Built to Move (with Dr. Kelly Starrett)

Today I’m talking to Dr. Kelly Starrett, someone I’ve known for approaching a decade. He’s a New York Times Bestselling author and the mastermind behind The Ready State. Kelly works with pro athletes, world record holders, and championship sports teams, but what he’s REALLY focused on these days is getting the general population moving better and living richer lives. Our conversation covers a range of topics, all relating back to how we as humans can move better for longer.

Kelly’s new book, Built to Move, releases April 4th, and it’s a reflection of his lifelong obsession with learning — and teaching others — movement. You won’t think about training quite the same way after this!

Kelly Starrett on the BarBend Podcast

In this episode of the BarBend Podcast, host David Thomas Tao talks to Kelly Starrett about:

  • How Kelly’s approach has changed since 2014 (when we first met!) (3:00)
  • “Sport has become even more important because it binds communities together” (7:30)
  • Overcompensation and objective measures in lifestyles (12:00)
  • “Do you think you’re REALLY outworking the competition?” and why that’s a flawed approach (17:30)
  • Teams on the cutting edge of sports performance (22:00)
  • Why hiring a team chef is one of the most impactful thing a pro sports team can do (25:00)
  • Creating a super-network of coaching (30:00)

Relevant links and further reading:


The Niners hired a chef full-time in the off-season. Basically, it cost them what a rookie would cost them. Then what ended up happening was you had a whole bunch of 22-year-old millionaires who were like, “Well, I don’t know how to cook, but if I stay around this facility, we have an opportunity to be fed in a really great way.”


Guess what happens when you have teammates sit together and eat together? It really creates a culture of people belonging to each other and feeling safe and feeling connected. That is a force multiplier.


David TaoDavid Tao

Welcome to the “BarBend” podcast, where we talk to the smartest athletes, coaches, and minds from around the world of strength. I’m your host, David Thomas Tao, and this podcast is presented by barbend.com.


Today, I’m talking to an old friend of mine, Dr. Kelly Starrett. He is a multi-time author. He is one of the great minds behind The Ready State. That’s where you can find him on Instagram. The co-author of “Built to Move”, a book launching in April 2023. By the time you listen to this podcast, the book will be almost out or at least available for pre-order.


Dr. Starrett is one of the smartest people in human movement, at least that I know of. He’s worked with world record holders, professional athletes of all types, championship sports teams, but what he’s focused on right now is how to get the general population of human beings moving better, living longer, and feeling great.


Kelly has an immense amount of experience when it comes to coaching. He’s a student of coaching and if you see him in action, you’ll know what I mean. If you’re ever lucky enough to see that. We have a wide-ranging conversation on how his perspective on human movement has changed over the decades, and I’m really excited for you to listen to this one.


He’s one of the folks who got my fitness career, at least my career in the industry launched, and we can all learn a lot from him. Hope you enjoy the episode.


Kelly, it’s been a long time since we’ve sat down. I think you, and I met back in 2014 technically and…


I had hair. That’s how long ago.

David TaoDavid Tao

You had hair. I actually had roughly the same hair. I haven’t gotten a haircut since 2014.


People won’t see this. They’ll just hear the recording, but my hair’s way too long right now. It was after the CrossFit Open announcement in San Francisco…

Oh, yes.

David TaoDavid Tao

 …or around that time.

That was the workout. Just so everyone knows, I gave everyone rhabdo.

David TaoDavid Tao

I’m sure a lot of people called you after that and they were like, “Hey, something’s wrong with me.”

[laughs] Why is it that you forced me to do 10,000 eccentric motions that I had no control over? Yeah, I remembered that. That was very distinct at that moment.

David TaoDavid Tao

The last nine years in the fitness industry, a lot has changed. Some stuff hasn’t changed as quickly as it should. I’m very curious as to if your goals in fitness, in movement, in connecting people with their bodies and empowering them through their bodies, if your goals have changed at all over the last nine years since that time?

It’s a fair question. I think a decade ago, I’m way more obsessed with helping people set world records, helping teams win national championships. I mean, that’s really where…I think it’s because it’s such a rich place in order to understand what’s going on, inputs and outputs.


If we use the allegory of the current state of the affairs on the Internet, if you have an iPhone and a commercial gym, you’re an expert and you can shout down anyone. You don’t have to show any of your work. You don’t have to show any of your associations. You don’t have to show any of your results.


