On Tuesday, I mentioned that Eric Cressey posted a video of a staff in-service of him outlining his lower body assessments. A lot of the lower body assessments we incorporate with our athletes at Endeavor I learned directly or indirectly (through resources he recommended) from Eric, so it was great to get a current look at what he’s doing. I definitely picked up a couple ideas that we’ll be using in the future. If you missed that post, check it out here: Elite Training Mentorship. Alternatively, if you don’t care about the post at all, and just want to watch Eric’s video, go here: Elite Training Mentorship

They’ll be releasing another video in the near future so make sure you head over to the site now so you don’t miss it!

Body By Boyle Online

Over the last year, I’ve mentioned on several occasions how great of a resource I thought BodyByBoyleOnline was. For those of you that don’t know, Mike Boyle’s private facility Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning (MBSC) in Woburn, MA was voted as the #1 Gym in America by Men’s Health. Since that time, Mike was appointed as the Strength and Conditioning Coordinator for the Boston Red Sox, another feather in his cap after training a gold medal winning team in the U.S. Women’s Ice Hockey Team (’98), working in the NHL with the Boston Bruins, and being credited with creating the first true “NFL Combine Training” success story in Mike Mamula. This is on top of the professional athletes and celebrities that he’s trained over the years in his private facility. In short, he knows his stuff.

The Ultimate Online Strength and Conditioning Educational Resource
 

What makes BodyByBoyleOnline so valuable is that it’s essentially an inside look at how Mike runs his facility. They post all their staff meetings, guest speakers, and a ton of other valuable content. In fact, they now have over 100 hours of video content on topics such as strength and conditioning, assessments, speed training, rehab,¬†kettlebell training, sandbag training, a talk on the thoracic spine, mobility with bands, rotary training, the FMS, and much more. While a lot of the content comes from Mike directly, some of it also comes from guest speakers such as SueFalsone (Athletes Performance/LA Dodgers), Charlie Weingroff, Dan John, Kelly Starret (MobiliyWod), Nick Tumminello, Negar Fonooni, Joe Sansalone, Charles Staley, and more! In other words, it’s a great resource for fitness enthusiasts, strength coaches, personal trainers, athletic trainers, and physical therapists.

The only thing that could really make it a more valuable resource is if they made it more accessible via smartphones, tablets, etc. And, I’m happy to report, they did exactly that. I got an email from Kevin Larrabee who does a lot of the behind the scenes work for the site and he told me that the site now offers iOS support…which basically meant nothing to me. But he went on to explain that iOS support means the videos can now be accessed and watched on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod
Touch. This makes the information much more easily accessed, especially for those that travel a lot and can’t always get internet access through their computer. I’m excited about the change, as I know the content is top notch, so making it “portable device” compatible will surely make it more accessible to everyone and therefore get quality information out to more people. And I spent a full work week in airports last year with no internet access, so it’d be great to have access to something like this! If you’re interested, check out this link for more information: BodyByBoyleOnline.

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

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A couple weeks ago, I had an opportunity to talk to the Comcast U16 National team about nutrition. Well, I should say that the talk was intended to be about nutrition, but spawned very quickly into a discussion on what it’s going to take for them to be successful in the future.

Most players are only familiar with their own experience, and while this is valuable information, they simply don’t have the wisdom to understand what it’s going to take to continue developing and excelling beyond the competition. How could they? The assumption that doing what they’ve done to be successful up to that point is harshly misguided. As Tony Robbins once said, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” This is more true of behaviors, as I strongly believe that an optimal mindset WILL help a player continue progressing throughout their career.

