Last week I posted a fairly comprehensive article on the benefits of Earthing. If you missed it, check it out here: Earthing Products

Shortly after writing that up I came across some video of an interview Dr. Mercola did with Dr. Ober that I thought some of you may be interested in. They broke it up into 7 videos so if you have ADD like I do and can only sit still for 15 minutes, you can easily work your way through the information. Enjoy!

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

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A couple days ago, I posted the step-by-step process I go through at the beginning of every season to design the off-ice training programs for an entire youth organization. If you missed that post, I’d encourage you to check it out here: Developing A Youth In-Season Hockey Training Model

Today I just wanted to follow up with a few sample training sessions for each of the three groups. The purpose here isn’t to necessarily give you a program that you can print and follow on your own (although I do post all of our youth programs for every group every month for Ultimate Hockey Training Insider’s!), but to provide a real-world illustration of the process and concepts discussed in the preceding post.

Group A: 8-11 years old

*AMRAP = As Many Reps As Possible

Group B: 12-14 years old

Group C: 15-18 years old

At this point I think it’s important to emphasize that these can be thought of as training templates more so than training programs. All of our coaches (I’m extremely fortunate to work with an AWESOME staff) know how to regress or alter exercises based on an individual’s specific situation. As a few examples:

  1. Group A: Lighter med balls can be used for players that may not possess the strength to accelerate heavier ones
  2. Group A: A Vertical Jump w/ Stick could be regressed to a Drop Squat w/ Stick or simply a Body Weight Squat to help reinforce proper landing mechanics
  3. Group B: Slideboard Hamstring Curl can be regressed to a Glute Bridge On Foam Roller
  4. Group B: Feet Elevated Front Plank could be regressed to a regular Front Plank or even a Front Plank w/ Forearms Elevated
  5. Group B: Suspended Rows can be regressed by having the individual walk their feet away from the attachment of the handles so their body is more vertical/upright
  6. Group C: DB Reverse Lunge can be regressed to a DB Split Squat
  7. Group C: Landmine Rotations can be regressed to unweighted or bent-elbow variations
  8. Group C: Front Squat can be regressed to Goblet Squat

Those are just a few examples for each group, but just about every exercise can be regressed to accommodate individual variation. This is a key component of “individualizing” team-based programs. Another key piece is learning the personalities of the kids to gain a better understanding of what type of coaching strategies they respond best to. All of this, in my mind, is part of the ART of coaching and can really make or break even the most well thought-out off-ice training program. If you’re looking for more information on age-appropriate training guidelines for hockey players, don’t forget to check out USA Hockey’s ADM. There’s a lot of terrific information there that may be more directly applicable to your situation. As always, please feel free to post your comments/questions below!

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

P.S. If want to ensure you’re choosing the right exercise strategies for your team, check out Ultimate Hockey Training, which outlines the exact exercise progressions and regressions to use for every major movement pattern, including multi-directional core training!

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One of the things that’s really set our programs at Endeavor apart from our competitors is the fact that we develop systematic, progressive training programs, opposed to just throwing together “workouts” for kids to do on any given day. I heard a great quote several years ago (I believe from Mike Boyle, but don’t hold me…or him…to that):

“Any idiot with a whistle can make kids tired.”

The reality is that many folks (players, parents, coaches, most humans in general) equate being tired with effective training. I always say that you have to move well before you move more, faster, or under load. Skipping this step is one of the reasons why so many players breakdown and suffer muscle strains and other soft-tissue injuries during off-ice (As an aside, we haven’t had a single off-ice training related injury in the last two years while training an entire youth organization). Not to mention, continuing to push and push from an effort standpoint, on- and off the ice, is a recipe for overtraining/underrecovery (one reason why players hit a wall in January/mid-season).

I say all that to say this: strategically planning and altering the off-ice stresses throughout the season will help ensure that players continue to progress athletically, while minimizing the risk of injury and overtraining. This is especially important as players get older for a number of reasons:

  1. Older players tend to have more frequent practices and more games, meaning they’re on the ice significantly more than their younger counterparts. More ice time means more stress to the body.
  2. Older players tend to have more muscle mass and a better developed nervous system that translates into having a higher drive. They have more mass to accelerate, are able to reach higher speeds, and therefore have more mass to decelerate during every shift or practice drill. All of this translates into a greater stress to the body with each practice and game, which requires a greater recovery effort.
  3. The game becomes more physical as the level progresses. In addition to the above stresses, superimposing more frequent high and low velocity contact takes it’s toll on the body.

