I wanted to kick things off today by saying thank you to everyone that has invested in my new book Ultimate Hockey Training. I’m truly humbled by the level of interest the book has received from a worldwide audience (I even got a request from someone from Australia!). As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I wrote the book for you based on the questions I receive from you most often, and additional information that I felt was prudent for the hockey community to be aware of.

I also wanted to extend a sincere thank you to my colleagues, many of which I consider friends and/or mentors, in the strength and conditioning industry that have helped spread the word about the book launch. I’m honored that Mike Boyle, Charlie Weingroff, Maria Mountain, Tony Gentilcore, Jeff Cubos, Brian St. Pierre, David Lasnier, and Ben Bruno all took time to mention Ultimate Hockey Training on their sites and that people like Anthony Renna, Perry Nickelston, Joe Dowdell, and Jaime Rodriguez have all posted things on Facebook or Twitter. I appreciate the help guys!

In case you missed it yesterday, I also posted the link for you to watch the third (and final) video in the Ultimate Hockey Training series for absolutely free-no registration required at all. Click here to check it out: Complete Hockey Training System

For today’s Q&A, I want to address some of the other most common questions I’ve gotten over the last week. If you have questions that aren’t mentioned here, post them in the comments section below and I’ll get back to you ASAP!

1) Is Ultimate Hockey Training right for me?

Whenever a new product comes out, there are some people that are on the fence about whether or not it’s “right” for them. Yesterday’s post (which you can find here: Ultimate Hockey Training: The Story) exposed, if you will, the reason why I wrote the book in the first place and the justification for the price point of the product (I actually got an email from a potential buyer asking if he read something wrong! “Am I missing something? Is everything really only…”). My hope was that the post cleared up some of the “is it right for me” questions that you may have had.

To dig a little deeper, it’s fair to mention that the book does cover some pretty “scientific” topics that may catch readers coming from strictly a hockey background by surprise. If you’ve read my site regularly for the last couple years, you’ll already appreciate the importance of some of these topics. Ultimate Hockey Training discusses common, but complex hockey injuries such as chronic groin and hip flexor strains, femoroacetabular impingement (FAI), sports hernias, etc. On this topic, mechanisms of injury and preventative and restorative strategies are addressed. Ultimate Hockey Training also has a lot of detail on how the nervous system influences specific physical qualities, such as speed, power, strength, and conditioning. The nervous system is integral in driving/controlling all movement, so I think it’s imperative to identify how to manipulate the system for the development of desirable qualities.

While these topics might be a little over the head of readers without an exercise science background, I don’t think it prohibits them from using the information. The book is PACKED with practical applications. For those of you curious as to what other topics are covered, take a quick glimpse at the table of contents:

Chapter 1: Understanding The Process
Chapter 2: The Hockey Training Revolution
Chapter 3: Lifelong Hockey Development
Chapter 4: Discovering Hockey Function
Chapter 5: Unlocking Functional Movement With Self-Myofascial Release
Chapter 6: Innovative Dynamic Warm-Ups
Chapter 7: Breakaway Hockey Speed
Chapter 8: Creating Strength And Power Through Neural Manipulation
Chapter 9: The Case For Unilateral Training
Chapter 10: Strength And Power Training For Hockey
Chapter 11: Functional Core Training
Chapter 12: A New Look At Hockey Conditioning
Chapter 13: The Truth About Stretching
Chapter 14: Special Topics In Injury Prevention
Chapter 15: Year-Round Training Considerations
Chapter 16: Conclusion

Hopefully you scan that list and think “There’s nothing left. He covered it all!” That was certainly my intention!

2) Do you cover nutrition?

Brian St. Pierre added a brilliantly written hockey-specific nutrition manual “Ultimate Hockey Nutrition” that is available for purchase to Ultimate Hockey Training customers. For those of you that don’t know Brian, he’s been my go-to nutrition guy for the last five years. Not only does he have a lot of experience working with hockey players at all levels, but he actually played through juniors. I don’t many nutritionists that can “skate the skate”, so to speak. Ultimate Hockey Nutrition is great because it’s written with practical applications in mind. He even included different meal plans for high school, junior and college players (each) for before practice, games, and both home and road tournaments.

Proper Nutrition: The most recognized and least practiced component of hockey performance!

It’s truly a “player’s resource” in that it provides answers to ALL of the nutrition and supplement questions that Brian and I have gotten from hockey players over the last several years.

3) Have the things in this book been “tested”?

Absolutely. I remember hearing someone say years ago that the coolest thing about visiting Mike Boyle’s facility was that everything he talks about, he actually does. As I mentioned, the book covers some of the scientific rationale behind why I design programs the way I do because I think that’s important. In the interest of “sexier marketing”, you’ll often see people clutch on to the latest gimmick and pitch it as a cure-all.

This may sell, but this kid isn’t coming out of the corner with many pucks!

I don’t have time for that. Everything we do at Endeavor is backed by a solid scientific rationale. And everything I wrote about in Ultimate Hockey Training has been tested in our facility. If it looks good on paper, but isn’t practical, then it won’t work. My understanding is that most people aren’t interested in things that don’t work!

4) Is mental preparation covered at all?

Actually, the mental side of things is the one area that I didn’t touch on. Mental training could be an entire book in itself (it is; see Hockey Tough by Saul Miller). That said, I think neglecting mental preparation is a huge mistake and is FREQUENTLY the limiting factor in an individual’s and team’s performance. In order to fill the gap, I reached out to my friend Kim McCullough, who is very knowledgeable in this area, and she put together a terrific manual called “How to Think Like a Player” that is a FREE bonus for anyone that buys the book. I also have bonuses from Sean Skahan, David Lasnier, Eric Cressey, Maria Mountain, Rick Kaselj, and Charlie Weingroff. When I said yesterday that each one of the bonuses would be worth the listed book price, I wasn’t kidding!