With that said, there are a couple things that I think players at every sub-pro level should be aware of:

  1. Success at any given level is NOT in any way predictive of success at a higher level. This is especially true in youth hockey where certain players excel initially because of a more rapid development in physical stature or neuromuscular proficiency compared to their peers. Anyone that has been around hockey for any appreciable amount of time has seen STUD peewees that go on to be mediocre midgets; STUD midgets that go on to be mediocre junior players; and STUD junior players that go on to be mediocre college players. I could go on. Don’t get comfortable with your success; be inspired by it.
  2. You’re not alone in the race. The U.S. has nearly 300,000 registered youth and junior players. Canada has nearly 500,000. Regardless of your goal, there is a TON of competition. One of the things I tried to get across to the 16U team, which is a Tier I youth team, is that they aren’t just competing against the other 16U National teams. There are kids at the 16U American level that will progress significantly this year and fight them for a job as early as the next season. There are kids from other organizations that will transfer in and fight them for a job. And the most overlooked of all, there are COUNTLESS Tier II youth players that are infuriated that they were cut from the Tier I program and are working their assess off to make sure that the coach that cut them, and EVERYONE else involved, knows that they made a huge mistake. They’re at an age of equalizing. The kids that grew faster than the others will level out. Being big simply won’t be enough. Other kids will hit huge growth spurts and suddenly be more viewed as more able. The same is true of those that developed neurologically faster than others. Everything begins to level out and those with long-term potential begin to emerge.

Defining Hard Work
The thing I like most about this particular group, is that they’re about as cohesive and well-intentioned a team as I’ve ever worked with. As a group, they show up on time, work hard, push each other, and maintain a relatively positive demeanor (especially impressive given their age).¬† I have no doubt that they work as hard on the ice as they do off. In speaking with them, however, I tried to get them to understand that working hard in front of the coach is the easy part. Anyone can do it. In fact, it should be looked at as the bare minimum expectation to participate in any competitive team sport.

TRUE hard work, is doing the right thing AWAY from the coaches, when no one is around to reward or punish you for your behavior.

“Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while, you don’t do things right once in a while, you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.” – Vince Lombardi

In other words, working hard means, among other things:

  1. Being willing to wake up 10-15 minutes earlier to eat a quality breakfast, consistently
  2. Taking some time throughout the week to prepare snacks and meals
  3. Eat frequently if you need to put on weight, even if you aren’t hungry
  4. Take supplements like Greens+ and Fish Oil, even if they don’t taste the best
  5. Drink Generation UCAN instead of Gatorade, even though it’s mildly less convenient to have it order it online
  6. Consume plentiful amounts of the world’s most powerful supplement, water!
  7. Foam roll and stretch daily
  8. Go to bed at night and wake up in the morning within an hour of the same times everyday
  9. Do the “homework” that your strength coach assigns you
  10. If available, review game film
  11. Take time to watch higher levels of hockey and take note of the habits of peak performers
  12. Study the habits of peak performers at your level. What makes them successful?

This is really just a quick glimpse of a handful of things that come to mind immediately. The idea here is to understand that no ONE thing is going to make a tremendous impact on a player’s long-term development, but doing all of the little things right over time certainly will. You want to stack the deck in your favor, do everything you can to ENSURE your success. Don’t hope for it, make it happen. Dr. Colleen Hacker, who spoke to the U.S. Women’s National Program while I was at their camp in Minnesota, calls this “controlling the controllables”. There are a lot of parts of the game that are outside of your control. The refs will probably be bad. Your coach may not like your style of play. You might not be on the line you like. The list goes on and on. But how you PREPARE and how you RESPOND to adversity are ALWAYS within your control.

The best athletes in the world are absolutely meticulous about their preparation…

Example 1: Peyton Manning

Example 2: Michael Phelps

Example 3: Sidney Crosby

None of the things I listed above will earn you any appreciable praise, at least not directly. But don’t do it for the praise. Do it because you care about fulfilling your potential, about pushing the outer boundaries of your genetic gifts. Do it for your teammates. Do it because you’ll reflect on your experiences playing the game for the rest of your life, and it would be tragic to do so with feelings of regret of what could have been. Do it because you want to push the game itself to new heights.

You never know when a game, rather, when a season will come down to one final effort: an inspired back check to prevent an opponent’s scoring chance, winning a battle in the corner to create a game-winning scoring opportunity, having the mental clarity to make a quality breakout pass instead of throwing the puck up the wall. Teams progress through the playoffs or on to the golf courses every year based on a single play like the ones I described above. Do the right things on and off the ice, consistently, to make sure that you’re in a position to come out on the winning end of these battles. THAT is what it means to outwork everyone, and that is what it will take to truly reach your potential.

