A couple weekends ago I had an opportunity to take the first 4-hour segment of a 16-hour course on Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) as part of the program for my massage school. If you aren’t familiar with AIS, it’s a specific stretching technique developed by Aaron Mattes that, as the name implies, serves to isolate specific muscles and stretch them for 1.5-2 seconds at a time, for multiple repetitions. The shorter holds are meant to avoid the body’s natural tendency to tense up, and to facilitate increased blood flow to the stretched muscle. The other important concept is that you’re supposed to “pull yourself into the stretch” by contracting the antagonist or opposing muscle to the one being stretched.

I had read Aaron’s book several years ago, and to be honest, didn’t really do a lot with it. I’m still not ready to drink the AIS Kool-Aid, as I think most stretching techniques can be effective when applied appropriately, but I’ve been using one of the stretches we learned in class, and another I fabricated based on AIS concepts. These are two great stretches for hockey players to help open up their hips, which should be a focus year-round.

Not yet.

Rectus Femoris AIS
With this one, you want to set up so that you feel a slight stretch in the hip flexor of the back leg. Squeeze your butt, and start to pull your heel toward your butt using your hamstrings. When you’ve gone as far as you can, pull the band to increase the stretch through your quads.

Hip External Rotator AIS
This one can be a bit trickier regarding the “active” part, but the general idea is to start to pull yourself into the stretch position and finish with the band. You should notice, with both, that you’re able to go a little further with each repetition.

We’ve been using these before our dynamic warm-up and after our training sessions with certain players. Give them a try and post your thoughts below!

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

P.S. Check out other videos like this and subscribe to my YouTube channel here: Hockey Training Coach

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Happy Valentine’s Day to all the happy couples out there! And for the singles, don’t be so bitter; your day will come.

I love my job. I couldn’t picture myself working anywhere else. People ask me all the time if I have an interest in pursuing collegiate or professional strength and conditioning, and my answer changes frequently. I have a hard time imagining a better situation than the one I’m in now.

With that in mind, here are 5 of my favorite things about Endeavor:

5) Demonstrating Proper Inner Core Function
One of the big take-homes from Charlie Weingroff’s Training = Rehab Rehab = Training DVD set was that we need to pay more attention to inner core function/activation. The two primary means of doing this are through diaphragm activation and packing the neck, which has led our coaches to yelling things like “get fat” and “more chins.”

Most of our clients, like most people in general nowadays, have some degree of a forward head posture, making the “packed neck” posture feel extremely unnatural. Getting everyone to do this, all the time, has been an uphill battle for our coaches. I’ve gone as far as putting a Lynx grip under someones chin and telling them to “crush it back and don’t let it drop” while they were doing push-ups. When one of our athletes get it without my constant reinforcement, it really lights my lamp.

More Chins = More Friends at Endeavor

4) The Staff
I’ve mentioned in the past how lucky I am to have the supporting cast I do. Everyone I work with is equally as passionate, motivated, and driven as I am, which creates an outstanding work environment and fosters continuing education and overall job happiness.

Our newest addition, Matt Siniscalchi, is a really bright, hungry young coach, and we’ve been lucky to have him as part of our staff. Matt was basically born, raised, and continues to live in the ’80s. He, while current on his athletic development information, seems to be completely oblivious to recent (last 20-30 years) changes in music and fashion, which has earned him the name “Coach Jorts” around Endeavor.

“The more faded the jorts, the better”

Matt was disappointed to learn recently that he was the only remaining owner of jorts in the country. For more information on Matt, check out his site Coach Jorts Training (I’ve learned just enough about websites to buy hilarious URL’s and point them at my co-workers existing sites)

3) The Location
New Jersey houses a special breed of people. While I think all the TV shows in NJ’s honor may over-exaggerate some of the cultural tendencies, there is a certain level of contagiousness present here that can’t be avoided.

For example, when David Lasnier first joined us from Montreal, Quebec, his experience in the U.S. was minimal and in New Jersey non-existent. His first few months here, he was a walking poster child for functional training. He would talk about things like training the rotator cuff for dynamic stabilization using perturbations, the collective importance of acknowledging foot and hip issues when addressing single-leg stability and/or knee pain, and the role of inner core function in inside-out stabilization. The other week, I was sitting in my office when I heard this terrible sound coming from the gym. It…it was Bon Jovi, which is strictly forbidden in my facility. I quietly snuck out, and what I found was shocking.

Observe the new David Lasnier, in his natural habitat…

Arm work? Rolled up sleeves? Grunting? It was inevitable. He assimilated.

2) The Clients
The way we design and run programs at Endeavor is pretty different from the other options out there, especially in our area. As a result, most of the athletes we get aren’t accustomed to our philosophies or systems. We’ve been fortunate to attract a predominantly well-mannered, optimistic, hard working group of athletes over the last couple years. Most of our athletes buy in immediately to our way of doing things and really excel when they do so. While I take pride in all of the successes of our athletes, a few things that really make me proud are:

1. When one of our younger and/or less coordinated athletes demonstrates proficiency in learning new movement patterns (e.g. hip hinge, lumbar stabilization, single-leg stability, shoulder packing, etc.)

2. When female athletes move heavy weights. We’ve had a few middle school and early high school girls do DB Reverse Lunges with between 45-55s for 4-6 reps/side. With all the misinformation about what females should be doing in terms of strength training, I like the “go for it” attitude these young girls demonstrate.

3. When anyone uses chalk. Lifting without chalk is insane. I recognize it’s messy, but it’s worth it. As with the above, when a younger or female athlete goes for the chalk, I think it’s awesome.

Chalking up before a heavy set of lunges!

4. When a parent tells me that their kid leaves our facility looking like a new person. This can be on either an individual session basis or at the conclusion of a few months of training. Sometimes I think the biggest benefit we offer our clients is a huge confidence boost by expanding their conception of their abilities and reinforcing the value of working hard and overcoming adversity.

1) Creativity
When fatigue (read: laziness) reaches a whole new level:

Rambo Rectus Femoris Stretch

No Valentine’s Day post would be complete without a shout-out to Emily. My work at Endeavor frequently requires me to be there early in the morning and/or late at nights. It’s not uncommon for me to be there for 12 hours a day, which means I’m not around at home as much as I should be. She’s been incredibly supportive and understanding throughout my time here.


She’s also been an inspiration of sorts, as she was the original founder of the “bird neck syndrome” diagnosis I mentioned here: Shoulder Pain with Pressing Exercises. She’s even been receptive to altering her pre-Kevin workouts to something more in-line with our Endeavor approach, which I know can be a point of contention between people that are passionate about training and significant others that don’t share that passion. Check out her program, recently written by David Lasnier:

I guess it’s necessary to mention that Emily earned the nickname of “Air Balloon Dancer” (ABD) amongst friends….A hint as to why:

Happy Valentine’s Day and check back on Wednesday as I have something important to tell you!

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

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