The other day I outlined the approach I take in designing off-season training programs at this time of year (Early Off-Season Hockey Training). To reiterate, this is the time of year to focus on restoration and re-integration, NOT on “performance”. The other thing that most players need a refresher on is nutrition. It seems that “normal” nutrition habits for hockey players has gotten exponentially more abysmal since I played (and it was bad then!).

I got an email a while back from the mom of a player I used to give on-ice lessons to years ago saying that many of the other parents on her son’s team would stop to get their kids donuts and Red Bulls before games! Yes, Red Bull gives you wings. Unless you’re 10, then Red Bull gives you heart palpitations and anxiety attacks. Nothing says teaching proper eating habits like 100% simple sugar and heavy-dose stimulants. What the hell. Give them a Spike. “You know-I just don’t understand why Attention Deficit Disorder has been on the rise in the last 10 years. What about pumping my children full of sugar and stimulants, letting them play technologically advanced video games, and sufficiently ignoring them so they can spend their remaining time listening to music while playing with their iPhones would impair a young developing adolescent’s ability to focus single-mindedly on one task?”


…deep breath…

Anyway, a few minutes ago I was saying something about nutrition. Most youth players have the intention of putting on weight during the off-season. For some, this will come quite naturally. Once they start training hard, they’ll naturally start eating more and the weight piles on. For others, it can be more difficult. Having dealt with dozens of these players over the last couple years, most claim they “eat all the time” and most…well…don’t eat all the time. As I’ve said in the past, if you have the frame of Gumby, you don’t eat enough. It’s that simple.

I don’t know why I can’t put on weight. I eat ALL the time!

What’s less simple is finding a middle ground to help get these players eating more. Many are picky eaters and have a hard time getting in enough calories because of that. The typical recommendations I’d make to someone curious about how to eat better (and more) don’t work in these cases. Almost without exception, though, these players will suck down smoothies once I give them the recipe. There are infinite variations to this, but the idea is still always the same:

  1. Find a flavor combination that the player will like (dare I say…look forward to?)
  2. Mix in healthy ingredients that they can’t taste
  3. Double, triple, or quadruple the recipe based on how emaciated the players frame is (the more dire the weight gain need, the more calories per smoothie and the more smoothies they should drink)

The Recipe
If you know me personally, you know that I don’t count calories and I don’t measure anything. My morning and post-workout smoothies are thrown together haphazardly based on how hungry and/or distracted I am at the time. My friend Brian St. Pierre, however, is much better about giving more “defined” recipes. This is a smoothie recipe that I’ve never gotten any “guff” about. It seems that Brian developed a universally appreciated smoothie recipe.

Brian’s Chocolate Peanut Butter & Banana Smoothie

  • 8 oz unsweetened chocolate almond milk
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tbsp milled flax seeds
  • 1 tbsp cacao nibs
  • 1 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • ice cubes

Nutrition Information: 435 calories, 29 g protein, 18 g fat, 42.5 g carbs, 10 g fiber

This is pretty similar to what my smoothies look like, but I at least double all the ingredients and use whole milk instead of almond milk, and add in what I’d estimate is about 1 cup of frozen mixed berries.

Kevin’s Frankstein Version of Brian’s Chocolate Peanut Butter and Banana Smoothie

  • 16 oz organic whole milk
  • 2 scoops chocolate protein
  • 2 bananas
  • 2 tbsp milled flax seeds
  • 2 tbsp cacao nibs
  • 3 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 1 cup frozen mixed berries

Nutrition Information: >1200 calories, >60 g protein, >36 g fat, > 90 g carbs, > 20 g fiber

Obviously all nutrition facts are just very loose estimations, BUT the point is that most hockey players fail to put on sufficient weight in the off-season because they can’t stomach eating as much food as they need to. If you take my smoothie recipe from above and drink two of them per day on training days and 1 per day on non-training days, on top of eating all the other foods you normally would, that’s another 1,200-2,500 calories per day, packed full of other quality nutrients. so if you want to look less like Gumby and more like this guy, start taking down smoothies for breakfast and after your training sessions.

