Feb 182016
 

 

Total Hockey Training

Today is the official release date of my book Total Hockey Training. I can’t believe that today is actually here. The reality is that there were several days when I thought that this wasn’t going to happen. Whether it was self-doubt or I didn’t feel that I had enough time to hit certain deadlines, the completion of this always seemed way down the road.

 
I had the goal of writing a book about hockey strength and conditioning by the time I was 40 years old with an actual publisher.  The reason why I wanted to go that route is because of a few reasons:

 
– I didn’t trust my writing ability. I didn’t want to make an e-book that may have contained grammatical mistakes. The people at Human Kinetics take care of those things for a living.

 
– I remember a conversation with a friend of mine back in California several years ago about internet gurus and e-books. I remember him saying “Unless a sports or strength training book is published by a reputable publisher such as Human Kinetics, I won’t pick it up.” Now, I am not saying that e-books aren’t any good or worth the read but, hearing him say that always stuck with me.  I trusted Human Kinetics to help me create a solid product that I believed in.

 
– I wanted the challenge of going through the process from start to finish. I wanted to go through this to accomplish something big. As a result, I can say that I have a huge amount of respect admiration for anyone that has written a book.

 

 

Total Hockey Training encompasses everything I’ve learned over the years training the beginner to the professional hockey player.

 

 
You can get a copy at Amazon and Human Kinetics. I hope you enjoy it!

Oct 262015
 

Some of the best coaches to have ever walked the planet were known as coaches who emphasized the details.   Details have always been emphasized by the best.  No stones are left unturned when it comes to planning and organizing every aspect for their team.  John Wooden, for example, was known for not only being a winner, but for spending time with his players on some of the basic tasks such as teaching them how to properly put their socks on to prevent blisters.  Coach Wooden also spent most of his day planning the days practice.  Every aspect of practice was planned for and organized to run the same way that Coach Wooden envisioned.

The best coaches also embrace the process.  It is the day to day grinding of helping their teams prepare for every little challenge that their teams may face in any situation.  Great coaches also stay in the moment.  It isn’t necessarily the next game or the next couple of games.  It is the details of improving for the next drill at practice, or the next play or shift during a game.

As I transition back to the collegiate strength and conditioning environment, I find myself planning training sessions well in advance.  Not to say that I didn’t previously.  However, the difference is now I have the opportunity to take entire teams through training sessions from start to finish.  I try to always have a vision of how the session will flow.  How much time should I dedicate to foam rolling?  How long will they take to go through hurdle mobility?  At what point in the session will they progress to the power racks?  Etc.  Everything from when they walk in the door through their last repetition of the last set of the last exercise is planned for accordingly.

The longer I do this, I realize that it really is all about the process.  Its trying to do the little things better over and over again on a daily basis.  The better athletes that I have been fortunate enough to work with over the years always embraced this.  They enjoyed the monotony of doing the little things continuously to help them succeed.

Strength and Conditioning coaches should have a plan every time their athletes come through the door.  They need to be prepared to help them get the next rep and/or the next set.  Training sessions need to be scripted out so that nothing is left out or not prioritized- everything is important.  “Today is the only day.  Yesterday is gone” is a John Wooden quote that I found on the internet.  Strength Coaches need to coach and help their athletes through every little aspect of their program on a daily basis.

Oct 032014
 

I hope everyone is doing great!  As we enter October, hockey season is in pre-season mode or in some cases; in-season mode is already taking place.  Either way, you got to love this time of year.

Here at HockeySC.com, we have had some really good content updates since my last post:

Articles:

Shoulder Medial Rotation by Darryl Nelson

Videos:

Partner Pro Agility by myself

Hip Internal Rotation with Reach by Darryl Nelson

On the forum, we have had some good discussions ongoing such as a discussion on training 8-10 year olds and some of the recent articles written about today’s off-season training done by some of today’s NHL players.  What is great about the forum is that there are always good questions and discussions about all different kinds of topics in regards to performance training for hockey.  Make sure you check out the forum when you log on.

Remember, if you are not a current member, you can try us out for $1 for 7 days.   If you don’t like it, you can cancel during that time.

Thanks!

