put in into the body. The science has enabled us to get those extra edges. That’s why you find that over the years if you look at, for instance, athletics and you look at the distances that people can run, the speed at which they can run, how high they can jump, how far they can jump is improving year-on-year.
People are also being professional in their sport for a lot longer. What was the retirement age back in the heyday? Was it probably in your early 30s?
Yeah. You still got players playing at an elite level like James Milner at Liverpool. James must be 36 or 37, Frank Lampard at Chelsea. These guys can play on until they’re well into the late 30s. It’s the same for instance in the NBA., you got guys who got vets who are able to play that much longer with 10, 15, 16, 17 years of wear and tear on their body because they realized that if they look after themselves and they do the right things, that increase longevity of their careers.
What are we seeing food-wise that the trend is at the moment? It’s gone from all proteins to all carbs to no fat to some fat. The dietary fads change over the years when someone new comes out with a new thing. Is it a great balance of protein carbs and fat? What is the diet fad that everyone’s leaning towards?
Organic is one so that you’re putting something pure into your body. Depending on the sport will depend on the diet.
Give us an example.
For soccer, you need a balance of protein and carbohydrates because carbohydrates are your primary source of fuel. If you don’t put enough carbohydrates in your body, you’re not putting the essential immediate fuel. The fuel is coming from the food. That’s where it comes from when we know that the primary source is carbohydrates and all sorts of different types of sugars, glucose, complex and simple sugars. That’s your immediate source of energy. Once those are depleted you move on to other sources such as fat and protein-based resources for energy, whereas if you are purely performing on the power, you probably don’t need as many carbohydrates. You might lean more towards protein.
I’ve got my own view depending on what you’re trying to do. For the person who’s trying to lose weight or the normal person who wants to exercise, my personal opinion and experiences of food and diet are, as human beings we eat too much. We have got this fat about three meals a day and you have to have this and have to have that. We got caught up into this whole cycle of, “This is what we should do because this is what we’ve always done. This is what our parents told us to do.”
We’re brainwashed from such a young age. If you look at it, you go back to elementary school, kindergarten preschool, it’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Three meals a day, breakfast is the most important part of it. It’s brainwashed in us all over the world from a young age.
Depending on what you want to achieve. If you’ve got young kids, clearly they need the essentials and they need vitamins and minerals to grow and to develop. They need a healthy balanced diet and they need a certain calorie intake to go and play in the field, the garden and go and play their sports. You can adapt the diet depending on what they’re doing for the day. For us, the general population on adults trying to lose weight and trying to get healthier, personally, we eat too much. It’s a massive mindset. The whole thing about training and adaptation and is all to do with the mind and habit. As human beings, our habits change and we can influence the habits, but you’ve got to be strong and how you influence the habits and it’s routine. I see so many people that join a gym. They go to the gym three times a week and then after about 4 or 5 weeks it goes down twice a week and it’s, “I don’t have the time.” It’s an excuse upon excuse. It needs to be a habit and you need to stick to habit and diet and food is exactly the same.
It’s a lifestyle. If you don’t look at it as here’s the time where I’ve got a restrict myself or I’ve got to exert myself and do something I don’t want to do. Already, that mindset is a negative outlook on it. If you kind of tell yourself, “This is how I live my life.” For me, I’ve always worked out. I’ve always done something physical. I started off, wanting to be a dancer when I was young wasn’t that great and I always did sports at schools. For me doing exercises part of my life and it’s not about maintaining weight or getting rid of it. It is the way it is. The best thing to do is to figure out what exercise makes you happy. I hate gyms. Don’t put me in a gym and because I will walk aimlessly around going, “What do I do now?” I love dancing. I’ve been going to these great cardio dance classes and some of them combined strengthening training with weights. It’s finding the exercise that you quite like. There’s something for everyone, right?
I agree. There’s been a massive boom in group exercise. If you take SoulCycle for instance, they’ve had huge success because of that group.
It’s a social event.
It becomes a trendy event, but if you look at how many calories you burn when you do a 45-minute SoulCycle, your calories are up there. Whereas if you took that population and put them in the gym. I bet you 60% would never burn anywhere near those calories and they wouldn’t be as consistent. It’s finding something that you like, but you still have to be consistent with doing what you’re doing. You got to be habitual.
