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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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 an Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach with the San Jose Sharks. Prior to San Jose, Kevin 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 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 .