In some ways, the strength conditioning, testing ground of professional sports still is really relevant to us because that’s where we know what we know. E.O. Wilson said the highest calling of science is to try to transform the humanities. I have come to believe that the highest calling of strength conditioning in sport is to actually transform community and transform society.


I believe that more than I ever did before. I think before I was like, “Yeah, your uncle who’s diabetic or so and so like they’re important.”


I didn’t realize that what we were coming up with was a set of values, a set of principles that had been stress tested by some of the gnarliest men and women on the planet working in the most austere conditions and under the most austere environmental loads.


I mean, go ahead and be a professional Olympic lifter. Let me know how that goes for you. [laughs] It’s a gnarly endeavor.


Back then, I think we were still trying to understand inputs and outputs, and we were having…Now, we see a lot of arguing about minutiae, what people would describe as artifacts of scholarship. Hey, the hip is doing this and this arc of range.


Those are important. Those are what we should be arguing about behind closed doors in an ivory tower, in a university, in a biomechanics lab. Until we transform and transmute the lessons we’re learning in strength conditioning…The reason I worked in this last year…Here are my bona fides real quick.


In the last few months, University of California Women’s Water Polo team, the All Blacks, the 49ers, a little team called England National Soccer team, handfuls of pro athletes across the globe, from professional surfers to mountain bikers. I see a lot of dirty laundry.


The point is I’m still testing the theory. Now it’s so much behavior change, not like, “I think this barbell squat is superior to this. You should be doing high pulls instead of trap bar jumps.”


I think we’re really good at getting people big and strong now. Now the conversation is, “How do we take those lessons and transmute them to this next generation, who is facing…” I just saw someone put up an infographic about the testosterone decreases in generations from nanomoles, across from the boomers all the way to Gen Z right now.


I didn’t go further in there. I didn’t do an evaluation, I didn’t [inaudible 06:37] . I don’t know if it’s valid, but it makes me think, “Man, we are adding complexity into systems that are looking for homeostasis.”


We’re adding really complex training variables and stress and best practices on top of people who aren’t sleeping, on top of people who don’t move, on top of people who didn’t grow up playing different sports. I wonder what we’re going to see.


The ACL injury rates in kids under 14, even in high school right now, is unchecked. We’re seeing crazy ACL injury rates. Is that the pandemic? Well, it accelerated during the pandemic. It was already on the rise but accelerated during the pandemic.


If I take your trillion dollar industrial fitness complex and say, “How’s it going? Are we actually doing what we say we’re doing, or are we just getting so hyper-specific for these elite people talking about which neural is ideal on the barbell?”


That’s where I feel we’re losing the opportunity to say, “We need to bring everyone along with us.” That’s a little bit of where my focus has changed.


Maybe that’s because I’m 50, and ultimately I don’t care how much I deadlift anymore. I can deadlift 500 cold, I’m good to go. [laughs] Now I’m interested in can my daughters deadlift. I think this is the conversation.


Sport has become, for me, even more important because it binds communities together. If you watched what happened in San Francisco when the Niners were on their run, people have common cause to talk to each other. Look what happened during the World Cup. Entire countries rally and have common cause.


We see that those elite environments dictate what happens at the lower level, so the All Blacks influence a local club, influence the high school club, influence the junior club.


It’s important that we can help those teens do better so they can do better by all the other people who are using those models. That’s what I’ve come to focus on, less on how much volume do you need to do in that third adaptation phase to what’s going on with how all of this matters to society.

David TaoDavid Tao

We’re almost exactly 10 years out from “Becoming a Supple Leopard”.

Oh, look at you. Next month. Yes, that’s true.

David TaoDavid Tao

I was like, “I think it’s cued up in my head, ‘New York Times’ Best Seller.” You were known in certain fitness communities, and that certainly brought in your appeal.


I realized that because I started seeing it on bookshelves of friends who didn’t do CrossFit, who got it because, “Hey, I read about this in the New York Times. I thought it’d be something that’d be helpful,” etc.


You’ve talked a lot about how your approach and your priorities have changed as far as we’ve had our testing grounds with the elite. How can we make this stuff relevant, accessible to the general population?


Are we doing our job in fitness? You’ve talked about this trillion dollar fitness industrial complex. Are we really doing our job, which is improving that baseline and improving that baseline of societal function? That’s a shift in focus.


