Over the weekend I made a trip up to Stamford, CT to attend Ryan Lee’s Continuity Summit 3. For those of you that don’t know Ryan, he’s successful marketing coach with roots in the fitness industry.

It’s funny that some people in the fitness industry genuinely blame Ryan for the unscrupulous use of his information. Undoubtedly, this is a serious problem. As I mentioned in Internet Hockey Training Experts, there are lots of people claiming to be experts in the area of hockey training that are happy to take your money for low-quality products and services. In fact, I’ve received “networking” emails from a few of them. My responses generally go:

“I get a lot of emails from guys that sell products online, but don’t actually train people for a living. I’m not interested in pursuing joint ventures with people that are deceptive about their expertise.”

Sometimes I get a response; often times I don’t. That said, blaming Ryan for people using his information the wrong way is completely insane. It’s like a player coming to train at Endeavor Sports Performance, getting ridiculously fast, and then boarding someone from behind their first game back on the ice and a parent saying, “Kevin should really be more selective about who he trains.” C’mon.

Ryan has been a huge help to me over the years, and I was really looking forward to this weekend. I feel at home being surrounded by entrepreneurs; it’s energizing to be in a room full of people relentlessly pursuing their dreams. That said, I almost didn’t make the trip. I woke up Thursday morning after my 7th consecutive night of less than 6 hours of sleep (<8 hours results in a statistically significant decrease in my pleasantness), went into Endeavor and coached hockey groups at 8:30, 10:00, 11:30, 1:00, 3:00, and 4:30 and was completely floored at 6 when it was time for me to start heading North. I’m glad I sucked it up and made the trip because I feel completely rejuvenated now.

While the main focus of the Summit was on finding ways for business owners to add value to their products and services to better serve their clientele, there were a few take homes from the seminar that I think apply directly to hockey training and player development. Stealing the analogy of becoming a rockstar from Ryan’s presentation…

5 Tips for Becoming a Hockey Training Rockstar

1) Be Passionate
Passionate people have a better vision of how short-term sacrifices lead to greater long-term gains and generally accomplish more than their peers. In terms of hockey training, there are no quick fixes. The only way to succeed is to have a clear vision of where you want to go and consistently take steps toward getting there. This isn’t always easy, but is ALWAYS worth it. On a personal note, I’ve never really been good at anything (insert sad face here). The whole idea of “natural” ability alludes me. In the areas of my life where I’ve found success, it’s been because I knew exactly what I wanted and I’ve pursued it with an absolutely insatiable drive and a failure to recognize failure as an option. This is one of the reasons why I vibe so well with other passionate, driven people in any field, and why I pursued a career in helping like-minded players fulfill their goals and achieve their dreams. While the 4 tips to come hold merit, everything stems back to being passionate. Passion is the fuel that feeds the fire of success.

I get chills every time I watch this

2) Have Integrity
Integrity is simply doing the right thing, even when no one is watching. The most sorry kids on every hockey team are the ones that jump in the front of the line and work hard when the coach is watching and then screw around and loaf when the coach isn’t. These players have no respect for themselves, their coach, their teammates, or the game, and will inevitably fail to develop (or adjust their attitude). Doing the little things right is important. In a hockey training setting, things like foam rolling, static stretching, diaphragmatic breathing exercises, etc. aren’t the “sexiest” training strategies, but they’re just as important as everything else. As a coach, I can’t babysit every player throughout every part of their training. They need to take ownership of their program and do what’s expected of them. In reality, it’s their development that’s at stake. The players that do the little things right ALL the time, will find more success over the long run.

“Winning is not a sometime thing: it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do the right thing once in a while; you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.” – Vince Lombardi

Check back in a couple days for part 2!

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!

Through my combined 20 years of experience in the hockey and training sectors, I’ve come across a few great, several good, and several pretty bad coaches. Now that I’ve made a career out of a “coaching” position, I find that I rely back on my experiences with previous coaches to shape my current behavior. Moreover, I’m in a position to see how much poor coaching decisions affect the development (especially psychologically) of young athletes and think it’s instructive for athletes to be more proactive in seeking out good coaches, not just good programs. The below list is far from an exhaustive collection of all positive coaching qualities, only examples of those qualities that I feel are most representative of good coaches.

1) Their Athletes Experience Success
Success means different things to different people, and can include both individual (making a team, earning a spot on a top line/powerplay, achieving a certain body fat percentage, increasing broad jump distance, etc.) and team (beating a top team at any given level, making the playoffs, winning a championship, etc.) achievements. Inherent in this is the idea that “success” is HIGHLY specific to the individual or team. Sidney Crosby achieving success in his mind will certainly be different from the AHL player that is simply fighting for an NHL roster spot. On a more common scale, every team has goal scorers and role players; a single goal may be a huge success for a role player, whereas it would be an expected achievement for a player deemed a scorer. Similar things can be said regarding success in an off-ice training setting in terms of both relative and absolute improvements/achievements. I’ve had players come to Endeavor Sports Performance with lofty performance improvement aspirations; I’ve had others walk in (rather, limp in) with an exhausting list of past injuries that say they simply want to be able to enter the next season feeling healthy again. In all situations, coaches can have a significant impact on the successes of the player and quality coaches tend to generate a long list of successful athletes. In a nutshell, this just means that the coach gets results.

“If you believe in yourself and have the courage, the determination, the dedication, the competitive drive and if you are willing to sacrifice the little things in life and pay the price for the things that are worthwhile, it can be done.” – Vince Lombardi

2) They Give their Athletes Credit for Athletic Successes
When an athlete reaches a goal or otherwise experiences some personal or team success, that is for the athlete to own. It was their ability, hard work, and resolve that got them there. Nothing gets my goat more than coaches taking credit for an athlete’s accomplishments. You see this all the time in both hockey and training settings. Undoubtedly, coaches play a vital role in the athlete’s development and in guiding the athlete toward success, but if the athlete doesn’t exert the physical and mental effort to do their jobs (and to practice doing their jobs), then success will never be found. Most of the “credit stealing” is done in the name of marketing. I don’t think there is anything wrong with having an alumni list on a website, but when a coach says “I got them there” or “they would never be there without me”, I think it’s complete bullshit. Let the athlete give the coach credit if it’s that deserved. Even worse, many coaches get these absurdly talented athletes that come into the program successful, leave the program and continue to be successful, and the coach will take credit for that. It’s complete bullshit. Bottom line is that coaches can have career-overhaul influence on some players, but it’s far from the norm. If a player is on an NHL route, and then reaches the NHL level, that is what they were supposed to do. It wasn’t the coaches accomplishment to take credit for.

3) Different Language for Different Players
Every coach needs to know their athletes. Different athletes will have varying degrees of internal and external motivation, will respond to different forms of feedback, and generally rely on different past experiences to drive future behavior. Coaches that take a “one-size-fits-all” approach will inevitably lose some athletes. Great coaches find ways to relate to the athlete and convey constructive information in a way that suits the athlete’s learning style and overall personality.

Would you motivate this guy the same way as an 11-year-old?

4) Place Development as the #1 Priority
This doesn’t always apply at the professional level, as sport coaches are hired and fired based on their ability to win. However, at the youth levels, the goal is always to help the player develop. Sometimes this involves hard decisions. It could mean putting a less skilled player in the game in an important situation just to give them the experience. It may mean cutting a player that won’t thrive at a certain level or within a certain program, even if they’re talented enough. In fact, I’ve actually recommended that players train LESS with us at Endeavor (read: turned away business) if I thought it was in their best interest. Simply, it’s important not to lose sight of the big picture in the interest of short-term success (or what may be perceived as success).

5) Continuous Education
Over time new information in every field becomes available. When coaches get stuck in their system, they often get passed by those that can be considered more “innovative”. From a training standpoint, I think it’s comical when I get off-season hockey training programs for a team and I can pull the book published in the late ’80s from my bookshelf that the program was photocopied from. Being less cynical, I suppose I should just be happy that teams are starting to make an effort to provide their player’s with some sort of training structure, but as a professional in the field, it’s almost insulting that players get such a low quality manual to work from. From an on-ice perspective, do you remember when the Devils built a system around “The Trap”? This was a coaching change that completely changed the game (which made it SOOOO boring to watch). It forced every team to adapt. Keeping up with new information and maintaining a malleable mind will help ensure coaching success now and in the future.

See. Learning’s not so bad.

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!

Vince Lombardi was one of the most successful coaches of all time. He’s still the most frequently quoted name in sports. A few notable quotes:

“Mental toughness is essential to success.”

“You never win a game unless you beat the guy in front of you. The score on the board doesn’t mean a thing. That’s for the fans. You’ve got to win the war with the man in front of you. You’ve got to get your man.”

“Success is like anything worthwhile. It has a price. You have to pay the price to win and you have to pay the price to get to the point where success is possible. Most important, you must pay the price to stay there.”

“If you believe in yourself and have the courage, the determination, the dedication, the competitive drive and if you are willing to sacrifice the little things in life and pay the price for the things that are worthwhile, it can be done.”

“The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.”

It’s clear that he places mental toughness in a high regard. I want you to honestly answer this question:

What percentage of your athletic success is mental?

If you’re like most people, you responded anywhere from 50-90%. Now answer this question:

What percentage of your training would be considered mental training?

If you’re like most people, you responded anywhere from 0-10%.

You understand that mental preparation is key to peak performance. You acknowledge that you aren’t spending adequate time performing mental training.

What’s the solution?

I wish it were possible for all of us to play for a coach like Vince Lombardi. Unfortunately, we all missed that boat. Tomorrow I’ll reveal the next best thing. Stay tuned!

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