Another busy week at Endeavor is in the books. This morning I ran a session at 4:45am because one of our players was flying out to a charity event in Colorado. I’m a little tired, but it’s important to me that I’m supportive of our players, especially when it’s to help a charity!

Speaking of which, my friend Eric Cressey recently did an in-service for his staff on how to address the elbow. He covered everything from functional anatomy, to injuries, to injury mechanisms, to strength training program modifications (basically…everything). Because a few of his staff members couldn’t be there, he filmed the whole thing. The video came out really well and provides a ton of awesome information so Eric decided to sell it to the public for $10. Eric has been one of my go-to resources for the last few years and he continues to be a pioneer in the sports training industry with regards to utilizing an understanding of functional anatomy to implement injury prevention strategies in an athlete’s training program. While the elbow isn’t the sexiest of joints, its function does have significant implications for athletes in all sports.

I’ve watched the video and the content, as is always the case with Eric’s stuff, is excellent. But there’s an added incentive for you to shell out $10 to check it out. Half of the proceeds from all purchases of Eric’s “Everything Elbow” (the alliteration practically sells itself) goes to Kevin Youkilis’ charity Youk’s Kids. Youk’s Kids supports at-risk youth at the Italian Home for Children located in Jamaica Plain, critically ill children at Josh Cares in Kevin’s hometown of Cincinnati, as well as Youk’s Kids own Athletes for Heroes program. I’m always up for supporting charities, even those run by Red Sox players. If you have an undying passion to learn everything you can to better train athletes, a weird affinity for elbows, or just want to show some love for Youk’s Kids, grab a copy of Eric’s Everything Elbow today!

On to this week’s content at Hockey Strength and Conditioning:

Yesterday I added an article on hip assessments for hockey players. The article covers an assessment to screen for an anatomical adaptation that a lot of hockey players seem to possess. This adaptation may or may not have implications for their on-ice game, but always has some sort of effect on their off-ice training. It’s not always feasible to take every player through a thorough assessment, but it’s helpful to have an understanding of these assessments so you can break them out if someone presents with perplexing movement behavior that doesn’t seem to correct with other strategies in your tool box. Check out the article and video at the link below:

Click here to read/watch >> Hockey Hip Assessment: Femoral Ante-/Retro-version

Earlier in the week, Darryl Nelson added a video of a number of posterior chain exercises. All of these exercises I’ve seen in some capacity or another in the past; some I use regularly, others less often. Regardless, the video is an awesome learning tool because it presents a number of options to hit the hamstrings and glutes in both knee- and hip-dominant patterns, and you can hear Darryl coaching in the background. For those of you that train athletes, I think there is a ton of value in hearing how an experienced coach cues his athletes. With Darryl’s experience, and given that he’s also filming, you know he’s only using the cues he knows are most effective. It also provides insight into what movement flaws he’s looking for during the exercise. Similarly, if you’re an athlete, it’s helpful to know how to perform these exercises with proper form. Check out the video at the link below:

Click here to read/watch >> Posterior Chain Variations

Lastly, and I think most excitingly, there’s an awesome forum discussion under the thread “Slideboard”. A bunches of coaches have weighed in on what length of slideboard they use, whether they adjust the length for players of different sizes or goalies, and what they like/dislike about each approach. In discussions like this, I’m not sure anyone is “right” or “wrong”, but it’s interesting to hear everyone’s thoughts. A lot of great minds chipping in.

As always, if you aren’t a member yet, I recommend trying out the site for $1 Hockey Strength and Conditioning for a week. If it’s not the best buck you’ve ever spent , I’ll personally refund you!

To your continued success,

Kevin Neeld

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A couple weeks ago David Lasnier and I drove out to Chicago for Perform Better’s 3-Day Summit. We were both excited for the summit, but we were both equally as excited for the drive. I know some people loathe car rides (Emily averages about 3-6 minutes before she falls asleep…even when she’s driving), but we both love them. Aside from enjoying the luxurious comfort of my ’99 Saturn 4-door family sedan, it gives us an opportunity to talk shop, catch up about life, and finally settle the ongoing battle of who has the highest caffeine tolerance.

