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.
Feb 022018
 

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.

Jan 192018
 

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.

Oct 022017
 

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:

 

Al Vermeil

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?”

 

Al Miller

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

 

Johnny Parker

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

 

Rob Panariello

In Season- need intensity, need to have unaccustomed stress

Butt wink- spiderman stretch and hamstring stretch

Eliminate the shift in squatting

 

Don Chu

Skills:

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

 

Derek Hansen

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

Jul 272015
 

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.

Apr 012015
 

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

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!