The Secret Behind Hockey Success?

On Tuesday I had the pleasure of visiting Brijesh Patel, the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Quinnipiac.  Brijesh primarily works with the mens and womens hockey and basketball teams there.  We spent about 7 hours picking each others’ brains about everything from groin and hip flexor injuries to speed training to program design.

I probably took home about a dozen exercises, coaching cues, and program design techniques that I’ll start mixing into my programs, but there was one thing we talked about that stood out above everything else:

The difference between a championship team and every other team is the collective ability of each player to sacrifice personal agendas for the betterment of the team and outwork their opponents every second of every shift.

It may seem counterintuitive that two strength coaches would agree that the secret to on-ice success is almost entirely mental, but it’s true.  Commitment to something greater than yourself will always beat out raw athletic ability.  This means:

  1. Skating the hardest when you’re the most tired
  2. Blocking shots at every opportunit
  3. Diving for loose pucks
  4. Winning races to loose puck
  5. Winning battles in the corner
  6. Staying focused on positioning
  7. Adjusting your play based on the performance of your linemates
  8. Giving criticism in a way that is helpful and boosts self-esteem
  9. Accepting criticism from others

Whether it’s off-ice training, practice, or a game, the mentality has to be that you’ll do whatever it takes to take your game, and your teams performance to the next level.  The best training program, practice structures, and game systems in the world won’t overcome a lack of team determination: the inability to accept defeat as an option.

Ask yourself before every off-ice session, practice, and game, “Am I willing to give everything I have?”
Ask yourself after every off-ice session, practice, and game, “Did I give everything I have?”

Until you can say yes to both of these questions, you shouldn’t be worried about off-ice or on-ice practice drills, line combinations, or your coaches.

The prerequisite to success is 100% effort.

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