I win

A few of the highlights from the trip:


Naturally, it would be impossible for me to recount everything I learned from an event of this magnitude. Below are a few of the more “big picture” take homes:

Success Secrets from Mike Boyle
This was arguably the best talk of the event. As far as I know, this was the first time Boyle told his story publicly. Not exactly the “overnight success” that so many young coaches seem to be chasing (myself included at times!)

  • It’s not a goal until you write it down. Write down your goals, specifically, and great things will happen.
  • Your income is directly proportional to the number of people you help. Help more people achieve their goals, make more money.
  • “Most people give up right before the big break” Keep building positive habits and opportunities will come.
  • Anyone who is excellent in anything gets paid. “This is not about putting in your twenty and getting a pension. It’s about changing people’s lives and leaving a legacy.”
  • During the apprentice years, be prepared to work two jobs and volunteer. Not an easy time, but a great opportunity to develop a lot of experience and hone your coaching skills.
  • Pay it forward. Help as many people as you can. This just comes down to being a good person, but you never know how/when things will come back around for you.

Building Better Athletes from Robert Dos Remedios
First time I heard Coach Dos speak. Awesome presentation and great guy. Inspiration below:

  • “The harder you work, the harder it is to give up.”
  • Don’t allow athletes to bend over. “Don’t show the world you’re tired.”
  • “The will to win is nothing compared to the will to PREPARE”

Anatomy Trains in Training from Thomas Myers
This was the second time I got to see Myers speak in a 3-week time span. Major take homes:

  • All symptoms are patterns
  • 10x as many nerves in fascia as muscles; fascia is an incredible sensory source
  • Experimentation becomes gesture. Gesture becomes habit. Habit becomes posture. Posture becomes structure.
  • Fascia transmits forces; idea of tensegrity.
  • Fascia is elastic and plastic, and typically gets injured as a result of moving too fast.
  • The entire concept of individual muscles is a result of scalpel-driven dissections. Idea that we have 600 muscles is not as accurate as us having 1 muscle in 600 fascial pockets
  • Concentrically loaded structures need manual work along fibers; eccentrically loaded structures need work across fibers.

Evolve or Die from Thomas Plummer
First time I’ve heard any of Plummer’s information. Calling him animated would be a drastic understatement.

  • This is the “results age”. People don’t want features; they want progress
  • People buy expertise, not motivation (we have energy drinks for that).
  • 3,000-8,000 sq ft is an ideal facility space
  • “Up your presentation” If you want to have a premier facility, make it look that way.
  • Facilities should offer 5-6 price points for services scaling from basic to very in-depth.

Barefoot Training from Mark Verstegen
I’ve followed a lot of Mark’s work, but I had never heard him speak. Great presenter (as was the case with most of the presenters I saw).

  • Shoe-wearers demonstrate a progressive narrowing of the anterior portion of the foot and degradation of joint ROM
  • Idea is that modern “stability” shoes lead to decreased proprioceptive input to foot and lower body, which may lead to decreased arch and foot strength
  • 30-75% of runners get injured every year. Knee is most common injury site.
  • Before ANYONE starts barefoot training, they need to demonstrate some basic level of overall fitness and have proper running mechanics
  • Barefoot training will not automatically correct poor movement patterns, but may help expose them.
  • Big take home concept from this presentation was that people shouldn’t blindly dive into switching all of their training over to barefoot or minimalist shoes. Like every aspect of performance training, precautions and progressions are of paramount importance.

The Compliance Solution from John Berardi
Dr. Berardi is another guy whose work I’ve studied for the last 5 years or so. His perspective was refreshing and dedication to continual improvement was inspiring.

