The preceding two articles discussed the various limitations to range of motion, and the 8 key factors influencing sport performance, respectively. If you missed them, you can check them out here:

  1. Understanding Range of Motion: More is not better
  2. Dissecting Performance Limitations

Today’s article will build on these by presenting a few simple strategies to assessing and monitoring key performance factors. As a quick review, these 8 major factors were:

  1. Genetic Capacity
  2. Movement Capacity
  3. Physical Capacities
  4. Technical Skill
  5. Tactical Abilities
  6. Fuel State
  7. Psychology
  8. Readiness

You can further bucket these concepts by their modifiability and whose responsibility it is to assess and modify them:

  1. Nonmodifiable: Genetic capacity (although if you eat, live, and train like garbage your epigenetics will express the worst version of you possible…so this can be negatively modified I suppose)
  2. Sport Coach Modifiable: Technical Skill, Tactical Abilities
  3. Support Staff Modifiable: Movement Capacity, Physical Capacities, Fuel State, Psychology, Readiness

Because of the positions I work in (Director of Performance at Endeavor Sports Performance, Strength and Conditioning Coach/Manual Therapist for the Philadelphia Flyers Junior Team and Assistant S&C Coach with the US Women’s National Team), I tend to focus on those that fall within the “Support Staff Modifiable” column, as these are the ones I have the ability to influence. Below is a list of assessments that can be used for each of these categories:

Movement Capacity: Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA), Functional Movement Screen, Postural Restoration Institute (PRI) tests, Y-Balance Test, traditional orthopedic assessments for range of motion (We use seated hip rotation, lying shoulder rotation at 90° abduction, FABER, Quadruped Rock, Craig’s Test, and Seated T-Spine Rotation). Within these options, SFMA is most appropriate for an individual in pain, whereas the FMS is more suitable for individuals not in pain to get a basic assessment of movement quality. I believe PRI has value within both of these circumstances. The traditional orthopedic tests mentioned above are largely encompassed with the SFMA “breakouts”.

Functional Movement Systems
An outstanding tool to get a quick glimpse of how people move and to pre-qualify them for certain exercises.

Physical Capacities: Vertical Jump, Broad Jump, Lateral Bound, Multiple-Jump Tests, Olympic Lifting Variation 1-3 RMs, Major Lift 1-10+ RMs, Continuous Conditioning Tests (e.g. 12-Minute, 6-Minute or 2-Minute Run, Bike or Swim), Intermittent Conditioning Tests (Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Tests, Beep Tests, Repeat Shuttle Tests, etc.), and Cardiac Parameters (General: Resting Heart Rate, Heart Rate Variability; During the Test: Average Heart Rate, Maximum Heart Rate, 60s Heart Rate Recovery).

Fuel State: This is tougher to measure without blood, urine, and/or saliva tests, but a 3-Day Food Log will give you a pretty good indication of what the athletes are eating on a regular basis.

Psychology: I’m sure there are a lot of these out here, but I like the “Grit Scale” questionnaire from Angela Duckworth at UPenn.

Readiness: Resting Heart Rate, HRV, Daily Recovery Questionnaires (See Below), Perceived Exertion Questionnaires, OmegaWave.

Subjective Questionnaire

This is a great questionnaire stemming from the research of McClean & Coutts (International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 2010) that Patrick Ward introduced me to. There are plenty of others, including the “Profile of Mood States”, that have some merit.

We don’t use all of these at Endeavor, primarily because we don’t have the budget for certain pieces of technology and/or because some of these assessments are redundant. I don’t think it’s necessary to perform the world’s most comprehensive testing battery with every athlete. I do, however, think it’s worth the time and effort to do enough that you can identify outliers and red flags.