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

P.S. Don’t forget you can save 25% on all Generation UCAN products until January 31st by using the code “competehard” here: Generation UCAN

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This has been a great week for us at Endeavor. We had a handful of new sign-ups and a number of returners join us. I also am in discussions with a few different people about exciting projects, but it’s too early to say anything definitive. I do have an exciting announcement for personal trainers, strength and conditioning coaches, and those of you that passionately train yourself, so stay tuned for that early next week.

Since our last Hockey Strength and Conditioning update, I’ve added quite a bit of content here. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out:

  1. Hockey Training Interview
  2. Predicting Long-Term Athletic Success
  3. Hockey Conditioning: Understanding Fatigue
  4. Hockey Conditioning: Combating Fatigue
  5. 2011 in Review
  6. 2012 Sports Rehab to Sports Performance Teleseminar
  7. Top Athletic Development Posts of 2011
  8. Top Hockey Training Posts of 2011
  9. UCAN Perform, Look, and Feel Better!
  10. Performance Training: Adaptations for Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI)

Hopefully you’ve been keeping up over the last couple of weeks so that list isn’t too overwhelming!

We’ve been busy over at HockeySC.com over the last few weeks as well. Check out what you’ve been missing:

Articles

  1. Youth Hockey Training Blueprint: Part 3 from me
  2. AC Joint Injuries in Hockey from Anthony Donskov
  3. Using Kettlebells in Professional Hockey from Sean Skahan

The Youth Hockey Training Blueprint wraps up a 3-part series on how I’ve gone about designing and implementing training programs for an entire youth hockey organization with minimum equipment and space, and an unfavorable coach:athlete ratio. This series is probably the best real-world look at youth off-ice training for youth coaches and parents that are charged with the formidable task of development an off-ice training program for their kids.

Sean’s kettlebell article is fantastic. I’ve been following Sean’s work for years, and he continues to be a great teacher for me. This may be his best article ever. He goes into detail on how he implements specific kettlebell exercises and what the advantages/disadvantages of the exercises are in his setting. If you didn’t know, Sean also released two great DVDs called “Kettlebell Lifting for Hockey” and “Slideboard Training for Hockey“, which are worth checking out.

Exercise Videos

  1. TRX Core Exercises from Mike Potenza
  2. Vertimax Exercises for Hockey Players from me

These videos both display multiple exercises that can be strategically applied at various times of the year. As with any exercise, it’s important to put these in perspective and recognize when it’s appropriate to use them and when it’s not. Simply plugging “cool exercises” into your program will rarely work and will often hurt, if the broader perspective of the exact goals of a specific training phase are not considered. For the most part, all of the exercises in my video are ones we use in the off-season.

Training Programs

  1. Off-Season 2011 Phase 4 Strength Training from Sean Skahan
  2. Return From Holiday Break from Darryl Nelson
  3. Muscle Endurance Workouts for Goaltenders from Mike Potenza

Great programs from some of the best in the business. It was interesting to see how Mike incorporated some of the Olympic lifting progressions into the warm-ups of his goalie training program. With that said, I also think it’s worth pointing out that there’s very little about this program that comes off as “goalie-specific”, and I mean that in a positive way. Hockey goalies are still a population that falls victim to the over-hyped circus-like training trends out there. Goalies need to be mobile, strong, explosive, and have great work capacity, just like all hockey players. This means they need to lift, they need to do plyometric work, and they need to train hard in general. Stretching and chasing reaction balls all over the place won’t quite cut it!

