Oct 302009

I’ve decided to get on the bandwagon of posting some of the things I have been thinking about and have done during the past week in addition to my coaching responsibilities.  I will try and update every Friday.  So here it goes:

1-      The P90X may be the best workout system that I have seen advertised on television (Perfect Pull Up is second).  A few of my friends have started the program.   What I like about it is the organization of the program and most importantly, you are required to move.  Although, I don’t think I would use it with my athletes, I think it is great for people who need a regimented routine. 

2-      I read the book  Crush It- Why Now is the time to cash in on your Passion, by Gary Vaynerchuck.  I actually finished it in a day.  I really like the concepts described in the book to help utilize social media.  What I also really like is the fact that the author explains that by having a passion for something and applying hard work, you can see positive results.   Kind of a breath of fresh air to read a book where they promote hard work.   I’ve actually taken action on a few of the tips in the book. 

3-      Strength Coach and friend, Mike Boyle, has released his Functional Strength Coach 3.0.  I got mine yesterday and watched the first dvd last night.  As usual, Mike has done it again by releasing a great product.  It seems like Mike is always one step ahead when it comes down to program design implementation and progression.  I look forward to watching the rest of them. 

4-      On T-muscle this week, there was another great article called “Bigger, Better, Faster, Longer” featuring an interview with Dan John.  Dan is a really good writer and seems to be an even better coach. 

5-      Speaking of Mike Boyle, check out this funny video Anthony Renna put together.   


That’s it.  Let me know what you think.  Have a great weekend.

Oct 282009


My good friend Anthony Renna has done an unbelievable job with the Strengthcoach Podcast. To me, it has been a great educational resource. I usually try to listen to it on my ipod or I will put them on cd’s for my car.  I was very fortunate to be interviewed on episode 1 back in September of 2007. You can access my interview and all of the episodes of the StrengthCoach Podcast at http://www.strengthcoachpodcast.typepad.com/

Oct 202009

Whenever I have the opportunity to interact with coaches and parents, I’m always asked the question: When can my son/daughter start strength training?

My general response is around 12 to 14 years old, depending on the physical maturity level of the child, but I always have to take into consideration their perception of strength training.

Usually, the perspective from a parent’s view is lifting really heavy weights with barbells or dumbbells while grunting and straining through each repetition. That’s probably not something I’d recommend for kids under the ages of 12-14.  

But when you think about it, kids are already strength training in lots of different ways; it just may not seem like it because it doesn’t have any real structure.

Some of the most basic strength-training advice is to “master body-weight exercises first, and when proper technique is established, add resistance.”  

That’s true in a traditional sense, because we wouldn’t want to put a barbell with weight on a young kid’s back and ask them to do squats without being able to execute a proper body-weight squat. However, how many times do see young kids doing body-weight exercises without thinking that they might be “strength training?”

Have you ever seen a kid squat down to pick something up?  Or maybe they do some plyometrics while playing games that include jumping or hopping at the park?  I really enjoy watching my 3-year-old son do this all the time; so is 3 years old too young for plyometrics?

As parents and coaches, we may tend to be afraid of having our young athletes participate in a series of exercises because we may view it as traditional strength training. However, we may not realize that kids may already be strength training or doing plyometrics without even thinking about it.  

When kids put on their hockey equipment and go out and practice, that could technically be considered strength training when you think about adding resistance to body weight.  Off the ice, kids are squatting, lunging, running, hopping and skipping all the time; unfortunately, there are also many kids who are sitting on their butts way too much while playing video games or surfing the Internet after school.

First and foremost, I would recommend young kids to start playing more sports and games. As for a traditional routine, in my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with kids doing body-weight exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups, squats, lunges and step-ups, which are movements that kids should be doing. These exercises done with strict adherence to proper technique are beneficial.

Kids can start understanding that strength training for hockey should include exercises that involve multi-muscle and joint movements.  Leave the single-joint exercises, such as bicep curls and leg extensions, for the aspiring bodybuilders.  Then, when they’re 12-14 years old, they can start adding resistance in the form of a barbell or light dumbbells and start progressing from there.  

But first, we may need to get some of them off their butts and start moving.

Oct 032009

Since I’ve been working with hockey players, I’ve been really fortunate to be around some very talented players from all over the world.  What I have realized is that their superior talent level combined with their incredible work ethic, has allowed them to play at the highest level possible.  What most of these players also have in common is that while they were growing up, they also have played other sports.  Some of the sports that were played include baseball, football, lacrosse, soccer, tennis, and golf.  Players who I know of who were also outstanding at other sports include former Duck Adam Oates, who was also an outstanding lacrosse player, and current Head Coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins and former Duck, Dan Bylsma, who was a great baseball player and also an outstanding golfer.  Chris Drury, who currently plays for the New York Rangers, was a pitcher on the USA little league baseball team that won the world championship over 20 years ago in 1989. There are several players on the current Ducks’ roster who were great at other sports.  The list can go on and on for current players in the NHL.

My point is that these guys all played different sports while they were growing up.  They didn’t just play hockey or “specialize” in hockey.  The skills that they learned in other sports have helped them develop the skills that they now have in professional hockey.

Today’s young hockey players are spending way too much time just playing hockey.  Hockey is now a year-round sport for many young kids (especially if they’re good).  There is always the next team to try out for or the camp that “all of the top players in the area” are going to.  What is also really interesting to me is how many of these kids have their own “private” lessons.  Why?  Tell me how taking private lessons is going to help kids become better team players who work hard together to achieve common goals.

With physical education in the United States drastically decreasing, the need to play more sports is more important now than it ever was before.  Sports like soccer, football, lacrosse, basketball, baseball, field hockey, volleyball, and softball which emphasize team work should also be played throughout the year.  Developing speed, agility, quickness, balance, and body awareness in other sports can translate to having those attributes on the ice.  What I find most important, especially with the absence physical education, is the general fitness gained in playing other sports.

Hockey is a team game.  The better teams in the NHL have a bunch of hard-working players who play for each other and put team success before individual success.  The really good players realize that their team’s success will help them have individual success in the long run.  Playing different sports while learning life lessons in teamwork and accountability, all while having fun, will help any youngster develop into a better hockey player.