Jan 312011

This past weekend was the NHL all-star break.  While there were several players who were fortunate enough to be recognized and take part in the festivities, the rest of the league got some much needed rest and relaxation.  (Training staffs too).

The reality is that the season is an absolute grind.  Each team across the league has played around 49-52 games so far in 4 months of hockey.  When you add in practices, travel demands, and workouts, the players have earned a much needed break.  The break came at the right time for all of the teams.   Each player can relax before the stretch run in which every team is gunning for a playoff birth.  I gaurantee that you will see some really good hockey games during the last 30-33 games from your favorite team.   We all know that all you have to do is get in the top 8 in the conference to have a chance at the cup.

It is also important to get your rest in with your own training.  Going to the gym every day can get old for some.  The daily routine of going to the same gym and doing some of the same things over and over again, can and will wear you out.  Therefore, like the NHL, you need time to recharge the batteries.

Some of the successful programs that I have seen at the professional, collegiate, Olympic, and private training  levels are usually 12 weeks long.  What I like about these programs is that week 13 is an unload week or an off week.  Their athletes will then start up again with week 1 of a new 12 week program after that week.  The week off is to physically rest and recover while also mentally refreshing themselves before starting a new phase.

Everyone needs their time off to recharge their own batteries.

Jan 242011

Jack Lalanne passed away last night at the age of 96. He is a true legend when it comes to the fitness field and lifestyle. I honestly thought he would live another 10-20 years or so.
I don’t know when this video was shot, but since it is in black and white, I would say it was a long time ago. Please do me a favor and take 3 minutes out of your day to watch this clip. Jack is right on the money here.

Jan 212011

The Toe Touch Squat with Alternating Arm Reach is a mobility exercise that I really like. This is a progression to help correct a faulty deep squat pattern from the F.M.S as I originally saw it in one of Gray Cook’s publications. What I really like about it is that we can work hip mobility and then add in some thoracic extension which help our Deep Squat and Shoulder Mobility Screens.

I think it’s important to note that this is a different movement from the traditional back squat or front squat. While we may advocate some lumbar flexion in the mobility exercise, we will not allow it with our double leg strength exercises.

Jan 172011

When it comes to fitness, I think it is important to do something everyday to help you achieve your goals. It doesn’t have to be a 2-hour workout consisting of strength training and conditioning. It could be as easy as a 20 minute walk or as hard as a kettle bell workout. It all depends on your current level of fitness. For some, maybe it is getting off the couch and doing some house work or riding the stationary bike for 30 minutes? Either way, do something to get moving.

When I think of the athletes that I am fortunate to work with, they rarely get total days off to rest. Usually it is a game, practice, travel day, or a strength and conditioning session that helps keep them busy. It is also why hockey players may be the most “fit” athletes.

Speaking of doing something everyday day, I’ve spent some time recently updating the blog. With the help of Kevin Neeld, I think I’ve made the site look better and I have also added a Recommended Resources page and a Testimonial page. Check them out. Thanks! Sean

Jan 142011

It has been a while since I posted a recap of what is going on at HockeyStrengthandConditioning.com. Before I get into the most recent content, I want to give you a brief overview of what we have going on so far in 2011.

– We added Darryl Nelson to the staff. Darryl is an excellent addition to the site as he has done an unbelievable job coaching with the US National Developmental Program over the years. There are many players who Darryl has coached that are now playing in the NHL. We are really looking forward to reading Darryl’s contributions.

– We are going to provide our members with a youth hockey training section that will consist of workouts and videos so that youth hockey coaches can easily implement the programs into their teams’ training programs. This is going to be a great section.

Here is some of the content that has been posted since my last update:

4 Summer Phase 1 Without Olympic Lifts by Mike Boyle. This is a program that Mike did last summer with his athletes who don’t olympic lift. I really like reviewing these programs as I know what it is like to have athletes who can’t do certain lifts. Great program from Mike.

My Road to the Top by Mike Boyle. This was an article that Mike originally put on his blog. I felt that this was a must for the site. Any young strength and conditioning coach who wants to train hockey players needs to read this. Mike talks about how hard work allowed him to be successful in this profession. Funny that there is no mention of the Internet on his road to the top.

In-Season Core Phase 3 by Sean Skahan. In this program, I outline what we are currently doing with our players for our in-season core training. We would like to put up more real-time programs to show what we are currently doing at different parts of the year.

Last but not least is our video of the week which is Mike Potenza’s Table Stretching. Mike shows some great stretches that he uses with his guys. We use many of these variations with our guys as well. Great video from Mike.

