A couple weekends ago, I was fortunate enough to attend Joe Dowdell and Mike Roussell’s Peak Training and Diet Design Seminar at Peak Performance NYC. I had planned on doing a recap of the event, but my friend Tony Gentilcore beat me to it. Check out his re-cap here: Learnification: My Weekend at Peak Performance.

Kale: the fuel for Tony’s big brain biceps

He also did a preview to the review, which you can find here: The Preview to the Review of the Peak Training and Diet Program Design Seminar

At the end of the 2-day event, Joe and Mike invited me to sit on their expert panel for a Q&A with the attendees. It was an honor to be up there with guys like Tony, John Romaniello, Jim “Smitty” Smith from the Diesel Crew, and Dr. Perry Nickelston.

Emily always says I have no sense of fashion, but I was the ONLY one that color-coordinated their beard with their shirt.

At one point, someone asked a question about what advice we would give trainers and strength coaches that really want to be successful in the industry. This was a great question, and the responses the other guys gave were outstanding. One of the points I really tried to emphasize is that it’s important to become a good COACH.

If you’ve read any of my stuff in the past, you know that I place a premium on staying current with relevant research and innovative training methods. I also think it’s important to test new things to ensure that we’re constantly finding improved ways to train our athletes and clients. Because of the internet-driven gold rush, there seems to be an ongoing contest of who knows more, and less emphasis is being placed on how to actually coach athletes. This is creating an increasingly large discrepancy between intellectual and inter-personal knowledge. In other words, there are really bright people in the training industry that aren’t great at implementing everything they know. As Mike Boyle always says, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Another trend, one that I doubt will ever disappear, is that strength coaches only want to work with elite athletes. I made a comment during the expert Q&A that from a coaching standpoint I don’t do anything with our elite hockey players. That’s not really true.  Our high level hockey players require a more in-depth focus on assessment and personalized program design. These athletes have put a ton of miles on their body, and tend to have greater compensation patterns and injury-prevention concerns than players competing at lower levels. My point was that elite level athletes are extremely neurologically efficient, and tend to do things pretty well with very little coaching. Many already have a few years of training experience under their belt and have been taught the basics of lifting. There is a lot to be gained from coaching elite level athletes, but it’s certainly not the best way to learn to coach. I recognize there is an assumption that the best training professionals are working in professional sports, and therefore working with high level athletes is an indication of competency. There are, in fact, many extremely bright and able coaches in professional sports. But not EVERY person that works in pro sports is not the best; many networked their way into those positions.

On the other side of the athletic continuum are the motor morons. These are the kids that move like shit, have never been taught anything (at least not correctly), and go blank when you try to cue them on anything. Some of these kids may even have pretty well-developed skill sets in their sport of emphasis, and therefore are successful despite a lack of any foundation of athleticism (which invariably catches up with them in the form of poor performance and/or injury). If a coach can get THESE kids to perform exercises correctly and move properly, THAT is the ultimate sign of competency. It’s the experience you develop working with these kids that teaches you how to use different language to make each individual understand what you’re looking for, and how to look for and correct common movement impairments/abnormalities. In other words, this is how you learn to coach effectively.

Coaching is an art, and one that needs to be refined for different training environments. I tell the coaches on our staff at Endeavor that they should try to think of ways to teach every exercise we do in 10s or less and use language that they can use to cue athletes from across a room. The textbook approach of walking each athlete through every exercise step-by-step would result in 4-hour training sessions. It’s not practical. Give the athlete enough to get started, make sure they understand the postures associated with proper exercise technique that purvey most exercises and let them get started. Not every athlete makes the same mistake and telling every athlete every step of every exercise is excessive. Let them try it, see where they err, and correct accordingly.

Take Home
If you’re a young coach, don’t be in a rush to work with professional athletes; be in a rush to become an outstanding coach. We need more great coaches at the youth level anyway, but this is certainly the best place to refine your coaching ability. If you want to become a good coach, find a strength and conditioning coach that seems to “get it” in terms of understanding proper movement, that works with a high volume of athletes, and ask to intern or volunteer. If you’re looking, I highly recommend getting in touch with people like Tony and Eric Cressey (Cressey Performance in Hudson, MA), Mike Boyle (MBSC in Woburn, MA), Brijesh Patel (Quinnipiac University in Hamden, CT), Jeff Oliver (Holy Cross in Worcester, MA), and Robert dos Remedios (College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, CA).

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

Please enter your first name and email below to sign up for my FREE Athletic Development and Hockey Training Newsletter!

I’m really looking forward to this weekend. After I wrap everything up at Endeavor for the day I’m heading into NYC to attend Joe Dowdell and Mike Roussell’s Peak Training and Diet Design Seminar. Hopefully I’ll see you there! After 6 consecutive weekends of seminars/home study courses with one wedding mixed in, I’m looking forward to having a month or so to kick it in Philadelphia with Emily and/or make a beach trip for the first time this Summer.

Caribbean water…quickly becoming a distant memory

This has been a cool week at HockeyStrengthandConditioning.com. Things got started with Kyle Bangen and Anthony Renna posting two awesome videos on the forums: one video interview with Steven Stamkos on his off-season training (he has his head on straight), and one comedic look at why the Rangers are always a disappointment (great for everyone that isn’t a Rangers fan).

Mike Potenza added a video interview with Power Skating Coach Cathy Andrade. I don’t know anything about Cathy, but the power skating strategies and teaching cues she mentions are very familiar. I like the idea Mike had here. It’s extremely helpful to hear what quality professionals in other aspects of hockey development are teaching players, so that we can send a consistent message and/or become more synchronous in our terminology. Cathy may have a sound background in exercise science, but I suspect she doesn’t. Yet, when describing ideal skating postures, she uses some terminology very similar to what I would. She gives a lot of good tips for young skaters that also serve as reminders for more experienced players. Hopefully we can get more of this type of information up on the site in the future. Check out the video at the link below:

Click here to watch >> Interview with Power Skating Coach Cathy Andrade

Sean Skahan posted Phase 4 of his ACL Rehab Program. The program was for a player 15-weeks post surgery. It’s interesting to follow the progression through the four phases of this program, as this phase includes a lot more lower body work. Sean and I have very similar philosophies on training around injuries, so I can appreciate his approach in continuing to train this player, despite a recent surgery. I think all training for players in this situation needs to coincide with some level of communication with the physical therapist, or whoever is running the site-specific rehabilitation. Often times, syncing up with the PT will allow a more aggressive strength and conditioning approach, as the PT can provide some guidance on when to hit the gas and when to back off a bit.

Check out the program here >> ACL Rehab: Phase 4

Lastly, there was a forum post last week from a pro player that had been following the programs I’ve been posting and asked a great question about how he should progress through the rest of the off-season given he had limited time to work with since the European pro camps start in early August. At this point, he’s about 3-4 weeks pre-camp and should be progressing into a more conditioning/work capacity driven program. Because he’s been following two of my previous programs, it was most appropriate for him to work off a draft of my Phase 3 off-season training program so I posted that. The program emphasizes transitional speed, power training with both a high load medium velocity and low load high velocity orientation, work capacity, and conditioning. You can check it out here:

Click here to get the program >> 4-Day Off-Season Training Program: Phase 3

As always, if you aren’t a member yet, I recommend trying out the site for $1 Hockey Strength and Conditioning for a week. If it’s not the best buck you’ve ever spent , I’ll personally refund you!

To your continued success,

Kevin Neeld

Please enter your first name and email below to sign up for my FREE Athletic Development and Hockey Training Newsletter!