Nov 072021
 

As I am working in my 18th year with a professional hockey franchise, I want to share my thoughts on working with a team.  There are lots of perceptions and outside opinions from others on the way that things should be done.  However, I think that when you do have experience, I think you can have a reason for doing some of the things the way that you do.

Earlier in my career, I worked with collegiate hockey teams.  I would train the team as one group. This would mean that every player is doing the exact same program.  However, individual modifications and regressions have always been made to certain exercises for certain individuals.  These changes were made based on the athlete’s requirements.  Most of the time this may have been due to a previous or a current injury that would prevent the athlete from doing what other team members were doing.  This was done on a year-round basis.  When I entered the professional environment, I kept that same philosophy. The reality is that I still do today.

There has been some criticism of this in the past from some athletes and other professionals.  “Why am I doing the same program as him?” or “Shouldn’t each player have their own program?”.  When I think of the individual needs of athletes, why does one athlete need more of something while another needs less- in-season?  Sure, there are individual needs to be met with some of our results of measurements that we administer.  Also, we do have athletes who do something in addition to our template, but the template is still the template for the team.

Today, the majority of my work with our athletes is done in-season.  This is due to the fact that professional athletes aren’t required to do what the team provides them with during the off-season.  We have some athletes who will follow our program.   However, most of them hire their own personal trainers for the off-season.  In-season is entirely different.

In season, we train as a team.  This includes warm ups and strength training workouts.  I believe that there is a benefit to teammates working together- both on and off- the ice. The way I always look at it is that I want to decrease the chance of injuries and increase performance the best that I possibly can.  Given the logistics of the professional hockey schedule, there are always going to be challenges.  To me, putting together the template is part of the art of coaching.  Our workouts are quick and efficient, especially post-game when our athletes’ time is valuable.

Some of the best players that I have been fortunate to work with didn’t/don’t necessarily enjoy strength and conditioning.   What I have found is that the good and great ones don’t necessarily have to enjoy it but they understand the “Why” and embrace it.

When the leaders and your best players on your team understand the importance of why they are training, then it is easy for the rest of the team to understand as well.  The more time we can train as a team is better for us in the long run.

Dec 272018
 

I originally wrote this a few years ago.  Looking back, I still feel the same.

Today’s hockey players are becoming bigger, stronger, and faster while becoming more fit than they were in years past. In addition to young players participating in other sports, they are also participating in strength and conditioning programs either at their own school, with their team, or with private training companies that are in the communities.

Strength and conditioning for sports has now become a common necessity that really wasn’t around until recently. It has now become a business as there are now several training facilities within every neighborhood.

With the sports training market becoming very saturated, there are several to choose from when it comes to choosing one for your son or daughter. Like any other businesses, in my opinion, there are some very good ones, some average ones, and some not so good ones. What I have listed below are some quick guidelines on making a selection for a strength and conditioning coach/personal trainer or company. These are based on observations and opinions about today’s hockey players and performance:

1- Make sure that the trainer(s) has a degree from a 4-year college/university. A master’s degree would be a plus. Preferably, their degree is in Exercise Science, Kinesiology, Biomechanics, or any other major related to Exercise and or Sports Medicine.

2- Make sure that the trainer is certified by a reputable certification agency. For Strength and Conditioning Coaches or Personal Trainers who work with hockey players, the Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach (C.S.C.S) certification from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) is probably the most reputable certification. Another good certification is any certification provided by the National Academy of Sports Medicine (N.A.S.M.).

3- Ask for testimonials and/or references from athletes that they have coached. They should be able to provide current or past testimonials from people who have trained with them. If they can’t provide you with any testimonials, ask for references. If they can’t give you any references, find another trainer. Also, make sure that the trainer actually trained and worked with an athlete who they say they may have.

4- Don’t get caught up in the “bells and whistles” about the facility. Most of the good strength and conditioning coaches and personal trainers out there can get results without the high-tech equipment which may be considered “hockey-specific”. Also, they may not need a large facility the size of a Wal-Mart.

In today’s world, it is easy for anyone to get a personal training certification from a non-reputable source and then partner up with someone with a lot of money and start up a sports training business. I would always prefer an individual or company that started out with close to nothing and then grew their business by getting positive results from their athletes and clients. As a parent who is paying for the child to participate in a strength and conditioning program, you must do your homework when trying to choose one. Hopefully these guidelines and recommendations will help you make the right decision

Aug 042018
 

I like to read books all the time- although I probably don’t read as much as others.  Here are some of the books that I have read recently and have almost finished:

The Five Minute Journal

Tough to say that this is a book that I am reading but I did purchase it and do read the words on the page on a daily basis.  I enjoy starting my day with gratitude writing.  I have tried a few of them but I wanted to try a new process.  So far so good.

