A Day In The Life Of A Formula 1 Performance Coach - Michael Italiano
I had the pleasure to ask Daniel Ricciardo's performance coach, Michael Italiano, a few questions about his profession...
I recently had the pleasure to ask Daniel Ricciardo's performance coach, Michael Italiano a few questions about his career and profession. For a bit of an overview, Michael Italiano is a Formula One performance coach for McLaren driver, Daniel Ricciardo. Michael coaches quite a few athletes and specializes in strength and conditioning. Michael's main focus is to improve his client’s lifestyle and on what he can do to improve daily habits and choices as well. He wants every single one of his clients to be the healthiest and happiest with themselves. To learn more about Michael's profession, read on.
Questions and Answers
For anyone who might not know, who are you, where are you from, and what is your profession? "I'm Michael Italiano, I'm the performance coach to McLaren Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo. I am from Australia."
As Daniel Ricciardo’s current trainer, did you ever expect to end up here in this position? And if you didn’t, what did you always want to become?
"Not at all, never thought one bit that I'd be in the position I am in today working in Formula 1. I always wanted and enjoyed training professional athletes however I always thought I would continue that journey within Australia, not on an international level so very proud of that."
I’ve read that before you ever became a performance coach, you dabbled in a couple of jobs, what made you change your mind?
"Yes, correct, I changed because deep down I wasn't happy. My previous jobs weren’t fulfilling or giving me excitement to wake up in the morning and go to work. I decided to pursue a passion and this is where it has led me so far."
When did you make the big step to transition into a performance coach
"In 2015, I began to transform my career and began studying. I haven't looked back ever since."
We all know the saying success doesn’t come overnight, what was the most challenging part of your job when you first started, and what is the most challenging part of your job now?
"The most challenging part was the transition. It was frightening, walking into a new industry with zero clients and trying to convince yourself this was the right thing to do. The most challenging part of my job now is the traveling, being away from loved ones for long periods of time."
When did you meet Daniel, and how did you become his performance coach?
"I met Daniel when I was 13 years old through a mutual friend. I became his performance coach at the beginning of the 2018 Formula One season."
What is a day in your life as Michael Italiano during the Formula 1 season?
"Usually, I start my morning with some exercise and reading because the days at the track are very long and strenuous. Once I'm at the track, it’s pretty much preparing Daniel for the weekend ahead, organizing his food schedule, helmet prep, warm-up, and recovery."
What are your go-to exercises to do with Daniel? And what type of meals do you prep with him?
"Jefferson Curls, great mobility exercise for the spine and hamstrings. Hang, great to decompress the spine and stretch the lats. Push-Ups, they're a great bodyweight exercise that targets all relevant muscles required as a driver. Calf Raises, the drivers’ calves need to be strong to endure the heavy braking loads during a race . Meals usually consist of chicken wraps, sweet potato fries, oatmeal, avocado on toast, chicken stir-fry, rice risotto and for snacks, peanut butter on crackers, popcorn, carrots, and hummus dip."
Read a few kind words Daniel Ricciardo had to say about his trainer Micheal...
How do you get Daniel ready for a race, qualifying, and practice?
"We usually have 60 minutes to warm up. We go through dynamic stretches then a massage, warm up the neck, then a few reaction drills."
How did the Formula 1 world feel like when you first joined?
"Crazy, there’s not another sport like it, not even close. It's so high-paced it's hard to keep up."
What type of exercises do you and Daniel do during the off-season?
"Usually a lot of cardiovascular training to keep him fit, strength training in the gym doing quite a bit of compound lifting."
When Daniel hasn’t been performing how he wants to be, how do you both approach it?
"It depends on why the performance didn’t go to plan, there’s a lot of uncontrollable variables in motorsport which is frustrating. We usually analyze for 24 hours, and then we move all our focus and attention onto the next race."
Do you think there is a misunderstanding around motorsport from other people who don’t understand that it’s a sport?
"From a physically demanding perspective, I definitely think so, and that’s because it’s so hard to relate. No one can just jump into a Formula One car and experience the G-force these athletes experience."
Do you think there is a massive stigma around sports and mental health, especially in Formula 1?
"Yes, you are away from friends and family for most of the year, it's a big sacrifice. Alone in your hotel room a lot, so it can definitely weigh on people's lives for sure and provide mental challenges."
Lastly, do you have any advice for anyone trying to become a performance coach or for anyone trying to follow their dreams?
"Work hard and be open-minded as to where the journey may take you, don't be fixated on a particular path. Enjoy the ride."
A big thank you to Michael Italiano for agreeing to do this question-and-answer interview. If you want to follow Michael's current updates, posts and-so-forth, follow his Instagram, Michael Italiano. And if you are looking for him to be your coach, you can check out his website and blog www.michaelitaliano.com/