I’m curious about your shift in presenting that information. If you could go back in time and you could wave a magic wand and you could edit Becoming a Supple Leopard a little bit and you could change how the information is presented with what you’ve learned over the following 10 years, what are some things you might tweak?

First of all, it doesn’t tell you what to do day-to-day. It doesn’t show you…We don’t talk about non-exercise activity there to decongest your tissues so that you can lift harder. We don’t talk about nutrition benchmarks. We don’t talk about issues like sleep. Those things are just, how does a person fit this in? Why do you need to get so many micronutrients? We don’t talk about protein recommendations and growth.


Some of that is, it’s not my wheelhouse, but I had to become more proficient if I was going to talk about your junky knee tendons, or the fact that you have non-specific little back pain when you lift. I think the real things that I didn’t make clear enough that I would love to make clear enough was…


Some of this was just, we were in a room and it’s already the thickest textbook that no one reads anyway. We had two objectives in there that I should be more clear about. Our objectives measures, irrefutable, our human range of motion.


That’s the range of motion that every physician, orthopedist, every physical therapist, everyone on the planet says, “Your shoulders should do this. This is what human shoulders do.” Somehow, we love in weightlifting to be like “No, no, my hip is so special.”


I’m like, “Well, we looked at thousands of hips, millions of hips, and everyone agreed that the hip should do this much rotation and this much flexion. Does that mean that you can squat ass to grass and keep your back straight?” No, it means you might reverse earlier.


It means you may not be an Olympic lifter, but it does mean that you’re going to have at least 120 to 130 degrees of range of motion. If you show up with 90 degrees of range of motion in your hip flexion, I’m like, “What’s up with that?”


The objectives measurements of range of motion were confusing for people because it was the first time they’d ever seen and expressed in actual exercise, squatting. This is what looks like when you put all this theory together.


The second objective measuring range besides range of motion was, biomotor output. The thing that we cared about the most was not your pain, although we think that that was important. We cared about, could you lift more and handle more volume, and be fresher and ran faster, and have access to your range of motion choices?


Could we give you better movement solutions which ultimately expressed themselves in wattage and poundage, if we restored your native range of motion. The book is really boring. It’s about your shoulder should do this, you should have this much inter-rotation.


If you don’t, maybe that’s why it catapulting the ball off your hip, [laughs] because you’re going around the fact that you can’t pull more as vertically as you’d like to pull. Now, I’m a little bit more saying, “Hey, I really do believe that we need to give people more objective measures in their lifestyles.” I could have made that more clear about what those were.


I think people also saw that I remember having this moment of being like, “Do I have to wait into this mobilization technique?” That was really rich for us. We found that we could put some bands on, we could do some isometrics here, we were dealing with greasily-stick athletes who didn’t respond to static stretching very well.


It just like your foam role on your calf, you clean 500, what did you think was going to happen? Have you seen how the Chinese are walking up and down on each other and that the Thais are walking down?


We needed a different set of tools to addresses this tissue restrictions that weren’t just brain restrictions in our athletes. Simultaneously, I would love to have expanded on all of the critical pain theory that we had in our back pockets, that, yes, pain does not mean you’re injured.


Pain does not mean that you have tissue trauma, pain is request for change, and your nutrition, your sleep, your stress, your safety, all of those things are going to be implicated in how your brain is perceiving what’s going on with your body.


If I could go back, I would have told a better story, but also, here we are 10 years later. I just have a thousand more data points, and a thousand more stories, and a thousand more experiences where I’m like, “I’m just better at my job now. Sorry, I was really sucking at my job when I was 39.”

David TaoDavid Tao

 [laughs] When you were 39 and you were releasing a book that millions of people read and got something out of.

[laughs] That’s right.

David TaoDavid Tao

I’ve seen a lot of very dog-eared copies of that book still floating around, so that’s…


Probably, if we can make it heavier, put a cup on, a scraping tool, a percussion device, then probably we can make it useful.

David TaoDavid Tao

It can double as a sand bag.


We can fill it with pellets. This is all the stuff.

You go it.

David TaoDavid Tao

Also, I know I keep talking about the past, and I do think that it is relevant to talk about what you have learned and how you’re thinking in presentation of information has changed over the past decade.


This is not to harp on the past because that’s where I live, but it’s to talk about a very interesting period in fitness and the exploration of human potential.