Wrapping Up
One of my inspirations for writing this series stems from several conversations I’ve had with athletes and coaches over the last few weeks about why they (or their athletes) aren’t able to perform up to some desirable standard. Sometimes the answer lies in not possessing the necessary movement or physical capacities, in which case there is likely a training solution. Often times there are underlying nutrition/lifestyle causes for droughts in performance or a failure to maintain a high level of play consistently throughout a single event or across multiple events within a fairly short amount of time (e.g. a week or weekend). Insufficient or inappropriate fueling, for example, can mask itself as poor conditioning. Poor sleep quality can mask itself as “overtraining”.

The big take home message here is that if you don’t have some means of assessing these buckets, you don’t really have a way to identify whether someone is trending in a positive or negative direction for any of the individual factors. It can be easy to identify decreasing performance, but the goal is never to just point out when someone is playing poorly; it’s to make targeted adjustments to help get them back on track. Utilizing a few basic assessments can provide extremely valuable information to identify the primary factors contributing to performance plateaus or decreases, and therefore provide a foundation for making the necessary changes to improve performance moving forward.

To your success,

Kevin Neeld
OptimizingMovement.com
UltimateHockeyTraining.com

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I hope you had a great weekend. Last week was exciting, as I had an opportunity to grab dinner Tuesday and Wednesday with Mike Potenza, who was in town to play the Flyers. It’s always great to catch up with Mike, as he’s not only a good friend, but also one of the best S&C coaches in hockey and constantly learning more to get better. As always, I picked up some great ideas on ways to improve our programs. Thursday I was fortunate to score tickets to the Flyers game; unfortunately the Flyers got shelled 7-3. Maybe it’s me, but the last two games I went to they gave up a combined total of 14 goals against! Friday we had, believe it or not, our first off-season hockey player come back to get assessed to start his “Summer” training, which means 14-hour work days are right around the corner for me.

With all of that said, I wasn’t able to find time to get any writing done. Luckily, I did come across a few great resources that I wanted to share with you. Check out the articles below and please feel free to post any comments you have in the section below!

Conference Review: Assessing Movement with Stuart McGill and Gray Cook from Patrick Ward
This is a great summary of a recent seminar Patrick attended featuring presentations from Stuart McGill and Gray Cook. A lot of people, including very prominent authorities in the field, misinterpret the original intention of the Functional Movement Screen and over-emphasize the FMS’s role in predicting injury and under-value it’s role in pre-qualifying an individual for specific exercises. Patrick does a great job sharing his opinion on the topic, which is very much in line with my thinking.

Doing Simple Things Well from Patrick Ward
This is another post from Patrick that I really enjoyed. It was very “timely” as he and I spent 30 minutes on the phone discussing these same ideas days before this was posted. The more I learn about different assessment processes, the more I believe that part of the process is to identify outliers and make individualized adjustments to their stressors and/or recovery strategies to ensure they’re prepared to perform at the desired level. While there are infinite opportunities to “do more”, Patrick boils things down into a few very simple strategies to implement and interpret.

From A Child’s View, Parents Find Full-Ice Hockey No Fun from USA Hockey
This video from USA Hockey is both enlightening and funny. I’ve said before that parents and coaches with no understanding of the psychological development of kids really shouldn’t be making decisions about what’s in the kid’s best interest from an athletic development standpoint. Simply, their opinions are almost entirely emotionally driven without any consideration to the kid’s perspective. USA Hockey’s ADM guidelines are INCREDIBLY well-researched and thought out. I would encourage those that disagree with their recommendations to ask themselves whether they have the same background information as USA Hockey. If not, maybe do some more homework before you take an opposing stance. There’s a lot more to it than meets the eye.

 What’s the Hurry? from Jack Blatherwick
Jack Blatherwick is a legend in hockey, as he’s one of the first to apply specific off-ice strategies to transfer to the patterns and energy systems of hockey. This is a very simple article telling the personal athletic backgrounds of the men’s hockey players coming from Minnesota that participated in this year’s Olympics. Those offering off-season camps and showcase tournaments have done an outstanding job of instilling fear in youth parents that their kids need to play year-round hockey or they’ll be left behind. The crazy swings in psychological, neurological, and physical development that characterize adolescence make it easy to misinterpret developing later with developing less. This article sheds some light on what the best players in the world did to reach where they are today.