Oct 142013
 

I have always been a proponent of implementing cross-ice only games at the mite level of hockey.  I believe in what USA Hockey is doing through the American Developmental Model (ADM) and I am a big believer in young hockey players also being young “insert another sport here” players.  Also, I believe that young kids shouldn’t subject themselves to the same rink specifications of NHL or international leagues.   Although I also believe in practicing what you preach, I must admit that I am guilty of questioning whether or not cross-ice games would be good for my own son.

My son started to learn how to skate when he was 3.  He participated in learn to skate and hockey programs and then began playing cross ice at age 4.  When he was 5, he played at the full-ice mite recreation level.  The year after that, he played at the travel full-ice level.   Although he played in 2 complete years of full-ice hockey, he also competed in several full-ice tournaments.   While his games were played in the full-ice format, all of his practices consisted of drills and games done in small areas.  Practices were done twice per week and they always followed the ADM principles.

At the time, I though the progression was fine.  My son is a little bigger than most of the other kids his age and I would consider him to be average to above average in skill and skating.  To him, it seemed like full-ice hockey wasn’t a big deal.

After his first year of travel hockey, we found out what was going to take place this season- one half of his games the season are going to be played in the cross-ice format, and one half of the season is going to be the full-ice format.  This is taking place because USA Hockey is mandating that mite level hockey is all cross-ice.  However, there is a transition period going from full-ice hockey to cross-ice hockey so kids in my son’s age group who have played full ice don’t have to make such a drastic transition.  For my son, the reality is that because of his birth year, he must participate in this.  If he was a year older, he would be eligible to play up to the next level.  For him, I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing and most importantly, he could care less.

After much anticipation and wondering how it was going to go, we played in a recent cross-ice holiday weekend tournament.  After watching the tournament, I wanted to share my thoughts (Again, this is all new to a large group of kids around southern California):

Pros:

–     More time with the puck- It seemed like the puck came to all of the players more frequently while more aggressive players got the puck much more

–     Players had more opportunities to display individual skills.  Kids had more opportunities to make moves and beat their opponents one on one

–     Quicker decisions- The game was fast and it seemed like there wasn’t much room to make plays.  Kids had to make quick plays

–     One minute and 30 second shifts which were controlled by the sound of a buzzer- This was great.  Equal ice time for everyone and both teams changed at the same time.  Brilliant.

–     No off-sides calls- I do like this even though the kids aren’t learning the off-sides rule.

–     Kids seemed much more confident with the puck- Don’t know if it was because of playing against a weaker team or not, but was still good.

Cons:

–     When the puck went out of play, the clock kept ticking.  The ref didn’t have a back-up puck to continue play

–     The higher skilled players are still the higher skilled players.  Yes, the lower skilled players got more puck possession time, but the higher skilled players still touched the puck much more.  The higher skilled players still scored the most goals but I will say that since puck possession seemed higher per player, everyone had more opportunity to score goals

–     Lots of goals were scored and there were face-offs immediately after each goal.  Retrieving the puck and conducting a face-off is time consuming.  I like the pick-up hockey format where the team that gets scored on plays the puck out of their net.  This would allow play to keep moving.  If the score isn’t being kept, then who cares?

–     Growing pains are going to happen.  There were many times when it seemed like the facility was trying to figure it out while it was going on.  For example, some referees didn’t know some of the rules and the locker room situation was crammed.  I guess if you have 4 teams playing on the ice at once, you will need more locker room space.

All in all, I think this is going to be great.  There are lots of concerns from parents about possibly delaying their sons/daughters development.  However, when I offer my opinion on this, I tell them to think long term.  Don’t worry about their child being the best mite but rather think about him being the best bantam or midget.  When I think about my own son, I think he will benefit from this.  Since he is already a little bigger than most of the kids, he will learn how to handle the puck in small areas under pressure from the smaller and quicker players.  When I think about how much more time that he will have the puck on his stick versus times in a full-ice situation, it is a no-brainer.  Also, I don’t think 4 months out of their hockey development where they are put in competitive situations that suits their abilities is going to hurt them.  It can only make them better- especially when they return to full ice competition.

