A couple weeks ago David Lasnier and I drove out to Chicago for Perform Better’s 3-Day Summit. We were both excited for the summit, but we were both equally as excited for the drive. I know some people loathe car rides (Emily averages about 3-6 minutes before she falls asleep…even when she’s driving), but we both love them. Aside from enjoying the luxurious comfort of my ’99 Saturn 4-door family sedan, it gives us an opportunity to talk shop, catch up about life, and finally settle the ongoing battle of who has the highest caffeine tolerance.
A few of the highlights from the trip:
Naturally, it would be impossible for me to recount everything I learned from an event of this magnitude. Below are a few of the more “big picture” take homes:
Success Secrets from Mike Boyle
This was arguably the best talk of the event. As far as I know, this was the first time Boyle told his story publicly. Not exactly the “overnight success” that so many young coaches seem to be chasing (myself included at times!)
Building Better Athletes from Robert Dos Remedios
First time I heard Coach Dos speak. Awesome presentation and great guy. Inspiration below:
Anatomy Trains in Training from Thomas Myers
This was the second time I got to see Myers speak in a 3-week time span. Major take homes:
Evolve or Die from Thomas Plummer
First time I’ve heard any of Plummer’s information. Calling him animated would be a drastic understatement.
Barefoot Training from Mark Verstegen
I’ve followed a lot of Mark’s work, but I had never heard him speak. Great presenter (as was the case with most of the presenters I saw).
The Compliance Solution from John Berardi
Dr. Berardi is another guy whose work I’ve studied for the last 5 years or so. His perspective was refreshing and dedication to continual improvement was inspiring.
With the caliber of speakers at this event, I knew I’d come away with a few new ideas on how to improve our programs at Endeavor. That said, I learned just as much outside of the presentations as I did in. David and I stayed with Kyle Bangen, the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Michigan Tech, so the three of us spent a lot of time together. On Friday, we grabbed lunch with Coach Boyle and got to catch up a bit about how things are going at BU and MBSC. What really stood out to me is how “famous” Boyle was at this event. It literally took us 30 minutes to walk a couple hundred yards from one end of the conference center to the other because so many people grabbed him along the way. Probably more notable was how genuinely happy Boyle was to see/meet each one of them. Boyle continues to have a huge influence on my career; he’s been a great mentor for me, both in terms of providing current insight into training methodologies and shaping my overall character. I hope to reach a point in my career when I can reminisce about my experiences working at the NHL (still holding out for the Flyers to call) and Olympic levels, and helping other strength coaches do the same.
About an hour later, David and I were completely tanked and in desperate need of a coffee. Right at that time, Charlie Weingroff walked by with a not-so-inconspicuous ziploc bag full of Red Line, or as he calls it, “liquid courage”. David must have stopped at 4 7-11’s looking for Red Line on that trip with no luck. Charlie must “know a guy”.
Chris Poirier and the PB team hosted a social that night. I spent the majority of the time catching up with Darryl Nelson and Maria Mountain, and I got to meet fellow-hockey strength and conditioning coach Anthony Donskov. I told Chris later that it was cool that the event was so-well attended that we could have a mini hockey-specific mastermind there. It was interesting to learn that we all had very few differences philosophically. The major differences in execution came down to what we were able to implement logistically in our setting, which is what we spent the majority of the time talking about. If I had an opportunity to redesign our facility from scratch I would knock down a few walls to ensure complete visibility. A huge design mistake that is a constant consideration in how we design programs and structure the flow throughout the facility.
After the social we went back to our hotel…slash water park. A view from our room balcony:
Our hotel pool had a moat around it
The next day was awesome. David, Kyle, and I had another “hockey training meeting” at lunch with Maria Mountain and Anthony Donskov. I wish I would have recorded this lunch. A lot of great ideas thrown around from really bright people. Before the day wrapped up I got a chance to catch up a bit with John Berardi. I’ve been following John’s work for several years now, and still believe that his book Precision Nutrition is a must own for athletes and non-athletes alike. The results John showed from his online training clients were pretty remarkable, and as I mentioned above, his realization that a lack of information isn’t as much of a problem as us relying on a poor delivery vehicle for this information is dead on. We talked about the idea of putting together a “dripped” information system so that our athletes could receive nutritional habits based on their body composition goals to focus on every couple weeks with a few tips in between on how to implement or stay on track with the habit. Ultimately I think this is the direction we’ll go with our athletes; it’s just a matter of whether I’ll wait for him to design the product or if I’ll team up with someone to do it myself.
I don’t remember when, but at some point I caught up with Gray Cook and Brett Jones in the lobby. Both of these guys were awesome to talk to. Most of our hockey players have really jacked up feet, so I was looking for some insight from Brett on when he does and doesn’t recommend orthotics. We have an inordinate number of hockey players that present with flat feet and I’m not at all convinced that it’s a purely structural problem. I am, however, convinced that foot alignment and control is of paramount importance in human performance, even in hockey players. Ultimately I think I’ll end up paying Charlie to do an in service for our staff on the issue because he seems to have a better hold on it than anyone else I’ve talked to, but until then I’m still searching for answers elsewhere and Gray and Brett are as bright as they come.
Because we had a 14 hour drive home and we lost an hour with the time zone change, David and I decided we were going to leave first thing Sunday morning. And while I came for training information, I wasn’t going to leave Chicago without a slice of authentic deep dish pizza.
Most filling pizza ever
If you’ve been on the fence about attending one of the Perform Better Summits in the past, I highly encourage you to take the plunge next year. The presenters are world class, there is a lot of really bright attendees and they’re just generally fun. Hopefully I’ll see you there next year!
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.