This is it…the final update for 2010. Things have been pretty slow for the last couple weeks as we all try to dial back the workload to relax and enjoy the holidays with our family. Hopefully you’ve had an opportunity to do the same.

Mike Boyle posted the first phase of a 4 day per week off-season training program without Olympic lifts. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I think looking at another coach’s program provides incredible insight into their training philosophies. This was especially interesting because Coach Boyle is a big proponent of Olympic lifts. Although, as any good coach does, he clearly recognizes that no lift is perfect for every athlete and that certain circumstances warrant making program adjustments. Check out his program at the link below:

Click Here >> 4-Day Summer Phase 1 without Olympic Lifts from Mike Boyle

There are also a few great forum discussions you should check out. Look for these three specifically:

  1. Coconut Water (interesting discussion on a potentially more effective and “natural” replacement for sports drinks)
  2. 1-Leg Squat (discussion on single leg training progressions)
  3. Female ‘Tendies (how to balance performance enhancement and injury prevention in goalies, with a special focus on female players)

Click the link below for more information about Hockey Strength and Conditioning!

Also, I just wanted to send you a final reminder that today is THE LAST DAY to save 25% on all Generation UCAN products. Go to the link below to take advantage of this one-time offer before it’s gone!

>> Generation UCAN <<

To your continued success,

Kevin Neeld

P.S. Remember, it’s only $1 to try for the first week. You will never find more hockey training content anywhere for $1…trust me (I’ve looked!).

P.S.S. I have an important announcement for you tomorrow. Whenever you roll out of bed, come check it out!

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I really enjoyed Michael Boyle’s article on Monday. In case you missed it, check it out here: Becoming the Best and then come back and finish reading this post.

Today’s culture seems to be very much driven by instant satisfaction. This certainly isn’t a bad thing. The advances in technology over the last decade have been exceptional, and lead to profound improvements in our ability to share information. As a result, we have more information at our fingertips than ever before. Louis CK explains…

“How quickly the world owes him something, he knew existed only 10 seconds ago.”

In many ways, this incredible information revolution has also made us very lazy. I don’t mean lazy in the obesity “epidemic” way; I mean that it’s lead some to expect success equally as quickly. Having worked in a teaching setting recently, interacting with interns and young athletes, and emailing back and forth with young aspiring strength and conditioning professionals, this “I want to be the best right now” idea is everywhere. While I whole-heartedly appreciate the enthusiasm, I feel they may be missing the big picture.

This is why I thought Mike Boyle’s article was so insightful. He reinforces that being the best, in anything, takes time, work, and a ton of practice. On a personal note, Eric Cressey has been a great mentor for me. He established himself as a authority in strength and conditioning at a very young age and quickly opened his own training facility, which was something I also wanted to do at the time. On the surface, he appeared to be an “instant success”.

When I met him, Eric was far from an “instant success”. He, even now, reads and studies more than anyone else I know, and is constantly putting what he learns into practice. He finds a way to squeeze 25 hours of progress into every 24 hour day and never slows. Frankly, I’m not convinced that he sleeps every night. Instant success? Pretty far from it.

Undoubtedly, young professionals can expedite their path to success by exposing themselves to and retaining as much QUALITY information as possible. This can come in the form of books, articles, dvds, seminars, talking with colleagues and other professionals, and observation hours. This will begin to provide the foundational knowledge necessary to be successful.

