A while back I mentioned I was in the final stages of writing a hockey training book that I strongly believe will be the best available resource on hockey development to date. The release of that project has been delayed and re-delayed as it takes longer than I originally anticipated to build a DVD with ~300 exercise videos.

My goal with the new book was to lay out my entire system, from age-appropriate development guidelines to comprehensive exercise progressions and program design strategies. It’s all there. I’ll fill you in on more of the details as we finalize everything and get ready to release it to the public.

In the meantime, I get regular email inquiries from parents or youth coaches that want their kids to start doing some type of off-ice training and just don’t know where to start. Most of these emails come from people with no background in exercise science or prescription, minimal if any equipment, and are generally looking for improvements in speed and power.

Regardless of the training goal, success is built on a foundation of proper training habits and proper movement. The player that half-asses or skips their warm-up and goes right into high-intensity sprints or jumps is both limiting his/her own performance and priming themselves for injury, short- or long-term. The player that doesn’t condition because it’s hard, and instead does extra arm work because they think big or “toned” (gender-specific) biceps will make them more attractive to the opposite sex, will inevitably fall short of the player that takes a better training approach.

In this regard, you don’t need much equipment to start developing proper training habits and optimal movement patterns (Just grab the equipment I mention here: Three Things Every Hockey Player Should Own). It’s important for young hockey players to learn (read: be taught how to) move correctly, not just fast or at a high intensity. It’s just as important that players learn what NOT to do. Many youth hockey training programs are still characterized by excessive volumes oF sprints and jumps, hundreds of crunches/sit-ups, push-ups with terrible form, and laps around the rink.

While I think the hockey training industry has evolved substantially since I was a player, the truth is that most of the information hasn’t trickled down to the youth levels, where it’s needed most. A few years back, I wrote an ebook called Hockey Training University’s Off-Ice Performance Training Course.

My training philosophies and systems have certainly evolved since that time (as has my regret for choosing such a stupid title!), but the systems I describe there are still extremely beneficial for youth players and it’s a great starting point for those new to training. It’s one of the only off-ice training resources that outlines how a player can train with no equipment, lays out an entire training system (not just “speed training” or “core training”), teaches exercise progressions (and how to do them WELL), and introduces the idea of periodization, or altering the focus of a training stimulus to make maximal progress.

I continue to get great feedback about the course from parents and coaches at the youth level that have implemented the training programs with their kids.

A hockey dad recently emailed me with:

“Hi Kevin, I bought your program last year and used it with my son and a couple of his friends (11 year olds).  My son became one of the best players on the rep team and has credited the course for his development.  Thanks for that. This summer the coach has asked me to include the rest of the team. I could sure use those additional bonuses you offer now.”

Feedback from a customer with a more advanced training background:

“I recently purchased Kevin Neeld’s Off-Ice Training Course. To say it is a valuable resource for ice hockey players and coaches is an understatement. The manual that Kevin has put together is excellent. It is a must have for all youth and high school ice hockey players and coaches. The manual breaks down every phase of training for an athlete with well-illustrated photos as well as a series of progressions for athletes. Having trained a lot of ice hockey players, I can say without hesitation that this program will guide you through a series of movements that will enable you to improve your level of play once the season starts. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this program and I guarantee that you will not be disappointed.” – Kevin Miller, CSCS

If you’re starting from scratch like the majority of the youth hockey community and looking for a program that will help improve speed, lower body power, core strength, and conditioning, I highly recommend you check out my Off-Ice Performance Training Course. It’s a zero-risk endeavor. The course comes with a default 60-day money back guarantee, but because I never want to mislead or disappoint anyone, I’m happy to extend it to a lifetime guarantee for you.  Click the link below for more information!

Click here >> Off-Ice Performance Training

If you have any questions, just post them in the comments section below and I’ll get back to you ASAP!

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

P.S. The information in my Off-Ice Performance Training Course can be applied in individual and team settings, and during the off-season, pre-season, and in-season, so you didn’t miss the boat just because the off-season is half over!

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Off-Ice Performance Training

Kevin is the author of Hockey Training University’s “Off-Ice Performance Training Course“, the first product on the market geared toward helping hockey players and coaches of all age-levels and abilities design and implement effective off-ice training programs. This incredible resource includes three FREE bonuses (valued at over $250!): “Complete Hockey Nutrition and Supplementation”, “The Secret to Team Success Guide”, and 1-Week Pre-Season Training Guide.

On Monday, we went over the difference between muscle length and muscle stiffness. If you missed it, check it out here:

Muscle Properties: Short vs. Stiff

The big question I left you with is: Is stiffness a bad thing?

There isn’t a simple answer to this complex question. A few considerations:

1) Over the years, I’ve noticed that the athletes that seemed the stiffest were also usually the fastest. This actually makes sense since stiffer muscles would allow greater force to be produced in less range of motion, allowing rapid changes of direction and foot turnover.

2) A lot of people associate stifness with limited range of motion. If you recall back to Monday’s post, range of motion is only limited by stiffness if their is insufficient force to achieve a range of motion. Think of two 180lb athletes stepping off a 24 inch box and “sticking” the landing. Since they’re both the same weight and are jumping from the same height, the relative force requirements of the landing would be the same. Assuming they have an identical anatomical and neural make up (this is an absurd assumption, but necessary for this example), the athlete with stiffer muscles would not descend as far into a squat landing position as the athlete with less stiff muscles.

