Kevin Neeld — Hockey Training, Sports Performance, & Sports Science

Monday Musings

A few random thoughts/resources for you today:

Things You Should Read

Over the last couple weeks I’ve written quite a bit for our Endeavor site. It’s not always easy to come up with content for this site, Endeavor’s site, and Hockey Strength and Conditioning every week, but I do not best not to recycle too much material so everyone gets fresh stuff.

Just….one….more…article idea!

With that said, I think these three posts are worth reading. The first two will help keep the motivation of athletes and coaches high as the new year progresses. The third will dive into some of the misconceptions about ACL injury prevention. Check them out here:

Achieving Athletic Excellence in 2011

Hold Yourself to a Different Standard

The Truth about ACL Injury Prevention

The Devolving Athlete?

Last week I dialed in to catch the second half of a teleseminar that IYCA founder Brian Grasso hosted with Mike Robertson, Eric Cressey, and Will Fleming. I don’t know much about Will, but Mike and Eric have been outstanding resources for me over the last several years. As you know, I speak very highly of their work and have a deep respect for their knowledge and coaching ability. Naturally, it’s always great to hear these guys speak about their philosophies and what they’re doing currently. The call was in regards to a new High School Athlete Certification program that Brian is launching with the IYCA, but there were some important messages discussed throughout. You can listen to the call for free at the link below:

Training High School Athletes Teleseminar

One of the things Eric mentioned toward the end of the call is how athletes today are DEVOLVING. In other words, because of the increased tendency to sit ALL day long and because kids aren’t nearly as active in their spare time as they used to be, their bodies are undergoing structural changes. I agree whole-heartedly with his observation, and this is one of the major reasons why the “this is what I did as a kid, so this is what you should do now” mentality of so many coaches is grossly misguided. Even if our knowledge of training hasn’t changed (which it has, substantially), the ATHLETE absolutely has and the design of our training programs needs to accommodate the differences.

I can’t help but think back to my early anatomy and physiology classes where there were times that I, like most students, got that feeling of “when will I ever need to know this?” Over time I’ve come to appreciate some of the less obvious teachings of those years. For instance, understanding how various soft-tissue structures within the body adapt to different stimuli is not only essential for anticipating changes occuring from everyday living, it’s also essential in order to design training programs to modify these structures. A brilliantly written training program for an athlete 15 years ago, that doesn’t take into account the anterior hip and upper chest restrictions present in the overwhelming majority of the current population will almost inevitably lead to injury (or at the very least, impaired performance). If you’re a student, soak it all up-you’ll be surprised at how much that information helps in the long run.

Training vs. Working Out

With the spawning of the profound idiocy that is Planet Fitness, there seems to be an increasing divide in the perception of training and fitness. Check out this ESPN attempt at a comical portrayal of what you may encounter at your local gym:

Annoying People You Can’t Avoid at Gym

In reality, people go to gyms/training facilities for one of only a handful of reasons:

  1. To feel good about themselves (which may or may not include any actual hard work)
  2. To socialize
  3. To get results

I think it’s important to distinguish between working out, which is the exercise equivalent of spinning your tires with regard to body composition changes, and training, which is progressive and goal-oriented. I realize that people use them interchangeably; apply your definition as you see fit, but recognize the difference in mentality between what I’ve described above. People that “work out” are a combination of health conscious and goal-dreaming. In other words, some are in because their doctors told them they needed to start exercising or they’d subject themselves to a substantial health risk (these people should be commended for at least taking the first step); others are in because they want a different body, but not bad enough to actual set goals and consistently work toward them (the overwhelming majority of people in the gym). Planet Fitness was not so surprisingly left off Men’s Health’s Top 10 Best Gyms in America List (nor would you likely see them on a Top 1000 list).

Look, I COMPLETELY understand that there are populations that are turned off by the typical “meat head” and that PF just isn’t the place for the heavy lifters (Quick Side Story: When I was a grad student at UMass Amherst, I trained an incredible group of five women, mostly faculty at the University, between the ages of 40-60, using complex circuit-based resistance training and interval conditioning. Screams, grunts, and groans were frequent. They used to joke that they wanted to go to Planet Fitness together and try to set off the lunk alarm. Meat heads?). And I’m back… What is outrageously socially irresponsible is having a constant supply of candy at your front desk for members to take for free and hosting bagel and pizza parties every month. C’mon-trying to make your members feel comfortable? Give me a break. Promoting unhealthy foods as a means of “comfort” is one of the underlying reasons why so many people are dangerously overweight as it is.

As a society, we’ve drastically overcomplicated this obesity “epidemic”, and places like Planet Fitness are feeding right into it. In the old days, effort was necessary for survival. Didn’t feeling like moving around to catch or grow food? You died; it’s Darwinism. Nowadays there are so many dietary quick fixes that modern day Darwinism has simply becoming keeping these inevitable diabetics alive via increased health care rates.

But I digress.

The big take home of that rant is that results require goal-setting and effort…and Planet Fitness makes me sick. “Working out” has some merit, but if more people adopted the “training” mentality, we’d have a lot more success stories.

To your success,

-Kevin Neeld

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Kevin Neeld

Kevin Neeld Knows Hockey

Kevin has rapidly established himself as a leader in the field of physical preparation and sports science for ice hockey. He is currently the Head Performance Coach for the Boston Bruins, where he oversees all aspects of designing and implementing the team’s performance training program, as well as monitoring the players’ performance, workload and recovery. Prior to Boston, Kevin spent 2 years as an Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the San Jose Sharks after serving as the Director of Performance at Endeavor Sports Performance in Pitman, NJ. He also spent 5 years as a Strength and Conditioning Coach with USA Hockey’s Women’s Olympic Hockey Team, and has been an invited speaker at conferences hosted by the NHL, NSCA, and USA Hockey.