A couple weekends ago I had an opportunity to take the first 4-hour segment of a 16-hour course on Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) as part of the program for my massage school. If you aren’t familiar with AIS, it’s a specific stretching technique developed by Aaron Mattes that, as the name implies, serves to isolate specific muscles and stretch them for 1.5-2 seconds at a time, for multiple repetitions. The shorter holds are meant to avoid the body’s natural tendency to tense up, and to facilitate increased blood flow to the stretched muscle. The other important concept is that you’re supposed to “pull yourself into the stretch” by contracting the antagonist or opposing muscle to the one being stretched.

I had read Aaron’s book several years ago, and to be honest, didn’t really do a lot with it. I’m still not ready to drink the AIS Kool-Aid, as I think most stretching techniques can be effective when applied appropriately, but I’ve been using one of the stretches we learned in class, and another I fabricated based on AIS concepts. These are two great stretches for hockey players to help open up their hips, which should be a focus year-round.

Not yet.

Rectus Femoris AIS
With this one, you want to set up so that you feel a slight stretch in the hip flexor of the back leg. Squeeze your butt, and start to pull your heel toward your butt using your hamstrings. When you’ve gone as far as you can, pull the band to increase the stretch through your quads.

Hip External Rotator AIS
This one can be a bit trickier regarding the “active” part, but the general idea is to start to pull yourself into the stretch position and finish with the band. You should notice, with both, that you’re able to go a little further with each repetition.

We’ve been using these before our dynamic warm-up and after our training sessions with certain players. Give them a try and post your thoughts below!

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

P.S. Check out other videos like this and subscribe to my YouTube channel here: Hockey Training Coach

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Every few months I do a featured Q&A column for the Golf Association of Philadelphia website.

Because most hockey players head to the courses once their season is over, and because there are some commonalities in training principles between the two sports, I wanted to share the most recent feature with you. Check it out at the link below:

Click here >> GAP Fitness Q&A with Kevin Neeld

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

P.S. There are lots of videos included in the Q&A so if you’re looking for new dynamic warm-up exercises or other movements to help open up your hips and lengthen your stride, you’ll really enjoy these!

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I wanted to switch things up a bit to start this week off and feature some work from other people that I’ve really enjoyed. If you’re having a tough time shaking off the weekend and need an outlet to kill some time while you’re pretending to work, this is it!

These articles, in one way or another, all directly relate to the off-ice training of hockey players. In some cases, the author refers to athletes in a different sport (e.g. soccer), but the principle still applies to hockey players. Enjoy! And if you have any questions or comments about the articles, post them below!

  1. Sounders Sports Science and Mentorship Weekend In Review: Lessons Learned by Patrick Ward
  2. The Complexity of It All: Food for Thought by Patrick Ward
  3. Early Rehab for Anterior Lumbo-Pelvic-Hip Injuries by Jeff Cubos
  4. How to Improve Quickness: Understanding Shin Angles by Brijesh Patel via Eric Cressey
  5. Post-Workout Stretches for Hockey Players by David Lasnier
  6. How Injuries Actually Happen by David Lasnier
  7. Overhead Work and Shoulder Flexion Limitation by David Lasnier
  8. Hip Range of Motion & Groin Strains of Soccer Players by Matt Siniscalchi
  9. Producing Power without the Hang Clean by Matt Siniscalchi

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

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Back on track this week with a wrap-up of this week’s (and the three preceding week’s since I’ve been slacking) activity in the world of hockey strength and conditioning. Over the last several weeks, I’ve added several articles on topics ranging from strength and conditioning internships to specific hockey training techniques to maximize performance and minimize injury risk. Check out what you’ve been missing at the links below.

  1. Strength and Conditioning Internships
  2. The Myth of Wrist Strength in Hockey
  3. Managing Structural and Functional Asymmetries: Part 1
  4. Managing Structural and Functional Asymmetries: Part 2
  5. Improving Athletic Performance Beyond Peak Strength: Part 1
  6. Improving Athletic Performance Beyond Peak Strength: Part 2
  7. Off-Season Hockey Training Program
  8. Men’s Fitness: Hockey Training Feature
  9. What It Means To Be A “Boyle Guy”

We’ve also added a TON of great content over at Hockey Strength and Conditioning. I HIGHLY encourage you to read through all of these pieces as I think there is an awesome combination of quality information, great training programs, and unique exercises that will apply to players at multiple levels. We’ve also had a few terrific contributions from a few guys I hold in a very high regard in Anthony Donskov, Jim Snider, and Kyle Bangen. Check out the links below.