Oct 152012
 

I was inspired to write this post by a segment that was on TV Saturday morning.  The segment was a behind the scenes look at the University of South Carolina Football program.  As I was flipping through the channels, I happened to see some weightroom footage that forced me to stay on the channel for more than a few minutes.

During the segment, Head Football Coach Steve Spurrier was shown working out.  In the segment, he mentioned that he works out 5-6 times per week.   He also talked about how important it was for him to get his workouts in.  At the age of 67, the fact that Coach Spurrier gets in 5-6 workouts per week is pretty impressive.  They did show him performing exercises such as rear delt flyes and dumbbell curls while also showing him walk on the treadmill and ride a bike.  Who cares?  The fact that he is making that kind of commitment at his age is very impressive.

What I was also really impressed with was how important he thinks exercising is not only for himself, but for every coach in the profession.  Coach Spurrier talked about how when he speaks to other coaches at clinics, he preaches the importance of exercise and how coaches shouldn’t be overweight while coaching their kids.  He encourages overweight coaches to “Get on the treadmill”.

I agree with coach Spurrier not only from a health prospective, but also from a standpoint of being able to coach.  I think a coach needs to be able to demonstrate proper form and execution.  In the case of a football coach, maybe that is demonstrating what a player needs to do on a specific play?

In the case of the Strength and Conditioning Coach, we are professionals on the subject of exercise; specifically strength and conditioning.  So, Strength and Conditioning Coaches need to be able to demonstrate proper form in exercises- not only in the weightroom, but also on the field demonstrating agility, acceleration, and plyometric drills.

I’m not saying that you need to be as strong or as fast as your athletes.  However, you should be lean, strong, and in condition.  Your athletes are going to respect you more if you are able to “Look the part” and be able to do what they do even if it is slower.  Be fit enough to coach.

Jul 302012
 

I was actually hesitant to post this but ended up thinking “what the heck”. The reality is that I am sometimes guilty of caring what people may think.  Some may think “who is this guy who is writing about mentors and stuff”, or “who gives a s#%t who his mentors are?”  Anyways, if you are at least reading the blog, I know that some of you are friends or maybe you are at least a little interested.

Most of the people that I am going to talk about are coaches who are or have been coaching or teaching in the trenches.  That really means a lot to me.  Although some of them do have an internet presence, some of them don’t.  That doesn’t mean that they aren’t phenomenal at what they do.

I was recently inspired to write this by 2 recent blog posts/articles that are currently on the internet.   The first is What it Means to be a Boyle Guy by Kevin Neeld.  Obviously if you know me, given by the title of my post, you know there is a really good chance that I will talk about Mike.  However for another look at Mike’s impact on another coach, check out Kevin’s article.  The second article that helped inspire me to write this is Your Life and Lifting Goals by Dan John.  This is just another Dan John article.  I say that seriously because all of Dan’s articles are gold.  It is an outstanding piece.  In the article, Dan talks about a mentor of his by the name of Dick Notmeyer who impacted Dan early on in his lifting career.

This post is about some of the people who have made an impact on me professionally in a positive manner.  Of course, I would like to mention my parents, my wife Hillary, or even my uncle Bill who bought me my first weight set- you know the plastic grey ones that were filled with sand. Or, I could easily mention all of the coaches (primarily hockey coaches over the past 11 year) who have influenced me. However, this is about strength and conditioning professionals for now.

Avery Faigenbaum Dr. Faigenbaum is currently a Health and Exercise Science Professor at the College of New Jersey.  He was one of my exercise science professors at the University of Massachusetts at Boston back in 2006.  Back then, the exercise science curriculum at UMB was only geared towards the ACSM health fitness instructor track.  There was also an Athletic Training/Sports Medicine track in which I was a part of for a semester or so.  That is when Avery came in as a professor at UMB.  What he brought to the Exercise Science department was a new concentration called “Strength and Conditioning”.  As a result, I eventually switched to the Exercise Science track.  Since I was currently playing football at UMB, it would have been extremely difficult for me to accumulate all of the clinical hours that were required for the athletic training track.  I figured that since I liked to lift weights and train for football, it would be pretty awesome if I could make a career out of it.  It was Avery that really made learning about this stuff fun.  He is really passionate about the field and he actually got me pretty fired up to do well in his classes.