5 Things Every Youth Athlete Should Know from meThis is an article I wrote a couple weeks ago that has been one of the more popular ones in the history of my site. The response this article has gotten makes me think I should write more about “the art of coaching” and maybe a little less about the science. The bottom line is that if athletes aren’t prepared to do what others won’t, and aren’t resilient and able to overcome adversity, it’s extremely unlikely they’ll be successful in the long-term. This post outlines several messages we try to send to all of the athletes that train at our facility.

To your success,

Kevin Neeld
OptimizingMovement.com
UltimateHockeyTraining.com

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“…a must-have for coaches and strength professionals at all levels of hockey.”

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It’s that time of year again! My friend Joe Heiler from Sports Rehab Expert puts together a yearly teleseminar series with some of the world’s top professionals in sports rehabilitation and performance training known as the Sports Rehab to Sports Performance Teleseminar. As I’ve mentioned to you in the past, this quickly became one of my favorite resources because:

  1. The speakers are amazing every year
  2. It’s completely free to listen

Sports Rehab Expert

My commute to work is significantly shorter than it used to be (commuting to South Jersey from Baltimore was a grind), but I still spend about 6 hours per week in the car. I was convinced very early in my career that if I was going to spend any appreciable amount of time in the car (in this case, ~300 hours/year…on work commuting alone), I would make the most of this time by listening to interviews, audio books, etc. so I could continue learning even while sitting in traffic. This teleseminar series features many of the world’s foremost experts in the full spectrum of performance enhancement. In past years I’ve picked up great tips about assessments, corrective exercise, exercise selection, and programming considerations in general. Maybe more importantly, there is inherent value in listening to how successful professionals approach their work. I’ve gone back to several of the interviews from years past and listened to them multiple times.

I don’t know if this series really gets better and better every year or if Joe just happens to pick a speaker line-up that closely follows my current interests, but the group he has for this year is unbelievable. Check out who will be on the calls:

  1. Ron Hruska – PRI philosophy, goals, and teaching/training the squat pattern
  2. Val Nasedkin – Omegawave technology and the sciences of recovery and readiness
  3. Andreo Spina – Functional Anatomy Seminars, Functional Range Conditioning, BioFlow Anatomy, and more
  4. Phil Plisky – Injury prediction and prevention, the Y Balance Test, and when to return to play?
  5. Mark Comerford – Kinetic Control system, understanding the biomechanics of normal and abnormal function, and motor control retraining of uncontrolled movement
  6. Gray Cook – the history of the Functional Movement Screen (FMS), research and injury prediction, and developing effective training programs
  7. Linda Joy Lee – the Thoracic Rings Approach and the Integrated Systems Model, finding the meaningful task and primary driver
  8. Kyle Kiesel – the evolution of the Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA), and the importance of a movement model to guide assessment and treatment.
  9. Kevin Wilk – Shoulder evaluation and treatment strategies, dynamic stabilization for the shoulder, and what does the research and clinical experience say about treating scapular dyskinesis and GIRD.
  10. Charlie Weingroff, Patrick Ward, and Nick Winkelman – Strength and Conditioning Roundtable: Advances in training and performance.

Typically there are a few talks that I’m especially interested in, but this year i can honestly say I’m looking forward to all of them. If you’re at all involved in rehabilitation, training, or coaching industries, I would encourage you to sign up for this series. You will absorb a ton of incredibly valuable information, and it’s 100% free!

Click here to register >> 2014 Sports Rehab to Sports Performance Teleseminar

The series starts next week (January 28th) so make sure you register today!

To your success,

Kevin Neeld
OptimizingMovement.com
UltimateHockeyTraining.com

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“…one of the best DVDs I’ve ever watched”
“A must for anyone interested in coaching and performance!”

Optimizing Movement DVD Package

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Last week was a busy week as I had a fairly full schedule of manual therapy clients on top of my coaching responsibilities. It’s been a fun couple of weeks as I’ve had a few pro baseball pitchers and a former (and possibly future, depending on whether or not he’s ready to hang up the shoes and grab a whistle full time) pro basketball player come in for assessments and start training.