For sure. It’s been the Wild West for the last 10 years.

David TaoDavid Tao

What was it specifically, around 2013, ’14, in the CrossFit community? I’m talking about the CrossFit’s community specifically because it was emerging as a sport. Those were in the days when I remember doing 14, we’ll find the open workout with, I think Annie Thorisdottir redid it in your gym at the time, and I did it next to her.


It was this Wild West of, “How much volume can these athletes handle? What is the fitness in the world mean?” We know a lot more 10 years later, and athletes aren’t making the same astronomic leaps and bounds between iterations of the CrossFit games.


David TaoDavid Tao

Athletes were improving by like 15 percent a year under some of these tests.

Everyone snatches 300. What do you mean you can snatch 300? Snatching 300 and running, like what? It’s crazy.

David TaoDavid Tao

 I remember the question back in 2012, ’13, ’14 was, could a CrossFit games athlete snatch 300? Now it’s expected, now it’s not surprising, now it’s like, “You can clean 400 pounds.”

What’s difference 400? We’re seeing 400 existing as a wall like how many people are there. You were right. We’ve stopped seeing the games, but what I think, not to interrupt, but what we’ve seen is the back filling of just holy crap.


People’s abilities to do that and do all these other things have gotten better and better and better. Before you see Sam Dancer pulling six, and he wasn’t necessarily 5′ 6″ [laughs] doing all these other things at the same time, it’s crazy.

David TaoDavid Tao

There’s always the hypothetical if you could take a 10th-place finisher at this year’s CrossFit games, would they be returning in 2013? The answer’s probably yeah. They’d probably kick his ass. Rich if you’re listening to this, friend of the podcast, maybe not. He’s very competitive. You know what I mean?


He always said enough just to stay ahead. I’m curious what that was like for you as both the student and teacher of human movement and the body’s potential? Because it was the beginnings, it was the Wild West.


I’d like to think things have calmed down a little bit now, or at least we understand now where some of those walls are. What about that era, do you look back on fondly? What about that era, do you look back and go, “Oh my God, I can’t believe we were approaching things like that. What were we doing What makes you cringe a little bit to think about?”

It takes a second for a field to evolve. If we use that example, look at the weights that people are putting up right now in an international competition. Shoutout to Kimberly, one of my lifters at Youth Worlds right now.


The next evolution in sports performance is iteration and integration, and doing it better. One of the things that will…I’m working with this, I’m supporting this Cal Berkeley Women’s Water Polo Team. Top-five team, they’re amazing.


One of the things I say to them is, “Do you think you were really at work in the competition? You at work in USC, you’re out working UCLA, you really think so, and Stanford? Everyone’s working just as hard.”


What we have seen is, I think in 2013 early on, there were some people who had more complete programs, people who were paying attention to aerobic base, who were paying attention to better nutritional strategies.


You see someone like Jami Tikkanen, who is Annie’s coach forever, and I would say that he was one of the most sophisticated coaches in the world coaching CrossFit athletes. Not just coaching CrossFit, but that guy, I could’ve dropped him and poured him in anywhere.


That meant that he had processes and access to….He was putting people on Omegawave 10 years ago, looking at heart rate variability as a metric of recovery. Fast forward a little bit now, and we’re seeing that a lot of those differences in resources and sophistication have really normalized.


What we’re beginning to see now is true differences in genetics. We’re starting to see true differences in how long has a person been doing this and what is their ability to adapt to the training.


Again, we’re going to still see this incremental gain the way we do in a lot of sports. Kipchoge broke the two-hour marathon. How long have we been running marathons? Then Kipchoge broke it. We’re going to still continue to see people like Mal O’Brien, who are coming out now in generation, who have some of these pieces in tow and excellent coaching.


We’re going to see what’s possible if we give them enough time and can keep them healthy psychologically. The difference is now and again, with that team, as I say, “Look, you cannot work anyone, but what we can do is out-adapt everyone.” How can we reduce session cost, session to session so that we can keep intensity higher, volume higher?


Even though you and I are both working very hard if my athletes are adapting because we have all of these techniques, and we’re able to take care of the whole person, make that person really robust. They have a family, and they have 401(k), and they can settle down. Like Alex Honnold, we know because of our friendship with Jimmy Chin. Alex Honnold was the guy who climbed the nose.

David TaoDavid Tao

Just to clarify, Alex Honnold is probably the most famous, probably most accomplished free solo climber in history at this point.