Good acceleration angle

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

P.S. Tonight is your last chance to save $70 on my Premier Hockey Training Program!

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Kevin Neeld

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This is my favorite time of year. With almost all youth hockey seasons wrapped up here, we’re getting a big influx of hockey players coming into Endeavor to start their off-season training.

This is what I think of as the “early” off-season because the players that are here now will have about a 5-month off-season before they start next year’s pre-season. When designing the early off-season program, it’s important to keep this time-line in mind. Prep players aside, almost all of the youth, junior, and pro players we’ll get this off-season have played 60+ games and practiced 100+ times. College players don’t play quite that many games, but they’re on the ice most days of the week and still have a very long season.

This volume of skating and playing leads to some structural imbalances across the body that need to be addressed. To be overly simplistic, the season results in an exacerbation of Janda’s Upper and Lower Crossed Syndromes.

If you aren’t familiar with these names, you’re probably still familiar with the symptoms. Basically this leads to hockey players being tight through the front of their hips and shoulders, and weak on the opposing side of the body. Hockey players also tend to suffer from tight hip rotators.

These structural adaptations need to be accounted for in early off-season programs in a number of ways.

Early Off-Season Restoration

First, this is the time of year when our static stretching volume is the highest. We need to restore length to shortened structures to restore balance to the relevant joints. We accomplish this by having our players go through two stretching circuits, one before they train and one immediately after. We also encourage certain players to perform the stretches at home if they need the extra work. . With players that train four times per week, we build more mobility and stretching work into their training program in a way that doesn’t interfere/compete with their strength training (e.g. lower body mobility and stretching exercises paired with upper body exercises). We also conclude the training session with 5-minute stretches. Longer-duration stretches have been shown to be effective in adding length to muscles (e.g. adding sarcomeres in series to the muscle). While 5-minutes is lower than the typically recommended stretch duration for this purpose, using it to compliment more frequent short duration stretches has paid dividends with our players.

Our players spend lots of time on these at this time of year.

Early Off-Season Speed Work

Secondly, all of our sprint work is very low volume (6 reps), short distance (10 yards), linear in nature (no lateral starts or transitional movements), and emphasizes deceleration. This comes back to Jim Reeve’s excellent forum posts at a couple weeks back (read them here: Training Programs and Off-Season Conditioning). Because of the players’ shortened hip flexors, longer distance sprinting puts them at a pretty high risk of sustaining a hip flexor strain. Similarly, lateral starting positions emphasize the lateral movement patterns they use on the ice all the time. This is a good thing later in the off-season, but right now we want to DE-emphasize movement patterns similar to skating. Equally as importantly, players don’t need to maximize their speed 5 months out from the season. Again, this is the time for restoration, re-balancing, and reintegration. Sprint complexity and volume will pick up as the off-season progresses.

Where I go for the most current hockey training information

Early Off-Season Conditioning

For this same reasoning, we don’t use slideboards OR shuttle runs for conditioning in the early off-season phase. All of our conditioning is in the form of sled drags. This serves the dual purpose of creating a safe, low speed full hip extension (active hip flexor lengthening) and increases the time under tension for the lower body and hip musculature, which has benefits for muscular hypertrophy, but still also has a considerable metabolic effect as player’s heart rates sky rocket when doing heavy drags.

Early Off-Season Training Volume

Lastly, our overall training volume is quite low. These players just went through an incredibly long and strenuous season, the last thing they need is to jump right into a maximal effort training program. Early off-season programs need to balance active recovery, restoration, and re-integration into more complex training program. With tryouts for youth programs right around the corner, some players are concerned about de-training, which is a somewhat legitimate concern. Given that the players have been on the ice for the last 8 months, it’s unlikely that their skating or on-ice conditioning will suffer to any noticeable amount. In fact, getting out of some of the skating patterns and starting to work on lower body strength again will likely have a positive impact.

