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.
Tracy says to write down 10 specific goals every day in the present tense like you have already accomplished them. For example, “I weigh 185 pounds” vs. “I will lose weight”. Write your 10 goals down every day for 30 days straight. When you write down your goals, then come up with a plan for each of them to be accomplished, then take action, you will have a really good chance of completing them. At the end of the 30 days, you will be amazed and you will also note the positive changes in your life.
Although it may sound a little cheesy and far-fetched, I really believe in this method and it only takes 5 minutes per day.
2012 was a good year at SeanSkahan.com. I made an effort to improve my content by focusing on the quality of my writing. Although I think I can improve greatly, I am happy with how far I have come since I started this site.
I was able to increase the number of views to the site by 35% from 2011. Not too bad, but I can still try to improve the total number.
All being said I thank you very much for stopping by. I hope to continue to post more frequently with better content in 2013.
Former Los Angeles Lakers head coach Pat Riley has a quote in his book The Winner Within: A Life Plan for Team Players, “If you’re not getting better, you are getting worse”. I love this quote because I believe it’s true. I always want to see myself as a beginner in the Strength and Conditioning/Sports Performance profession. Honestly, there is so much that I don’t know. Which has just dawned on me that I think this is why I am not the biggest fan of some of the internet gurus who- A- really aren’t coaching anyone and B- really haven’t been doing this for a long time.
2012 was another good year that brought about some life learning experiences both personally and professionally. Here are 3 things among others that really stood out:
1- I really enjoy coaching on the floor in the weight room and on the field/ice. Professionally, this is what I love doing. Interacting and coaching my athletes while they train is what I am passionate about. This is what keeps me going. When something is taken away from you for reasons way beyond your control, you realize how much you love to doing it. Hopefully, I’m back to doing it soon.
2- The diaphragm is a really important muscle to ensure that is functioning properly. While I am still in the infant stages (no pun intended) of learning about its roles in breathing and in spinal stabilization, the reality is that I really didn’t give it the time of day up until a year or two ago.
The diaphragm is an important muscle in function because of its importance in creating deep abdominal pressure (in conjunction with other muscles including the pelvic floor and other abdominals) prior to movement of the upper and/or lower body limb(s) in function. From an injury prevention perspective, I think this a huge area of importance because if there is insufficient intra-abdominal pressure, dysfunction can easily occur in a part of the chain of events that occur in movemdddddent. Maybe I’m wrong, but I do know that I will learn more about this. Thanks to my learning about breathing and my recent attendance at the DNS-A course, this has been brought to my attention and will soon be part of my daily coaching strategies.
3- I really like USA Hockey’s long-term American Development Model which is I am pretty sure is going to be instituted at the mite level next year in Southern California. One of the main components of this model at the mite level is that kids will be playing cross-ice games instead of full ice.
What I have learned is while that I agree with the change overall, I am not sure that I agree with it when it comes to my own son. Please let me explain. In his situation, he is now playing in travel mite full-ice game hockey at the age of 6. Prior to this season, he played cross-ice mini games when he was 4 and then played full-ice In-House at age 5. All of the time however has been spent practicing in mostly station-based drills and cross-ice mini games. My question is, does he then spend the next 2 years (mites are ages 8 and under) playing cross-ice while he is now capable of playing full ice because he is as big, if not bigger than most of the kids in the mite age group while also being an average- above average skater? Would this take him backwards as I feel that he can play full ice? Maybe in my eyes, his progression is going good, however he could benefit from the small area games to develop his skills. I’m not sure, but I’m sure there will be some other kids with same questions.
As many of you know, I find myself with lots of free-time due to circumstances WAY beyond my control. As a result, I find myself trying to utilize this time the best way that I possibly can. Whether it is reading articles or books, watching training DVDs, writing blog posts (such as this) and an e-book, or visiting other Strength and Conditioning Coaches/Trainers, I am trying to use this time to get better. Of course, I would rather be doing my day job and trying to find the extra time to squeeze this stuff in.
The book is a Navy SEAL’s autobiography that also contains what happened during the planning and accomplished mission of taking down Osama Bin Laden.
I have so much respect for Navy SEALS. Why? They are the last people on earth that I would want to piss off. Which makes me feel safer knowing that these guys are the ones carrying out missions like the one talked about in the book. Also, I think SEALS are the ultimate athletes. When you look at what they are tested in both physically and mentally, no one in the whole world is as tough as these guys. From the time that they decide to become a SEAL through all of their boot camps which includes the “Hell week” in which they sleep for 4 hours total during an entire week, these guys are the cream of the crop. It is no wonder why the drop out rate is so high. From a training perspective, what is really impressive about these men is that they must be able to always complete their physical assessments even after they officially become SEALS. They are also pretty much on call 24-7. They must be ready to go at any time. There is no set schedule as to when they are on missions.