  1. Debit Card Strength and Conditioning: In-Season Account Withdrawls from Anthony Donskov
  2. Essential Components of a Strength Training Program from Darryl Nelson
  3. Pro’s vs. Joe’s from Jim Snider
  4. Triple Flexion Training Considerations in Hockey from Kyle Bangen


  1. Spring Training 4-Day Per Week from Darryl Nelson
  2. Summer 2012 GPP Phase 1 from Mike Potenza
  3. 2012 5-Day Off-Season Hockey Training Program: Phase 1 from me
  4. Off-Season 2012 Phase 2 Strength Training from Sean Skahan


  1. Side Lying 1-Leg Hip Extension from Sean Skahan
  2. 2 Arm DB Snatch from Darryl Nelson
  3. Phase 1 Sprinting Variations from me
  4. Hip Extension Holds from Mike Potenza

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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“Boyle Guy.” Over the last couple years, I’ve heard this denomination frequently. At times it seems like the descriptor is being used as an insult; other times, simply a statement of reality. Typically, however, the term is used by someone that disagrees with one or more of Mike Boyle’s training ideas (single-leg training is the most common culprit), who is generally dismissive of all ideas stemming from those that agree with Mike about anything. When someone refers to me as a Boyle Guy I’m simultaneously flattered to be associated with Mike and disappointed that the implication is that I (and everyone else) am incapable of free thought. The truth is, I don’t really think people have any idea of what it really means to be a Boyle Guy.

My first introduction to Mike came during an internship I was doing at the University of Delaware. Jason Beaulieu, UD’s Strength and Conditioning Coach, had Functional Strength Coach 1 and let me borrow it. Aside from the information being a wake-up call in general, one of the things that struck me most about hearing him speak was his willingness to admit he was wrong, and to change moving forward. In reality, EVERYONE makes mistakes throughout their career, regardless of what career it is. The overwhelming majority of people, though, aren’t overly competent at admitting when they’ve made a mistake. This may stem from the fact that, at least in our industry, there aren’t many people learning at a rate sufficient enough for them to realize that they’ve even made one (more on this soon). Learning, at a young age, that it’s okay to make mistakes AND it’s okay to change continues to have a profound effect on me today.

Boyle Guy Rule #1: Admit when you’ve made a mistake, and change.

One of the last slides of the 10-DVD set was a list of recommended readings, which included, among others, Shirley Sahrmann’s Diagnosis and Treatment of Movement Impairment Syndromes and Tom Myers’ Anatomy Trains, two books that have heavily influenced the training and rehabilitation communities. I bought every resource on that slide, and read them all the next Summer. Another eye-opener. A few things that really stuck with me were: A) I didn’t know shit about anatomy; B) human movement was significantly more complex than I appreciated, C) studying information from the rehabilitation community provides unique insight into how to prevent injuries via training, D) I didn’t know shit about anatomy, and E) Mike, despite having already accomplished so much, was still digesting new information at a rapid rate in an effort to improve the quality of his programs. This brings us to…

Boyle Guy Rule #2: Know your anatomy.


Boyle Guy Rule #3: Never stop learning.

The knowledge I acquired by watching Functional Strength Coach 1 and reading the resources at the end of the presentation had such a significant impact on my philosophy that I sent Mike a letter to thank him. He replied immediately, and a year later while I was in the area for grad school, he invited me to observe at BU and MBSC. Since that time, he’s taken an immeasurable amount of his time to answer questions I’ve had, both through email and in person. This may seem like a small thing, but it’s not. Mike, at any given time, is juggling 3 full-time jobs, and has NOTHING to gain by helping me (or any of the other countless people that email him everyday!). Interestingly, I’ve had similar experiences with several of the guys that have worked for Mike before moving on to take jobs elsewhere. I have also had the opposite experience. I’ve been “big-timed” on multiple occasions by people that were further along in their careers than I was (or am), and knew they had nothing to gain by our interaction. But, as luck would have it, never by a “Boyle Guy”.

Boyle Guy Rule #4: Pay it forward. Help those that want to learn.

A couple months back, I was fortunate to have an opportunity to work with the US Women’s National Team at the World Championship Tournament in Burlington, VT (thanks entirely to Mike’s recommendation). While I was there, I grabbed dinner with Mike and his wife Cindy one night and the three of us talked for a couple hours on everything from family to hockey to training to career choices. I learned a lot that night; I always do. But when I went back to the hotel afterward, the thing that stuck with me most about everything we talked about was simply how much Mike loved his wife and kids. It was clear that, despite all of his commitments, he was a family first guy. Admittedly, this probably stuck out to me because I’m, well, terrible about balancing my career endeavors with my relationships. If I wasn’t surrounded by such patient people, I may not be surrounded by anyone at all!

Boyle Guy Rule #5: Keep your priorities straight. Relationships are always most important.

Being a Boyle Guy is more than simply acknowledging the downsides, mechanically and neurologically, of bilateral training, or following a concurrent periodization model, or prioritizing injury prevention ahead of performance enhancement; it’s about maintaining the character and humility to constantly learn, develop, and grow, as a professional and as a person. I’ve had (and continue to have) a lot of great mentors, but I can honestly say that I owe my career to Mike. Frankly, I’m lucky to be a Boyle Guy. What a tragedy to not be!

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

P.S. If you haven’t already, check out Mike Boyle’s most recent release, Functional Strength Coach 4!

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