It was really fun to talk training with these guys. Hope you enjoy!
Here is a short video of some hip hinging exercises and progressions that work for me. These have been great when working with kids in a large group setting.
A common email that I get is usually from a younger strength and conditioning coach who is interested in working in professional sports. “What was the path that you took that got you to where you are ?” First, I am truly honored and humbled that some folks are 1- interested in a similar career, and 2- take the time to ask me what I have done in my experience. I appreciate this because I remember writing and sending emails and letters to Strength and Conditioning coaches, head coaches, and management personnel on my old Dell Computer when I was first starting out. I would like to take a shot at answering.
I would begin by saying that I was lucky to enter the professional hockey ranks at a time when the full-time Strength and Conditioning Coach wasn’t common. At the time, there were part-time strength and conditioning coaches, athletic trainers who possessed their C.S.C.S. (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist) who did it in addition to their full-time responsibilities, or outside consultants. I was fortunate to be the first full time Strength and Conditioning Coach for an organization at the time (2002).
The reality it is that it is probably harder to obtain full time employment in professional sports now than it was 16 years ago. Not only is it difficult to work in professional hockey but it is also difficult at every other level of any sport. Strength and Conditioning/Sport Performance is an awesome profession and more people want to become Strength and Conditioning Coaches.
What I would like to do is let you know what I believe worked for me. It is definitely a combination of having a passion for what you want to do, making the right decisions, education, experience, luck, and knowing the right people.
When I was an undergraduate Exercise Science student in college, I decided that I want to become a Strength and Conditioning Coach. At the time, I was a football player who enjoyed strength training. When I found out that there was an profession of coaching athletes in the weight room with the intention of improving performance and reducing the potential for injury- I knew it was what I wanted to do.
What I would like to say to the aspiring Strength and Conditioning Coach is:
Find mentors- I met great people who helped guide me throughout my career. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today. They also went to bat for me when a Head Strength and Conditioning Coach or a Head Hockey Coach was looking for a “Hockey guy”. There are so many mentors that I had and still continue to receive guidance from. I wrote about mentors here.
Volunteer/Internships- You will need to get experience. Learn how to coach and interact with athletes, coaches, and administrators. You never know who or where these people might be in the future. Find a way to make it work. Work another job if you have to. I completed 3 internships/part-time opportunities before I went to graduate school.
Master’s degree- I’m not sure if this is 100% necessary. Although I will say that I’ve spoken to several collegiate Head Strength and Conditioning Coaches who will disregard applicants who don’t possess a master’s degree when hiring assistants. Considering that some professional teams that have Directors of Sport Science with PhD’s, I would strongly recommend it.
Take risks and adventures- For me, when I was in my early twenties, I didn’t necessarily want to leave the Boston area. This was where my family and friends were/are. I realized that if I wanted to do this as a profession, I would have to go . I think this coincides with not being afraid of being uncomfortable. Learn new ideas and philosophies from different coaches and work to develop your own.
Work hard- This goes without saying. Arrive early and stay late. Network and read everything that you can. Some resources that I recommend are here.
There are also several paths to working in professional sports. This isn’t necessarily what you have to do. I know of several of coaches who took different paths. I wrote my story to let you know that this is what I did because I believed that this process worked. There were no shortcuts or situations where everything was perfect, but I think things worked out.
Over the past year, I’ve read some really good books. An author of books that I really enjoyed is Ryan Holiday. His books include The Obstacle is the Way, Ego is the Enemy, and The Daily Stoic (which I read on a daily basis).
What Ryan writes about in those books is the philosophy of Stoicism. To me, and what I took away from the books is pretty much trying to embrace living in the moment. The idea of focusing on what is in front of you and not letting outside influences getting in the way. Outside influences would include events or stress that have happened in the past, present, or in the future.
In the athletic world, when the word stoic is used to describe a leader or a coach, I think of Coach Bill Belichick’s “Do Your Job” and Coach Nick Saban’s “The Process”. They are great coaches who emphasize performing the task at hand to the best of your ability with the end result being continuous improvement.
In the Strength and Conditioning world, the overall process can be a grind. The athletes you work with need to be able to do what is in front of them to the best of their ability. The focus must be on the repetition at hand. It can’t be “Damn, I have 3 reps left” or “We have to run shuttles tomorrow”. I think it’s the job of the Strength and Conditioning Coach to help keep your athletes in the moment. Correct their technique, encourage their execution of the task they are performing.
This is important at all levels of athletics. Student athletes in high school and college have way more on their plate. Going to class, taking exams, studying, etc., are all different demands that each student athlete faces. Then, adding team dynamics such as practices, games, role on the team, Iis Coach mad at me?”, on top of that creates a situation where the athlete has a tougher time focusing on the task at and. This is also a reality at the professional level with the exception of being a student. Except for them it is family, financial, and other responsibilities.
In the professional hockey environment, the better players that I have worked with over the years embrace the process of the season. Playing 82 games is a grind and each season has its ups and downs in terms of wins and losses including streaks and slumps. It’s a reason why I think many players are superstitious or have routines that they go through to help them prepare.
