Push-ups are one of the most popular exercises out there, especially in youth sports. When performed correctly, push-ups are a terrific exercise to promote core/shoulder stability, upper body strength, and a proper upper body pressing movement pattern. I was recently featured in Men’s Fitness for a segment on how to train to perform 100 push-ups consecutively.


As you can imagine, the first step in being able to perform 100 push-ups is being able to perform one, correctly. In reality, the push-up form I see most frequently is pretty far from optimal. This is the result of never being taught how to perform the movement correctly or having been taught incorrectly. In either case, the result is a continued development of an improper movement pattern, which will inevitably lead to a breakdown SOMEWHERE (front/top of the shoulder, back of the next, and lower back are the most likely culprits). Shortly after the Men’s Fitness article went live, I received an email from a reader that had to perform a push-up test for his work (police officer) and noted that his performance was limited by shoulder pain. My response to his email was:

If I understand your case correctly, it’s not uncommon. The reality is that most people have never been taught to do a push-up correctly, and MANY have been taught how to do them incorrectly. Assuming your shoulder pain is a result of a suboptimal movement pattern and not the result of another underlying issue (you should get that checked out by a doctor), you can improve your push-up ability immensely by following the guidelines I wrote about here: Shoulder Pain with Pressing Exercises

Rather than reinvent the wheel here with a new post on how to address shoulder pain with pressing exercises like push-ups, I’ll just direct you to a post I wrote a while back that covers the issue in-depth. Check it out here:

Click here >> Shoulder Pain with Pressing Exercises

One of the major take homes I try to reinforce with our athletes is that PROPER movement is more important (or at least equally as important) as strong, powerful, or quick movement. In general, athletes tend to overemphasize quantity and underemphasize quality, probably because it’s more easily observable and quantifiable. A perfect running stride resulting in a lost race doesn’t get much credit. On the other hand, a sloppy running stride that wins a race gets praise. Proper movement doesn’t only optimize long-term performance, it also SIGNIFICANTLY decreases the risk of non-contact injuries, which have become unacceptably overwhelming in youth sports. Optimization of all basic movement patterns (lower body push, lower body pull, upper body push, upper body pull, linear and transitional running mechanics, etc.) is a worth goal and should be the focus of early athletic development endeavors. This post will go into specific details on how to do this for upper body pushing patterns:

Click here >> Shoulder Pain with Pressing Exercises

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

P.S. My friend Mike Robertson has posted two great articles on the pros and cons of a very popular core exercise. The posts include thoughts from a couple of really bright guest contributors (including Stuart McGill). Check them out here: Should You Crunch: Part 1 , Should You Crunch: Part 2

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

After a great weekend in Pittsburgh at USA Hockey’s ADM Symposium (and one of Tangradi’s pre-season games) and a busy Summer of travel in general, I’m finally back and getting resettled in Philadelphia.

Despite the popularity of these posts, I don’t write a lot about how specific off-ice training methods transfer to specific on-ice skills. My fear is that players will say “I need a quicker first step” and only do a few thing that I recommend for speed training, or in this case, “I need a harder slap shot” and only do the exercises in this article. The truth is that ALL players should be following a comprehensive training program and using single goals as a means of designing your plan will inevitably create imbalances and ultimately fail in helping you realize your true potential. I say that as a preface to this post with the hopes that you’ll understand that this the exercises referenced below were simply pulled from a more complete program to demonstrate how these components will help transfer to an on-ice ability.

Tips for Improving Slap Shot Power
Hockey players, especially young ones, frequently seek out ways to improve their shot power. In reality, shooting a harder slap shot often comes down to mastering the technical components (e.g. foot positioning, puck placement, stick contact point, hand position, hip drive, etc). That said, a lot of progress can be made by removing physical barriers and improving both general and movement-specific strength and power.