What was also impressive in the book was the attention to detail that these men have in the planning process for any mission that they set out to accomplish. It is all scripted right down to packing their gear properly and rehearsing the missions over and over again. This really sounds familiar when you think of the deliberate practice concept and why successful coaches teach their athletes about the importance of the smallest of details. Coach Wooden teaching his players how to put their socks on properly comes to mind.
“We are not superheroes, but we all share a common bond in serving something greater than ourselves. It is a brotherhood that ties us together, and that bond is what allows us to willingly walk into harm’s way together.”
Obviously, I really liked the book and was really surprised that I crushed it 2 days. Check it out here
I thought that the title of the post was appropriate because I guess I would consider myself to be a beginner still in the whole information product marketing world. I’ve always seen myself as a Strength and Conditioning Coach who made the DVDs because I believe in the content and I strongly believe that it can help any hockey player and/or coach. However, the reality is that not that many people are talking about them on-line. I now get the power of marketing and the impact of more people talking about your products. All I can do is appreciate the learning experience that this has provided me with.
I do promise to get the word out more when I do complete my book which is now 40,000 words and 150 pages deep. I find myself at the stage where I am updating more of the content as I learn more.
The title of this post includes “Re-visit” because I attempted to write about how I was using the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) back in 2004 or 2005. At the time, I was using the FMS with my team in a different manner than how I am now. Although I was screening each member of the team, I wasn’t clear on what to do with the scores. I tried to correct different parts of the screen by incorporating corrective exercises within the team’s strength training sessions. For example, if a player had scored a “2” on the Deep Squat, then they would perform a corrective exercise such as the Toe Touch with Alternating Arm Reach to Stand in between sets of a strength training exercise. For example, they would perform a set of an exercise such as the Hang Clean and then proceed to do a corrective exercise before their next set. We would also insert other corrective exercises which were specific to other parts of their screen into other parts of the team strength training session.
While I am not saying that this was the wrong approach, or that any other way to use the FMS and correctives is wrong, it was really difficult to implement this method. One, I have 20-25 players on the team. Trying to individualize FMS scores into the team training program this way was time consuming and not logistically efficient. Second, I thought that each player should be able to get a total score of 21. As a result, I would look at the scores and then try to correct each pattern going from top to bottom in the order of how the screen is conducted. This would put the Deep Squat first, followed by Hurdle Step, In-Line Lunge, Shoulder Mobility, Active Straight Leg Raise, Trunk Stability Push Up, and Rotary Stability.
Fast forward 8 years, and the reality is that I still don’t have a comprehensive system for using the FMS and its accompanying corrective exercises. However, there have been many screens and correctives done since. In reality, what it came down to was that even though I was using the screen, the screens weren’t actually getting better. Whether that was taking a part of the screen from a “2” to a “3”, or getting symmetrical “2’s” instead of “1-3”, we weren’t seeing it happen.
What could I do better? It certainly wasn’t from a lack of learning. I’ve attended the FMS course, I’ve purchased all of the “Secret” DVD’s, I’ve seen Gray Cook speak several times, and I’ve read Movement (1). It wasn’t until I attended the CK-FMS course which is a 4-day FMS course that is held in conjunction with RKC community, that I really felt like I got it. What I learned during the course is that there is a system for interpreting FMS scores and a protocol for corrective exercise strategies.
What the system does is give a hierarchy of which parts of the FMS to address according to the scores. I also learned that the system of using correctives doesn’t start with the Deep Squat. It starts by looking at the Active Straight Leg Raise. It turns out that the Deep Squat is screened first because it is easier to administer the standing parts of the screen first when screening somebody.
Since I now know the hierarchy of the parts of the screen, what about the scores? First, if there is a score of zero in any part of the screen, then that should be referred out. Any pain during any part of the screen should be scored as zero. This goes for all 7 parts of the FMS, not just the clearing exams after Shoulder Mobility, Trunk Stability Push Up, or Rotary Stability. When there is a score of zero, I would let our Athletic Trainer know and he would mostly likely then follow a proper examination protocol or let our doctors know. If there are no zeros, we would then look at the FMS hierarchy and the Algorithm. Any asymmetries in any part of the screen would be prioritized over any 2’s. For example a screen with an ASLR of 2 right, 1 left would be addressed before the 2 on the Deep Squat. (It is important to note that I’ve also learned that 2’s are actually good. A FMS score of 14 with 2’s and symmetrical 2’s isn’t bad at all.)