I’ve been studying up on baseball

While I’m okay with being labeled a “hockey guy”, the reality is that as a coach, if you understand the foundations of human movement and physiology, and the movement patterns, energy system proportions and injury patterns of a sport, you can design a great training program. I may not be able to throw 90 mph (…or even 60), and my little carny hands can barely palm a mini basketball, but neither of those things are any indication of an ability to design and implement programs to help improve performance in baseball and basketball athletes. This is actually a nice segway into today’s first “Stuff You Should Read”

Mini Basketball Net

This, I could handle. (Image from: dazadi.com)

Training Stuff You Should Read

1) Internet Hockey Training Experts from me

This is a throwback from a couple years ago that I think is just as relevant today as ever. Before you sign up to train with someone based solely on the fact that they competed at a high level, read this.

2) Improving Core and Lumbopelvic Control with the Slideboard Hamstring Curl by Matt Siniscalchi

Matt does a great job connecting a common posture that athletes present with to how this posture biases them toward a predictable exercise technique flaw. Despite this sounding a little “technical”, the power in this article is that Matt is approaching the issue from a coach’s perspective on exercise performance. He demonstrates “wrong” and “right” and then provides some things to look for and coaching cues to help you get there. I’ve been so impressed with Matt’s coaching over the last year that I recently wrote him a testimonial for his website, while I was helping him make a few tweaks to it. And because I have his password, I maaaaay have added something else. Check out Matt’s site here: Matt Siniscalchi

3) Functional Movement Screen and Mixed Martial Arts by Patrick Ward

This is a summary of a recently published study evaluating an FMS-based corrective approach in MMA athletes. Patrick does a great job summarizing the article and identifying the power in using the FMS, a system that is still surrounded by misunderstandings.

4) Does Overtraining Exist? by Patrick Ward

In this article, Patrick shares an email exchange he had with someone battling overtraining symptoms. He moves on to describe many of the physiological mechanisms underlying and affected by overtraining. I really liked this piece because it provides clear explanations on the different types of overtraining, and I know Patrick is very well read in this area. This is a topic that has always been important, but especially now as competition schedules in youth sports have gotten completely out of control and people seem to be clinging to nonsensical volume-based workouts with the sole intent of sweating more and working harder. There are times to push and times to back off and knowing when to do which can have a HUGE impact on athletic performance and adaptation.

5) 11-Day NBA Warning: Inside Roy Hibbert’s Offseason Training by Brett Koremenos

This is an article about NBA star Roy Hibbert’s off-season training with Mike Robertson this past Summer. I’ve followed Mike’s work for the last 7-8 years, and have benefited greatly from his products and articles. I spent the better part of my Friday morning reading through the articles he emailed out in his newsletter, which included this one. There are a few things I like about this article: The poetic description of lifting weights, the fact that a star professional athlete is working hard to improve his game despite being at the top, and the focus on creating a large, solid foundation of quality movement and stability before progressing to a larger focus on more traditional training goals (e.g. speed, power, etc.).

6) Can You Guarantee Improved Performance by Mike Robertson

This is another great piece from Mike that outlines the three foundational pillars of developing improved athletic performance. As I mentioned above, Mike does a good job of explaining the importance of developing a solid foundation of certain qualities to improve athletic performance and how each of the three pillars will influence sport performance. I especially liked the discussion on conditioning as it pertains to an improved ability to log quality practice within the sport.

7) Quick Thoughts on Barefoot Training by Charlie Weingroff

Several years ago I thought I had a pretty good understanding of this topic. Get people in shoes that move in multiple planes (e.g. Nike Frees). Try to decipher whether a “flat foot” is a functionally flat foot or a structurally flat foot. Teach people to create an arch with barefoot strength training movements. That seemed pretty straight forward to me. Then the Postural Restoration Institute came along and had a completely different spin on footwear, largely condemning the Nike Frees I had recommended so much in the past. While I don’t like all of the shoes on the PRI approved shoe list for athletic purposes, I also understand why they’re making the recommendations they do and can see the limitations in a lot of other shoes within that frame. Charlie falls into the “he talks, I listen” category for me. In this article, he highlights some of the places he feels people would benefit from training barefoot, some of the places they’d probably be best to have shoes on, and the grayer areas.