The other side of this is the sometimes harsh reality that most coaches have their teams picked before tryouts. Or they at least have an internal ranking of all the potential players that could come to their tryouts with some wiggle room in final roster selections based on who comes to tryouts and who doesn’t. Hockey has changed in this regard over the last 15 years. Having a good tryout is helpful, but most good youth coaches (and especially those at more “elite” levels of youth hockey) take notice of a player’s abilities during the preceding season and make selections that way. In the past, there would be a substantial gap between the end of the season and tryouts so players could re-invent themselves through training and practice and surprise the coach at tryouts. Less than a month between the end of the season and tryouts leaves little time for that now. This isn’t to put a negative spin on the tryout process. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Players should take comfort in knowing that it’s how they play consistently throughout the season that matters most. The situation is a bit different from prep and junior players, but their tryouts are much later so they have a lot more training time to get ready.

Take Home Message

The big take home from this is that off-season training should be a progressive process. Players should not jump immediately into the most intense off-season training possible because their bodies are under-prepared for it. Use the first 4 weeks of the off-season to restore proper posture and balance across the hips and shoulders, and to re-integrate back into a comprehensive, higher volume off-season training program.

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

P.S. Time is running out on your opportunity to save $70 on my Premier Hockey Training Program. Go watch the video and fill out the application today!

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Today is Emily’s 25th birthday. I know, she’s getting old. But we still have a few years before society forces us to buy white sneakers, move to Florida and start eating dinner at 4pm every night. Em, if this is one of the 3 times you read my site every year, Happy Birthday!

Partial nudity aside (he has boots on), let’s get into what’s been going on over at Hockey Strength and Conditioning.

A couple weeks ago at Endeavor, Karl Kurtz (one of our coaches) mentioned he was reading an article and came across a new exercise that may be worth playing with. I played around with it a bit and really like it. I wouldn’t necessarily describe it as a “staple” exercise, but it’s another one to have in your tool box and a great way to add variety for players that have a long training history. Plus, I’m a “new” exercise junkie and am always interested in testing new things and seeing what else is out there, especially when it involves equipment we already have Check out the video at the link below:

Check it out here >> Stiff-Legged Sled Drag

Endeavor’s own David Lasnier wrote an excellent article on supplement recommendations for hockey players. I work with David so I get to benefit from his infinite Canadian wisdom on a daily basis, but this was still a great read. He and I both agree that the overwhelming majority of supplements are crap, and that most companies are marketing-heavy and quality-limited…meaning they’re good at getting you to buy, but not good on delivering on their promises. His article describes the supplements that are actually worth looking into, both in terms of having research-documented benefits and in terms of being safe. I’m looking forward to more stuff from David in the future.

Check it out here >> Supplement Recommendations for Hockey Players

Sean Skahan (from the Anaheim Ducks for those of you that don’t know Sean) did another interview with our “behind the scenes guy” Anthony Renna about post-workout nutrition the training he’s doing with his guys at this point in the season. It’s always enlightening to hear Sean speak, especially about his situation with the Ducks. Pro hockey presents a lot of unique challenges and training at that level has a different emphasis and application than training at lower levels. Sean has done a great job with the Ducks and provides a lot of insight for young coaches like me in this interview.

Check it out here >> Audio Interview with Sean Skahan

Click Here for the best in Hockey Strength and Conditioning

To your continued success,

Kevin Neeld

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This week’s gotten off to a great start. Monday we were empty mid-day at Endeavor so I audibled from our typical mother-approved playlist and let Lil Wayne run wild for an hour. Apparently, it was the right call. Matt, David and I all hit Trap Bar Deadlift PRs…during the same song.




I’ve also gotten a ton of email from players about my “Premier Hockey Training Program” that opened on Monday. Questions comes in a variety of forms, but ultimately what everyone wants to know is:

  1. Is it for me?
  2. Is it worth the money?

With that in mind, let’s answer your questions and see if you’re a good fit for the program.