When it was time to apply for my senior year internship, there were 4 schools that strength and conditioning majors could apply to for internships.  I applied at Boston University.  Although I was intrigued by the thought of interning at Boston College, which is the only Division 1-A football program in Boston, I still applied at Boston University because of the next person that I am going to talk about.

Mike Boyle

I applied at BU because I recognized the name of the contact person on the list of available schools.  In my mind, Mike was the guy who worked with Cam Neely to help him get back on the ice after he suffered a career threatening injury.  I can remember reading about Neely’s rehab in the Boston Herald or seeing some stuff on the TV when he was working out with Mike and thinking that what Mike was doing would be a cool job.  Cam Neely’s knee and hip were big news in the Boston sporting news back then.  I really didn’t know what Mike’s role was in the actual process, but I knew that he was doing something that I wanted to do.

(Side note- I consider myself very fortunate because I actually do get to do that now.)

I actually never interned for Mike at BU.  I interned for Glenn Harris who is the Director of Strength and Conditioning and is also someone who taught me a lot about coaching.  I did get to intern for Mike at Sports Acceleration North during the summer of 1998 right after I graduated from UMass Boston.  I don’t think the present system at MBSC is much different from what it was back then.  We coached day and night for 4 days per week.  It was non-stop coaching and it was a blast.  I can’t tell you how valuable that experience was for me.   You learn very quickly in that environment.  We had different types of athletes who came in on a daily basis ranging from the NHL players in the am to the hundreds of high school kids who played all different kinds of sports all throughout the day.

What’s interesting about the whole Sports Acceleration experience (now MBSC) was that there were other interns who were starting out there as well.  Mike Potenza, who is currently the San Jose Sharks Strength and Conditioning Coach, was also an intern, as well as Darryl Nelson, who is the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the USA Hockey National Development Program.

I owe Mike a lot when I look at my strength and conditioning career so far.  With Mike it is usually “Do this, not that” when it comes to advice from him.  I can still remember a story about Mike vividly.  During the summer of my internship, I also played on a staff basketball team that was in a league after work hours at the same facility.  When I first started coaching that summer, I was a really quiet and shy person when it came to being a coach. Maybe I was a little overwhelmed or even intimidated by some of the athletes.   However, I was a pretty aggressive basketball player who always competed even though I probably wasn’t very good.  Mike said to me one day “I want you to coach like you play basketball”.  I must say that it kind of clicked after that.   I got what he meant and as a result, I was a more confident coach.

Al Vermeil- To me, Al Vermeil is the ultimate Strength and Conditioning Coach.  Al was the strength and Conditioning Coach for the Chicago Bulls during the Jordan era and he was also the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the San Francisco 49ers in the early 1980’s.  He has several NBA championship rings and 1 Superbowl championship ring I believe.

When I was an assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at Boston College, our staff brought in Al for a 1-day seminar on strength and conditioning principles.   Through his speaking, his passion for teaching and the field was contagious.  I remember during that day, I had a hockey player come in and do a lift that he missed the previous day.  I asked Al if he wanted to coach him up.  Al was more than willing.  Before you know it Al had his sleeves rolled up and was on the platform coaching the player in the hang clean.  His coaching and energy was inspiring.

After our seminar, Al was someone who I always stayed in touch with.  It wasn’t uncommon for me to be on the phone with him for at least 45 minute or so asking questions.  I can also remember him sending me his 300+ page training manual which I still look at today.

I think what I will always remember about Al  though is that on the night that the Anaheim Ducks won the Stanley Cup in 2007, there was a message on my office phone voicemail from Al .  In the message, Al sang “We are the Champions” by Queen.  You really can’t make that up.

 

Pete Friesen For those that don’t know, Pete is the Athletic Trainer/Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Carolina Hurricanes.  Like those above, he is also a great person.  When I made it a goal of mine to work as a Strength and Conditioning Coach in the NHL, I would always some people in those positions.  Pete was always one of the guys to get back to me.  In fact, I still have those emails saved in a folder on my Hotmail account.  He was one of the first people to introduce me to the FMS and foam rollers.

Pete is a lifelong learner and he is also an outstanding presenter who brings energy in everything that he does.  I was absolutely honored and humbled to be able to introduce him to the attendants at the BSMPG seminar this year.

