Last night I had an opportunity to give a nutrition talk to the Team Comcast U18 team. The talk went pretty well, as I know the kids pretty well since all but a couple spent their Summer with me over at Endeavor. During the talk, and interspersed Q&A, we touched on a lot of topics:
Overall, I tried to keep the discussion as practical as possible. Kids aren’t nearly as interested in the science as I am. They want to know what to eat, when to eat it, and a brief explanation as to why it matters.
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After discussing all of the above items, I felt the team had a pretty thorough understanding of how they should eat, and how they could make better choices a reality (implementation is a major road block). So I wrapped up by asking a relatively simple question:
“How many of you want to play college hockey?”
Every hand in the room went up. Perfect. I then suggested that if I approached each individual and asked what they would do to get there, that they’d probably all say some variation of “I’d do whatever it takes.”
In fact, I think you’d hear a similar response from any athlete that wishes to advance to a next level. Unfortunately, wishing won’t quite cut it, and what most of these athletes really mean is “I’ll do what’s most convenient and least invasive” and in many cases “and then bitch about how much better I am than the worst three players that made it over me.”
There is an optimal way to do everything-eat, hydrate, train, practice, facilitate recovery, etc. Naturally, there is a poor way to do everything as well. It’s a continuum from most ideal to least ideal. No one will be perfect 100% of the time. But if players are truly motivated, they should make a consistent focused effort to live their lives more toward optimal than not, and should quickly get back on track when things slip momentarily.
Everyone wants to take the dynamite approach to development. They want it all, now, and expect it yesterday. The truth is that development is more like erosion. In this analogy, every component I mentioned above can be signified as more water to stimulate erosion (development). Get your nutrition on track-more water. Learn proper recovery techniques (e.g. foam roll, stretch, perform breathing exercises after training, read before bed, go to bed and wake up within an hour of the same times every day, etc.)-more water. Follow a quality, progressive hockey training program-more water. And so on. This is how development works. If the athlete pursues optimal in all aspects of preparation and performance, they will continue to develop over time and eventually have an opportunity to compete at elite levels. If the process is rushed, and/or the little sacrifices aren’t made, development suffers.
Once athletes have the information, it’s up to them to use it. If you say you’ll do anything to achieve your goal, understand what everything means. Amongst other things, it means waking up a few minutes early to make a quality breakfast; it means packing your lunch the night before; it means doing the foam rolling, stretching, and dynamic warm-up routines your strength coach taught you, even when you’re sick of them; it means going to bed a little earlier on the weekends than you’d want and waking up WAY earlier than you want; it means watching the next level above you and studying the game; it means practicing specific skills repeatedly until you perfect them, and then practicing even more to cement them into automacity. These are just a few examples, but it should shed some light on my point. Develop your drive to succeed and then don’t let anything stop you, especially not your own apathy!
To your success,
P.S. If you’re looking for a great hockey-specific nutrition manual, I highly encourage you to invest in Ultimate Hockey Nutrition by Brian St. Pierre, which is only available to all Ultimate Hockey Training customers! Click here for more information: Ultimate Hockey Training
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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.