Last Friday David and I made a trip up to Ramsey, NJ and White Plains, NY to hang out with Perry Nickelston and Anthony Renna. Hanging out with those guys was awesome. I really click well with entrepreneurs and people that are passionate about what they do. This is true of people in any field/industry, but especially when it comes to sports medicine and athletic development.
And nothing lights my lamp more than getting free t-shirts
One of the things that came out of talking with both Perry and Anthony was the value of actual training experience. The internet has completely revolutionized the education process. Because of the ease of starting a blog, everyone can share current information about how they’re training their athletes/clients. I remember Mike Boyle saying several years ago that most books were outdated by the time you get them. This may be less true with anatomy texts, but with books on training philosophies and methods, the time necessary to finish writing, editing, and publishing a book will make at least a portion of the material obsolete by the time it hits the presses. In other words, many book authors won’t agree with what they wrote in the book by the time we read it. It’s interesting because books are, or were, thought of as the “holy grail” of educational resources. The internet has gone a long way in cutting down on the deleterious effects of long publishing processes and in providing the most current information possible. This is good.
Unfortunately, the internet also spawned a population of unscrupulous “marketers.” The good thing about the long book publishing process is that it filtered the content. It’s a lot harder to get a book on any topic published than it is to start a website about it. Over the last couple years, the amount of hockey training information online has exploded. Some of it is outstanding; some of it is downright dangerous. What most casual readers don’t realize is that some of the information they’re reading comes from:
A lot of people in the strength and conditioning industry get really bent out of shape at the idea of people writing about training if they don’t train. To be honest, if people are reading and summarizing current research, it doesn’t bother me that they don’t work with a large athlete base because they’re writing can often introduce studies that I’m not familiar with, which leads me to seeking them out to read them myself.
There are “theorists” in every field. I remember reading Stephen Hawking’s book “Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays” several years ago and being amazed that he essentially outlined a mechanism for time travel. Of course, Hawking is known for being a profoundly intelligent mind in the field of THEORETICAL physics. Nobody actually thinks he’s traveling through time, nor would he ever represent himself as doing so.
One of the greatest minds in the history of the world
In contrast, many online crowds misrepresent themselves as working with vague, but insinuatingly large numbers of athletes. This misrepresentation is what I have a problem with. If you don’t train anyone, call yourself a theorist. If you only train one team, that you also coach, say that. If you’re training a few people, but helping out as an intern with other more advanced programs, say that. There’s no shame in developing as a professional and ramping up your business. I think most people avoid this because they’re either:
Obviously there are some similarities between these two, but in my view the latter is more repugnant than the former. Maybe I’m sympathetic because I started my website while I was still in grad school, but I look at writing online similar to anything else-it’s going to take time and practice to get good at it. Students that know they’re going to make a living training people wanting to start a site early in their careers just doesn’t bother me as much because their intentions are pure.
That said, I’d be interested to buy every hockey product online and then travel around the world to all of the author’s locations and see what they do on a day-to-day basis. I’d guess that many train people for less than 5 hours per week and that many have a background in playing hockey, but not in training players. This is BY FAR the biggest myth in all of hockey development:
Hell, playing high level hockey doesn’t even mean a player can TEACH the basics of hockey. All it means is that they were a good player. Not every good player is a good hockey coach; coaching takes special skill sets. Training is in a different universe altogether. There are BRILLIANT hockey strength and conditioning coaches that have never played a competitive game of hockey in their lives. This isn’t a knock on them at all. Having a profound knowledge of how the body functions doesn’t require playing the game, just understanding it.
Think of it like this-would you not trust a physical therapist because they’ve never played hockey? Would you not trust a hip surgeon JUST because they didn’t play?
WAIT! Before you saw off part of my femoral head…did you even play hockey??
Obviously not! These professionals make a living on their understanding of the body and perfecting their trade. Playing hockey will help strength and conditioning coaches understand the language and a bit more about the mentality of the players, but that’s it. It doesn’t in any way qualify someone without an educational background or coaching experience as an expert.
Hockey Playing Expert
Hockey Training Expert
When I see a new training product and the author’s biggest claim is that they played good hockey themselves, a red flag goes up.
Where you can find REAL hockey training experts
This is one of the reasons I have so much respect for my partners at HockeySC.com (Sean Skahan, Mike Potenza, and Darryl Nelson) and for my friend Maria Mountain; they ACTUALLY train real, live hockey players as their full time job, and the things they write about online, they actually do in real life! THESE are the people you should be getting your information from!
On a related note, I’ll conclude this long-winded rant by saying if you’re ever in the Philadelphia area and want to swing by Endeavor Sports Performance to see our facility and how we train our athletes, you’re more than welcome. I’ve always had an open door policy, and I think it’s good for people that have encountered some of my stuff on the internet to see that we’re actually implementing the same strategies I write about into our training systems, on a daily basis.
To your success,
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.