  • Take responsibility for client’s results AND compliance
  • Talk to clients in a way that is more likely to make them change (don’t be an asshole; be inspirational)
  • Coach both sides of the brain (Left: Logical, analytical, scientific, etc.; Right: Emotional, artistic, questions reason, etc.)
  • Give 1 habit at a time; make them small, clear daily habits. Compliance drops from 85+% to <35% when moving from 1 to 2 habit assignments.
  • Ask “how confident are you that you can do this habit?” before letting them loose. If they know in advance they can’t do it, adjust to make it easier.

With the caliber of speakers at this event, I knew I’d come away with a few new ideas on how to improve our programs at Endeavor. That said, I learned just as much outside of the presentations as I did in. David and I stayed with Kyle Bangen, the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Michigan Tech, so the three of us spent a lot of time together. On Friday, we grabbed lunch with Coach Boyle and got to catch up a bit about how things are going at BU and MBSC. What really stood out to me is how “famous” Boyle was at this event. It literally took us 30 minutes to walk a couple hundred yards from one end of the conference center to the other because so many people grabbed him along the way. Probably more notable was how genuinely happy Boyle was to see/meet each one of them. Boyle continues to have a huge influence on my career; he’s been a great mentor for me, both in terms of providing current insight into training methodologies and shaping my overall character. I hope to reach a point in my career when I can reminisce about my experiences working at the NHL (still holding out for the Flyers to call) and Olympic levels, and helping other strength coaches do the same.

Me and Coach Boyle in the back of Gray Cook’s talk

About an hour later, David and I were completely tanked and in desperate need of a coffee. Right at that time, Charlie Weingroff walked by with a not-so-inconspicuous ziploc bag full of Red Line, or as he calls it, “liquid courage”. David must have stopped at 4 7-11’s looking for Red Line on that trip with no luck. Charlie must “know a guy”.

Chris Poirier and the PB team hosted a social that night. I spent the majority of the time catching up with Darryl Nelson and Maria Mountain, and I got to meet fellow-hockey strength and conditioning coach Anthony Donskov. I told Chris later that it was cool that the event was so-well attended that we could have a mini hockey-specific mastermind there. It was interesting to learn that we all had very few differences philosophically. The major differences in execution came down to what we were able to implement logistically in our setting, which is what we spent the majority of the time talking about. If I had an opportunity to redesign our facility from scratch I would knock down a few walls to ensure complete visibility. A huge design mistake that is a constant consideration in how we design programs and structure the flow throughout the facility.

After the social we went back to our hotel…slash water park. A view from our room balcony:

Our hotel pool had a moat around it

The next day was awesome. David, Kyle, and I had another “hockey training meeting” at lunch with Maria Mountain and Anthony Donskov. I wish I would have recorded this lunch. A lot of great ideas thrown around from really bright people. Before the day wrapped up I got a chance to catch up a bit with John Berardi. I’ve been following John’s work for several years now, and still believe that his book Precision Nutrition is a must own for athletes and non-athletes alike. The results John showed from his online training clients were pretty remarkable, and as I mentioned above, his realization that a lack of information isn’t as much of a problem as us relying on a poor delivery vehicle for this information is dead on. We talked about the idea of putting together a “dripped” information system so that our athletes could receive nutritional habits based on their body composition goals to focus on every couple weeks with a few tips in between on how to implement or stay on track with the habit. Ultimately I think this is the direction we’ll go with our athletes; it’s just a matter of whether I’ll wait for him to design the product or if I’ll team up with someone to do it myself.

I don’t remember when, but at some point I caught up with Gray Cook and Brett Jones in the lobby. Both of these guys were awesome to talk to. Most of our hockey players have really jacked up feet, so I was looking for some insight from Brett on when he does and doesn’t recommend orthotics. We have an inordinate number of hockey players that present with flat feet and I’m not at all convinced that it’s a purely structural problem. I am, however, convinced that foot alignment and control is of paramount importance in human performance, even in hockey players. Ultimately I think I’ll end up paying Charlie to do an in service for our staff on the issue because he seems to have a better hold on it than anyone else I’ve talked to, but until then I’m still searching for answers elsewhere and Gray and Brett are as bright as they come.