From a barrier standpoint, shooting requires a great deal of mobility through the hips and thoracic spine (upper back). Two great exercises to improve and maintain optimal mobility in these areas are:

The Lying Knee-to-Knee Mobilization
Purpose: Improve hip internal rotation range of motion

Side-Lying Diagonal Arm Arc
Purpose: Improve thoracic rotation range of motion

A player cannot realize their full power potential with significant mobility restrictions. Because we live in a more sedentary society than ever, the hips and thoracic spine are common points of restriction and can lead to a number of other problems in addition to diminished shot power. Once a player has full mobility through the hips and spine, the next step is to improve core strength. While mobility and stability can be developed somewhat simultaneously, it’s important to understand that proper reflexive stability depends on proper proprioception, which is driven by optimal range of motion. In other words, range of motion restrictions will impair the body’s ability to properly activate stabilization-oriented muscles. Stability work will help ensure that the power generated from the lower body is effectively transferred to the upper body and into the puck. One great exercise for this is:

½ Kneeling Belly Press
Purpose: Improve rotational core strength

There are dozens of other exercises that serve this purpose well, but this is a good one to start with. The final stage in developing a harder shot is to improve rotational power. Power expression can range from high load, low velocity to low load, high velocity. Because a puck weighs a mere 6 oz., there will be a better transfer of power improvements if exercises on the low load, high velocity end of the continuum are selected. Medicine ball exercises serve this purpose perfectly.

One basic rotational power exercise is:

Front Standing Med Ball Scoop
Purpose: Develop rotational power, emphasizing weight transfer, hip rotation, and upper body follow through.

(well-groomed playoff beard optional)

A more dynamic variation of this quality:

Side Standing Med Ball Shotput with Rapid Step Behind
Purpose: Develop rotational power in a more dynamic environment. This more closely mimics the changing foot positions where power will need to be generated on the ice (think of adjusting feet to take a one timer).

While these are a few specific exercises that will help improve rotational power, a more general approach to strength training will also have a positive impact. The great thing about a quality hockey training program is that the same tactics used to develop a harder slap shot will also improve maximum and transitional skating speed, the ability to give and withstand hits, general conditioning, and injury resistance. In general, I think the hockey hockey world is due for a paradigm shift away from a direct skill-transfer driven training approach to off-ice development and toward a more complete athletic development system.

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!

Over the last couple weeks, we’ve been using a “new” hip mobility exercise with a lot of the players we work with. I use the word “new” hesitantly because I’m as fed up as you are with all the “this is the greatest exercise ever” blog posts and articles that have infected the internet over the last year. I’m sure this isn’t actually new, just new to me and our programs at Endeavor. Actually, I think David (that’s David Lasnier…from DavidLasnier.com) was the first to show me this about a year ago. Check out the video below:

Come Here Often Mobilization

I call this the Come Here Often Mobilization because this is the same move David does at the bar when he sees a girl he likes.

On the surface, this is an great way to target the high adductor region, an area that becomes EXTREMELY dense especially as players put more miles on their hips. As with all movements, the benefits of this exercise extend beyond a single-joint. Before we get to that, let’s go through how to set-up and do this mobility exercise the right way.

CHO Mobilization Performance

  1. Set-up in a 1/2 kneeling position so that your front and back knees are both bent 90 degrees and your back hip is fully extended
  2. Open up at your hips and rotate your front leg so that it now points in a perpendicular direction from your back leg
  3. Squeeze your butt on your back leg and shift your weight over your front foot, driving your front knee outside of your pinky toe

By performing the exercise this way, you reinforce full hip extension and external rotation on the trail leg and full ankle dorsiflexion range of motion on the front leg. These are all common areas of restriction in hockey players; for the most part, the more players can incorporate mobilizations to reinforce full ROM for these regions the better. In the interest of getting a lot accomplished in not a lot of time, multipurpose mobilizations like this are a great option for players to incorporate before and after practices during the season.

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!