All of these things explain why the strength and conditioning coaches at the highest levels are as much of “stress managers” as S&C practitioners. In other words, the overwhelming majority of in-season training efforts need to be designed with recovery in mind. One major difference between the highest levels (e.g. the NHL) and top youth levels (e.g. U-18 Tier I Elite League) is that, at least in theory, the NHL is a performance league, whereas U-18 is (or at least SHOULD be) a development league. This simply means that you’re able to push a little more in-season in the interest of achieving higher levels of performance.

Sitting down to design the in-season plan for our youth teams is one of the more fun parts of my job. We’re fortunate to work with an AWESOME group of kids, parents, and coaches with Team Comcast. This allows us some freedom to try new ideas from a programming standpoint, and we have enough communication with the coaches to know when we need to alter some of the off-ice stresses based on the coach’s desire to send a message, train harder before a light weekend, or back off a bit before an upcoming tournament.

Before writing a program, I first divided the organization up into three groups based on their age and where they fall in the long-term athletic development scheme that USA Hockey has done such a great job outlining for hockey players.

From here, I was able to superimpose this model onto the teams that Comcast has, and determine what the primary focus of each training group should be. It’s important to keep in mind at this point that “training focus” in this regard INCLUDES on-ice work, which we aren’t able to control. I’ve talked a lot about this in the past, but most relevant to this discussion, despite “speed” being a top priority for Group 2 (see below), we don’t program any off-ice speed work for this group as almost everything they do on the ice is speed oriented. Instead, we program complimentary qualities off the ice that will allow them to express their full speed potential on the ice, without overstressing the hip flexors and adductors, which are two of the more commonly injured muscle groups in hockey players (as you know).

The next step in this process was to lay out the number of weeks in a typical season (factoring in breaks for holidays), and then determine how I want to alter stresses across that time span.

These models simply put a more targeted focus on various time periods throughout the season without losing the focus of the long-term athletic development models presented above. Notably absent is a “Group A” periodization model. As I alluded to above, younger kids have a larger capacity to adapt to new stressors and, in general, don’t accumulate fatigue like older players do. All this means is that most of our progressions are in exercise or activity complexity, not necessarily in physiological specificity. As a result, it wasn’t necessarily to segregate a separate training model for that group, only to determine what a typical workout would look like, and progress accordingly.

Finally, the last step of the planning process before actually writing the programs is to outline the guidelines for each of the phases above.

This may seem like a lot of work, but it’s really not. You create the model once and you can use it for as long as it’s effective or until you learn something new that you think warrants changing. Following this process at the beginning of each season makes writing the actual programs extremely easy. It’s just a matter of determining how to most effectively teach and progress exercises to a large group and then plugging in the information from the tables above.

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

P.S. If want to ensure you’re choosing the right exercise strategies for your team, check out Ultimate Hockey Training, which outlines the exact exercise progressions and regressions to use for every major movement pattern, including multi-directional core training!

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

My last post covered what I think may be one of the most powerful and commonly overlooked recovery tools available today. If you missed it, check it out here: Recovery Week: Earthing Products

Recovery Week continues with a personal story that illustrates the significant impact stress and nutrient deficiencies can have on one’s health and performance…

I haven’t shared this with many people, but about a year ago, I was in a really bad spot. After moving to Philadelphia, I took on significant continuing education loads, on top of all of my responsibilities at Endeavor, writing Ultimate Hockey Training, and taking on a more active role with USA Hockey. This, of course, was paralleled by a continued drive to push new limits in the weight room. While I felt then, and still believe now, that I had a thorough understanding of the importance for deloads and weeks of backing of training-related stresses, I DRASTICALLY under-estimated the accumulative effect of NON-training-related stressors. I also think I may have failed to recognize the impact the eustress, or “positive stress”, which simply refers to stress that’s coming from desirable events. In other words, my life at the time was filled with A LOT of awesome stuff, which lead me to burning the candle at both ends…and maybe a slight abuse of my favorite caffeinated drink.

Yep, three cups ought to get me through the day.

After a few months, I felt exhausted, but had good days and bad days, good weeks and bad weeks. Enough good days to keep pressing on. I had been in this position before. In the past whenever I felt rundown, I knew it was time to get a little more sleep and deload my caffeine consumption. I’m pretty good about sticking with things, so when I want to go cold turkey on caffeine consumption for a couple weeks, it’s a fairly easy process, and I generally feel a lot better when I get back on the wagon (or is it off the wagon?)

