Recently, we got the chance to sit down with our Co-Founder, Tom Brady, as he continues to prepare for his 19th season in the NFL. With preseason ramping up, and the home opener on the horizon, Tom has been living the TB12™ Method to the max.
So, we wanted to catch up with him before his Sundays got busier again. In this exclusive interview with TB12, Tom talks playing at 41, long-term success, and of course: pliability.
How does it feel taking the field at age 41?
It’s more fun now than ever. I feel like I understand the game better than I ever have, and I feel like I can be a lot more decisive out there. Especially over the last eight years or so, I’ve developed a much more intuitive sense of my surroundings on the field, and I feel more comfortable out there than ever because I've seen a lot of the same situations before. I’ve also trained hard this off-season to improve my movement and anticipation.
I’ve also begun to treasure the moments a bit more, I think. The reality is, no matter how much you prepare, it can end at any moment with the wrong kind of hit. I guess it’s an interesting position to be in because I can see the end line now, but I still feel like I have a lot to play for, a lot left to do in my career, and a lot left in the tank. It’s motivating to me to finish the right way — by being healthy and playing at a championship level. I’ve had a lot of incredible support over the years, and I’ve been very lucky to play for the best organization for my entire career. We’ve come a long way to get to this point, and doing everything I can to keep that going and continuing to forge into uncharted territory for as long as we can is a big motivator for me. I want to help our team build on the standard we have set over many years. I love this game, and I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to go out and play every day at my age, and I want forge a path for others to do the same — if that’s what they want!
What advice do you have for new players entering the league?
That’s a great question. My good friend once told me, “Well done is better than well said.” Actions speak louder than words, and that is committing to have the determination to get the job done, no matter what it takes. As a new player, you’re given a lot of new information at once, and you only get so many opportunities to show what you’ve got. Your ability to handle that pressure and perform consistently comes down to putting in the work outside of practice to make sure you know exactly what to do and what is expected of you every day. Trust is ultimately what everyone is looking for because it is the foundation of a successful team — we all play better when we can trust the guys around us to execute on exactly what they need to do. You have to earn that every day.
What do you recommend to other athletes who are looking to maximize their longevity?
No matter what stage you’re at in your career, you have to understand what your strengths and weaknesses are, and make sure you’re constantly improving as an athlete. If you love what you do, and are disciplined to make the commitments to keeping yourself healthy, there are no limits. I love watching documentaries about human feats that may seem impossible only to realize how strong our minds and bodies are when we put them to the test. They inspire me to keep pushing. For me, with every decision, I ask myself: is this helping me get better? Because if not, it’s not worth doing.
The decision that has made the biggest impact on my long-term success as an athlete is incorporating daily pliability practices into my routine. Not only that, but every day I become more convinced that pliability is critical to any aspect of longevity — and I include pliability of the mind, body, and spirit in that. Along with discipline and determination, I consider pliability and my work with Alex Guerrero, TB12 Co-Founder and my Body Coach, to be my core differentiator as an athlete. But I didn’t always have that perspective — I started maximizing my longevity by forming one habit at a time, and I built up my approach day by day over time. If you’re just starting out, maybe begin with simple changes, one by one — start by drinking more water, or getting better sleep, or mixing in more healthy plant-based meals. Whatever it is, focus on sticking with it for a couple weeks — long enough to see how much better you feel as a result — and then add something else. It’s all about the determination to make better choices, and the discipline to stick with it every day.
You mentioned pliability…Can you define what that is?
Pliability is the word we use to describe muscles that are long, soft, and primed to contract and relax at the optimal time during activity. As we age, our muscles gradually get more tight, dense, and stiff — especially for athletes — which typically leads to muscle compensation, overload, and eventually injury. Pliability treatments are designed to address and combat that trend, and the kind and degree of pliability work you need depends on the present state of your muscles and body, what strength and conditioning training you’re doing, and your goals.
I’ll give a personal example that should help further illustrate what pliability is and how TB12 Body Coaches approach it at the TB12 Sports Therapy Center. In 2004, I worked with Alex for the first time. I had elbow tendonitis, so Alex did targeted, deep-force muscle work on my forearm, bicep and tricep before and after workouts for the next few days. This lengthened and softened the muscles, which reduced tension on my tendon, dispersed the impact of my throwing motion on my muscles and joints, and helped circulate oxygen-rich blood throughout my body. Within a few days I was moving my elbow freely and, most importantly, throwing without pain (for the first time in my life), which blew me away! Over time, as I continued to do this type of body work with Alex and my understanding of why it works deepened, I came to realize how fundamental pliability is to training, injury prevention, recovery, and overall health, and how much pliability can improve the existing healthcare and athletic training systems. That realization has become the foundation for everything we do at TB12, and I’m excited to share everything I have learned with the world.
How has your approach to maximizing your pliability changed over the years?
The more I worked with Alex and incorporated different practices into my life, the more I could see how much better I felt and how much my performance had improved as a result. Over time, I developed a more nuanced appreciation of pliability and how important it is to the point where, now, it’s much harder not to take care of that aspect of my life than it is to incorporate it. In short, there’s no way I would still be playing without it. The deep bond and trust a between me and Alex is what has made that possible, and that same connection between our clients and TB12 Body Coaches is what we’re working hard to develop and make as accessible as possible to anybody who is willing to make the commitment.
Where does your competitive spirit come from?
I was sort of born into that in many ways. I grew up with three sisters who were all incredible athletes and competitors — my older sister was an Olympian and all three of them earned athletic scholarships — so I was always trying to keep up in both school and athletics. My parents were always very supportive of us, and we all sort of rallied around each other over the years. We all loved to play sports and be around the games, and it just took root in me, little by little, over time. They were much better athletes than I was, and I was always known around town as their little brother, so a lot of it was just me trying to get out of their shadows!
There’s a saying that I've kept close over the years: you can prove ‘em right or you can prove ‘em wrong. I always had a lot of confidence that I'm capable of much more than others might think, and I never lost sight of the fact that every day you have a chance to prove it and get a bit closer to the person you know you can be. I love the process of getting better, the feeling of knowing you've improved — and that’s what I'm chasing on and off the field every day.
What’s next for TB12?
We couldn’t be more excited about what’s coming next for TB12. What we do here at the TB12 Sports Therapy Center has changed my life and vastly extended and improved my career, and I’m excited to share that same kind of experience with as many people as possible. So much of what we’re doing at TB12 is built around that idea of not only trying to recreate the experience I’ve had, but make it more accessible, and tailor it to others in a way that works great for them and their goals. At its most fundamental level, that mission comes down to how well we can train Body Coaches and our ability to give people the best tools and information. We’ve just wrapped up development of our Body Coach Certification program, and we’re excited to start training more TB12 Body Coaches soon. We’re also thinking through locations for our next Sports Therapy Center, and we’ve got some great new products coming out this year that I think everyone will love. Basically, if it’s something I do and have found helpful, we offer it; if it’s not, we don’t. The most important thing to me is that we constantly improve our ability to make a huge impact on the health and lives of everyone who comes through the door, and that they always leave here feeling — and getting — much better than when they came in.
In addition to this interview, the entire TB12 team recently sat down with both TB12 Co-Founders, Tom Brady and Alex Guerrero, for a fireside chat. The recording of that chat is available to all our app clients! In the video, Tom walks us through the origin of TB12, how much pliability has helped him, and what he sees in TB12's future. Click the button below to go right to the fireside chat video in the TB12 Method mobile app: