Today marks the release of Mike Boyle’s newest product: Complete Youth Training

When I ran Endeavor Sports Performance, much of the way we designed our programs for youth athletes was guided by things I had learned from Coach Boyle. In short, he’s had a profound impact on how I view the training process.

This is a great resource (for coaches, sports training professionals AND parents) that addresses many of the most impactful misconceptions of training youth athletes, and how following popular advice will absolutely lead to blunted long-term performance.

Given his 25+ years of experience training kids, I asked him to put together a quick post highlighting the three most common mistakes he sees in training youth athletes. Check out the article below:

Click here for more information >> Complete Youth Training

Top 3 Mistakes in Training Youth Athletes by Mike Boyle

A friend asked me to try to sum up what I considered the top three mistakes in training young athletes, so after giving it some thought, here goes:

Mistake 1- Seeing kids as mini-adults. 

I’m amazed at how many trainers will write or email and talk about the troubles they are having getting into the youth strength training market ( think 11-14 yrs old).  I always say something along the lines of “what does your program look like” and I constantly hear back about all the latest ideas. Breathing, corrective exercises, screening etc.

My response is always the same. Kids don’t need that stuff, they need the weight room basics. Much like elementary school is about reading, writing and math, training kids is about throwing, sprinting, jumping and lifting. I love the KISS principle. Keep It Simple Stu_ _ _.

Kids want to move and have fun. Breathing, screening and corrective exercises are neither fun, nor particularly useful for kids.

Mistake 2- Not Seeing That Practice Covers a Lot of Bases

I was discussing agility with Jim Kielbaso from the IYCA the other day and my comment was “we don’t do much agility.” As coaches, we have to remember that most of these kids are practicing 3-5 times a week, but get no strength work, no power work and no speed work. We need to, as I like to say, fill the empty buckets. The agility/change of direction bucket is getting filled at practice, but the strength, power and speed buckets are usually empty.

In addition, practice takes care of conditioning. I think there is no need for conditioning with kids, and that lots of what we try to do just makes kids slower.

Think speed. Read Tony Hollers Feed the Cats.

Mistake 3- Thinking that Talking is Coaching

Kids don’t want to hear you talk. I have a ten second rule. I don’t want coaches talking for more than ten seconds. I really like the John Wooden idea:

Do this, not this, this.

Show them what you want them to do, don’t tell them. Show them what not to do and then, show them the correct technique again.

Then, let them do it. Kids learn through doing, not through listening. That’s tough for coaches to hear, but it’s true.

The best teacher is a great demonstrator.  The best learning comes from doing.

 

Click here for more information >> Complete Youth Training

To your success,

Kevin Neeld
HockeyTransformation.com
OptimizingMovement.com
UltimateHockeyTraining.com

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Year-round age-specific hockey training programs complete with a comprehensive instructional video database!

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“Kevin Neeld is one of the top 5-6 strength and conditioning coaches in the ice hockey world.”
– Mike Boyle, Head S&C Coach, US Women’s Olympic Team

“…if you want to be the best, Kevin is the one you have to train with”
– Brijesh Patel, Head S&C Coach, Quinnipiac University

Training youth athletes can be a challenge, even for the most experienced Performance Coaches. With the drastic fluctuations in structural, hormonal, and neurological development across adolescence, one of the most difficult things to do is teach youth athletes how to perform exercises (and other athletic movements) with proper technique.

Matt Siniscalchi is one of the best coaches I’ve ever met at getting athletes to move properly, quickly. This is one of the reasons he’s been such a valuable asset for us at Endeavor, and why he continues to be a great learning resource for me.

In this article, Matt shares powerful strategies that he uses to develop youth athletes. Check it out below!

Training Youth Athletes: Optimal Teaching Strategies by Matt Siniscalchi

Teaching youth athletes (12-16 years old) encapsulates:

  1. Knowing Long Term Athletic Development (LTAD)
  2. Teaching Fundamental Movement Patterns (squat, hinge, jumping, hopping, sprinting, push, pull, single-leg, core stability)
  3. Appropriate Energy System Development

A quick word on LTAD

Long term athletic development is a physical and psychological model for understanding what ages certain qualities have the highest potential for improvement in order for the athlete’s to take advantage of their full potential later in the sport’s careers. For a quick overview, check out these articles: Endeavor Endeavor’s Athletic Development Model and LTAD Stages

Fundamental Movement Proficiency

Teaching the fundamental movements is our top priority for training youth athletes. More than likely, athletes between 12-16 years old have minimal training background and may not move as optimally as we would prefer. We first perform a battery of assessments/screens to give us a baseline for each individual’s movement competency/capacity. After we do their movement screens, general strength testing (primarily bodyweight), and conditioning assessments, we create a program with methods to set them to successfully learn proper exercise technique. These include:

  1. Eccentrics for upper and lower body lifts (3-5sec eccentrics): Push-Ups, Pull-Ups, Lunges, squats, and deadlifts are typically introduced with 3-5sec eccentrics. Slowing down the movement helps the athlete grasp what positions they should be in and what they should feel throughout the exercise.
  2. Isometrics or pauses to teach either the bottom or top portion of the lift. Again, this strategy is helpful in allowing the athlete to feel proper positioning in the most difficult portions of an exercise or movement.

1-Arm Cable Stiff-Legged Deadlift Hold

An example of an isometric hold to help a youth athlete feel proper body positioning

Lifting is one piece of the training puzzle for our youth athletes. The other important aspects are sprinting (primarily acceleration/deceleration), change of direction drills, medicine ball throw variations (power), and jumping and hopping (2-leg & 1-leg variations). The principles we use when implementing speed, power, change of direction (COD), balance, or plyometrics are as follows:

  • Get into basic starting positions first to set athlete up for success before integrating a wider variety of starting positions
  • Slow down the movement before ramping up the speed
  • Focus on single jumps/throws/hops at a time before progressing to multiple or repeated jumps/throws/hops at a time

Sprints

2-Point Start (static starting stance)

 

Lean Fall Runs (dynamic starting position)

MedBall Throws

Side Standing MedBall Scooop: reset after each one

Side Standing MedBall Scoop Repeats: continuous reloading of hips

Jumping

KB Vertical Jump

KB Vertical Jump Repeats

These are examples of progressions that we implement to successfully teach our youth athletes to move properly. Everyone improves at different rates, so we either regress or progress according to their level of improvement.

Energy System Development

Energy system development is a hot topic of debate currently with coaches trying to find the best methods to get athletes in shape for their sport(s). Youth conditioning should rely primarily on aerobic/alactic energy system development. There seems to be more sedentary children nowadays than when I was growing up and it’s evident to us as a lot of kids struggle mightily in aerobic tests and/or have high resting heart rates.

The aerobic energy system has the greatest growth potential, meaning we can drastically influence this in our kids, even at young ages. If we create a large “engine” in our youth athletes, then when it comes later in their athletic career, we can start to build the “horsepower” (ability to repeat explosive sprints) much more efficiently. We influence this system by using body weight circuits, tempo runs, or short duration explosive bouts of sprints for their conditioning.

Enhancing our athletes’ potential for success is a “slow-cooking” step-by-step process that requires patience, principle-based training, consistency, having fun, and understanding how each athlete develops as an individual.

Try implementing these strategies with your youth athletes! If you have any questions, please post them below.

-Matt Siniscalchi, CSCS
Performance Specialist, Endeavor Sports Performance

To your success,

Kevin Neeld
HockeyTransformation.com
OptimizingMovement.com
UltimateHockeyTraining.com

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

Get Ultimate Hockey Transformation Now!

Year-round age-specific hockey training programs complete with a comprehensive instructional video database!

Ultimate Hockey Transformation Pro Package-small

Get access to your game-changing program now >> Ultimate Hockey Transformation

“Kevin Neeld is one of the top 5-6 strength and conditioning coaches in the ice hockey world.”
– Mike Boyle, Head S&C Coach, US Women’s Olympic Team

“…if you want to be the best, Kevin is the one you have to train with”
– Brijesh Patel, Head S&C Coach, Quinnipiac University

Monday’s post dove into some of the common misconceptions about elite hockey development (and athletic development in general for that matter), with cameo appearances from a young Tom Brady and Sidney Crosby. In case you missed it, you can check it out here: Random Hockey Development Thoughts

Writing that post made me think about a couple other things that I probably should have told you a long time ago.

Endeavor Internships

First, and probably most time-relevant, we’re currently accepting applications for interns at Endeavor Sports Performance this summer. A few people have hopped on the forums at Hockey Strength and Conditioning (which is an awesome use of the very talented/experience audience on the site) and inquired about good hockey training internships. We have 3-4 spots available. Last year we drew interest from people ranging from local universities to Canada to Australia.

Our past interns have gotten a lot out of their experience with us. On top of being surrounded by passionate people that continually want to learn and get better (both coaches and athletes), our off-season hockey group includes a wide variety of skill (on- and off the ice). I know it’s a lot “sexier” to work with NCAA D1 and professional athletes and that’s what most interns are looking for. In truth, these experiences are great for networking (and general exposure), but probably not as good for coaching. Athletes at these levels tend to move extremely well and don’t require a lot of coaching, just some simple cuing.

In contrast, younger athletes need A LOT of help (turns out sitting on your ass for 22 hours a day isn’t great for building athleticism), and it’s the practice you get coaching these athletes that really helps you understand how to use efficient coaching techniques, change your language based on the athlete, and ultimately to become a better coach. Because we have players ranging from Tier II youth PeeWee programs to those in pursuit of permanent NHL roster-spots, you get the best of both worlds.

In addition to experience, the other two main reasons to pursue internships are to network and potentially pursue employment. Since I’ve joined Endeavor, we’ve had 6 interns. We hired 4, one went on to pursue a different career path, and another had a job lined up for immediately after his internship and is now going back to school in pursuit of his DPT. If you’re interested, go to the link below to read more information and to download the application. You can email the finished ones to me or fax them to Endeavor at (856) 269-4153.

>> Endeavor Sports Performance Internships <<

Endeavor Sports Performance Website

I’ve alluded to this in the past, but I do a lot of writing for the Endeavor site. Because we work with athletes in all sports, the writing tends to discuss sports other than hockey (although I do write about hockey too), general athleticism, and research related to performance enhancement. If you don’t work with hockey players and/or just want more of the good stuff, I highly encourage you to go over to Endeavor’s site and check out the blog:

>> Endeavor Sports Performance Blog <<

And follow us on youtube:

>> Endeavor Sports Performance YouTube Page <<

You’ll get all sorts of great stuff…like how to eat fruit, functionally:

…Never give a Canadian a camera

A few noteworthy posts to get you started:

The Truth About ACL Injury Prevention

High Quality Breakfast for Teenage Athletes

Long-Term Athletic Development: Training Youth Athletes

Strength and Conditioning Programs for Youth Athletes

Why Every Athlete Should Get Hurt…Once

USA Hockey’s ADM (American Development Model)

The more I learn about what USA Hockey is doing with their new ADM the more I support it. Since I started playing, it seems like the American development model has simply been wrong. We play way too many games, we practice too little, and most practices don’t make good use of the ice to enhance skills. There is a reason why, in general, the NHL’s most skilled players are consistently from overseas. From what I understand, Canada is similarly “backwards” in their systems, but hockey is so much more popular there that more talent seems to rise through the ranks, possibly despite the overall development structure.

This certainly isn’t to undermine the jobs that the thousands of coaches in both countries are doing, only to say that we need a better development framework so that new coaches have better plans and philosophies to draw from and so we can be more consistent in our teachings across the country. Naturally, I’m also of the opinion that off-ice training is a necessity, not a luxury, at least not for players that are serious about pursuing elite levels. USA Hockey has done an outstanding job of “righting the ship” so to speak. If you aren’t familiar with the ADM, you can read up on it here:

>> USA Hockey’s ADM <<

If you’re coaching, I urge you to look into this and do your best to begin implementing these concepts immediately. On an international level, it seems that the US has found some success because of their heart, not because they have comparable talent to their Canadia, Russian, Finnish, and Swedish competitors. I think, if coaches and parents buy into what USA Hockey is providing in the ADM, we’ll start to see the U.S. dominate internationally because of improved skill sets. Of course, if everyone takes the “what we’re doing now is fine” approach, we’ll simply continue to tread water.

It’s up to us to make a change! I’m in. Are you?

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

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