I had the privilege of attending the Athletic Performance Summit Featuring the Legends of Strength and Conditioning back in May. It was a seminar that I heard about only a few weeks before. When I saw the lineup of speakers, I knew I had to attend. What really attracted me to this seminar was that most of the presenters worked in the team environment successfully for several years and have the championship rings to prove it.
While the format of the seminar was outstanding, it wasn’t necessarily the information that these guys shared on their power points that made it worthwhile. It was more of their ability to share experiences with the teams and individual athletes that they coached with the attendees. This is something that I find extremely valuable.
These men opened up about their philosophies and programs and were accessible throughout the weekend. For example, Johnny Parker, who was the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Giants, Patriots, Buccaneers, and 49ers, gave out his phone number and email address to everyone. Talk about a humble human being.
What I also found refreshing was that these guys were truly there to teach, share ideas, and learn. Their passion for what they do really showed. These are coaches who I aspire to be like someday.
These coaches clearly have learned and helped each other with their coaching philosophies as their messages were very similar. For example, Charlie Francis was referenced by all of them numerous times. Tempo running was a staple for a few of them. Also, the Javorek bar complex was also a common theme from an evaluation perspective.
Here are some takeaways that I thought were great quotes or something that I can use now with my athletes:
Need to create impulse- explosive power
Never take an athlete to maximum
Adapt to what the athlete can do
Clyde Emerich- “Its not about you, its about them”
Have some speed development drills in your program all the time
Best test- “Can they play?”
Get players best at the start of the season
All players are novice lifters. Takes 10 years to develop an athlete
2400 yards maximum for Tempos in a given workout
600 yards maximum for sprints
Cleans and squats should occupy the greatest % of your program
Work on all qualities all of the time
Don’t be afraid to lead
Real players want to be pushed
Don’t let the star mentality affect your program
In Season- need intensity, need to have unaccustomed stress
Butt wink- spiderman stretch and hamstring stretch
Eliminate the shift in squatting
Start Speed- Jumps in place, standing jumps, multiple jumps, depth jumps
Acceleration- Multiple jumps, box drills, bounding
Change of Direction- Standing jumps, multiple jumps, box drills, depth jumps
Vertical Jump- Jumps in place, standing jumps, multiple jumps, box drills, depth jumps
Horizontal Jump- Standing jumps, multiple jumps, box drills, bounding
Elite sprinter- 35% high intensity work, 65% low intensity work
Hamstring injuries are brain injuries- software problem, not hardware problem
Rehab- start short and progress to long
Always finish training with low intensity cyclical activity
Just came across this interview with Coach Belichick with Suzy Welch. Lots of great info on leadership and passion for what you do.
Take 20 minutes and watch this
It’s been a long time since my last post to this site. For those who know me, you know that I am in the process of a change within my career. As I make the transition from one coast to the other, I wanted to revisit and update the blog with something current.
A big reason why I haven’t been posting as consistently as I would like to is because I’ve been working on something else when time permits. One of my goals has always been to write a book on training for hockey. Well, it is now starting to become a reality. I also want to clean the dust off this blog and start posting again.
Total Hockey Training is due to be released by Human Kinetics in February 2016. To say that I am excited is an understatement. I really enjoy the grind of writing and re-writing as we go along until the finish. It will be available both as paperback and e-book.
I wanted to share a post that was written by my friend/mentor Mike Boyle on his blog StrengthCoachblog.com. Mike has been posting really good content in regards to his thoughts against year-round specialization in youth sports. I think it’s important to help spread the message all over North America- including here in Southern California.
It just seems that the more that I read what Mike has been sharing along with the fact that I continually speak to professional players about what additional sports they played as youths- the more I am convinced. A multi-sport approach as a kid is beneficial in the long run when/if they decide to specialize on 1 sport. For the record, I have spoken to only a few hockey players who didn’t play any other sports. Most “put the bag away” at the end of their hockey seasons.
Personally, in the past I have been guilty of putting my oldest son through the the concept of year-round hockey. Whether it was spring selects or in-house hockey, more games were being played after a 7-month season. (Yes- 7 months at age 8). This spring/summer, after a few weeks off, he will be playing lacrosse while also still skating 1-2 times per week in non-competitive situations and competing in 2 weekend tournaments in May. Probably not a complete off-season, but a drastic change from the past.
Check out Mike’s article here- Be Careful With Advice from Armchair Experts
Here at HockeySC.com, we have had some really good content updates since my last post:
Shoulder Medial Rotation by Darryl Nelson
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.
It’s been a while since an update on HockeySC.com. I hope everyone is enjoying the last few weeks/days of your off-season. Recently, we have had some excellent content additions:
Teaching Hockey Players How to Run by Max Prokopy
Anterior Glide of the Humerus by Darryl Nelson
Why I Never Played in the NHL, and How it Made Me Better by Brian Sipotz
Thoughts on the Kettlebell Swing by myself
Kettlebell Kneeling to Standing by Darryl Nelson
U-Mass Lowell Hockey Off-Season by Devan McConnell
Rotational Heiden Medicine Ball Throw by Darryl Nelson
Fall Training Program by Darryl Nelson
The forum has had some interesting topics such as the NHL combine and Trap Bar Deadlifts.
If you aren’t currently a member, feel free to try us for $1 for 7 days.