Kevin Neeld — Hockey Training, Sports Performance, & Sports Science

The Secret to Successful Sports Training (over a dozen videos inside!)

Do you think all athletes should train the same?

Before answering that question, think about differences in the power, speed, strength, range of motion, coordination and conditioning demands of the sport and various positions within a sport.

The key to successful training is specificity.

I’m a hockey guy so I’ll use that as an example.

Hockey players need to be explosive in movement specific patterns (deceleration->acceleration exercise for goalies).

Hockey players need to be able to transfer force from the hips through the upper body (this is very important for improving shooting power)

Hockey players need single-leg strength and stability.

Hockey players need to be quick and fast in a variety of different movement patterns (Check out the videos for one of my favorite exercises, the 3-Way Shuffle-to-Sprint: 10-Yard Sprint, 5-Yard Deceleration Way 1, Way 2, Way 3)

Hockey players need rotational power and stability.

Hockey players need to address hip flexor and adductor (read: groin) strength in movement specific patterns.

Hockey players need to be conditioned for high-intensity work bouts.

From a coaching stand point, specificity helps with program buy-in.  Despite being new there, I haven’t had any trouble getting my hockey guys at Endeavor to do anything (including seemingly silly psoas activation exercises) because there is a hockey specific rationale for everything we do.

If you (or your athletes) aren’t currently following a structured training program, it’s time to start.

People often ask me where they should begin.  I think the most important first step is to add a dynamic warm-up before every on- and off-ice practice or training session. A well-designed dynamic warm-up will activate the muscles that need to be activated, reinforce proper movement patterns, increase functional range of motion around specific joints, increase body temperature and neural efficiency, and decrease injury risk.

If you’re unsure of how to go about designing a warm-up that incorporates all of those things or are sick of just doing high knees, butt kickers, side shuffles, and cariocas (Yes it’s carioca. NOT karaoke…which is what people do to embarrass themselves on stage with a microphone) as your warm-up, I highly recommend Eric Cressey and Mike Robertson’s Magnificent Mobility.  It’s a phenomenal resource with a ton of unique exercises that’s been used by countless collegiate and professional strength and conditioning coaches.

Implementing everything else gets a bit complicated. If you’re interested in how I put programs together, I’ve thrown a copy of an old program I used with a goalie on my website.  You can download that here. We were working with pretty limited resources, but we were still able the job done.

Before I wrap up this newsletter I have a special request.

I try my best to provide you with meaningful content and exercises that you can use immediately.  If you’ve enjoyed the content of my newsletters, could you forward them on to 3-5 other people you know that you think would also be interested in this information?  More readers = more feedback = more content specific to what you’re interested in.  Thanks in advance for your help in spreading this information.

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Kevin Neeld

Kevin Neeld Knows Hockey

Kevin has rapidly established himself as a leader in the field of physical preparation and sports science for ice hockey. He is currently the Head Performance Coach for the Boston Bruins, where he oversees all aspects of designing and implementing the team’s performance training program, as well as monitoring the players’ performance, workload and recovery. Prior to Boston, Kevin spent 2 years as an Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the San Jose Sharks after serving as the Director of Performance at Endeavor Sports Performance in Pitman, NJ. He also spent 5 years as a Strength and Conditioning Coach with USA Hockey’s Women’s Olympic Hockey Team, and has been an invited speaker at conferences hosted by the NHL, NSCA, and USA Hockey.