Sidney Crosby’s concussion has been the cause of a bit of a stir within the hockey community. There has been an ongoing fear that Crosby, arguably the best player in the world, may be forced into an early retirement due to recurring symptoms from a concussion. Maybe on a larger scale, Crosby represents a larger problem in sports medicine in that a lot of athletes from different sports have suffered from longstanding concussion symptoms and there don’t appear to be easily identifiable solutions to these problems.

The Penguins recently posted a video from a press conference with Crosby and two of his doctors, Dr. Michael Collins and Dr. Ted Carrick, discussing his recovery process. The doctors do a great job of discussing his recovery and their approach to his rehabilitation.

Check out the video below:

One of the worst things a player can do is rush back too quickly. I picked up an alarming statistic from Dr. Josh Bloom at Pete Friesen’s Physio-Fitness Summit a couple years ago that 75% and 92% of repeat concussions occur within 7 and 10 days of the original incident, respectively. The recovery process and severity of symptoms tends to become increasingly worse with repeat incidences, which could be prevented with a more conservative return to play strategy. Understanding the nature of these repeat injuries has certainly been an instrumental part in prolonging the return to play recommendations. The doctors allude to the appropriate return to play process, but the general progression is:

  1. Sit out the remainder of the game
  2. No symptoms at rest
  3. No symptoms with light activity (aerobic only; no resistance training)
  4. No symptoms with more intense training
  5. No symptoms with non-contact sports participation
  6. No symptoms with controlled contact sports participation
  7. Return to play

In reality, most hockey players probably skip #1, half-ass #2, and then jump right to #7. Contrary to common practice, headaches are not supposed to be a normal part of the game, and the decision of whether or not a player is fit to play should never be left to the player, ESPECIALLY at the youth levels. Youth players simply don’t understand the severity if these injuries and will always err on the side of their competitiveness. It’s important that these injuries be taken seriously at ALL levels of play. The long-term implications can be severe and certainly warrant a more cautious approach than what has traditionally been taken. While no one would wish Crosby’s symptoms on anyone, I hope that his injury will bring an increased level of awareness to the severity of traumatic head injuries and that quality information will trickle down to youth, junior, college, and semi-pro levels where the quality of care may not be as thorough as what Crosby has access to.

To your health and success,

Kevin Neeld

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

Last night I arrived back in Philadelphia after a great 8-day stay in San Jose. Adjusting to east coast time again is going to be rough. I can make the switch out there pretty easily, but coming back is a battle. Especially because I was up bright and early to head up to Montville, NJ for the FMS Level 1&2 courses. On my grind right now!

It’s been a while since I’ve done a hockey strength and conditioning update, but there have been a couple great additions over the last couple weeks.

Darryl Nelson added a new training program. This is a timely program as it’s the first phase of his Fall program. For those of you that are designing your pre-season and early in-season programs, this will be a great reference for you.

Check out the program here >> Fall Phase 1 Training Program

My new friend Chris Pietrzak-Wegner wrote a great article for coaches. While this was intended for training professionals, I think most of it applies to sport coaches as well. Chris was the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Minnesota Wild for the last couple years and is a great guy that really knows his stuff. This article dials in on the basics of being a great coach. When I read it, it made me take a step back and do some self-examining. It can be difficult to go through the process, but it’s always beneficial.

Check it out here >> Three Questions Every Coach Should Ask Themselves

There are a bunch of great forum discussions worth looking into as well. Check out these threads:

  1. The Pros and Cons of Today’s Hockey Skates
  2. Creatine In-Season?
  3. Relative Importance of Hip Adduction
  4. Periodizing in-season and off-season: The general scope of things
  5. Concussion Protocol-Returning to play
  6. Darryl and others/Core Cooler?
  7. Injured players

It’s good to get questions from a variety of people with different perspectives. The above threads were started training professionals AND players and touch on important topics for everyone in hockey.

As always, if you aren’t a member yet, I encourage you to try out Hockey Strength and Conditioning for a week. It’ll only cost $1, and if it’s not the best buck you’ve ever spent, I’ll personally refund you!

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!