When you’re in a group, there’s something about the pressure of having to keep up and do it and not be lazy and give up. When you’re in that class and you’ve committed to a class whether it’s 25 minutes or an hour. You can’t walk out atypically. You’ve got the surrounding elements, whether it’s the people or the music or the program that keeps you pushing yourself till the end.
These group classes whether it’s a boot camp or its SoulCycle has been fantastic for the general population. Even my athletes go to do some of these classes because you burn calories and that’s what it is, you’re burning the fuel. As long that you’re not then overloading back and thinking, “I’ve got to eat this or do this because I’ve got to replenish what I’ve done.” That’s what athletes do. A lot of times we power too much too many calories in because of the mindset of, “I’ve exercised for 45 minutes. I need to eat.” You don’t. Science tells us stuff that probably the general population doesn’t know. If you’re trying to burn fat, the best time to burn fat and this is a scientific fact, is first thing in the morning. If you eat something in the morning, your glucose levels will go up and your insulin levels will kick in. All of a sudden you’re not burning fat because you’ve taken on board some sugar, some glucose.
Don’t eat and work out first and give it a couple of hours to settle down and eat.
You can eat something of small calories after but generally speaking, you shouldn’t eat and you should exercise first thing in the morning if you want to burn fat. The other thing about burning fat is that you need to sustain the length of time to burn fat. It’s no good going for 20 minutes. You’re not going to burn any fat, but if you’re going to a 60-minute or a 90-minute cardio session you are going to be burning calories and burning fat. It’s getting into this consistent role making sure you’re hydrated but burning fat scientifically first thing in the morning.
For the readers that aren’t as knowledgeable about this industry as you are, when you say burn fat that’s opposed to what? What do most people do?
It’s three different things that you can burn right to create energy. One of them is carbohydrates that come from your liver and from your blood. That’s part of your pasta, sugars, and rice is all contained carbohydrate levels.
It’s all the white stuff that tastes so good.
Also, bread. That is your immediate energy source. The second way to burn is to burn fat. The fat comes in once you’ve depleted your muscle and your blood levels of glucose. If you did an exercise for about 45 to 60 minutes, your energy and carbohydrate levels would be depleted. When you’re an athlete, you have to replenish those carbohydrates, especially if you’re playing two days’ time or the next day. That’s why the diet of an athlete has to be much carbohydrate-based if they’re playing for that period of time whether it’s basketball soccer, whatever you’re doing. If you’re not, then what you do is, if you then think that, “What I need to eat carbs to replenish that I haven’t lost anything.” You’re putting into carbs which go into fat storage and that’s why people get fat.
The average person, not in the US but in the UK and many other countries around the world, obesity is at an all-time high. Do you think people have been given the wrong message this whole time and are doing it wrong and need to be rewired to think this way of, “Don’t eat first. You don’t need to eat to work out.” A lot of people will say, “I need to have a protein shake and I need to eat before I need the energy to be able to work out,” but you’re saying the opposite. Don’t eat workout. Give it a minute. If you’re not a professional athlete don’t go and have a big bowl of pasta because you’ve worked out for an hour. Take it easy as they say.
You need to be hydrated. There’s a difference between eating and being hydrated. The problem is with a lot of these energy drinks Gatorade or Lucozade or wherever you are, they contain sugar. They can contain all the minerals that you need, but it’s sugar. You’re giving yourself a fix to boost yourself to feel better about going into the gym. If your goal is to lose weight, which a lot of people’s goals are, you’re not going to achieve that weight fast, but for me is all about consistency. It’s consistency in what you eat and when you eat. Is it consistent with how you work out? What type of exercises you do? You’ve got to be consistent.There is a difference between nearly winning and winning. Click To Tweet
That lifestyle change of consistency is the key for me. There are so many different views on what you eat what you don’t eat, etc. As long as you’re consistent and you’re smart, whether you do, paleo diet or any other fat diet or you do the 8 to 16 diet, which is you have to eat within eight hours a day, so you can’t eat after that, you’re fasting for sixteen hours. There are these whole sorts of different ideas about fasting and intermittent fasting but consistency. It’s no good if you’re doing it for two weeks and then all of a sudden, “I haven’t had time. I’m going to go back to my normal 2 to 3 meals a day.” The whole thing about this in my personal experiences is, and I’ve seen it drastically change people. In the movie world the actors you have to drastically change someone’s body type to look good on set.
