Apr 282010

The 2009-2010 season ended for us less than 3 weeks ago.  Unfortunately, we didn’t make the playoffs.  This isn’t something that we are not used to around here.  It is amazing how you go from working 6-7 days per week for over 7 months during the season, and then the season ends just like that.  The daily routine of going into work for practices, workouts, and/or games suddenly ends. 

Right now, as our players are in an “Active Rest” phase, the transition of my in-season mode to the off-season mode is taking place.  What’s important right now is for me to maintain a daily routine. I am filling my day with activities such as spending more time with Hillary and Will, walking the dog more, getting my own workouts in, trying to improve my golf game, hiking, writing more, and continuing my education by reading books and watching DVD’s.   I’ve also got a few trips lined up in the next couple of weeks including a trip back to Boston to present at a seminar, the NHL scouting combine in Toronto, and another family trip back home. 

When the off-season officially starts, I will have around 5-10 players here training throughout the summer.  Also, I anticipate having up to 20 younger hockey players who I work with.  It will be full go from there all the way until the next season starts.

Apr 262010

Hey Everyone,

Hope you are doing well. Here is a recap of the articles, videos

and programs this week on HockeyStrengthandConditioning.com:

Restoring Proper Hip Function: Part 2- from Kevin Neeld.

“Part 1 of this series addressed restoring adequate

range-of-motion in the hips and teaching the athlete to

dissociate between hip and lumbar spine movement. I’ll spare you

another article introduction and jump right into the nuts and

bolts of PART 2: Developing appropriate progressions for

improving hip flexion and adduction movement patterns.”

Read more at:


Video of the Week- Using The Core X System- Sean Skahan.

“One piece of equipment that we are currently using with our

athletes is the Core X system. This was developed by Physical

Therapist, Alex McKechnie. Alex is known for the work that he

does in rehabilitation with athletes in sports such as Hockey,

Basketball, and Soccer for groin, hip, and abdominal injuries.”

Watch the video at:


Coach Boyle’s Off Season Program for the Boston Bruins from 1998!

Check it out at


How Goalies Can Defy Gravity and Drop into the Butterfly Faster-

Maria Mountain

“I get great questions about off-ice training for goalies all the

time – hockey goalies really think about the demands of their

position and are always looking for ways to improve. This goalie

was looking for a way to drop into his butterfly faster.”

Check it out at:


Another great week on the site. Thanks to everyone who has been

active on the forum as well!

Michael, Sean, Kevin and Mike

Apr 212010

I just finished reading the book “Linchpin- Are You Indispensable?” by Seth Godin.  Seth has also written other books such as “Purple Cow”, “The Dip”, and “Tribes”.  

It really is a great book.  It really spoke out to me as I read along. 

Here is one of the paragraphs that I highlighted-

“I’ve never met anyone who had no art in them, though it’s buried sometimes.  Markets are crying out.  We need you to stand up and be remarkable.  Be human.  Contribute.  Interact.  Take the risk that you might make someone upset with your initiative, innovation, and insight- it turns out you’ll probably delight them instead.”

Throughout the book, Godin promotes the need for more Linchpins in the world.  More people need to work at making themselves indispensible.   People need to contribute their art and not just become a “cog in a giant machine”. 

What does this have to do with Strength and Conditioning?  We need to see ourselves as artists as well.  It takes creativity to design a program.  More creativity is required when implementing programs to your athletes.  Blogs (such as this one) are a way for me to express what I believe in.  I also think it’s important for us to try and lead, innovate.  Don’t worry about what others may think.  Don’t let other ‘s opinions suck the life out of your passion and enthusiasm. 

Check out Linchpin.

Apr 172010

Some great new content up on HockeyStrengthandConditioning.com

this week:

-Video of the Week- “Corrections for Hip Extension Exercises” from

Mike Potenza- The position of skating causes the quad musculature

to become overworked and tight, as a result the Vastus Lateralis

can make hip external rotation common during some bent knee and

straight leg hip extension exercises. Here are some videos that

show how we correct exercise technique in San Jose to help

utilize the entire hamstring group properly.


-“Diversify Your Athletic Lifestyle” from Sean Skahan looks at why

it is important for young hockey players to be an athlete at

several sports. Developing skills and having fun playing other

sports can have a positive effect on any hockey player at any



-“In Season Training-Something is Better Than Nothing”- Mike Boyle:

Kind of a lousy title for an article but, it’s true. I often talk

to coaches who say “we don’t train in-season, we don’t have a

weightroom”. I think I have a simple, low cost solution.


-Also, Check out the Endeavor Hockey Assessment Form that Kevin

Neeld uses with all of his hockey players. They started

implementing this recently so they don’t have enough data to draw

any conclusions, but it should be interesting to see what

commonalities they observe after testing all of their off-season

players this Summer.


Any questions, let us know,

Kevin, Michael, Sean and Mike.