He went to Mars. He’s the first [laughs] human being to go to Mars. That’s what he did when he free-soloed El Cap. His routine when he did that was very simple. He lived in his van, he went back. He got into this routine where he wasn’t distracted and he was able to make a lot of work.


Some of what is the complexity now is having to be on social media, having to manage all of these critical relationships so you can feed yourself. What you’re seeing is we’re pulling at athletes in so many different directions.


The more we can simplify these processes, where they feel safe and they’re in a gym and they’re not self-destructing or battling egos, what we’ll find is we’re now at a sophisticated place where we are really starting to get as much as we can out of people.


Now it’s going to come down to who is better competing, and in something like CrossFit, what came out of the brain of Adrian Bozman? Did I happen to be good at that or not? Did that fit my body anthropometry or not? That’s what we’re going to start to see in terms of the differences.


More and more, I work alongside of really excellent sports psychologists. This mindset in performance training around the brain, I’m like, “Oh, I think this is the next frontier.”


I don’t think it’s nutrition anymore. I don’t even think it’s training [laughs] methodologies and modalities, no matter what the Internet…It’s like, “How can we get your brain to show up and believe that you can do this heroic thing in this moment, and how do we get that replicated?” I think that’s the limiting factor.

David TaoDavid Tao

Is there a sport or class of sports or family of sports that you think right now are light years ahead when it comes to helping athletes adapt better to training? I asked this question of David Meltzer a couple of years ago on this podcast.


David, he’s now a motivational speaker. He was a rock-star sports agent for a long time. He was, I think, CEO of the sports agency that the movie “Jerry Maguire” was based on. This guy has worked with everyone.


He mentioned in the ’90s, at the beginning of the Kobe dynasty, walking into the Lakers training facility and being like, “They’re just 10 years ahead of everyone else, so they’re probably going to win a lot of games of basketball. Spoiler alert, they did. They won a lot of games of basketball.


Yet the room, I’ve been in there, their old facility was carpeted and tiny. Everyone caught up.

David TaoDavid Tao

That’s the thing. Everyone caught up. It leveled the playing field, and but for that, they really caught fire for a while there. They had one of the most successful 10-year runs of any NBA franchise, or 12-year runs of an NBA franchise.


Where do you spot that now? Is there a particular — it could be a team, it could be a sport — where you’re like, “Ah, they’re noticeably ahead of the curve and that’s going to pay off in the next few competitive seasons or cycles.”

In my limited experience, remember I probably get to go to more diverse places than the average bear, what I’ll say is that there are pockets across all sports where people are doing it really well. You’re starting to see everyone sort of crib off of each other’s work.


If you look at Premier Football, for example, the nutrition there…One of my friends, Stuart McMillan, who is the CEO of ALTIS track and field, superstar, one of the best coaches on the planet in anything.


The most accomplished Olympic coach I’ve ever heard of, most Olympic medals, athletes, coached Andre De Grasse, just so you know. He went and did a sprinting, some presentations last year. What he did was, everyday he’d be like, “Who served the best lunch? Was it Chelsea? Was it Arsenal?”


What’s happening is there are these nonlinear behaviors where you have teams now feeding their athletes two or three times a day. What we see is much sneakier environmental constraint.


If I set up as a pro team and I have a training table, that means you’re going to get the freshest fruits and vegetables and proteins, the best vitamins and snacks, and nutrition, then I can cross that off my problem list. In a way that other teams may not.


What we’re seeing is that there’s definitely quantum leaps. The Niners last year, again, too many variables to say what makes someone go. Christian McCaffrey is a tremendous, complete athlete, a superstar of understanding his process, understanding his mindset, and it’s not an accident.


The Niners hired a chef full-time in the off-season. It basically cost them what a rookie would cost them. What ended up happening was you had a whole bunch of 22-year-old millionaires who were like, “Well I don’t know how to cook, but if I stay around this facility, we have an opportunity to be fed in a really great way.”


Guess what happens when you have teammates sit together and eat together and, “Hey, we’re here, why don’t we look at this film?” and “We’re here, hey, you want to go lift?” It creates a culture of people belonging to each other and feeling safe and feeling connected. Some of the advances we’re seeing in some of this deep sophistication are people are assembling those fundamental building blocks. That is a force multiplier.