Because we had a 14 hour drive home and we lost an hour with the time zone change, David and I decided we were going to leave first thing Sunday morning. And while I came for training information, I wasn’t going to leave Chicago without a slice of authentic deep dish pizza.


Most filling pizza ever

If you’ve been on the fence about attending one of the Perform Better Summits in the past, I highly encourage you to take the plunge next year. The presenters are world class, there is a lot of really bright attendees and they’re just generally fun. Hopefully I’ll see you there next year!

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

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When I was a Bantam (13 y/o), I played for a coach that emphasized that we always keep our feet moving. The second we stepped on the ice, we were supposed to buzz around constantly. The goal was to force a high tempo; it worked. At that level, our team was extremely fast and the strategy of constant movement was overwhelming for other teams.

Unfortunately, this strategy does not work at higher levels. Speed kills and tenacity intimidates, but constant high speed movement is inefficient. At any given level of conditioning capacity, a player can improve his/her level of expressed conditioning by learning how to conserve energy on the ice.

Think about it this way: The goal is rarely to skate as fast as possible at any given moment on the ice. Instead, the goal is to skate just fast enough to win possession of the puck or positioning relative to an opponent. Sometimes this requires all-out efforts. Sometimes it does not. In every case, a player can improve his/her ability to win the race or gain optimal positioning by reading the play faster than their opponent.

Hockey conditioning comes down to preparing the body to delay fatigue to the greatest extent possible. In my setting, conditioning is mostly a preparatory effort. In other words, the idea is to pre-emptively overload the body and allow recovery time so that it is well-prepared for the rigors of the game. In reality, there is also a strategic component to conditioning that most players are never taught.

Off-ice conditioning is important, but only part of the equation

When a player hops on the ice and goes all out for the entire shift, they rely on a metabolic process known to have a longer recovery time and lead to impaired future performance. In contrast, if a player becomes an expert at alternating periods of near all-out efforts with periods of strategic gliding and repositioning, the shift is transformed from a 30-45s interval to something more like 8 x 2-3s/6s. In other words, the player skates all out for 2-3s, then strategically glides/rests/repositions for 6s, 8 times throughout the shift. This allows for less fatigue accumulation and a more prolonged maintenance of near-peak performance.

Naturally, hockey isn’t nearly this regimented. The game is chaotic in nature. However, players can adopt this strategy based on the demands of any given shift to help build in recovery intervals on the ice. To be clear, the message here isn’t to “loaf” on the ice. Certain shifts will mandate constant motion at maximal efforts. However, not all shifts do, and it’s important for players (especially at higher levels) to learn to read the game so they can position themselves properly to conserve energy without impairing performance.

One of my favorite players of all time. Known for being a student of the game.

In the training world, we measure performance through things like time to move a given distance (speed and conditioning) and weight lifted. On the ice, all that matters is goals for and goals against. There are ways to maximize objective on-ice outcomes, while strategically conserving energy. Become a student of the game. Learn to anticipate play development. Develop the habit of creating time and space. More optimal on-ice positioning leads to shorter races to the puck and/or open areas on the ice, leading to less fatigue accumulation and more desirable hockey-specific outcomes (e.g. goals scored or prevented). Conditioning isn’t just a physiological state of being; it’s also a playing style-specific strategy. Maximize both and optimize your on-ice performance.

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

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I’m really looking forward to this weekend. After I wrap everything up at Endeavor for the day I’m heading into NYC to attend Joe Dowdell and Mike Roussell’s Peak Training and Diet Design Seminar. Hopefully I’ll see you there! After 6 consecutive weekends of seminars/home study courses with one wedding mixed in, I’m looking forward to having a month or so to kick it in Philadelphia with Emily and/or make a beach trip for the first time this Summer.

