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

Strength Coach Success Secrets: Exclusive Interview with Mike Robertson Part 2

In Part 1, Mike told us about how he got to where he is today, how his athletic history affects his programming, and how he continues to educate himself to stay at the top of the industry.  Read on to hear Mike talk about the importance of networking, the merging of strength and conditioning and physical therapy practices, and some tips on keeping your knees healthy.

KN: How important do you think it is to network with other professionals within (other strength coaches) and outside (athletic trainers, physical therapists, doctors, etc.) our profession?  How did you go about building a team of professionals you can consult with and trust?

MR: It’s hugely important, Kevin.  Quite simply, you can’t be everything to everyone.

I’ve done my best to build a solid-network here in Indianapolis.  In fact, I had worked with at least 10 massage therapists before I found one that I was comfortable referring people to!  After three years I finally have the team I want around me – a solid PT, chiro, massage therapist, surgeon, etc.

As far as building a team goes, I really feel like you need to seek out the best in each respective field.  For me, I went to numerous massage therapists before I found one I liked.  However, doing some research could save you some time as well.  Ask around – who is really good?  Who is doing things similar to you, albeit in a different field?  It takes some time and dedication, but it will make you much more efficient in the long-run.

One last point – always remember that your network is a reflection on you as a coach.  If you refer a client to someone and they are late to appointments, or flat out not that good, it’s a poor reflection on you.  In contrast if you have solid professionals backing you, it takes your game to the next level.

KN: In the last several years there seems to be a merging of information between the strength and conditioning and physical therapy fields.  Do you think this will continue in the future?  What changes do you think will occur (or do you hope to see) in our profession over the next 5-10 years?

MR: I definitely would like to see a continued “blending” off all training mediums.  I hate the fact that people want to make the fields black and white – the PT does therapy, and then they hand the client off to the strength coach, etc.  The more each cog in the wheel understands about the others job, the more seamless the entire training process becomes.

I don’t have any desire to do true physical therapy, but having a greater understanding of their vantage point and methodologies allows me to take my job as a trainer or coach to the next level.

KN: I couldn’t agree more.  It’s a shame that the body’s functions are typically taught and viewed as isolated systems.  I think the more we can blend information among fields and open the lines of communication, the more effective all professionals will be.

It wouldn’t be a Mike Robertson interview if I didn’t ask for some knee tips.  What are three things athletes and lifters should do (and probably aren’t) to improve the health and functioning of their knees?

MR: Unfortunately, like runners and other avid enthusiasts, true lifters tend to be minimalists.  They don’t like to do the stuff that keeps them healthy; they just want to lift!

With that being said, for the average lifter here are three things I would highly recommend.  My apologies if you’ve heard this before!

#1 – Single Leg Work

Whether you’re a powerlifter, Olympic lifter, or just someone who loves to train, single-leg work does a ton of good things for your body.  It reinforces good mobility at the hips.  It improves stability in the frontal and transverse planes.  Basically, even if it doesn’t get you immeasurably stronger they can help keep your lower body healthy, especially the knees.

#2 – Foam Rolling/Mobility Drills

This has been harped on time and again, but I’m still shocked at how many people don’t warm-up, cool-down and recover properly!  Basic foam rolling and mobility drills for the hips, thighs and ankles goes a long way to staying healthy.

#3 – Get the posterior chain stronger

Again, this is harped on from an athletic perspective, but most people in general who hit the iron would be behooved to get their back side stronger.  We already know that athletes who tear their ACL’s tend to be quad dominant, and they are supposed to be “healthier” than the average individual!  Smart training for the glutes and hamstrings balances strength around the hip and knee joints, which is never a bad thing.

KN: Last question.  Knowing what you know now, would you do anything different during your college years?  What advice would you give to an aspiring strength and conditioning professional?

MR: I do my best not to look back – there are always things we wish were different!  However, our past, both good and bad, are what make us the people we are today.

I think the only thing I can honestly say I would’ve done differently was laid a better foundation up front with regards to my movement.  I know so much more now about how the body moves and functions, I feel like I could be even stronger and healthier had I laid that foundation initially.  However, I’m not doing too bad now so there’s really no need to nitpick!

To an aspiring strength coach, I would give the following advice:

Learn everything you can from everyone you can.  Some will be good, some will be bad, but soak it all up.

If you’re going to be really successful in the industry, you have to lay your own foundation.  The better you understand functional anatomy, the better off you’ll be.  Functional anatomy can help you prevent injuries, get stronger, improve athletic performance, the works.  Make it a goal to learn anatomy inside and out and never stop learning.

Finally, you are your best guinea pig.  You absolutely must push yourself in the gym if you want your clients/athletes to respect you.  You don’t have to win bodybuilding shows or powerlifting meets, but if you aren’t working hard yourself, why should your clients or athletes listen to you?

KN: Great advice!  Thanks again for taking the time to do this.  As I’ve mentioned to you before, I think Building the Efficient Athlete (Mike Robertson and Eric Cressey) and the 2008 Indianapolis Performance Enhancement Seminar (Mike Robertson and Bill Hartman) DVDs are must-sees for anyone in the industry.  Where can readers go to find out more information about these and some of your products and services?

MR: No worries Kevin – I’m glad you liked it!

The best place to track me down is at my website, www.RobertsonTrainingSystems.com.  There you can find my blog, my articles, and of course my products.  I’m actually in the process of getting the site re-designed (again), and I think you’ll really like the new look and feel I’m bringing to the table.  Basically, I just want the design to be on par with the content I feel like I’m bringing to the table!

Again, thanks for having me Kevin and I hope you all enjoyed the interview!
Kevin Neeld, BSc, MS, CSCS is the Director of Athletic Development at Endeavor Fitness in Sewell, NJ and the author of Hockey Training University’s “Off-Ice Performance Training Course,” a must-have resource for every hockey program.  Through the application of functional anatomy, biomechanics, and neural control, Kevin specializes in guiding hockey players to optimal health and performance. Kevin developed an incredible ice hockey training membership site packed full of training programs, exercise videos, and articles specific to hockey. For a FREE copy of “Strong Hockey Core Training”, one of the sessions from his course, go to his hockey training website.

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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 spent the last 7 years as the Director of Performance at Endeavor Sports Performance in Pitman, NJ, the last 3 of which he was also the Strength and Conditioning Coach and Manual Therapist for the Philadelphia Flyers Junior Team. Kevin is in his 5th year as a Strength and Conditioning Coach with USA Hockey’s Women’s National Team, and has been an invited speaker at conferences hosted by the NHL, NSCA, and USA Hockey .