Let’s discuss that because that’s a whole other thing from an athlete which is a slow gradual set them up for a lifelong career. An actor goes from role to role and with each role, they might put on 80 pounds or they might have to lose 80 pounds and you’re talking extremes. How do you get from extremes? What’s the safest way to go about it?
It’s hydration. You need lots of water. You need to look at what intake they’re bringing in, so it’s all about what fuel you’re bringing in and how much you’re burning and how you’re burning that. If we had someone who was fat and we wanted to burn fat, I am giving you an example of what you would do. You would cardio them hell and with fasting in the morning. You might do that for 90 minutes depending on the tolerance, age of the person, whether it’s male or female or the body type. It depends on the individual. That’s one way that you would start to burn fat.
Once you got the fat, then you’ve got to get them lean. There are many different ways that you can affect and growing muscle and specific muscles and rest the muscles. Resting one muscle group, for instance, doing a push a day and doing a pull day the next day or doing a full-body, your upper body, or your lower body. You’re splitting the roles and you’re letting the muscle adapt and hit it hard again. The body will change if you hit its stress and load. The more you load the body the more it will adapt. You have to be then conscious of how much you let the body recover and you have to take into extent age and whether they’ve had any previous injuries. What you would do with a 22 or a 23-year-old actor is not what you’re going to do with a 55-year-old actor.
You need to work out what problems they’ve had and their body types are completely different. Each client is different, but generally, the load is what changes us. It’s how we adapt. If you look about where we came from, it’s apes. We adapted. We adapted from being on all fours to standing upright. We adapted from hunting to being supportive and now the modern-day society, everything’s on tap. That’s a huge problem because I go back to that consistency, there are shortcuts now where you can pick up the phone and order an Uber Eats and bang, there’s your In-N-Out burger.
Convenience, it’s a blessing and a curse.
It is a blessing but for me it’s more of a curse. It’s made us as a human race lazy. To say it’s no different from athletes because they have money and some athletes haven’t got that motivation like the top. The difference between the top-level athletes and other athletes who are both professional, they’re both making a living from it. The super-elite, the Kobe Bryants and people like that, they’ve got something different in their makeup to other athletes in the NBA. That’s what makes them different. They’re consistent and ruthless in what they do, whether that’s training, eating the right way, lifestyle, image, whatever it is. I see that working with the top guys.
There’s a discipline.
There’s a big difference. Everyone’s human and everyone grows and learns but when you see how hard the elites work, compared to how it hogs on the average professional works is there’s a small difference.
Do you think it’s because they’re getting a $100 million more a year? Do you think that’s a bit more of a motivation? That would motivate me.
You could turn around and say, “The guy is getting $50 million. Why isn’t he getting $100 million?” How much motivation? Everyone wants to earn $100 million, but are they willing to put in the work?
That’s true and it’s discipline.
It’s great to get their and great to get to somewhere. How do you stay there? Staying there is a much harder thing to do than having one great season. The top players in the world in any sport get there and they stay there.
That’s based on discipline, mind over matter consistency. Those three things will not only get you there but keep you there is what you’re saying.
Also, it’s to adapt. You’ll find that over these years that they will adapt certain things and they’ll tweak certain things. It’s like running a business. If you run a business and you’re successful within a few years and you go, “We’ve done it.” You’re never going to sit still. You’re going to change something. It’s no different in training your body or playing an elite sport. Every year there will be something that you do slightly different to tweak your regime.
For the average person, for our readers out there who would lose a bit of weight whether it’s a little or a lot maybe change it up, is what you’re saying. Instead of doing the three meals a day and only eating proteins, no fat and no carbs, if that’s not working for you change it up.
If you have medical conditions, you need to seek medical advice. I’d always advise that someone who goes and seeks medical advice before they all starve themselves on some crazy diet. Generally speaking, my view is that we eat too much. Therefore, we’re putting more food and fuel into a body and we’re not burning it and we’re getting lazier. That’s what’s leading to obesity.