Apr 112010

There are several strength and conditioning coaches and trainers who prescribe isolated glute max muscle “activation” and/or strengthening work.  These are exercises such as glute bridges, 1-leg glute bridges, quadruped hip extensions, and others where the emphasis is on the quality of the muscle contraction.  There are also several coaches and trainers who think that activation exercises are a waste of time and think that this concept is just a fad.  What I have found is that they may think that if their athletes are doing exercises such as squats, lunges, single leg squats, split squats, etc, then they are strengthening their glutes and the activation exercises are unnecessary.  I am one who does prescribe glute activation exercises.  We will do glute max isolation exercises on a daily basis with our players.

First, I think it is imperative to note that my job is to help keep the best players in the lineup on a nightly basis.  I understand that injuries such as fractures, concussions, and lacerations are beyond my control.  However, I am on the cautious side when it comes to soft tissue injuries.  We will do everything that we possibly can to help prevent injuries from happening- even with healthy athletes.

I was first introduced to the Prone Hip Extension Test by Al Vermeil at a seminar we hosted at Boston College back in 2001.  A few years later, I was able to attend a course on the Janda Method.  That’s when I learned how to administer the test properly.  This test has helped us identify athletes who don’t use their Gluteus Max’s when completing hip extension movement.  In a proper sequence of muscle activation, the hamstrings would fire first, glute max second, opposite side lumbar extensors third, same side lumber extensors fourth, opposite thoracolumbar extensors fifth, and same side thoracolumbar extensors sixth.  Several times, the gluteus maximus may not turn on at all.  Sometimes, we will see a difference in right vs. left side function.  In my opinion; this is a recipe for disaster.  Players who are continually going out and performing in their sport with this kind of pattern have a good chance of getting hurt.  Lower backs, hip flexors, and groins, can be affected by this.  Think about it, a player who can’t fire his glute max in order to help produce a significant amount of hip extension is going to find a way to do it without them.  Hamstrings, and lower back are the likely candidates.  These muscles may over work and strain.  I would also be worried about the athletes who are doing squats, lunges, single leg squats, and split squats, with this weakness too.  They are figuring out a way to do those exercises without their glute max.

Apr 092010

We added some great content this week on HockeyStrengthandConditioning.com.:

–     “Shopping For the Right “Dryland” Training Program” from Mike Potenza.

As the summer gets closer, parents and young hockey players will hear about many camps and programs available for off-ice training.  Shopping for the right “Dryland” training program can be made easier by asking a few questions.  Coach Potenza lists what questions to ask and why to ask them.

–     Answering to a forum post, Jaime Rodriguez shows sled variations at Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning for the Video of the Week.

–     Sean Skahan breaks down 4 phases of “In-Season Core” work.

Also, the Coaches Forum is jumping.  Lots of great discussion already, including “Testing Hockey Players”.  Find out the answers to:

  1. What are the best tests to use in the beginning of the season for college and pro hockey players to determine anaerobic capacity, power, and strength.


  1. Does anybody have their players perform the test multiple times during the season and post season to compare the strength and conditioning to the pre-season?


Hope you all are enjoying the site.  Any questions let us know. 

Michael, Sean, Mike, and Kevin.

Apr 052010

Eric Cressey and Michael Reinold have released a 4 DVD set of a seminar that they did back in November.  These are 2 smart guys who have the ability to apply their knowledge to some of the best players in baseball.  In my coaching situation, bridging the gap between athletes looking to get healthy and athletes looking to stay healthy is what it’s all about.  Check it out – Optimal Shoulder Performance

Apr 012010

1-      HockeyStrengthandConditioning.com is up and running.  If you train hockey players, you have to check it out.  We will start posting content on a weekly basis real soon.  I am really excited about it as there are several strength and conditioning coaches and athletic trainers from all levels including the NHL, AHL, major junior, and others. 

2-      I got a pair of Vibram Five Fingers a few weeks ago.  Honestly, I wish I got them sooner.  I’ve been training with them and have been on a few walks with them.  I believe they have helped me with some neurological symptoms that I have had in my left foot.  Surgery for a bulging disk back in 1999, and another surgery that I had to remove a non-cancerous mass in my spinal cord at the cervical level, has given me trouble with sensation.  I really believe that the Vibrams have helped wake up some proprioceptors and muscles that may have been shut down in my foot.  I am actually able to move my pinky toe by itself.  Something I haven’t been able to do for a long time. 

3-      Another thought on my training, I really love Jim Wendler’s 5-3-1 program.  I continue to make gains in strength on this program as I keep going up on my Military Press and Bench Press.  My “Actual Max” has gone from 155 to 190 in the Military Press while my Bench has gone from 225 to 265.  (I do not squat or deadlift, see #2 above).  Not bad results.  Something I may look into with my junior hockey players this summer.  What I really like about it is the simplicity of it.  It is a basic program that is really easy to plan out.