Apr 25, 2017Training Mike Trout
This article first appeared in the April 2017 issue of Training & Conditioning.
It’s not every day a high school athletic trainer gets to design a strength and conditioning program for a Major League Baseball player — let alone one of the best in the game. But it’s a part-time gig for Dan Richter, ATC, CES, PES, Athletic Trainer at Millville (N.J.) Senior High School, who’s spent the past seven offseasons training Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim outfielder and two-time American League MVP Mike Trout.
Their partnership began in 2010, after Trout’s second season in the minor leagues. His coaches told him to build strength in the offseason to make the next step to the majors. That’s when the Millville grad turned to Richter, his high school athletic trainer, for help.
In addition to his role at Millville, Richter runs a performance training business and has known Trout for years. “Mike has always been a supreme athlete, so he never really had to be in the weightroom before he got to the MLB,” Richter says. “When he started working with me, it took a while to figure out how his body adapted to different exercises. The first season was a learning process for both of us, but then we built a great rapport.”
Though Trout works with the Angels’ athletic trainers and strength coaches during the season, he prefers to return to his hometown in the winter. After taking a few weeks to rest, Trout starts working with Richter in late November. They train five to six days a week, typically around 9 p.m. to match the time Trout plays on the West Coast.
“We start with a couple of weeks of light workouts as an introduction back into training. Then in December, we start getting serious,” Richter says. “I plan the workouts based on Mike’s needs from week to week, and I mix things up between plyometrics, strength, cardio, and flexibility work because he gets bored easily. The focus is getting his body ready to endure the long baseball season, which means total-body care.”
Because baseball players often go from standing still for extended periods of time to a full sprint, Richter designs workouts for Trout that focus on mental skills and a range of well-trained muscles. “For example, Mike may build endurance by running on the treadmill, and then I’ll have him do a push-up or dead lift with perfect form. That’s where the mental part comes in,” he says. “Or I’ll have him do 10 push-ups and then sprint, mimicking standing in the outfield and then running to make a catch.”
Just as Trout values Richter’s ability to prepare him for the varied demands of baseball, Richter appreciates the challenge of working with an elite athlete. “I have to adapt my training to Mike’s level, and this improves my skills as an athletic trainer,” he says. “I have to think outside the box and come up with new and difficult exercises to make him work harder. Every year, he makes me better, just as I like to think that I make him better.”