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

What It Means To Be A “Boyle Guy”

“Boyle Guy.” Over the last couple years, I’ve heard this denomination frequently. At times it seems like the descriptor is being used as an insult; other times, simply a statement of reality. Typically, however, the term is used by someone that disagrees with one or more of Mike Boyle’s training ideas (single-leg training is the most common culprit), who is generally dismissive of all ideas stemming from those that agree with Mike about anything. When someone refers to me as a Boyle Guy I’m simultaneously flattered to be associated with Mike and disappointed that the implication is that I (and everyone else) am incapable of free thought. The truth is, I don’t really think people have any idea of what it really means to be a Boyle Guy.

My first introduction to Mike came during an internship I was doing at the University of Delaware. Jason Beaulieu, UD’s Strength and Conditioning Coach, had Functional Strength Coach 1 and let me borrow it. Aside from the information being a wake-up call in general, one of the things that struck me most about hearing him speak was his willingness to admit he was wrong, and to change moving forward. In reality, EVERYONE makes mistakes throughout their career, regardless of what career it is. The overwhelming majority of people, though, aren’t overly competent at admitting when they’ve made a mistake. This may stem from the fact that, at least in our industry, there aren’t many people learning at a rate sufficient enough for them to realize that they’ve even made one (more on this soon). Learning, at a young age, that it’s okay to make mistakes AND it’s okay to change continues to have a profound effect on me today.

Boyle Guy Rule #1: Admit when you’ve made a mistake, and change.

One of the last slides of the 10-DVD set was a list of recommended readings, which included, among others, Shirley Sahrmann’s Diagnosis and Treatment of Movement Impairment Syndromes and Tom Myers’ Anatomy Trains, two books that have heavily influenced the training and rehabilitation communities. I bought every resource on that slide, and read them all the next Summer. Another eye-opener. A few things that really stuck with me were: A) I didn’t know shit about anatomy; B) human movement was significantly more complex than I appreciated, C) studying information from the rehabilitation community provides unique insight into how to prevent injuries via training, D) I didn’t know shit about anatomy, and E) Mike, despite having already accomplished so much, was still digesting new information at a rapid rate in an effort to improve the quality of his programs. This brings us to…

Boyle Guy Rule #2: Know your anatomy.

And…

Boyle Guy Rule #3: Never stop learning.

The knowledge I acquired by watching Functional Strength Coach 1 and reading the resources at the end of the presentation had such a significant impact on my philosophy that I sent Mike a letter to thank him. He replied immediately, and a year later while I was in the area for grad school, he invited me to observe at BU and MBSC. Since that time, he’s taken an immeasurable amount of his time to answer questions I’ve had, both through email and in person. This may seem like a small thing, but it’s not. Mike, at any given time, is juggling 3 full-time jobs, and has NOTHING to gain by helping me (or any of the other countless people that email him everyday!). Interestingly, I’ve had similar experiences with several of the guys that have worked for Mike before moving on to take jobs elsewhere. I have also had the opposite experience. I’ve been “big-timed” on multiple occasions by people that were further along in their careers than I was (or am), and knew they had nothing to gain by our interaction. But, as luck would have it, never by a “Boyle Guy”.

Boyle Guy Rule #4: Pay it forward. Help those that want to learn.

A couple months back, I was fortunate to have an opportunity to work with the US Women’s National Team at the World Championship Tournament in Burlington, VT (thanks entirely to Mike’s recommendation). While I was there, I grabbed dinner with Mike and his wife Cindy one night and the three of us talked for a couple hours on everything from family to hockey to training to career choices. I learned a lot that night; I always do. But when I went back to the hotel afterward, the thing that stuck with me most about everything we talked about was simply how much Mike loved his wife and kids. It was clear that, despite all of his commitments, he was a family first guy. Admittedly, this probably stuck out to me because I’m, well, terrible about balancing my career endeavors with my relationships. If I wasn’t surrounded by such patient people, I may not be surrounded by anyone at all!

Boyle Guy Rule #5: Keep your priorities straight. Relationships are always most important.

Being a Boyle Guy is more than simply acknowledging the downsides, mechanically and neurologically, of bilateral training, or following a concurrent periodization model, or prioritizing injury prevention ahead of performance enhancement; it’s about maintaining the character and humility to constantly learn, develop, and grow, as a professional and as a person. I’ve had (and continue to have) a lot of great mentors, but I can honestly say that I owe my career to Mike. Frankly, I’m lucky to be a Boyle Guy. What a tragedy to not be!

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

P.S. If you haven’t already, check out Mike Boyle’s most recent release, Functional Strength Coach 4!