It’s simple math. What comes in must come out at some point.
It’s not rocket science. I don’t care what anyone says, it’s fuel. Food is our fuel for our brain and for our muscles and for us to grow. That’s what it is. It’s our fuel for the car. The higher-grade fuel you put in the body, the better the car should be in growing and developing. If you’re putting too much fuel into your body and you’re not burning that off we end up wreaking the effects from a health perspective, wreaking the effects from a body type effectiveness, etc. Does that help? Does that make sense?
It totally makes sense. I hope that’s helped our readers as well and given them some insight into what they can do and how they can make changes in their own lives with their own bodies. For me, it’s always been a state of mind and it’s always been a lifestyle. I don’t bode well with diets or anything like that. For me, if somebody says, “No.” That’s it, that I want to go, “Yes,” because I’m a bit of a rebel and I don’t like rules. For me, I’ve always had the attitude of Monday to Friday I eat sensibly. I eat healthier where I can. On the weekends, if I want pizza, chocolate, burgers, whatever it is. I’ll treat myself, but not for three full meals a day for an entire weekend only a meal and then bring it back again.
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying yourself. The rest of the time you’re clearly disciplined.
Once I put my mind to it, that’s it. I’m good, but I do waver because I do like what I like.
Also, different genetics and different body types people react differently. What works for one doesn’t always work for another. My general view as well about consistency and the group class things like SoulCycle and Barry’s Bootcamp, etc. If you book a class, nine times out of ten you’re going to go because probably going to lose some money. The fact you’ve booked with a personal trainer or you’ve booked this class and if you don’t go you’re going to lose money. That can motivate people. My view is if that does motivate you to use it. Use the fact that, “I booked the classes. I’m going to use it because I’m going to lose money.” No one likes losing money.
Whatever works for you make it happen and stick with it. Moving on from nutrition, food, and weight, how important is it not to be stressed as far as your health and fitness go? I’ve found that I’ve got my weight under control, I’m consistent, I’ve been the same weight for years. For me, the stress of being a single mom with two kids and working two jobs, I feel we’ve got so many things that are so much more convenient to ask in this day and age, but I am more stressed than ever. I feel I’m running out of time. I’ve got more things piling up but I’ve got less time to do it in and I should have more. I feel like stress has been a huge component for me as far as my overall feeling of well-being and I’ve started to meditate and I was the first to go, “What a load of hippie nonsense.”
I was so cynical about meditation and but a friend of mine was like, “You have to calm down. You’ve got a take a minute for yourself, Dani.” She bought me as a gift, subscription to a meditation app called Headspace. I have to tell you I was, “Here we go,” and I started doing it and I’m getting into it. I feel so much calmer because I’m a super hyper person. For me to be calm, it’s never been that ever and I have found meditation to be so helpful and I feel so much better. What was your take on that?
The mind is the most powerful thing. To give you an example, I worked with Phil Jackson at the Knicks. He used meditation with players, this is the NBA. He’s one of the most successful coaches ever. He did it with the Bulls and the Lakers. The idea is, you cleared your mind to go then and focused on the tasks that you need to do. What happens is that things build up in our minds, “I need to do this. I need to do that. What about that? What about this? What about that?” The brain doesn’t slow down, they override. It’s similar to a computer that overrides.
It gets overheated and you get it to turn off and reset it.
That’s exactly what you’re doing when you’re doing any type of meditation right or yoga or even exercise. You can get kicks from endorphins and ketamine, all the hormones that can come about from doing these things to settle your mind so you can come back refreshed. You’re rebooting the computer. What happens is that people don’t know how to reboot. What happens is sleep comes in so they get sleep deprivation. They end up waking up in the middle of the night, “I need to do so and so,” and they get combat sleep and what happens is because we need sleep, which is our biggest hurdle to get over. We need to sleep. You should be having at least eight hours a day of sleep.