Thanks for your support,

Sean, Anthony, Mike, Kevin, and Darryl

Jan 112011

I am a big believer in strength and conditioning coaches being able to do the things that they ask their athletes to do.  I also believe that a strength coach’s philosophy is based on personal preferences from what has worked or hasn’t worked for them in the past.  Not only with the athletes that they are coaching, but also themselves. 

Back in 1999, I was a graduate assistant strength and conditioning coach at a Big Ten university.  I was 2 years removed from my last college football season.  At the time, my training regimen consisted of performing similar routines to what the athletes who I was coaching were doing.  Within my program, full back squats, power cleans, and pulls from the floor were part of the regimen.  The thing about it was that I was not able to back squat or pull from the floor heavy with the form I had.  I had good form until the weight got heavier on the bar.  I can remember forcing myself down in the hole when I probably shouldn’t have been using that amount of weight on the bar.  Was this stupid?  Yes it was, but I continued to push through. Knowing what I know now, this was the definition of putting strength on dysfunction or maybe trying to screw a square peg into a round hole. 

A few months later, I got a lumbar discectomy at the L4 and L5/S1 levels.  Before the surgery, it was so painful that I couldn’t walk or do other activities of daily living without pain.  (Those who have undergone this know what I am talking about.)  Back to knowing what I know now again- I probably wouldn’t have done the surgery without trying extensive physical therapy, stretching, A.R.T., and/or massage therapy first. 

The point of the story is that you have to learn from your mistakes.  I know that I will do my best to make sure that the athletes I coach will never have to go through something like that.  As a result, we don’t back squat or pull from the floor.  In my opinion, there are different and safer methods to get strong and powerful.  Most of the athletes that I work with have done well without doing some of the exercises that I think have a good chance of being dangerous.  Most of them are playing their sport in the highest level that their talent level allows.  Most importantly, this helps me with designing programs for those who have undergone the process of lower back surgery or who experience low back pain.  There are some exercises that will never be included in a program for those individuals. 

Now before you read this and ask yourself if I have ever coached back squats or power cleans before?  The answer is yes- plenty.  However I have seen plenty of people who back squatted or cleaned properly have to go under the knife as well.  As a coach, you have to ask yourself if the perceived advantage of an exercise is worth the injury potential.

Jan 052011

A discussion on the most recent episode of the StrengthCoachPodcast inspired me to write this post.  Anthony Renna and Mike Boyle were discussing goal setting and how important it is to write down your goals.  If people like Anthony and Mike are advocating goal setting, I think it is worth trying it out.  Goal setting is crucial for attaining success. 

Writing your goals down has been promoted by several of the self-help gurus for years.  I have been personally writing down my goals now for 4-5 years and all I can say is that it works.  I really can’t imagine not having goals. 

At the beginning of 2010, I had a list of goals that I wanted to accomplish.  Although I personally didn’t achieve all of them, I did get to achieve most of the goals that I set. I really believe that if I didn’t set these goals and develop a plan for achieving them, I wouldn’t have accomplished them.

When I actually set them, I wrote them down on a daily basis in my notebook. I wrote them as if I already had achieved them.  What happened was that the more I wrote them down, the more I believed that I was going to accomplish them. I felt like I was going to be unproductive if I didn’t achieve them.

From a professional standpoint, the Stanley Cup is always the goal. 30 teams in the NHL begin each season with this goal in mind. Even though this is a big goal every year, it is probably the most difficult trophy to win in all professional team sports. I am realistic to know that there are so many factors that come into play for winning the cup. As a result, I don’t feel as unproductive if we don’t win it.  I also wish I could write down my goal of winning the Cup everyday and win it in June.

Some of my personal professional goals for 2011 include continuing to update this blog more frequently, developing an information product for hockey, speaking at more at seminars and conferences, writing more articles, and continuing to grow HockeySC.com

As a strength and conditioning coach, I believe it is important to be as strong and conditioned as you can be. Although pro hockey players are some of the most fit people in the world, I don’t think it is unreasonable for a strength and conditioning coach who works with them to try his best get to their levels.  I do have some physical goals that I look to improve in 2011. 

Now that I have written my goals down, I will be writing all of them down on a daily basis and coming up with a plan to achieve all of them. I really have zero excuses.

What are your goals for 2011?

Jan 042011

Thanks to all of the readers of the blog during 2010. The more people who read it inspire me to post more articles and videos. I look forward to posting much more content in 2011.

Here are the most popular posts on the blog for 2010:

#5- Hockey Speed Can Be Summed Up In One Word: Acceleration

#4- What To Do If Your Glutes Are Weak Part 3

#3- What To Do With Inhibited Glutes Part 1

#2- Glute strengthening

#1- Do Your Glutes Work?