Since the force requirements are the same, and stiffer muscles require MORE force to go through a given range of motion, the stiffer athlete would probably land higher than the less stiff athlete. Consider the implications this has in stops and starts. The ability to reduce more force through a smaller range of motion would allow for a more rapid change of direction (as mentioned above).

3) Muscle hypertrophy leads to an increase in the number of muscle fibers in parallel. This, by definition, increases muscle stiffness.

4) Stiffness has somewhat haphazardly been accused as the cause of musculotendinous injuries. In reality, it’s a stiffness imbalance that results in the over-stretching or over-working of synergistic or antagonistic muscles.

5) Stretching prior to activity, long thought of as an injury-reduction strategy, actually increases the risk of injury. This is only the case if stretching is performed IMMEDIATELY before the activity. This can be explained by the results of a study by Ryan et al. (2009) demonstrating that decrements in musculotendinous stiffness last about 20 minutes following static stretching protocols. Not that static stretching is unviersally bad, but stretching and then immediately going into activity involving the same joints creates laxity around the joints and can lead to undesired movements.

Hockey Training-Lateral Kneeling Quadruped Rock (Backward)

Mobility exercises are more appropriate pre-training than static stretching

I realize this is a lot of information to digest. Increased stiffness itself is not a bad thing. In other words, increased stiffness won’t decrease your athletic performance. In fact, it likely improves your performance! The big take home message is that you want to avoid is a stiffness IMBALANCE between synergistic and antagonistic muscles. A common imbalance in hockey players is having stiffer glutes than adductors, resulting in excessive stress to the adductors (and potentially adductor or “groin” strains). I talked about this imbalance specifically in a previous post:

Does Flexibility INCREASE Your Risk of Injury?

To your success,

Kevin Neeld
OptimizingMovement.com
UltimateHockeyTraining.com

P.S. If you feel the flexibility in your athletes is lacking, it’s important to recognize what might be limiting it. This is the system I use to do just that: Optimizing Movement

Reference:

Ryan, Beck, Herda, et al. (2009). The Time Course of Musculotendinous Stiffness Responses Following Different Durations of Passive Stretching. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 38(10), 632-639.

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Optimizing Movement DVD Package

Click here for more information >> Optimizing Movement

This was a post from Endeavor’s website that got such a great response that I wanted to share it with you.

As you know, I’ve recently teamed up with Michael Boyle (Boston University), Sean Skahan (Anaheim Ducks) and Mike Potenza (San Jose Sharks) to launch an incredible hockey training website: HockeyStrengthandConditioning.com.

Hockey Strength and Conditioning

On the site, U of Minnesota Strength Coach Cal Dietz shared an interesting article with us. The article outlined research with groundbreaking results. If you value your hockey career, you’ll read carefully!

This article outlined a study that took MRI’s of the hips of 39 NHL and NCAA Division I hockey players. Of the 39 players, twenty-one (54%) had labral tears, twelve (31%) had muscle strains, and 2 (5%) had tendinosis (degeneration of the tendon) of the hips. Overall, 70% of the players had irregular findings on their MRIs. Interestingly, the majority of these players were considered “healthy” at the time of the study, meaning they were okay to play.

As shocking as these results may appear, I wasn’t at all surprised. Similar results have been found in the shoulders of baseball players, and hockey players completely abuse their hips. Most players spend no time doing the stretches they need to (because they’re either too lazy or don’t know which ones they should do), have poor motor control of muscles around the hips (which tears up the joint and labrum!), and spend WAY too much time on the ice.

A couple weeks ago, I was on the phone with Mike Potenza (San Jose Sharks); he mentioned that in over 90% of cases, the players he sees that have sports hernias do little to nothing in terms of training. Everyone at the collegiate and professional strength and conditioning levels understand that good training can improve a player’s performance, lengthen their career, and keep them out of the surgeon’s office. Hopefully youth players and parents will get the message.

To your continued health and success,

Kevin Neeld

P.S. If you’re looking for a step-by-step training system to use this off-season, check out my Off-Ice Performance Training course. I continue to get incredible feedback about the exercises and progressions in the course, from NCAA D1 Strength and Conditioning Coaches down through parents of youth players (e.g. peewees). Download your copy today!

Off-Ice Performance Training

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Tuesday, March 30th, is my 25th birthday. It seems like just yesterday I was stickhandling and playing one on one with my brother in my garage for hours everyday. How times flies.

Anyway, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate a birthday than giving you some presents to help fulfill your hockey potential!

I’ve made a special coupon for you so you can get 25% off EVERYTHING at my hockey training website.

Ice Hockey Training

Until Friday, April 2nd, you can save 25% on:

Hockey Training U’s Off-Ice Performance Training Course

Hockey Training U’s Hockey Training Programs

Breakaway Hockey Speed

Hockey Training Exercise Videos Membership

Just enter the coupon code “25bday” at checkout and the savings will pop right up.

…I know what you’re thinking, but I wouldn’t recommend waiting until my 100th birthday.

To another great year of hockey training!

Kevin Neeld

P.S. Don’t forget, you only have until March 31st to get access to all incredible information at HockeyStrengthandConditioning.com for $1!

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