The secret to getting the most out of your athletes

Today I have a guest post from my friend Andreas Wochtl. Andreas has been a great resource for me since we reconnected a few years ago, as he’s not only a dedicated student of hockey development, but he brings an interesting perspective having split his youth hockey years playing in Sweden and the US. If you’ve missed his previous articles, you can check them out here:

  1. Thoughts on USA Hockey’s American Development Model
  2. How to Breed Talent

Today’s post touches on an important piece of the coaching process that I agree gets overlooked a lot. This “secret” to getting the most out of your athletes is about as simple as it gets, but it’s important that all coaches (myself included) check in with themselves to make sure they’re doing this consistently. Enjoy the post, and please pass this along to other coaches; we could all use the reminder!

Teaching Work Ethic

Hockey development in the U.S. has taken some major strides in the past few years with the introduction of ADM, SAGs, and most importantly even more FUN!  Coaches everywhere are doing a great job adjusting to this “new” structure of how the game is taught.  I love looking down on a sheet of ice and seeing almost every player engaged in something.

The Lab Training Center

The Lab” in Exton, PA

There’s one area where I see an opportunity to continue this improvement and connection with players development.  We spend a lot of time teaching technique, Xs and Os, and other technical aspects of the game.  We spend very little time on the emotional aspect of the game – aside from maybe an occasional (and likely exaggerated) pre-game speech.  Most coaches expect their players to show up and always want to play their hardest….something all of us will agree is never going to be the case.  How do you teach dedication?  How do you teach work ethic?  One way is to get to know your players better – what makes them tic?  Spend 10-15 minutes at some point during the season talking to players individually.  Get to know them, find out what motivates them, how they learn new things, what they feel like their struggles are on and off the ice.

I argue that just taking the time to have this conversation will have a meaningful impact on your ability to push these individuals to new limits.  If you listen to their comments and apply it to your coaching you will take them even further.  Kids are not robots, they can spot the coaches who care and those who do not.  There may be one kid out of a million who naturally has the innate drive to spend his free time practicing his outside edge turns.  If we can help some of the other 999,999 get to that point imagine what we can help these kids accomplish both on and off the ice!


To your success,

Kevin Neeld

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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