If I use someone like Kate Courtney, who is a local mountain biking World Champion, World Cup winner, Olympian. She has an incredible team that she has assembled. She’s in charge, running the show, but her nutritionist is on point. Her coach is on point.


What you’re seeing is that, people are realizing that everyone needs to have some core competencies. These core competencies are going to overlap. When you have a team looking for blind spots, talking about chronobiology and managing sleep and travel, and all these other aspects, lo and behold, we do start to see that we are pairing down all of the silly noise bullshit.


I don’t think that there’s a particular team, organization, sport. Right now, you’re seeing UFC fighters become very sophisticated about it. You’re seeing some CrossFit athletes and programs becoming very sophisticated.


I would say that there’s a direct correlation between intensity and volume and the need to manage that volume effectively that leads you to a better team. Justin Medeiros, right now has an incredible immaculate team of superstars. He’s a superstar. Everyone believes in the common cause and purpose. It’s really hard to beat that.

David TaoDavid Tao

Interesting. I appreciate you sharing that. How did you plug-in when someone approaches you? It could be a team, like the 49ers, like the New Zealand All Blacks. For those who are not familiar with the rugby world, they are the most dominant national rugby team in history. It’s not even close. They’re the Yankees multiplied by the ’90s Bulls.

I like that. It’s true. That’s exactly what they are.

David TaoDavid Tao


You add some other level of dominance on it and that’s what they are in an international rugby in most years. Someone approaches you, how do you start plugging in to the existing infrastructure that a lot of these high-level teams and athletes to have?

Well the key is to walk in with a huge swagger and just be like “It’s all bullshit I…

David TaoDavid Tao

Be like, “I got to know what’s going on.” I had to walk sideway through the door. That’s how big and smart I am.

[laughs] That’s right. Really a lot of times if someone calls or asks us to come in and say, “We’re having a specific problem,” or “This is a problem we’d like to solve, can you help us solve that?” Very much, sometimes it takes a second to understand what processes are if it’s an individual athlete.


I’m working with a really good surfer right now. That person was getting some weird advice in terms of how should training look like, nutrition. It was like this sport of surfing, which is all you need to do is go watch “Make or Break” on Apple TV. It’s such a good documentary. It’s like 30 for 30. It’s like all or nothing, but it’s all about surfing on Apple. It’s so good.


You can see that we have these pockets of these old sports that are like extreme sports. It doesn’t matter because it’s all good and I’m vibey and it’s cool and I’m just really talented.” Then all of a sudden people are like, “Oh, there’s millions of dollars on the line, I got injured and I’m not doing that again. [laughs] Whatever we were doing.”


Some of it’s coming in and saying, “Hey tell me about what it looks like. Tell me about what your day-to-day looks like. Tell me about the process looks like.” Some of this is one of the things that no young coach can appreciate, and I remember going to a Perform Better dinner at Chris Poyer’s house in Rhode Island. I was the only cross-fitter there. This is like 10 years ago.


I remember being like “Wow, all of these master coaches. They’ve all known each other for 10, 15, 20 years and I don’t know anyone.” I was like, “There’s no shortcut to getting to know someone.” Really, I don’t think people realize how much discussion happens amongst elite coaches. It’s a small world and people are really trying to support each other even though they’re competitors.


There’s a woman named Rachel Balkovec who is the first woman strength and conditioning major league baseball. Became the first hitting coach in major league baseball, is now the first manager in major league baseball for the Yankees. Rachel spends all her free time hanging out with other coaches. “Oh, here is France, Bœrsch. Now I’m going to work here. Now I’m going to go to New Zealand. Now I’m…”


She literally has created this super network for herself where she can support her thinking and growth. One of the most amazing places that turned out to be for her, what she talks about regularly, is going to work with Anson Dorrance of UNC women’s soccer. The most dominant coach in coaching history with the most wins at the most successful program anywhere in the world, this UNC women’s soccer.


If anyone’s listening to this and works with people, go get “The Man Watching”. It’s Anson Dorrance’s biography. The best coaches in the world are hyper-transparent. Rachel shows up and he’s like, “Can I watch practice, coach?” She is just like nobody. She is just like, “Hey I’m just a person who’s a fan.” Of course, her bona fides get her in the door, but she still shows up.