100% and if you’re not, you’re not having enough REM and non-REM which are the cycles of sleep to have an effect on the repair of your body and your brain. It’s a cycle that can spin out. That’s why people with anxiety and stress, are people that can become seriously ill because of this one thing. They don’t reboot their computers, which is the brain and this is the most powerful site. What I find in the sports world is the ability the best athletes are the best people I’ve ever worked with have the ability to focus and they switch off and focus on something else. They’re not bothered about the previous 6 or 7 things that have caused them to be anxious because they can’t perform. Like the Nike ad that says, “Just do it.”
Without even thinking about it, they get into a flow of doing stuff. I’m all for meditation. I’m all for finding ways and habits to reduce your stress. That might be a hot bath at night and reading a book. It might be turning off all the lights in your room and lower than the temperature to allow you to sleep more and its sleep is what connects you and allow you to become less anxious because you’re less tired. Also, stress can be increased when you’re tired. The more tired you are the more agitated you become. I’m all for switching off from finding the right time to do whether it’s meditation and or whether it’s yoga or whether it’s some habitual thing that you would do in your life to find, “I like that. That’s my time.” Everyone needs my time, everyone. By doing it you’re refocused, you reboot and you able to be that much more productive. We worry too much about all sorts of things.
I 100% agree and I find myself with what you mentioned. I’m constantly thinking about the other ten things I’ve got to do after the ten things that are in my mind that I’ve got to do. It’s the overload of information and things to do and never switching off. I’ve enjoyed the meditation. I could recommend that to everyone because it’s been helpful for me and I am hard to calm down and switch off. If it works for me, it will work for most people. What is the difference between working with sportsmen and U2 and these big bands that are on tour, going from a place, the travel component, the jet lag, and the rock and roll lifestyle? What are the fundamental differences between working on a big movie set with a big movie star, a big band like U2 and Kevin Durant type NBA player?
For any work, you have to be dedicated to your task. Everyone travels within the realms whether your movie or on tour with a band or you’re in a season with an athlete. There’s always a travel component that sleeps huge for me. I have to get in the consistency of knowing when to sleep and when not to sleep. That’s my biggest barrier because if I’m not in optimum, I can’t deliver what I’m being paid to deliver to make them optimum. Sleep is important for me and I found things, for instance turning my phone off, that’s the classic is you don’t leave your phone on at night. You are covering the little stand by buttons on your TV, lowering the temperature in the room and also getting into the consistency of not watching TV at night. I tend not to try and not watch TV at night because that can stimulate your brain and I get into a consistency to try and get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep. It doesn’t always work. This is not always the ideal world that we live in and we’re working in. Sleep is the biggest thing.
Do you prefer working with sports, the movie stars or the musicians? The readers would love to know what’s more fun. Does it depend on the day and the person?
Sometimes when I’m away on tour or I’m away for a long time and I miss home and I’m I miss my family. I’m like, “Here we go again.” That’s any job that anyone does. At first, it’s exciting and cool and then after a while it’s a problem.
It’s a day job, isn’t it?
It’s a day and night job depending on where you’re working. Sometimes it’s a 24-hour job. It depends on how insomniac the client is.
Especially in the world of music. No doubt after those tours, they’re probably got such an adrenaline rush for being on stage that there is no coming down for quite some time.
The one thing I’d say about all these people who are on top of their game is, they’re dedicated and they work. I came from athletes and I’ve come then to the entertainment world and I thought to myself, “This is going to be a walk in the park.” In fact, there are as dedicated to what they do and prepping for what they do to what the athletes are. You realize that you are a top actor on top of your game and been top of your game for twenty years because this is how you operate. It’s the same for the musicians.
You’re saying the same message throughout, aren’t you?
The fact that they think they’ll only pick up a guitar and sing, forget it. In fact, pick up a script and read the script and you go on them and perform, forget it. It’s long hours of prep. A band would be in rehearsals for 7 to 8 hours for 3 or 4 weeks prior to a tour. An actor would be in prep for months, whether it’s body, acting, voice, whatever it would be prior to doing a movie and then it’s an ongoing thing. It opened my eyes. These guys do 12 to 14-hour day shifts easy. That blew my mind a little bit because I’m used to working with the athletes, but I thought, “This is going to be a piece of piss.” As we say in the UK.