That’s a wrap for today. 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

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A few weeks back I briefly mentioned that I’ve been working with a lacrosse player with femoroacetabular impingement (FAI). I’ve written quite a bit about FAI in the past, and the posts seem to attract a lot of attention, probably because so many athletes (and especially hockey players) suffer from related symptoms and haven’t had much success in traditional rehabilitation approaches. If you’re new to FAI, I’d highly encourage you to quickly breeze through these previous posts, which discuss a bit about what FAI is, how prevalent it is among hockey player and general populations, and what can be done to train around it:

  1. Training Around Femoroacetabular Impingement
  2. Hockey Hip Injuries: FAI
  3. An Updated Look at Femoroacetabular Impingement

I’ve received several emails requesting to see the video that I posted at Hockey Strength and Conditioning of the lacrosse player with severe FAI, so I decided to throw it on youtube and wanted to share it with you today. Check it out below:

Training Around Femoroacetabular Impingement

This video is of a Division I lacrosse player I’ve worked with over the last several months at Endeavor. He has undergone 4 separate operations (2 on each side) to address his FAI and associated labral damage, and a bilateral athletic pubalgia (sports hernia) repair. He also has significant retroversion, bilaterally, meaning he has plenty of external rotation, but extremely limited internal rotation in both hips. When he first came in, he wasn’t able to jog (let alone sprint), shuffle, or do anything high impact or explosive. In fact, I would say he was generally cautious about movement in general. He’s now in his 6th month of training and can sprint, transition, and move explosively as well as ever. We were able to start moving him toward these types of exercises about 4-6 weeks into the training process. Each week, for the last month, he’s told me that he feels better than ever. I wanted to post this video to demonstrate how important it is to recognize each athlete’s individual limitations. Can you imagine if this athlete was told to squat to full depth, deadlift off the floor, do high box jumps, etc.?

I recognize this athlete’s case is a bit extreme, but the overwhelming majority of the hockey players we work with will be somewhere between this athlete and what is taught as normal. In other words, most players will have some sort of structural deviation that will need to be appreciated in your assessment of their movement quality and exercise technique. In this example, we spent a lot of time early on going through how he would need to move to to stay within his individual confines, but still accomplish what he needs to on the field. After grooving and improving these patterns for several weeks, he now does them without conscious thought, which is the ultimate goal if he’s to be successful.

A few things to look for in the video:

  1. When he sets up in a quadruped position, his lumbar spine is already in a state of slight flexion secondary to hitting hip flexion end range. Attempting to drive further into hip flexion results in a SIGNIFICANT spinal compensation.
  2. He can only squat to about 45-50 degrees of hip flexion beefore his lumbar spine begins to flex.
  3. His hip only flexes about 45-50 degrees during the wall drill, which will have implications for how he runs.
  4. He is still able to sprint, but he must maintain a more upright posture and de-emphasize his knee drive more than would typically be recommended.
  5. He has almost no hip internal rotation on either side. The left appears to be slightly better, but this is because his pelvis is not neutral. When I measured this with a goniometer when he first started, he was under 20 degrees on each side.
  6. Not having internal rotation will have significant implications for rotational movements, which are of paramount importance in most team-based sports (especially ones like lacrosse and hockey). Notice how, when he steps behind during the med ball exercise, he maintains a slight position of external rotation and how he opens up instead of rotating OVER the front leg like most athletes would. Both of these patterns were intentional, and ones that took time to groove.

Another important take home from this video is that this athlete is post surgical and STILL presents with significant range of motion limitations. This is certainly no challenge to the proficiency of the surgeon. In fact, this particular surgeon is regarded as one of the best in the world for this type of work. I’ve worked with several athletes that have had FAI-related surgeries from this surgeon, and some present with “normal” range of motion, and others still have restrictions. It’s likely a result of the complications of the individual case and the risk-reward associated with more invasive or destructive options.

Nonetheless, it’s important for the athlete to understand that getting surgery doesn’t mean you’re going to come out “normal”. It’s likely you will still have significant restrictions that you’ll need to accommodate in your movement lexicon. Also, it’s possible that the FAI is the RESULT of an underlying issue that will still need to be addressed. In other words, in these cases FAI can be thought of as a symptom that provokes other symptoms, none of which are likely to fully subside until the elephant in the room is poached. In some cases, this may mean attacking diaphragm position to restore a more optimal zone of apposition (something I’ll discuss more in the future); in other cases it may require using specific exercises to help restore a more neutral position and orientation of the pelvis; and in others it may simply require strategic soft-tissue work and help restore balance in stiffness across the hips and allow for balanced movement. In most cases, however, a combination of these techniques is warranted.