The part you can’t “expedite” is developing the wisdom to know when to use this knowledge. This is only developed through thousands of hours of coaching and controlled “experiments”. As a few examples:

  1. High intensity interval training is hands down the most efficient way to burn fat, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best for everyone. Some people simply aren’t in good enough shape to train at sufficiently high intensity and/or aren’t mentally tough enough to sustain a program built around interval training. The best program in the world isn’t so good if a person can’t sustain it!
  2. Knees collapsing in during squatting, jump landing, or lunging movements is typically the result of a lack of femoral internal rotation control. It can also result from an overpronated foot, which can be related to bone structure or some sort of muscular restriction (e.g. a tight soleus). It’s possible to identify which is the major factor by watching athletes move (and by performing a few simple assessments), but it takes time and practice. Nothing in training is as simple as “If this happens then you need to do this.”
  3. Coaching is more of an art than a science. Experience teaches which athletes need to be “pushed aggressively” and which need to be “encouraged politely”.
  4. There are very few inherently bad exercises and equally few absolutely essential exercises. In most cases, the right exercises need to be applied to the right person at the right times. After all, exercises are only stressors. There is undoubtedly multiple exercises that will serve a similar function, or create a similar stress to the body.

Ultimately, experience develops the wisdom to put information into the appropriate context, to realize that the “perfect program” will be different depending on the coach, the environment, and the athletes. The same can be said for athletic excellent. Many times it will come down to hundreds of hours of QUALITY preparation time (training, practicing skills, studying the game at your level and the next, etc.).

To wrap up, one of the best ways to “become successful” in any field is to find a couple people that have accomplished what you want to, and then develop the same habits they did.

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

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Last week I read a great article from Mike Boyle that I wanted to share with you. While the article is largely oriented to how he became one of the best coaches in strength and conditioning, the theme of this article could be applied to any endeavor (e.g. becoming a great strength coach, becoming a great hockey player, becoming a great employee/manager/boss, etc.)

Check it out:

“It must be New Years resolutions and goal setting time because recently I have received more than a few Facebook messages asking how I got started. Rather than half-ass a quick post I thought I would take a moment to tell a story that might inspire a few of you. I have been lifting weights since around 1973 or 74. Like many my age I started with the York 110 pound set with the wall chart in the basement. My father was a teacher-coach and Hall of Fame football player in college and I was going to be just like him.

To cut to the chase my football career was ended by two serious problems that afflict far too many athletes. Lack of size and lack of talent were two things I just couldn’t overcome. What I did learn was that I had some fast twitch muscle fiber and liked lifting. Lifting kept me sane after giving up football and I pursued athletic training in college. In true Outliers fashion I was lucky enough to have a dorm director named Mike Woicek my first two years of college Mike, for those who don’t know, is the current New England Patriots strength and conditioning coach and the man with the most Super Bowl rings in the history of the NFL. What luck. Another guy at Springfield College at that time was Rusty Jones, current Chicago Bears strength and conditioning coach. Very early on I had great mentors and role models.

I left Springfield College after five years with a Masters degree and took a job at Boston University as an assistant athletic trainer. In the back of my mind, I knew I wanted to be a strength coach. It was 1982 and I was about 185 lbs, soaking wet. I didn’t look like a strength coach and still don’t. After six months of athletic training I took the plunge. I quit my full time, paid job as an athletic trainer and became the volunteer strength coach.  I gave up a salary and benefits for a volunteer job and started my journey. Very few schools even had full-time strength and conditioning coaches at the time. I tended bar 4-5 nights a week to pay the bills and threw myself into the job.

I was a former football player and a competitive powerlifter but I became a “hockey expert” at the urging of the hockey coaches at BU. For those unfamiliar BU is to college hockey what Notre Dame or USC is to college football. I figured hockey out and also figured out that there was no one training professional hockey players in Boston. I had found my niche. I met a hockey agent and talked him into sending me a few minor league clients. I told him no NHL guys. I needed desperate guys that would listen to a “football guy” tell them how to make it to the NHL.  I also started training some high school hockey players because, in truth, I needed the money. That may have been the smartest thing I ever did.

To make a long story shorter, some of my new minor league clients did make the NHL and the Boston Bruins offered me a part time job as their strength and conditioning coach. With a little money from BU and some from the Bruins, I gave up the bar business and was now a full time strength and conditioning coach with two jobs. I worked from 8:30 AM to 11:30 AM with the Bruins and then drove to BU and opened up the weight room at 12. I coached every day at BU from 12-7 with some 6 AM football stuff thrown in during the winter before Bruins practice. I would then either go to a BU game or go back to the old Boston Garden at 7 PM and train the injured players or those who didn’t dress. After the game I would try to coerce a few players to work out. I’d get home about 11 PM. Not a bad day for an eight month season.

