Our weekly Q&A session continues this week with a spotlight on Pat Etcheberry, one of SportsCouncil’s newest mentors. Etcheberry is renowned in the professional sports world as a fitness coach who has worked with world championship tennis athletes such as Pete Sampras Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Justin Henin and Martina Hingis. His expertise in fitness extends to other sports like golf top golfers in the PGA tour such as Ernie Els, and numerous professionals competing in the NBA, NFL, MLB, and soccer.
SCSV: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us today. To begin, could you please tell us how you got involved in sports and elaborate on your current fitness focus with high profile clients?
Pat Etcheberry: Sure, to begin, I was born in Chile and spent my youth up to my high school graduation there. At the high school level, I competed in both football (soccer) and track and field. In track and field I did compete in the Olympics, Pan American Games and in the South American championships. After high school I completed a degree at the University of Kentucky. At Kentucky I was the head track coach for the men’s team. Additionally, I also served as the head strength coach for men’s and women’s sports. During that period of my career, I helped many student athletes from the school earn NCAA champions. After Kentucky, I was in charge of player development at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
In my long and illustrious career, I have worked with many number one players in the world, both for men’s and women’s sports. I also coached a couple of INDY 500 winners and numerous NFL players such as Jim Harbaugh and Charles Woodson. For NHL, I worked with the New Jersey Devils, and other Stanley Cup winners. For the MLB, I have worked with players such as Francisco Lindor (Cleveland Indians). While I am quite established in professional sports, I also did return at times to the collegiate level, consulting for the University of Virginia men’s tennis team that has won 3 of the last 4 NCAA championships. I also worked as a consultant for USTA player development. In the future I look forward to help athletes, teams and even entire federations to find ways to keep their teams healthy and find a better way to have the athletes to stay healthy and ultimately be successful.
SCSV: What have you learned from working with championship caliber tennis players like for example Agassi and Sampras? What in your opinion made each and every one of them special players?
Pat Etcheberry: They all have high goals and are willing to do whatever it takes. They have a strict followed regiment for everything including how they train, eat, take care of their body and mind. All great performers have rituals they follow that have many things in common. Drive is important but there needs to be a plan to stick to with the end goal in mind.
SCSV: I am sure over the years you have seen and used all kinds of sports and fitness technologies. In your mind, if you could envision the perfect wearable, what would it do? What kind of biometric data would it track? What kind of insights would it provide?
Pat Etcheberry: I am always looking for ways to get my athletes to maximize their results by planning training and recovery. If you can track training and most efficient way to recover, then you have a successful program. How the body functions when it recovers is often overlooked as all too often people are focused solely on active performance.
SCSV: There are a lot of interesting emerging technologies to help prevent injuries, improve recovery and provide better monitoring of an athlete’s health. What are the most interesting technologies that you have come across in our career? What do you hope to see with future technologies? For example, there are wearable devices and sensors that can measure heart rate variability, hydration, electrolyte level and even lactic acid in real time. Is that something you would be interested in trying?
Pat Etcheberry: I do believe in all of the above. I think any “legal” way you can improve performances should be explored.
SCSV: How important is fitness for top athletes especially to improve sports performance?
Pat Etcheberry: As a coach you always look at way to get good results with each athlete. How you train them, how they recover from training, they all have different needs and some can take a harder training load than others. As a coach you have to understand all of that. Some is physical some is mental. As a coach you want to take all of the above in consideration. Different players have different needs and also can handle different levels or types of training, based on prior fitness training and injuries. A player should never lose a match because of conditioning if you prepare properly for your sport and the type of game you play.
SCSV: What is your primary motivation for being a mentor with the SportsCouncil? Discovering emerging technologies? Mentoring sports startups?
Pat Etcheberry: I am interested in all of your ideas. As a coach I am always looking find new ways to improve the performance and overall success of my clients within the sports world.
SCSV: Thank you for taking the time to share a bit about yourself. We really look forward to working with you.