After about a year, though, I realized things were different this time. I slept more for weeks, and didn’t feel any better. I cut back on caffeine and felt TERRIBLE, almost feverish, instantly. My typical sense of unconditional optimism completely vanquished, and I was uncharacteristically irritable. The usual tricks weren’t working, and frankly, I was a little lost.

It was at this point that I started learning more about a state sometimes described as parasympathetic overtraining, and a related consequence of adrenal fatigue (my friend Anthony Donskov wrote a great article on different times of overtraining last week: System in Balance: Programming Regeneration). Essentially Interestingly, it was also around this time that I picked up Joel Jamieson’s BioForce HRV and started monitoring my morning resting heart rate and heart rate variability. During that time, my resting heart rate was regularly around 41-42, and as low as 35.7, and my HRV was typically in the high 90’s. All of this would be great news if I was even remotely good aerobic conditioning, but I wasn’t. I also noticed that a little sympathetic stimulus (one heavy set of only a couple lifts, a small cup of coffee, etc.) made me feel infinitely better, but too much of this type of stimulus (e.g. what I’d consider a “normal” training session from the past, a couple cups of coffee, etc.) would cause me to crash, hard. On top of all of this, I was conscious that my short-term memory wasn’t what it used to be either, a scary realization.

Ultimately, all of this lead me to the conclusion that I was overstressed (or under-recovered), and that I likely had developed some nutrient deficiencies over that time period (and realistically, over all of the preceding years) that I needed to look into. In short, it was time for an inspection.

I went to a doctor for the first time in about 4 years and requested a physical and some basic blood work. They were glad to do the typical stuff: heart rate, blood pressure, blood lipid panel, blood glucose, etc. As usual, I passed all of these with flying colors. My request to get hormone levels checked was denied. After a follow-up visit, I confirmed my suspicion that I wasn’t going to get anywhere with a typical family physician and reached out to Dr. Rick Cohen at Bioletics. I first came across Bioletics years ago when Eric Cressey mentioned that they offered at home Vitamin D assessments. Having donned a translucent skin tone for most of my life, in large part the result of me spending all of my Summers training inside of ice rinks…and later gyms and research labs, I’ve long suspected that I had a deficiency and thought this would be a good time to discuss getting this, and a host of other things checked out. The neat thing about Bioletics is that they offer at-home saliva, urine, and blood assessments. I went through an initial battery of easy assessments that in many ways confirmed my suspicion of adrenal fatigue. I was low in specific amino acids, certain hormones, and omega-3 fatty acid levels, among other things.

Click here for more information on Bioletics >> Bioletics: Know your body, find your edge

After reviewing my results with Dr. Cohen, I started taking Bioletic’s “Core 4” program, which includes a Vitamin D spray, and Omega-3 peach-flavored syrup (taking this has been the highlight of my day for the past 8 months), a greens powder, a “daily dose” pack that included 2 whole food & herb concentrate tablets, a vitamin D tablet, an omega-3 tablet, and an anti-oxidant tablet. I was also taking two scoops of their “Fund Aminos” amino acid powder (another highlight to my day…this stuff is delicious, and tastes AWESOME with herba mate tea). All of Bioletic’s supplements come from whole food, non genetically modified sources, which I dig. I also started taking some different magnesium supplements, and a separate amino acid l-tyrosine. At the same time, I was conscious about trying to get some more sleep, drink only small amounts of coffee (one cup in the morning), and not take on more responsibilities than I should, almost all of which I had tried before with no significant impact on my health and energy.

It only took a couple weeks before I started to feel noticeably better. I wasn’t as foggy in the morning, felt less irritable, and had a little more energy throughout the day. Fast forward a couple months, and I felt considerably better, enough to start training regularly again, albeit at a slightly lower volume than before. The cool thing about the “Core 4” program is that you’re provided at-home assessments every month to assess different markers, so you can track your progress overtime. I told myself from the start that I would give it a solid 6 month commitment before I made any judgements as to how effective the process has been. At the 6-month point, my antioxidant, vitamin D, and omega-3 levels were all in optimal ranges. I feel AWESOME and have a renewed ability to train hard, while more stringently balancing my other responsibilities. Even better, I feel like I’ve regained a sense of “stress flexibility”. In other words, one long day of work or one night of suboptimal sleep doesn’t send me down a negative spiral anymore. In fact, I generally wake up after a short night of sleep and feel like I have the same energy levels the entire next day; I’m just aware of the fact that I’ll need to get some more sleep the next night. It’s been an educational journey, and I’m thrilled to have my energy/personality back. I’m eternally grateful to Dr. Cohen and the guidance he’s provided along the way!

