No One Conditions Alone

I’m in the process of writing an article for Hockey Strength and Conditioning on my experience helping with the San Jose Sharks prospect camp a few weeks back and I wanted to share a modified excerpt with you.

Mike’s intern Marcello, after coaching for a few hours (aka not at all warmed up or training) hopped in with one of the Sharks to do a brutal conditioning session on the treadmill. Why suffer the anguish? Conditioning alone sucks. Actually, conditioning sucks. Conditioning alone just sucks worse. It’s a huge help to have someone going through the grind with you.

Since returning, I’ve implemented a No One Conditions Alone policy at Endeavor. Coming back to Potenza’s incredible ability to lead by example, I didn’t tell anyone it was our policy; I just started conditioning with people who ended up having to condition on their own (we have to audible on our conditioning strategies for some of our athletes based on weekend tournaments and injuries). The first time I hopped in to do shuttles with someone, I got a thank you email. Our athletes noticed. Our staff noticed.

Just the other day, as luck would have it, one of our hockey players had to go through this brutal isohold->slideboard series 6x through, all with a 12 lb vest (the highest volume we go with this).

He was alone. I hopped in. Fellow coach David Lasnier hopped in. One of our interns hopped in.

Most recently, David and I trained together through a torturous circuit (4x through 50 yard sled march, 50 yard farmers walk, 20 sec squat hold, 20 kettlebell swings, 50 yard overhead keg walk, 20 sec front plank), after which I was only pretty sure that neither of us would throw up or pass out. I was in my dark place bad.

Quick side note. “Dark place” refers to that state of being where:

1) You can hear yourself breathing from the inside of your head

2) You can hear other people talking, but it sounds more likely someone narrating your life than someone actually speaking to you

3) You’re EXTREMELY fatigued. When I was in high school, I was so tired one morning (back to back practices with off-ice in between) that I got half way through my bowl of cereal before I realized I had poured orange juice on it. That is extreme fatigue.

After I got a drink from our fountain, I turned around to see one of our interns doing shuttle runs by himself. Damn it. I limped over to the track and immediately jumped in with him. As I returned back to the beginning of our track from the 1st lap on our shuttles I saw David walking over to one of our stationary bikes, where he sat down and finished a conditioning session with one of our other interns.

I try to encourage a team atmosphere at Endeavor. It’s important to me that our athletes know they aren’t being barked at by someone with a loud voice, but no work ethic. It’s important they know that our staff and everyone they’re training with are in it for the same goal: to make them succeed.

There are two major take homes from this “experiment”:

1) Lead by example. I didn’t have to say much before all of our coaches and interns were hopping in to condition with athletes or race them during sprints if they needed an extra push. I just did it.

2) Go through the grind together. Athletes have a lot more respect for coaches that put their blood lactate where their mouth is (not my best metaphor).

To your continued success,

Kevin Neeld

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