Short Summary:

In this episode of the John Bartolo Show, John mixes things up with a sports guest: the NY Yankees hitting coach, Rachel Balkovec. Rachel tells the story of how she got into Major League Baseball, a male-dominated industry, and how she uses her position now to be a role model and mentor to younger women. 

She and John discuss strength training, what goes into training hitters, and the use of film studies within sports. Rachel also tells listeners about her own training habits and the reasons behind them. She also gets into health and training not only for professional athletes but also for the average person and the importance of starting with small, manageable habits to form long-term consistency and habits. 

At the end, John and Rachel talk firearms and self-defense and what it looks like to train to be a “capable” person.

Long Summary:

In this episode of the John Bartolo Show, John talks with Rachel Balkovec, the NY Yankees hitting coach. Rachel begins by telling listeners about herself and how she got to the great position she is in now. Starting off in strength and conditioning, Rachel decided she wanted to get into professional baseball and soon realized how few females work in Major League Baseball. After interning and working with the Cardinals, then spending three years with the Astros, she studied a second masters degree in biomechanics and statistics. Then, she was hired by the Yankees as their hitting coach. 

Rachel discusses the difficulty of getting into the baseball industry as a woman and tells a story of being rejected for a job specifically because she’s a woman. When she started working with the Yankees, she quickly realized she had two jobs: to be a hitting coach but also to serve as a model for younger women. She also touches on the future and that she can see herself in leadership in the front office, though for now, she is focusing on being a hitting coach. 

Later in the show, John and Rachel talk about strength training, meat heads, and functional training and Rachel explains her own training habits and the reasons behind them. Rachel is a strong believer that our bodies influence our mental states and she discusses health both for the professional athletes she works with as well as the average person. She and John agree on the fact that starting with small, manageable goals helps to form sustainable long-term habits and consistency. 

To wrap up, you’ll hear John and Rachel talk about using film studies in sports to understand movement. They also cover self-defense, the use of firearms, and training to become a “capable” person. At the end of the episode, Rachel gives listeners her social media information as well as her website. 


0:52 – John introduces the guest for today, Rachel Balkovec

1:33 – Rachel talks about how she got to her job as the Yankees hitting coach

6:13 – John asks Rachel if there was one moment where she realized she really could be in that position and she talks about what it’s like as a woman in the industry

10:07 – Rachel tells about her “I can do this” moment and how she was rejected for a job because she is a woman

15:59 – John talks about what’s going on in a person’s brain along a journey

18:31 – John asks Rachel about her gravitation toward strength training and conditioning and what goes into preparing a hitter for the field

22:26 – Rachel talks about coaching hitting mechanics in addition to strength and conditioning

25:45 – Rachel discusses her perspective on weight-lifting and training in her own life

29:19 – Rachel explains nasal breathing and the importance of breathing correctly

33:35 – Women’s common reason to not lift: bulking up

36:42 – Everyone knows what they need to be eating, Rachel is there to help them follow through

40:10 – Starting small, doing basic things, and being consistent to make goals manageable

44:23 – Rachel talks about her future and where she plans to go from here

46:33 – John comments on the importance of film study in sports and asks Rachel about how much time she spends analyzing film

56:07 – Rachel and John talk about specialization, well-rounded training regimens, self-defense, and firearms

1:09:10 – Rachel tells listeners where to find her on social media

Key Quotes:

 “I grew up playing sports and played college softball… But I started out my career in strength and conditioning for the past 10 years.”

“I was fully aware that when I signed the paper, I was signing up for two jobs. And that is to be a hitting coach for the NY Yankees but also to serve as some kind of role model and to be available for young women to be a visible idea for them because that’s important for them to understand that they have opportunities too.” 

“He was super apologetic… ‘We’re not going to hire you because you’re a woman.’”

“The aha moment isn’t ‘I’m gonna be the best in the world.’ The aha moment is ‘Okay, there’s a shred of hope’ and then you can hang onto that.”

“The key in all this is understanding where luck, opportunity, and hard work start to mix and meld together and you figured that out and cracked the code.”

“I think luck is the emergence of preparation and hard work combined with talent.”

“Any high-level athlete will benefit from health.”

“The better your body is in shape, the better off you’re gonna be and the better able you are to recover, which is actually the more important part.”

“I want to train like an athlete because I want to live like an athlete.”

“The human body really dictates more than we realize our mental state.”

“Physical training is paramount to living an optimized life in general no matter who you are.”

“Be consistent with step one and then you can be consistent with step two and you can be consistent with step three and then before you know it… those habits become so strong.”

“I do think that the front office or leadership position in the front office is in my future, but I’m concerned with being a hitting coach first.”

“I hate specialization in any facet… I definitely think we, especially in baseball, specialize too early.”

“You have to prepare to prepare.”


Where to find Rachel:


Instagram: @rachel.balkovec