There are two related points I want to make before wrapping this story up:

1) I can say with decent confidence that many doctors would read this and say something along the lines of “there is no conclusive research evidence that supplementation with vitamin D (or omega-3s, or amino acids, or just about anything else for that matter) positively impact performance, energy, etc.” There is certainly more research evidence that these things have a positive impact on specific health markers, but I think the “there isn’t sufficient research support” idea DRASTICALLY underestimates how integrated the body’s systems are and how providing better building blocks will have a significant and potentially unforeseen/unpredictable benefits on an individual’s health AND performance.

2) I’ve often wondered why certain people seem to break down emotionally so easily. I knew people in college that would completely freak out if they had two exams in the same week. Why do spouses snap because a dirty dish is left out or the trash wasn’t taken out? In certain cases, stress is mounting and a single event sets the individual off. That said, I think a lot of people live just beneath this stress threshold for a variety of reasons, and may not be aware that their response to any given stimulus is a little extreme. The multitude of factors causing to live at or just beneath this threshold are too extensive to fully outline in this article, but I believe some of the lesser known culprits are: exposure to electromagnetic frequencies, nutrient, chemical, and enzymatic deficiencies or imbalances related to dietary choices, heavy metal accumulation from dietary choices and water supplies, hormonal changes related to taking birth control, toxins leaching from plastics (think plastic wrap, tupperware, water bottles, etc.), and a variety of deleterious health consequences related to using microwaves. The take home here is that all of these things HEAVILY influence an individual’s personality, and, naturally, their ability to adapt to further stressors in their lives.

This story started as an illustration of the impact a more proactive and specific approach to owning one’s health had on me personally, but the implications are much larger. If you take a step back and look at our population as a whole, you’ll noticed that, on average, we aren’t very healthy. Roughly 75% of the US is overweight, most people’s diets are dreadful, and few people are even MINIMALLY active. You pair this with a dangerously irresponsible agricultural system and a REACTIVE “medicate symptoms” based health care model, and it’s fair to conclude that we’re headed down a scary and extremely expensive path. In my opinion, it’s time for people to start taking their health into their own hands, and, just as you would your car, get regular in-depth check-ups on various health and nutrient markers. Don’t strive for “normal” (normal values are adjusted regularly based on what the average person portrays coming into a clinic/hospital; in other words, as our populations becomes increasingly deficient in some areas or excessive in others, the norms change to accommodate!); strive for optimal. Optimal health is the foundation upon which optimal performance is built. If you’re serious about pursuing changes in your health, energy levels, body composition, or performance, start by ensuring your body is in an optimal state to do so.

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

P.S. Optimal health + a specific hockey training system = Maximum Performance.

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Several months ago, Mike Potenza wrote a great article for titled “What’s New in Regeneration Training?”

In the article, Mike outlined several interesting pieces of technology that can be used to facilitate or monitor recovery, one of which included “Earthing” products. Earthing, or “grounding”, is one of those naturalistic concepts that I think a lot of people will write off despite it being fairly intuitive. Quite simply, the earth has an electrical charge that has restorative properties when we come in contact with it. Thanks to rubber-soled shoes (think insulation), houses, cars, etc., in general, we spend drastically less time in direct contact with the Earth than our barefoot walking, hole in the ground sleeping predecessors. Other than certain house pets, we’re the only species on the planet that is removed from exposure to the Earth’s electrical charge.

Think of how you felt the last time you walked through grass barefoot, dug your feet into the sand at the beach, or went for a quick dip in the ocean. In almost every case, you’d experience an increase in energy and sense of well-being. Naturally, being outside also means being exposed to the sun, which has its own benefits, but the feeling you get in these circumstances isn’t entirely from sunlight or from the fresh air. When we come in contact with the Earth, we are influenced by its abundance of free electrons (negatively charged ions) such that our bodies shift toward reaching an electrical equilibrium with the Earth, similar to how water might empty one tube and fill up another until they reached an equal height if a bridge was made between the two. In Earthing by Clint Ober, Dr. Stephen Sinatra MD, and Martin Zucker, the authors write “…the biological clock of the body needs to be continually calibrated by the pulse of the Earth that governs the circadian rhythms of all life on the planet.” This statement, as I’ll discuss shortly, is supported by some pretty fascinating research.