Iron Works Preparation: The Best Way to Prepare for Football

I have really enjoyed listening to Arizona Cardinals Strength and Conditioning Coach Buddy Morris on several different podcasts.  I have also read some of his “Coach X” material on Elitefts.com. This book (which is co-authored by Ryan Williams)was another way to see how good strength and conditioning coaches organizes their thoughts and write programs. I am a nerd when it comes to this stuff and enjoy learning how other coaches write programs even if it isn’t for hockey.

Gift of Injury

This is a great resource for me because I have low back pain.  I am also always looking for methods that work in the prevention of LBP in my athletes/clients.  I have read lots of Stuart McGill’s work but this was different because it was written from Dr. Mcgill’s perspective as well as the athlete’- Brian Carroll. I had the opportunity to meet with Brian at the the annual PHATS meeting in Orlando.  It was pretty neat to hear his experience.

Thinking, Fast and Slow

I had a good start with this and I put it down because I found it to be a tough read.  I anticipate picking it up again soon.

Would love to hear thoughts and suggestions.

Jun 182018
 

This is another phase 1 exercise.  I like this because it allows us to get shoulder and arm work done with one exercise versus performing dumbbell curls and shoulder presses individually.

– The athlete is tall with their hips extended.

– The arms must be long at the start of the curl and the wrists are nuetral during the presss.

– I’ve found that the nuetral grip helps allow us to get a better anatomical position with less back extension and the pressing path in line with the ears.

Jun 052018
 

This is phase 1/Accumulation phase exercise that we do for horizontal pressing.

I’ve always like these because it allows us to get unilateral work in with dumbbells while also getting some shoulder stabilization work.

Week 1 we will start with 8 reps each side and progress 2 reps each week.  Ideally, we try to increase the load as well.  I feel that this allows for a smooth transition to barbell work in phase 2.

May 212018
 

I like to post these random thoughts that pop up in my head from time to time.  Let me know what you think.

-I’ve been using a 1×20 program with my athletes as a Post-Season/Transition phase for the past 3 years.  Each off-season, I have found it to be a great re-introduction to the training process with the emphasis on GPP and restoring range of motion under load.  Thanks to Strength and Conditioning Coaches like Jim Snider at Wisconsin, Jay Demayo at Richmond University, and ultimately Dr. Yessis.


-I believe more dumbbells and kettlebells and no barbells in this phase.

-With my young athletes who can’t complete a set of 8 chin ups on their own; I’ve had them use assisted pull up variations with bands.  I am now going back to adding eccentrics after their last successful repetition.  We don’t use the band anymore.  For example, if a an athlete can’t execute 8 chin ups, but can get 5, I have them perform a :30 eccentric after their 5th rep.  This occurs for all 3 sets that we do in the training session.  I  feel that the band assisted method doesn’t produce results.  The goal is 30 seconds on the eccentric contraction.  This will continue even though we aren’t in an “eccentric” phase.

-Tempo is the forgotten variable sometimes in training.  Beginners and those in the return to training phase need more time under tension

-For continuing education this summer, I recently attended Charles Poliquin’s Advanced Program Design seminar.  I thought it was outstanding.  I go to seminars to learn.  I’ve never gone to train.  However, the practical portion of this seminar was equally beneficial to the knowledge picked up in the lecture portion.  It was awesome kind of going back in time for me as I haven’t been to one of his seminars since 2001.

-Charles said something on the lines of a Strength and Conditioning Coach isn’t doing a good job in-season if 90% of strength isn’t maintained.  I believe that.

-I love working with youth and high school hockey players during the summer.  I believe that consistent work and effort with an emphasis on the basics works.

-I have some requests for off-season program design/on-line training.  Please email me a sean@seanskahan.com if interested.

Feb 272018
 

I like the random thought posts because it allows me to share what I am thinking when I sit down to write.

  • I’ve been taking an active approach on social media (or more active approach). I’ve always felt that maybe my content stinks and no one will like it or maybe some would think that I don’t actually coach. What I’ve come to realize is that if someone doesn’t like what I put out- who cares?  I actually do coach and lots of folks find the content beneficial.

 

  • I’ve been helping out some high school hockey teams this season (which has been fun). We had a few training sessions on the day between games.  For example, if the team played Thursday and Saturday- we trained on Friday.  We have done some strength training exercises such as body weight step ups and push ups but most of the sessions were tempo running, diaphragmatic breathing, and stretching. Each time they won the next day.  Not saying what we did helped them win but it didn’t help them lose.

 

  • I’ve done a consistent job of establishing a morning routine. I’ve become obsessed with personal goal setting over the last few years.  Each morning, I get up, make coffee, and write in my Full Focus Plannerread the Daily Stoic, and then hit my Wim Hof inspired breathing exercises and push ups.  Something to be said about having a routine that you stick with in the morning before you do anything else.  Funny how only a few years ago, I would probably call myself a nerd for doing this kind of stuff.

 

  • Working with pro athletes is both fun and challenging. Having fun while overcoming the challenges makes me a better coach.

 

  • Recovery Facilitator is a large part of the responsibility of the Strength and Conditioning Coach in-season.