Lastly, if you missed the articles I posted last week, you can check them out below. These were among the most “shared” articles of any I’ve ever written as the topics seemed to garner interest from PTs, DCs, Strength Coaches, and yoga instructors alike:

  1. Chest Breathing vs. Belly Breathing
  2. 5 Ways Breathing Affects Sport Performance
  3. Philadelphia Union Fitness Coach Kevin Miller on Optimizing Movement

That’s a wrap for today. If you’ve come across any great articles in the last couple of weeks, please post them in the comments section!

To your success,

Kevin Neeld
OptimizingMovement.com
UltimateHockeyTraining.com

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“…one of the best DVDs I’ve ever watched”
“A must for anyone interested in coaching and performance!”

Optimizing Movement DVD Package

Click here for more information >> Optimizing Movement

It’s been an exciting week. Our off-season hockey group at Endeavor is growing quickly as players return back from their junior and pro teams. We’re doing some different things in terms of assessment and program individualization, which means a lot more work for me, but will ultimately be a process that provides better results for the players and interesting data in terms of tracking specific adaptations to various program design strategies.

Two nights ago, just over a week after returning from working at their Pre-World’s Camp in Lake Placid, NY (where they were playing Miracle on loop in the lobby…which was awesome), I watched in a quasi-permanent state of cardiac arrest, as the US Women’s National Team reclaimed the world championship in a great battle with rival Canada. I’ve seen these two teams compete against each other 4 times at this point, and every game is incredibly competitive and exciting. It’s a great rivalry, and one that I think will help grow the women’s game worldwide.

Capping things off, I found out this week that the editing is now complete for my new DVD “Optimizing Movement”, which should be available in the near future. The DVD dives into exactly what assessments I’m doing for our incoming athletes, how we use this assessment to systemize a corrective approach, and how all of this drives our program design. This is really just the tip of the iceberg so keep your eye out for more information in the near future. I’m also in the final stages of completing an exciting project that I’m hoping to announce by the end of the month.

With all of that in the background, I haven’t had as much time to write as I’d like. Having just hosted PRI’s Pelvis Restoration course at our facility last weekend, several ideas related to PRI have been on my mind recently and will likely be topics for future posts. As PRI gains in popularity, their information will naturally be met with more questions, and likely more skepticism. I think this is a good thing in the long run as it allows us all to grow from the discussion. I think a lot of the misconceptions about their information are driven by people with only a partial understanding of their perspective, and either an opposition to PRI evangelists or a generally evangelical affiliation for another seemingly conflicting educational resource. I’m a bit of a continuing education junkie and am interested in learning from a wide variety of resources, but I hesitate to subscribe to any extreme as I believe strongly that all information is in some stage of evolution and the excessively enthusiastic support for any paradigm is likely to be misguided as this evolution takes place.

With that said, Patrick Ward wrote two outstanding posts recently that I want to share with you. I always enjoy Patrick’s perspective because he’s a relentless learner, has a great filter, and respects the complexity of the human ecosystem. He, whether aware of it or not, has become a great mentor for me as I continue digging further down this rabbit hole. I’d encourage you to read these two articles, slowly, as well as all the comments beneath the second article. Lots of great stuff here!

  1. More on the Physiological Buffer Zone – Aerobic Fitness & Functional Movement Screen
  2. Postural Restoration Institute Course Review

Strength In Motion

Patrick discusses the idea of the Physiological Buffer Zone in his presentations included in the Strength In Motion DVD set.

That’s a wrap for today. As always, please post your comments below!

To your success,

Kevin Neeld
UltimateHockeyTraining.com

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