That’s a wrap for today! Hopefully that answers any questions you still had. If not, please post them down below and I’ll get back to you immediately.

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

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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

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Last Friday David and I made a trip up to Ramsey, NJ and White Plains, NY to hang out with Perry Nickelston and Anthony Renna. Hanging out with those guys was awesome. I really click well with entrepreneurs and people that are passionate about what they do. This is true of people in any field/industry, but especially when it comes to sports medicine and athletic development.

And nothing lights my lamp more than getting free t-shirts

One of the things that came out of talking with both Perry and Anthony was the value of actual training experience. The internet has completely revolutionized the education process. Because of the ease of starting a blog, everyone can share current information about how they’re training their athletes/clients. I remember Mike Boyle saying several years ago that most books were outdated by the time you get them. This may be less true with anatomy texts, but with books on training philosophies and methods, the time necessary to finish writing, editing, and publishing a book will make at least a portion of the material obsolete by the time it hits the presses. In other words, many book authors won’t agree with what they wrote in the book by the time we read it. It’s interesting because books are, or were, thought of as the “holy grail” of educational resources. The internet has gone a long way in cutting down on the deleterious effects of long publishing processes and in providing the most current information possible. This is good.

Unfortunately, the internet also spawned a population of unscrupulous “marketers.” The good thing about the long book publishing process is that it filtered the content. It’s a lot harder to get a book on any topic published than it is to start a website about it. Over the last couple years, the amount of hockey training information online has exploded. Some of it is outstanding; some of it is downright dangerous. What most casual readers don’t realize is that some of the information they’re reading comes from:

  1. People that don’t train anyone
  2. People who built a website for the sole purpose of making money (note that these people also don’t train anyone)

A lot of people in the strength and conditioning industry get really bent out of shape at the idea of people writing about training if they don’t train. To be honest, if people are reading and summarizing current research, it doesn’t bother me that they don’t work with a large athlete base because they’re writing can often introduce studies that I’m not familiar with, which leads me to seeking them out to read them myself.

There are “theorists” in every field. I remember reading Stephen Hawking’s book “Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays” several years ago and being amazed that he essentially outlined a mechanism for time travel. Of course, Hawking is known for being a profoundly intelligent mind in the field of THEORETICAL physics. Nobody actually thinks he’s traveling through time, nor would he ever represent himself as doing so.

One of the greatest minds in the history of the world

In contrast, many online crowds misrepresent themselves as working with vague, but insinuatingly large numbers of athletes. This misrepresentation is what I have a problem with. If you don’t train anyone, call yourself a theorist. If you only train one team, that you also coach, say that. If you’re training a few people, but helping out as an intern with other more advanced programs, say that. There’s no shame in developing as a professional and ramping up your business. I think most people avoid this because they’re either:

  1. Young and want to people to acknowledge their information as legitimate
  2. Selling something and want to be perceived as an expert

Obviously there are some similarities between these two, but in my view the latter is more repugnant than the former. Maybe I’m sympathetic because I started my website while I was still in grad school, but I look at writing online similar to anything else-it’s going to take time and practice to get good at it. Students that know they’re going to make a living training people wanting to start a site early in their careers just doesn’t bother me as much because their intentions are pure.

That said, I’d be interested to buy every hockey product online and then travel around the world to all of the author’s locations and see what they do on a day-to-day basis. I’d guess that many train people for less than 5 hours per week and that many have a background in playing hockey, but not in training players. This is BY FAR the biggest myth in all of hockey development:

Playing high level hockey does not qualify someone as a training expert!

Hell, playing high level hockey doesn’t even mean a player can TEACH the basics of hockey. All it means is that they were a good player. Not every good player is a good hockey coach; coaching takes special skill sets. Training is in a different universe altogether. There are BRILLIANT hockey strength and conditioning coaches that have never played a competitive game of hockey in their lives. This isn’t a knock on them at all. Having a profound knowledge of how the body functions doesn’t require playing the game, just understanding it.

Think of it like this-would you not trust a physical therapist because they’ve never played hockey? Would you not trust a hip surgeon JUST because they didn’t play?

WAIT! Before you saw off part of my femoral head…did you even play hockey??

Obviously not! These professionals make a living on their understanding of the body and perfecting their trade. Playing hockey will help strength and conditioning coaches understand the language and a bit more about the mentality of the players, but that’s it. It doesn’t in any way qualify someone without an educational background or coaching experience as an expert.

Hockey Playing Expert

Hockey Training Expert

When I see a new training product and the author’s biggest claim is that they played good hockey themselves, a red flag goes up.

Where you can find REAL hockey training experts

This is one of the reasons I have so much respect for my partners at HockeySC.com (Sean Skahan, Mike Potenza, and Darryl Nelson) and for my friend Maria Mountain; they ACTUALLY train real, live hockey players as their full time job, and the things they write about online, they actually do in real life! THESE are the people you should be getting your information from!

On a related note, I’ll conclude this long-winded rant by saying if you’re ever in the Philadelphia area and want to swing by Endeavor Sports Performance to see our facility and how we train our athletes, you’re more than welcome. I’ve always had an open door policy, and I think it’s good for people that have encountered some of my stuff on the internet to see that we’re actually implementing the same strategies I write about into our training systems, on a daily basis.

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

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