At the roughly the same time I began my speaking career by accepting the invitation to speak at everything but the opening of an envelope. Most of my “speaking engagements” were to middle school hockey players in groups of 10-12. Obviously an audience that foreshadowed things to come. Chris Poirier and Perform Better gave me a break when they began their Perform Better clinics. I was one of the first speakers and like any good job, I never left.

I did this for 10 seasons and at the same time found time to leave my full time job at BU and open Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning. We were one of the first for-profit centers opened in the country. As Alwyn and Jason so aptly described in their article The Business, I was rapidly becoming an overnight success one twelve hour day at a time.

The rest is simple. I just kept doing what I was doing. I worked in my business. I put in my 10,000 hours. I coached athletes and I coached coaches. I think the big key is that I took chances and was willing to work long hours. It was not easy. Except for my brief athletic training job at BU ( six months) I did not have a full time job with health insurance until I was thirty years old. I read this quote in a book the other day.

“Most people give up right before the big break comes”

Don’t let that person be you. Keep moving forward. Remember, the big break might be around the corner.”

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

P.S. Mike Boyle’s best project ever?

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I just wanted to take a second to wish you and your families happy holidays and a happy new year!

I hope you enjoy a relaxing weekend. I know I will!

To your continued success,

Kevin Neeld

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About a year ago I started incorporating more breathing exercises into the training programs of our athletes. One of the major goals of these exercises is to facilitate proper diaphragm function.

Chicks dig guys with proper diaphragm function.

Specific to breathing, the diaphragm allows for more complete lung expansion. If you look at the image above, you can see that the diaphragm moving downward and the chest expanding upward and outward both allow for lung expansion. If the diaphragm isn’t functioning correctly (insufficient magnitude or unideal timing of contraction, restricted length or poor positioning, etc.), you can imagine that the body would naturally attempt to compensate by elevating the ribs to a greater extent to allow more room for the lungs to expand and ultimately for oxygen to be inhaled. In this regard, restoring proper diaphragm function can take some stress off of these muscles, which become overworked/stressed as they’re under more constant tension to elevate the rib cage.

The theory is that activating the diaphragm in a controlled environment will translate to improved activation/performance of the muscle in more dynamic situations. This is similar to the concept of activating the glutes during isolated/controlled movements such as glute bridges  or wall march holds with the intention of restoring proper firing patterns during more dynamic movements like doing sprints or deadlifts. While this transfer can be questioned, I don’t see how including these exercises (in either example) can hurt, and believe that teaching the body how to activate specific muscles in a conscious, isolated fashion will improve the likelihood that the muscle will function properly in more integrated situations.

Last week I had an opportunity to watch Sue Falsone’s presentation on the thoracic spine that’s available at Body By Boyle Online (click this link or the image below for more information on the site!).

Sue is the Director of Physical Therapy for Athletes Performance and was the first ever female physical therapist for a major league baseball team (Los Angelas Dodgers). In her presentation, she brought up a great point about the purpose and function of diaphragm breathing exercises.

Check out a sample breathing exercise from my friend Carson Boddicker:

As you know, if there is some limitation in a joint the surrounding muscles will necessarily be affected. Charlie Weingroff talks a lot about this. Joints must have mobility before they can have stability. To expand on that idea slightly, joints must have mobility before the surrounding muscles can function properly. In this regard, Sue mentioned that one of the major purposes of diaphragm breathing exercises is to improve the mobility of the lower ribs. If the lower ribs can’t expand laterally, it’s improbable that the diaphragm will function ideally. Viewed this way, diaphragm breathing is just another mobility exercise, ensuring proper range of motion and giving the surrounding muscles the best opportunity to function optimally.

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

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