If you’re interested in more information about FAI, check out the webinar and recent interview I did at Sports Rehab Expert.

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for Sports Rehab Expert’s 2012 Sports Rehab to Sports Performance Teleseminar! It’s 100% free and features some of the top minds in sports rehab and performance training.

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I hope you and your family had a great new year! Last week we wrapped up the highlights of 2011. If you missed those posts, you can check them out at the links below:

  1. 2011 in Review
  2. Top Athletic Development Posts of 2011
  3. Top Hockey Training Posts of 2011
4 Pillars of Athletic Success
While I was in Minnesota, I had an opportunity to hear Dr. Colleen Hacker speak to the players and staff about mental preparation. Her entire 2-hour talk was nothing short of riveting, and was one that I think every athlete should hear (probably more than twice). One of the things she mentioned was the idea of there being four pillars to athletic success:
  1. Technical Preparation
  2. Tactical Preparation
  3. Mental Preparation
  4. Strength and Conditioning/Nutrition

Simply, a failure to fully realize any of these categories will widen the player and/or the team’s “Performance Gap”, the difference between their current performance level and where it could be. Focusing on the last category, there are a lot of athletes that make huge sacrifices to train hard in the off-season and even during the most rigorous times of their season to ensure that they are continually progressing toward their goals and toward their full potential. A HUGE proportion of these athletes go on to practice and compete with a COMPLETE neglect for proper nutrition. The same can be said for athletes that work exceptionally hard (and smart) all season long for a complete neglect for proper nutrition. They’re passively widening their Performance Gap.

Proper nutrition can mean a lot of things-food selection, food timing, consistency, etc. One area that I think is especially important is activity-related nutrition. In other words, to perform at their best, athletes need to properly fuel themselves before, and even DURING the event. In this regard, I think there is one solution that is far superior to the alternative options out there!

Perform Better, Lose Body Fat, and Have More Energy!

Generation UCAN offers a revolutionary sports drink that is taking professional, collegiate and recreational sports by storm, and for good reason. Typical sports drinks provide a simple carbohydrate source (basically energy in the form of a sugar derivative) that causes a fast, relatively large spike in bloog sugar levels. Unfortunately, this energy supply is short-lived, can have a negative rebound effect (lower blood sugar than before the drink), and blunts the body’s ability to burn fat in the process.

In contrast, Generation UCAN’s products have a time-release effect. This serves to provide an energy supply over a long period of time, avoid the negative effects of a plummet in energy supply, and allow the body to rely on fat as a primary fuel source. It is possible to train the body to rely more heavily on fat for energy (which is in more plentiful supply than carbohydrates and many of the other fuel sources for high intensity activities) by having a well-developed aerobic system. That said, ingesting a sugar supplement (like most sports drinks) will cause a spike in blood sugar, which causes a spike in insulin and consequent blunting of the body’s ability to rely on fat for fuel, REGARDLESS of training status. In other words, it is best to attack this issue from a training AND nutrition standpoint to ensure that you can perform at a high level, consistently and without wear.

Notice UCAN’s consistent, long-lasting energy supply (red) compared to a typical sports drink’s spike and crash (blue)

Note the higher level of fat burning after consuming UCAN (red) compared to a typical sports drink (blue)

In short, Generation UCAN has created a safe, healthy supplement that provides long-lasting energy AND promotes fat burning. It’s the perfect solution for all athletes, and even for the “desk jockeys” out there that may need a mid-day energy boost.

Until the end of the month, Generation UCAN is offering an exclusive 25% discount for you on ALL of their products. To take advantage of this great offer, simply follow these 4 easy steps:
  1. Click this link: Generation UCAN
  2. Click the “UCAN Shop” button on the upper left
  3. Click on each of the products you’re interested in on the left hand column and add them to your cart
  4. On the checkout summary page, enter the coupon code “competehard”

Nutrition can have a profound impact on your performance, body composition and overall energy and well being. Generation UCAN offers a truly revolutionary option that will have you playing, looking, and feeling better than ever before!

To your continued success in 2012!

Kevin Neeld

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