He’s like, “Hey, do you want to come to the weight room?” “Yeah.” “Do you want to come to this pickleball thing?” There’s an intense curiosity going on amongst the best coaches, and that intense curiosity is an attitude of service and an attitude of how can I help. We’re seeing that go across.


When I’m asked to come in, sometimes it’s because we have a relationship or someone knew someone and they know you’re not a dick. You didn’t come in and set fire. It’s really interesting to come in and sometimes I’m like, “W can talk about what the Niners for example.


One of the things we see in the NFL is that, and we’ve done this with Eagles, we’ve done this with other teams, what we see is that no one owns position. We have the strength-conditioning staff who is responsible for the limited time they get with their athletes to change or improve their physiology. We got to get you strong. We got to get you fitter.


We have the rehab staff who is deeply committed to returning athletes to play and managing chronic injuries, who understands movement minimums. Who hey, if an athlete is missing all their internal rotation in their shoulder, where does it show up?


It doesn’t get shown up anywhere until an athlete tears his labrum and then they’re like “Oh, you don’t have any internal rotation.” Then, “OK, now you are healed. Let’s go bench again.” No one’s looking at that. In the last year the Niners really made this commitment to try and understand what was happening for the athlete and also get the athlete to own their 50% of how they moved.


We’re seeing, another example, the English national soccer team pulls in all of these young athletes, who are suddenly pushing the strength-conditioning staff. Really understanding that it’s up to them to own movement minimums and tissue quality and that the system is insufficient to take care of the individual.


The system can create resources, and some systems are better than others, but ultimately we need to do a better job of empowering the athletes and helping these systems integrate so that we can do the one thing which is win.


David TaoDavid Tao


 Kelly, this is a tough question. Normally ask folks like “Oh, where can people find you? Where can they follow up with you?”

You’ve been in the contact game for a long long time.

I’m sorry.

David TaoDavid Tao

I know. You’ve created a lot of resources. This is where I slightly nag you. No, I’m actually joking.


Where are the best places for people to follow along with the Ready State, with your work, with your team’s work because it’s not just Kelly Starrett. it’s the whole village at this point. You talked about superstars supporting superstars. You have superstars supporting you as a superstar. Tell us how to follow-along with that?


The easiest place is at the Ready State. If I could boil everything down, I like working with teams and individual athletes. That’s fun, but really I like coaches. Coaches are my people. I love coaching. I love watching coaches coach. If you’re a good coach, I will sit in the corner and just watch you coach. I’m so into coaching. I don’t know. Really it’s my jam.


What I’ll say is a lot of the resources that we try to create, you may think I’m aiming at a population, but I’m actually helping coaches trying to solve the problems because the coach actually has a finite amount of resources and time. Which means how can I help the coach be better at their job? Which is the fundamental thing we ask.


We go in and I’m like “What problem do you have? How can I help you solve that problem so I can get out of your hair and you can go back to your work? I don’t need to be part of your team forever. I’m going to come in and give you all the tools and then just disappear.”


For example, the app that we have, I think we have got the greatest mobility, whatever that means now, range of motion assessment for you. You don’t need a computer to watch a move. You need to know red, yellow, green. Do I have my minimums covered? Then we do specific programming and follow along.


What we’ve done is we’ve tried to create a resource where athletes can begin a conversation of owning position, can tell their coaches, can tell their strength and conditioning stuff, can tell their performance stuff, rehab stuff. Suddenly, we have this universal through language plus everyone is like “Oh, yeah that’s all in the language of the push-up or hinge or a snatch.”


It’s a universal language. I think where we’ve lost our minds is that the language every athlete speaks is strength and conditioning. That’s the universal language. I’ve taught in every continent except Antarctica. Everyone knows what a deadlift is and everyone talks about the best ways to fuel the person doing deadlifts and cleans.


Science is not it. That’s not the universal language. Math is not the universal language. Math is not the universal language. It’s not music.


I’m telling you it is strength and conditioning and is the way that we can really understand ourselves as a culture. What we’re trying to do is help create that through-line narrative, around how do we understand positions so that we can better serve coaches so that they can get more out of their athletes. The Ready State.

David TaoDavid Tao

Kelly, always a pleasure. Great catching up with you as always.

Hopefully, I’ll see you next week in New York.

David TaoDavid Tao

Hopefully, we’ll give folks a spoiler alert, but appreciate it and follow along with The Ready State. Excited to see what the next 10 years bring. Thanks so much, Kelly.

Amen, you too.