What Pete does really well is that he gets his guys to buy in.  In fact, I heard him take the Hurricanes through a core/warm up routine before practice one day.  I say hear because our weightroom is immediately next door to the visiting team’s locker room.  You could feel Pete’s’ enthusiasm for what he does coming through the wall.  What I also respect about Pete is that he has been doing this for a long time as he worked with the Hartford Whalers before the franchise moved to Raleigh NC.

Dan John Lots of people are Dan John fans these days and rightfully so.  For me, not only as a coach but as a person who is trying my best at not being skinny-fat, Dan John has been instrumental.  I’ve been reading Dan’s stuff for a few years now on T-Nation and at DanJohn.net.  There is something about his writing that makes it seem like he is sitting right next to you.  For me though, it was at the RKC where I really got to get more of Dan.  Dan was my team leader who made the entire 3-day weekend an unbelievable experience.

 

When I look at the above list, what is most common is that they are all great people.  They get it.  I’m not sure if I know exactly what “it” is yet, but I am certain that they have it.

One thing about me is that I am not a big fan of big-timers.  You know who they are, the guys or girls who act like they haven’t met you before or they have no time for you.  You will never get big-timed by any of these guys.  They get to know your name and get to know you as a person.  To me, that is worth so much more than how a person’s success is perceived to be.

What is also common about all of them is their passion for what they do.  Each person’s energy and enthusiasm is visible when you around them.  They inspire you to be a better person and strength and conditioning coach.

Another reason why I think this article came to me was that there are actually young people looking to intern for me or work at our annual prospect camps.  Maybe I am at a stage in the career of a Strength and Conditioning Coach or something.  All I know is that I hope to be the best person that I can be and not big-time anyone ever (If you think I have in the past, I apologize).

I must say that there are several others that deserve honorable mention.  Glenn Harris, Paul Chapman, Mike Poidomani, Chris Doyle, Todd Wright, Cal Dietz, Robert Dos Remedios, Charlie Weingroff, and Pavel Tsatsouline are all coaches that I truly respect and I am very thankful to them for taking the time to teach me.

Jul 052012
 

I find myself reading more books about coaching and leadership these days. I really enjoy reading about successful coaches who are good planners, motivators, innovators, and effective communicators. I find myself thinking that although the strength and conditioning profession involves having very strong and current knowledge in training methodology; being able to communicate and lead effectively is more important. You can be the smartest person in the world, but if you can’t communicate and apply the knowledge that you possess to your athletes or clients, then you aren’t any good. That’s reality. Also, and I think that this is more important than being a smart coach and an average communicator- if you are a jerk, then you aren’t any good either. I really believe in the quote which I first heard from Mike Boyle, “No one really cares how much you know until they know how much you care”.

One of the books that I am actually re-reading is Bill Walsh The Score Takes Care Of Itself. What I find fascinating about Bill Walsh’s career and coaching style was that he didn’t come across as a yeller and screamer when he was coaching. I’m sure that there a more than a few former 49er and Stanford players who would disagree with me, however, I think the public perception was that he was a cerebral coach. He was the ultimate planner and he broke everything down to the smallest detail when it came to operating his teams.

 
Sure, we can say that he was the coach of the 49ers, which was a team that was stacked with talent during Walsh’s years. However, good coaches get the most of out of their players. More importantly, they get them to play as a team. Today, (although I am a Patriots guy), it is hard not to think about Coach Belichick and the Patriots. Tom Brady, like Joe Montana, wasn’t the best prospect coming out of college. Belichick, like Walsh did with Montana, continues to get the best out of Tom Brady. It is the day in and day out of coaching that helps him be one of the best quarterbacks in the league.

 
What does this have to do with strength and conditioning? Like I said in a blog post before, we need to see ourselves as leaders when it comes to working with our athletes. We need to be effective communicators and motivators to help our athletes be successful and get the most out of our time with them. Anyone can write a program and give it to their athletes. However, it is the good ones who can apply what’s written on the sheet of paper effectively and get results.

 
Here are some quotes that I got from this book that had to do with hard-work, dedication, and teaching:

 
– When talking about a season-ending loss to the Dolphins- “The memory never leaves you and acts as both a positive and negative force, spurring you to work harder and harder while also creating a fear inside that it might happen again.”