Some of the reported benefits of Earthing include:

  1. Decreased inflammation
  2. Reduced chronic pain
  3. Improved sleep quality
  4. Increased energy
  5. Lower stress and improved calmness
  6. Normalized biological rhythm
  7. Thins blood and improves blood pressure
  8. Relieves muscle tension and headaches
  9. Lessens hormonal and menstrual symptoms
  10. Speeds healing
  11. Reduces jet lag
  12. Protects the body against environmental electromagnetic fields
  13. Accelerates recovery

A quick scan of that list reveals that Earthing could have a positive impact on our health and performance through a variety of mechanisms. One of the first studies conducted on Earthing products involved tracking 60 people (38 women, 22 men) who had some form of sleeping problem. After 30 days of sleeping on an grounded bed pads, they found that:

  1. 85% went to sleep more quickly
  2. 93% reported sleeping better
  3. 82% experienced a significant reduction in muscle stiffness
  4. 74% experienced elimination or significant reduction of chronic back and joint pain
  5. 100% reported feeling more rested the next morning

Another study had 12 individuals with sleep problems, pain, and stress (as a brief aside, this essentially describes the overwhelming majority of the US population!) sleep on Earthing pads for 8 weeks. Their individual daily cortisol (commonly referred to as the “stress hormone”) levels were assessed at 4-hour intervals for 24 hours at the beginning of the study and again 6 weeks later. Cortisol is supposed to peak around 8am, decline until about noon, remain at a slightly elevated rate until around 4, and then tail off, reaching it’s lowest point around midnight. This natural fluctuation can be used as a marker of circadian rhythm. At the beginning of the study, there were HUGE amounts of variability among the individuals, with several having ridiculously high peaks at 8am, or random peaks in the middle of the night. Interestingly, even after this relatively brief exposure, all of the individuals’ 24-hour cortisol profiles aligned to converge toward what could be considered optimal, such that the variability between the individuals was essentially negligible. No more random spikes during the night or excessive spikes in the morning. 8 of the participants also had an increase in melatonin, another important hormone that helps regulate sleep and the circadian rhythm.

Most of us are familiar with the importance of eating foods rich in “antioxidants” to combat the free radicals throughout the body. Free radicals, in essence, are simply positively charged ions scavenging for a negatively charged ion to latch too. Earthing provides the body with the extra electrons to serve this very function. Also, studies using infrared imaging to assess tissue temperature have found that Earthing causes a significant reduction in “hot” areas thought to be associated with inflammation.

Having studied neuroscience in grad school, thinking of the human body as an electrical network isn’t that big of a stretch. After all, the nervous system communicates via electrical impulses and even things such as simple as an unspoken thought can be mapped by viewing the neurons that fire to produce it. What many people are unaware of (which can be tested by simply walking around with a voltmeter) is how significant of an influence living in an electronic world has on our bodies. We are CONSTANTLY being exposed to electromagnetic fields from wires in the wall, TVs, iphones, microwaves, etc. The neat thing about Earthing products is that in addition to providing all of the aforementioned benefits, it also shields us from these other electrical influences, which, as you can imagine, can have a disturbing effect on the electrical state and processes within our body.

For more information, check out

At this point, you might be wondering how the Earth’s natural electrical field has been turned into a product series. Basically, you can buy a mat (which you can put under your desk to rest your feet on and/or in front of your keyboard to rest your forearms on) a half-sheet to put on your bed, full sheets, sleeping bags, and mattresses that are lined with wires which can relay the electrical charge from a wire plugged into the ground (the circular hole beneath the two vertical plugs) of an electrical outlet. Of course, you could run a rod out your window and stick it directly in the Earth, but this isn’t as practical for most people.

On a personal note, I dropped $200 on the “Earthing Starter Kit” which included a mat and a half-sheet about 4 months ago and have been using it consistently since then. I noticed an immediate difference in how quickly I fell asleep and how I felt the next morning. After several months, I can say definitively that I sleep considerably better, I recover faster from stressors of all forms, and I’m more even-keeled in general. In fact, I had one day that felt out of the ordinary a couple months back; I was sorer than usual from training, didn’t have much energy, etc. I realized that night that I had forgotten to plug in the half-sheet I sleep with the night before and I discovered the next morning that the mat under my desk was unplugged as well. Honestly, I would have never guessed it would have that kind of impact, but it clearly did (and does).

Earthing has a significant impact on inflammation, neutralizes free radicals, shields from electromagnetic fields, and regulates our biological rhythms. All of these things allow athletes (and people in general) to handle stressors more effectively and ultimately to adapt and perform better. To me, Earthing products are one of the most affordable, practical, effective and underutilized recovery tools available today. I can say, without hesitation, that it was some of the best $200 I’ve ever spent!

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

P.S. If you want to maximize the transfer of your off-ice training to on-ice performance, you’ll want to follow a specific hockey training system designed to do just that.

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