Is it for me?
I can’t speak for everyone, but the overwhelming majority of the hockey players I’ve met are amongst the most competitive people in the world. In fact, they’re frequently competitive to a fault. Simply, most players fall victim to the more is better approach and suffer some unnecessary injuries in the process. NOTHING will guarantee results like well-directed enthusiasm.

The problem most players have is that they lack the “well-directed” component. Most players just do the same crap that their “expert” friends tell them they should do and completely overlook the fact that training to look better naked and training to play hockey aren’t entirely the same thing (although training for hockey will get you bigger, stronger, faster, and leaner…so it can be the best of both worlds).

Since I first got involved in “coaching” by running clinics while still in high school, I’ve always held the hard working kids in a higher regard. There are lots of skilled players out there, but it’s the players that are willing to put the time and effort into achieving their goals that are going to be successful in the long run, in hockey and in life. Sometimes these players are incredibly skilled, sometime they aren’t (yet), but all of them always improve, because of their work ethic. This is EXACTLY the type of player I’m looking for in my Premier Hockey Training Program.

I don’t care if you were the most skilled or least skilled player on your team last year. If you’re the type of player that takes pride in outworking everyone else on your team, this program is for you.

If you want to train hard AND smart, this program is for you.

Is it worth the money?
To be honest, this is a hard question for me to answer. When I played, I paid for almost all of my own equipment and for a significant portion of my team dues. Money wasn’t exactly abundant, but I would spend every dime I owned on things to make me a better player (and on hockey cards).

If you think investing in your progress is money well spent, then this will be worth the money. Customized training programs are nearly impossible to come by. A lot of so-called “individualized” programs are spit out my computer programs. I’m intrigued by the magical algorithms these programs use, but the bottom line is that it’s not a human writing your program and you have no guarantee that the program was updated anytime recently. The players that get access to high quality training programs at younger ages are at a SUPREME advantage over other players, for the rest of their careers. In consideration of how many players are using programs that are not only unlikely to substantially improve their performance, but are also likely to cause breakdowns and predispose them to injuries, players that are following quality programs have the dual advantage of improved performance and injury resistance.

The internet makes this drastically more available than it was when I was growing up. Imagine the benefits players would have if everyone had Sidney Crosby’s skating coach, for example. This isn’t possible because coaching skating technique is still pretty limited to in-person formats. In contrast, players that have a pretty good grasp on exercise technique can follow a professionally written training program anywhere. Because the program is written based on the equipment availability of the player, there is no guessing your way through exercise replacements when you don’t have the equipment to do what automatically generated programs suggest.

Many of my colleagues have online program design services for in excess of $350/month, and people gladly pay it. I know that many of the applicants for my program will be high school players that have to pay for it themselves, so the cost of my program is less than 1/3 of that.

As for whether it’s worth the money, I guess it depends how much you value your progress. As I said in the video, I back all my training, at Endeavor or online with 100% money back guarantee, so there’s really no risk for you.

Think you’re right for the program? Apply at the link below!

>> Premier Hockey Training Program <<

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

Please enter your first name and email below to sign up for my FREE Athletic Development and Hockey Training Newsletter!

I hope you enjoyed your weekend. A lot of the players we train were in Districts so I went out to watch a few games with David and Matt on Saturday. It was great to get out of the house (and Endeavor) for a few hours to watch the kids play.

Last week I mentioned that I had an important announcement for you today. This is something I’m really excited about because I know it will have a HUGE impact on a few select hockey players’ performance and careers.

Click here to check it out >> Premier Hockey Training Program

I’ve done this in the past with a few players, but have never advertised it publicly because I never had the time to work with more than one or two players. The player’s I’ve worked with in the past have raved about their experience, which brought me to the conclusion that I need to MAKE time to offer this to more players. Enrollment is still limited though, so don’t put this off. Go to the link below and watch the video now.

Click here to check it out >> Premier Hockey Training Program

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

Please enter your first name and email below to sign up for my FREE Athletic Development and Hockey Training Newsletter!