– “If you’re up at 3 A.M. every night talking into a tape recorder and writing notes on scraps of paper, have a knot in your stomach and rash on your skin, are losing sleep and losing touch with your wife and kids, have no appetite or sense of humor, and feel that everything might turn out wrong, then you’re probably doing the job.”

– “If you’re growing a garden, you need to pull out the weeds, but flowers will die if all you do is pick weeds. They need sunshine and water. People are the same. They need criticism, but they also require positive and substantive language and information and true support to really blossom.”

– “The ability to help the people around me self-actualize their goals underlines the single aspect of my abilities and the label that I value most- teacher.”

May 012012
 

I want to do more book reviews on my blog.  Similar to when I go to seminars, I like to take notes, highlight the best takeaway information, and then organize them into a review.  Like a previous blog post, I write these reviews and descriptions to help me get some of my thoughts about the subject on paper (or computer).

The first book I want to talk about is Triphasic Training by Cal Dietz and Ben Peterson.  Before I get into the book, I wanted to take the time to mention Cal.  I’ve known Cal now for the past 12 years.  Back in 1999, Cal graduated and moved on to the University of Findlay from his Graduate Assistant position at the University of Minnesota.  I was fortunate to be able to replace him at Minnesota.  Cal was then re-hired as the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for Olympic Sports at the University of Minnesota a few years later right after I graduated and departed for the University of North Dakota.  Since then, Cal has done an unbelievable job with U’s athletic department.  The teams and individual athletes that he has coached have been very successful.

Along with being a successful strength and conditioning coach, Cal is a very bright and is also a really good person.  Most of the time when I speak to Cal about strength and conditioning or what he is doing with his athletes, I honestly feel dumb.  There are times when I really have no clue what he is talking about and things are just way over my head.   When it comes to being a good person, I know from a personal perspective. I will never forget being at the Rochester Mayo clinic in Minnesota for a major surgery that I had to have done back in 2005.  It was a scary time for me and my family.  Cal and his wife Karyn, a former USA hockey Olympian, made the trip down from Minneapolis to come visit me as I was recovering.   I thought that was really neat and it is obviously something that I will never forget.

Triphasic Training is a really good detailed description on the methods of Cal’s strength and conditioning philosophy.  What I like most about the book is that the information is laid out in a very comprehensive manner that even I understood.  Cal tells stories and makes comparisons to some of the athletes that he has coached to make points more clear.  What is triphasic training?   From what I am taking away from the book, it is how Cal manipulates the “tri phasic” actions of applying stress to the body.  Eccentrically, Isometrically, and Concentrically.  There are so many ways that the strength and conditioning coach can apply stress and you will learn several of the methods that Cal uses.  Not only will you learn the methods, but more importantly, the why.

To be honest, there are times when I feel a little overwhelmed by the whole Russian training methodology.  Sometimes I feel that I need to read up on all of the author such as Verkhoshansky, Medvedev, etc.  Or, just read Supertraining over and over again.  For me, Triphasic Training has made understanding what those guys are talking about a little bit easier.

The concept of block periodization is something that I could see working in the collegiate setting or in an Olympic training type environment.  Having your athletes available to train with you for up to 48 weeks per year makes such a difference.  The more time that you have with your athletes, the more you can do.  From my understanding, block periodization is spending more time on one fitness quality over others.  For example, in a strength block, the athletes would be spending more time with higher loads and less volume.  In an endurance type block, there would be more of an emphasis on higher volume with lighter to medium loads.

I guess I am more of a concurrent periodization coach while also alternating strength and accumulation phases.  We always work on getting stronger, getting faster, getting more powerful, and getting in better condition. For my situation, the reality is that I don’t get the opportunity to train my athletes year round.  With the exception of 3-4 of our players, our guys are gone from season’s end to the next season’s beginning.  So, I don’t get to spend 48 weeks per year with them.

Our job as strength and conditioning coaches is to apply stresses to our athletes in the safest and most effective ways as possible.  Triphasic Training is a great resource for learning the way that one of the best in our industry does it.  Get Triphasic Training here.