What was the main difference between working with UK teams or people than in the US? What’s the biggest difference you’ve found on each side of the Atlantic or is it similar?
It’s funny different. They don’t get our humor. The irony was difficult. At first, they were like, “What are you talking about?”
“That Dave Hancock does talk a lot of nonsense.”
You try and think that you’re funny and you do you put some irony into a conversation and you’re being real. That first was quite amusing and cultural wise depending on the client that you’re working with. They’re from different backgrounds. Some of them are from rural areas. Some of them are from real hardship upbringings. Understanding the client is still key and that’s one of my strengths that I’ve been able to adapt with whoever I’m working with to understand what makes them tick. How I can influence someone with one person, not necessarily that, I’m going to influence someone else. Generally speaking, I love living here and it’s been fantastic for me and this is what I call home.You can influence your habits. Click To Tweet
It’s the holiday vacation that never ended for me. People always say to me, “Do you think you’ll ever come back?” I’m like, “Why? It’s 75 and sunny. I love it.” Go ahead, Dave.
I was going to say it’s raining in New York. This has come over from the UK because it’s been raining cats and dogs.
You’ll suffer in your live lovely big Connecticut sprawling estate. Before we wrap up could quickly tell the readers about Apollo and your software company.
I took over a software company that was my idea and we work with a number of top-level teams around the world, Manchester United Football Club, LSU football, Washington Nationals. We work with all of the big teams around the world in sports. We’ve developed a youth product. The idea is that we can allow the coach to communicate with the parents. We can allow homework to be sent to the athlete to improve what the coach feels that they need to be improved whether that’s tactical, skill, speed or strength conditioning. I’m now working with a cool team to drive that across the United States.
It’s more of a communication platform, would you say?
More of an assessment tool on youth athletes and we take in what we’ve learned from the pros. I’m driving that information down to youth athletes around no matter what sport you are in.
You’re sharing the technology.
We have a number of professional athletes that are involved with our setup and give us content. The idea is, you might be looking at one athlete that you admire and he’ll be talking to you about how he catches the ball with one hand. It might be another athlete to tell you how he does a Cruyff Turn with a soccer ball.
I’ll trust what that is because I haven’t got a clue. My experience was dating the soccer player not learning all the moves.
You probably learned more in that world than what we do.
Dave, it’s been such a pleasure talking to you. You’ll have to come back and be a regular here on the Behr Essentials because I could talk to you for hours and hours are so many areas to cover. I’d love for you to come back again and we can talk about the whole other areas if that works for you.
It was a pleasure, Dani.
If anybody wants to check out what you’re up to, why don’t you tell everyone where they can find you?
I’m on LinkedIn. I’m not big on social media. I haven’t got the time but my two companies are ATherapy.org, which is my physiotherapy company or ApolloYouth.com or ApolloV2.com. That’s the software company so you can get a hold of me through either one of those company links
You can also email me at LaLaLanded.com and I can forward any questions or any suggestions or anything you have for Dave. For all information and all our future episodes, check us out on social media, Facebook at La La Landed and on Instagram @LaLaLandedPodcast. We’ll be back with some more fabulous guests here on the Behr Essentials. Thank you and a big thank you to the one and only Mr. Dave Hancock. Cheers, Dave.
- Dave Hancock – LinkedIn
- Wall Street Journal – article on Kevin Durant
- LaLa Landed – Facebook
- @LaLaLandedPodcast – Instagram
About Dr. Dave Hancock
Dave Hancock is a performance director, strength coach, and physical therapist who has worked with some of the best coaches and players in the world. These include, Jose Mourinho, Terry Venables, Phil Jackson, Fabio Capello, and Graham Taylor to name but a few.
Dave has been the performance director for the New York Knicks, Head Physio for Chelsea Futbol Club, Leeds United FC, and the England National Team, attending the 2010 World Cup and 2012 European Championships. He has been part of a winning team at Chelsea, winning the Premier League, the FA Cup, the Carling Cup, and going to the finals in the champions league.
He was the first Englishman to switch codes from Soccer to Basketball, working as the performance director for the New York Knicks. He has 22 years experience of working at the highest level of multiple sports and has worked with some of the best coaches and players within world sport.