Caribbean water…quickly becoming a distant memory

This has been a cool week at Things got started with Kyle Bangen and Anthony Renna posting two awesome videos on the forums: one video interview with Steven Stamkos on his off-season training (he has his head on straight), and one comedic look at why the Rangers are always a disappointment (great for everyone that isn’t a Rangers fan).

Mike Potenza added a video interview with Power Skating Coach Cathy Andrade. I don’t know anything about Cathy, but the power skating strategies and teaching cues she mentions are very familiar. I like the idea Mike had here. It’s extremely helpful to hear what quality professionals in other aspects of hockey development are teaching players, so that we can send a consistent message and/or become more synchronous in our terminology. Cathy may have a sound background in exercise science, but I suspect she doesn’t. Yet, when describing ideal skating postures, she uses some terminology very similar to what I would. She gives a lot of good tips for young skaters that also serve as reminders for more experienced players. Hopefully we can get more of this type of information up on the site in the future. Check out the video at the link below:

Click here to watch >> Interview with Power Skating Coach Cathy Andrade

Sean Skahan posted Phase 4 of his ACL Rehab Program. The program was for a player 15-weeks post surgery. It’s interesting to follow the progression through the four phases of this program, as this phase includes a lot more lower body work. Sean and I have very similar philosophies on training around injuries, so I can appreciate his approach in continuing to train this player, despite a recent surgery. I think all training for players in this situation needs to coincide with some level of communication with the physical therapist, or whoever is running the site-specific rehabilitation. Often times, syncing up with the PT will allow a more aggressive strength and conditioning approach, as the PT can provide some guidance on when to hit the gas and when to back off a bit.

Check out the program here >> ACL Rehab: Phase 4

Lastly, there was a forum post last week from a pro player that had been following the programs I’ve been posting and asked a great question about how he should progress through the rest of the off-season given he had limited time to work with since the European pro camps start in early August. At this point, he’s about 3-4 weeks pre-camp and should be progressing into a more conditioning/work capacity driven program. Because he’s been following two of my previous programs, it was most appropriate for him to work off a draft of my Phase 3 off-season training program so I posted that. The program emphasizes transitional speed, power training with both a high load medium velocity and low load high velocity orientation, work capacity, and conditioning. You can check it out here:

Click here to get the program >> 4-Day Off-Season Training Program: Phase 3

As always, if you aren’t a member yet, I recommend trying out the site for $1 Hockey Strength and Conditioning for a week. If it’s not the best buck you’ve ever spent , I’ll personally refund you!

To your continued success,

Kevin Neeld

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

On Friday I had an opportunity to spend an hour catching up with Mike T Nelson (Check out this site: Extreme Human Performance). Mike is an “internet friend” that I got to know in part through my writing at TMuscle.  Mike has been a great resource over the years because he continues to stay neck deep in the performance research and understand the limitations and applications (or lack thereof) of various studies.

What’s up Mike!

Mike is doing his dissertation work at the University of Minnesota, in part, on the performance effects of a very commonly used energy drink. I was hoping to get Mike’s thoughts on energy drinks in general:

  • Do they do what they claim to do?
  • Are there any concerns with younger kids drinking them?
  • Is there a connection between energy drink consumption and ADD symptoms? (I have my own theory on this)

Is it because you’ve spent the majority of your life simultaneously balancing watching tv, listening to music, and text messaging with your lap top in front of you?

Instead, Mike and I, as we usually do, tangentially discussed energy drinks, a couple other sports supplements (including the best supplement for hockey players that most players still aren’t familiar with), limitations in research application, the role of the placebo effect, and the performance implications of mental state association. Click the link below to download the call!

Click here to listen >> Mike T Nelson Call

I’m interested to hear your thoughts on young kids drinking energy drinks. As I mentioned in the call, because of the hassles associated with doing research on adolescent subjects, and because of the complications in monitoring long-term outcomes, there really isn’t any research in this area. But what do you think? Post your comments below!

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

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