Brandon McDaniel: LA Dodgers Strength and Conditioning Coach
Training, Nutrition, and Recovery with Brandon in 5 Questions
Brandon McDaniel speaks with the kind of deliberate self-assurance that comes from a decade spent working with both pro baseball players and members of the US military. He’s also an excellent athlete in his own right. While he was a standout shot putter and discus thrower, powerlifter, and football player at his Iowa high school, Brandon’s first love was always the diamond, and his prowess with a bat earned him a scholarship to the University of South Dakota. After the program was discontinued, Brandon transferred to Wayne State, where he played his junior and senior seasons.
Though he realized he wasn’t going to make it to the majors, Brandon decided he still wanted to spend his career in sports. So he built upon his BS in physical education by earning a master’s in human movement from A.T. Still University in Mesa, Arizona. As luck would have it, a close friend clued him in on a job with the Pittsburgh Pirates’ minor league program, and after acing the interview, Brandon was back in baseball as a strength and conditioning coach. During the team’s offseason breaks, he bolstered his experience as an assistant department head at Lifetime Fitness, becoming equally adept at guiding everyday Joe’s as he was at instructing budding pros.
After three years with the Pirates, Brandon accepted a performance specialist position at EXOS (formerly Athletes’ Performance), where he helped Army units at Fort Meade improve their physical preparedness. Brandon deployed a thorough screening process that generated a personalized program for each soldier based on their strengths, limitations, and job requirements and learned how to push them hard enough to be combat-ready without risking injury or burnout. As much as he relished his year at Fort Meade, Brandon yearned to return to baseball. So he took a temporary position with the LA Dodgers, and after demonstrating his acumen, tenacity, and love for the game, was hired full-time in 2012. Just like the young players he was now coaching, Brandon had to prove himself in the minors. He spent a season with the team’s Triple-A affiliate, and was then called up to the big league. Quickly earning a reputation as one of the most innovative strength and conditioning coaches in Major League Baseball, Brandon has enabled the Dodgers to build on 135 years of tradition with cutting-edge methods that have helped the team make the playoffs each season and reach the World Series twice.
Such a record hasn’t just earned Brandon widespread acclaim in pro sports in the US, but also attracted the attention of performance-minded groups further afield. He has traveled all over the world to share his expertise on every aspect of strength and conditioning and is committed to assisting other countries in improving continuing education for coaches. Since 2004, Brandon has served as an advisor to TRIUS, a performance education group based in Seoul, Korea, and has also spent time in Okinawa, Japan, showing athletic trainers, physical therapists, and surgeons how to connect the dots between strength training and injury prevention.
Whether he’s teaching his ground-based training philosophy to pro baseball players, giving back to his craft at home and abroad, or chasing after his sons Caleb and Turner, Brandon portrays the kind of passion and zest for life that makes him a no-brainer addition to our Momentous Performance Engineers team. Check out the video to learn more about his philosophy and practice.
The most two powerful things that I've seen for recovery are the basic ones we take for granted: Don't eat like a child and don't sleep like a teenager.
In this video, you’ll hear Brandon share insights on:
- Balancing short-term and long-term goals
- The value of having a large toolbelt (rather than just using a sledgehammer all the time)
- What sometimes surprises him when he assesses an athlete
- Treading the fine line between risk and reward
- The recovery strategies he’s prioritizing for the Dodgers
- How appearance and performance can mask underlying health issues
- Nutrition and hydration protocols that work in the real world
- Preparing for the rigors of game day with an “alarm phase” of training
- Why recovery is only as good as what we've trained ourselves to recover from
- The critical importance of sleep