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  • Ray McCarthy

    Kevin,

    Same here! I get this all the time! I AM PROUD to be a Boyle Guy! You have mentioned many of the great reasons I AM a Boyle Guy. I think the Best thing about MIKE is his willingness to share his knowledge and help those of us in the field that are up and coming. He has gone out of his way to help me and many, many others, I don’t care what anyone calls me really…. but call me a Boyle Guy Anytime, and I am proud of that label. Nice Job on this and I could not agree more strongly..

    Ray McCarthy

  • Great article Kevin!
    I feel the same exact way. The confidence I have in training my hockey players is through the roof because I’m a Boyle & Neeld Guy! The phrase “I am imcapable of free thought” is dead on but when I think about what I read or heard it makes so much sense. I have a lot of ah-ha moments with you two.
    Thanks!
    Rich Tremblay

  • Matt Goodwin

    You mentioned A) and D). I’m also in a similar position. How did you overcome your lack of anatomy knowledge? Was it simply reading on your own? If so, do you have any good anatomy reading recommendations? If not, can you elaborate on what you personally did to become more knowledgeable and confident in the area of anatomy?

  • Great post Kevin. I agree 100% I am a relative newbie in this industry with just 12 years in the trenches. But, Mike Boyle has played a huge part in my career, although he may not be aware of that fact. I respect his knowledge and mostly his desire to admit when wrong and move on as you say. I think as we learn more about the human body, movement, muscles, etc and how it relates to sport and training, you must be willing to admit when you are wrong and change and move forward.

    I have had the pleasure of seeing Mike Boyle at several conferences over the years and the honor of meeting and speaking with him. I always look forward to his lectures and now that I have Functional Strength Coach 4.0 – I can’t wait to dig in.

    Narina Prokosch, RN CPT
    Victoria, B.C. Canada

  • Ray-I think a lot of us have had similar experiences. The more I get to know Mike, the less I understand how he finds time to do everything he does. It’s amazing that he still makes it a priority to respond to random inquiries that funnel in through email and facebook (let alone strengthcoach.com forums!).

  • Richard-I’m honored! Thank you for your continued support.

  • Matt-To qualify that, I passed my college anatomy classes with flying colors. The idea is that anatomy is MUCH deeper than what is taught in undergrad anatomy classes. On top of reading and rereading Anatomy Trains by Thomas Myers, I paid out of pocket to take a Functional Anatomy class as part of Boston University’s DPT program, have read several other books on the topic (including both of Sahrmann’s, and Floyd’s Manual of Structural Kinesiology), and have dove into continuing education courses that rely on a pretty anatomy understanding (e.g. Postural Restoration Institute). I also strongly believe that being able to “see” anatomy with your hands internalizes the information on a whole new level, which is a major reason I enrolled in massage school earlier this year, and went on to take an ART course. I also have a couple cool iphone apps that I peruse through when I have some time to kill to help keep things fresh. Hope this helps.

  • Narina, That’s a great point that I neglected to mention. I think Mike takes some flack for putting out information products as frequently as he does, but your story is exactly why. He’ll be the first to say that you shouldn’t buy his stuff if you don’t think it will help you, and that his products are simply a comprehensive snapshot of what he’s doing with his athletes currently. Many people, like you and I, have benefited greatly from these resources, as it provides an opportunity to be “mentored” by Mike without him really knowing it. Thanks for reaching out and keep up the great work!

  • Grant Elias

    Kevin-
    i so appreciate the information you make available. I feel that learning from a derivative source, or someone who has been directly mentored by Mike Boyle such as yourself, has been of great value to me as an interested to learn, pursuant of educational resource type of trainer. I know what its like to be “big-timed” as well, and you are truly an opposite example of the of this “nothing to gain from unprofitable interaction” type of thought. Thank you for being so accessible, informative, encouraging and informative.

  • Ashley Paulson

    Kevin,
    This is a great article with great advice! I always enjoy reading your articles and Boyle’s! You never stop learning new things when it comes to training and that’s what I absolutely love about it.
    Thank you for sharing this!

  • Kevin great stuff! I can relate on so many levels. I remember mentorship dinner speaking to Cindy. I told her mike helped me become a better person. Mike really does go out of his way to help simply for the joy of it.
    Visited again in 2010 he came in just to talk shop with me. The best thing I have learned from mike is a ” rational productive paranoia ” of never knowing enough!

  • Grant-Thank you so much for the feedback and kind words. It’s hearing from people like you that keeps me motivated to keep writing, even when I’m working 60+ hour weeks.

  • Ashley-Thank you. A lot of great information out there. Just trying to keep up!

  • Chris-I completely agree. Becoming a better coach is important. Becoming a better person, though, is truly special.

  • Mark Knapp

    Kevin,
    I really enjoyed this article. For some reason it seems that for many it is easier to be critical than appreciative. This is a great post and speaks volumes to your integrity. It also shows why you have become a great strength coach and are getting better all the time.
    I’ve enjoyed reading all of your posts. Thanks for putting them out there for all of us to learn from.
    Best,
    Mark Knapp

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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 .