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This is Part 2 of a Hockey Development Interview I recently did. If you missed Part 1, check it out here: Hockey Development Interview: Part 1.
7. What are signs of over-training a parent or youth coach should lookout for?
Fatigue, loss of enthusiasm for training/playing, loss of appetite, general irritability, sleeplessness, etc. Sounds like most teenagers! From a physiological standpoint, you can teach kids to measure their resting heart rate every morning. An increase in RHR by ~8-10 beats per minute may be indicative of overtraining.
The trend toward year-round single-sport participation and increased emphasis on competition at the expense of preparation has drastically increased the risk of overuse injuries and overtraining symptoms in youth athletes. When you look into the research on long-term athletic development and start to read the personal stories about the most elite athletes, it’s crazy how backwards we have it. Playing multiple sports as an adolescent (up to high school) is the best way to achieve elite-level abilities in a single-sport. General preparation (off-ice training/strength and conditioning) needs to be a year-round focus, but should have it’s own “season” for a few months of the year.
8. How much does proper nutrition play in how an athlete performs in hockey?
It’s huge. To be overly basic, nutrition provides the fuel for optimal performance AND optimal recovery. This is important for training, practices, and games alike, but is ESPECIALLY important when players are at tournaments with multiple games within 24-hour time blocks. If you don’t fuel properly, performance will suffer. Nutrition also plays a paramount role in optimizing an athlete’s hormonal profile, which also has implications for performance, recovery, and body composition changes. Hockey players are expected to be lean, strong, and compete at high intensities every shift for a very long season. It’s impossible to do this without fueling properly. The players that think they found a loophole and can bypass the nutrition component of preparation simply don’t recognize the level that they COULD be performing at if they got their act together.
9. What type of post workout drink do you recommend?
Chocolate milk, Generation UCAN’s SuperStarch and Whey Protein Blend, Water, and/or a smoothie (which can encompass the preceding ingredients, but also add some fruit, ground flax seed, chia seeds, etc.). Most supplements are garbage, overhyped marketing attempts. Keep it simple.
10. Is there a website that parents and athletes can visit to educate themselves about hockey?
I think USA Hockey has done a good job with adding content to their site on their American Development Model over the last year. HockeyStrengthandConditioning.com is a membership site I co-run with Mike Potenza (San Jose Sharks), Sean Skahan (Anaheim Ducks), and Darryl Nelson (USA Hockey NTDP) that has articles on proper training and nutrition, exercise videos, sample training programs, and a forum to interact with all of us. My site KevinNeeld.com is a free resource geared toward hockey training and player development, and visitors can get a free copy of my speed training manual “Breakaway Hockey Speed” by signing up for my newsletter. Lastly, my two friends Kim McCullough (TotalFemaleHockey.com) and Maria Mountain (HockeyTrainingPro.com) have great resources for female players and goalies, respectively.
11. What words of advice can you give on injury prevention in hockey?
Train year-round. Learn to move well before you move fast or often. Make sure your hockey season has a DISTINCT off-season (no hockey). Play multiple sports when you’re young. Eat real food. Sleep regularly.
12. Is there any other advice that you would like to provide to our youth athletes and their parents?
We exist in an era where healthcare costs have skyrocketed due to self-induced/preventable diseases and injuries. Schools are cutting physical education programs, and still don’t offer healthy food options. Your body is your most valuable asset. Take care of it. Approach finding training/nutrition professionals with the same care you would your doctor, lawyer, accountant, etc. Find information from qualified professionals online and start implementing it. Righting the ship needs to start at home; they won’t learn anywhere else.
To your success,
P.S. If you’re looking for an off-ice training program for youth hockey players, check out my Off-Ice Performance Training Course!
Kevin has rapidly established himself as a leader in the field of physical preparation and sports science for ice hockey. He is currently the Head Performance Coach for the Boston Bruins, where he oversees all aspects of designing and implementing the team’s performance training program, as well as monitoring the players’ performance, workload and recovery. Prior to Boston, Kevin spent 2 years as an Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the San Jose Sharks after serving as the Director of Performance at Endeavor Sports Performance in Pitman, NJ. He also spent 5 years as a Strength and Conditioning Coach with USA Hockey’s Women’s Olympic Hockey Team, and has been an invited speaker at conferences hosted by the NHL, NSCA, and USA Hockey.