What do we do now?
In my opinion, the FMS is now easier to implement. The number one priority is to identify the weakest link. In order to do this, we follow the FMS algorithm and identify what is the most important part of the screen to address first. When we prioritize the one weak link, we are going to spend more time on correcting that part of the screen. In my opinion, this is better than the approach in which we may prescribe 1 corrective exercise for each of the 7 parts of the screen. If we spent the same amount of time that we would spend on using the shotgun approach just on the weakest part of the screen, we will have a better chance of making positive changes.
Once we have screened the player and have identified the weakest link, he will then be put into a specific corrective exercise group. We categorize our corrective groups according to what part of the screen is the weakest link. These groups will start their training sessions immediately with the proper progressions and exercises before participating in the team training session. We actually did this during the off-season by screening 34 players at our prospect conditioning camp. What was interesting was that other than 3 individuals, each player was identified as either an Active Straight Leg Raise or a Shoulder Mobility (the others were 2 Trunk Stability Push Up and 1 Rotary Stability).
Each corrective exercise group consists of the following:
In our team training sessions, we will always start with soft tissue work. We have always done that with foam rollers, tennis balls, and the stick. However, in addition to what some of our players may do for general foam rolling, we will now address specific areas. For example, in our Shoulder Mobility group, we would spend more time on the internal rotators of the shoulder joint, posterior shoulder, upper back, and the serratus. Our Active Straight Leg Raise players will spend more time with their hamstrings, glutes, calves, hip rotators, and hip flexors.
After we foam roll, we will then move on to breathing.
Breathing (ASLR, SM, RS,TSPU)
When I first started reading about the concepts of breathing, specifically diaphragmatic breathing, or crocodile breathing, I must admit that I completely disregarded it. Why would I spend any time teaching our players how to breathe through their diaphragm? There will be no time when the athletes that I work with will remember to breathe through their stomach when they are competing. Also, breathing is part of the autonomic nervous system, so how would we be able to consciously think about breathing like this during competition or under any stress? It looked like a complete waste of time and not something that I would do with my athletes.
What changed? I tried it in the context of the FMS corrective exercise strategies. I measured my shoulder mobility which has been a 2 left, 1 right for some time. I then proceeded to do 20 crocodile breaths and then re-assessed. I had an immediate positive change when I re-screened. I also used it with several athletes who saw positive changes in not only shoulder mobility, but other parts of the screen as well. It works- period.
I probably can’t tell you why or how this works, but getting into a relaxed state by triggering the parasympathetic nervous system has something to do with it. There are other professionals who could tell you why and how more specifically. However, whether it is yin/yang, sympathetic/parasympathic,or tension/relaxation, there is something beneficial of getting into the slower and relaxed state by breathing through the abdominal area versus the chest.
The question is now, who needs to add diaphragmatic breathing and how are we going to coach it?
When diaphragmatic breathing is combined with soft tissue work and corrective exercises, you can see positive changes happening- especially to the Active Straight Leg Raise and Shoulder Mobility. It is important to note that for us and for the best usage of time, we will find the one corrective exercise that will help make a positive change. A positive change would be a correction in the FMS score or maybe a gain of a few inches.
Active Straight Leg Raise
With the ASLR, we will either do Band Leg Lowering or Band Leg Lowering with Core Engagement. This would depend on which exercise makes the positive change.
With Shoulder Mobility asymmetries, we will go right into to the Rib Grab. Before we coach our players on Rib Grabs, we must emphasize to them what the proper side lying position is. What is interesting about Rib Grabs is at the starting position, there appears to be rotation at the lumbar spine versus the thoracic spine which is what we are trying to improve. The key to prevent this is to keep the knees above 90 degrees. This has been very helpful in making sure that we are not getting any lumbar rotation.
What has worked well with Rotary Stability is rolling. If we identify someone with an asymmetry in the Rotary Stability, we go right into assessing their rolling ability/inability.
We will use rolling as an assessment of how the athlete rolls without the use of the lower body and lower body extremities. We will look at 8 different quadrants while watching them. We will be looking for their ability to roll from prone to supine upper body only left and right, prone to supine lower body only left and right, and then supine to prone upper body only left and right, and supine to prone lower body left and right. We will simply ask them to imagine that they are paralyzed from the waist down in our upper assessments and then paralyzed from the waist up in the lower body assessments.
Like the actual FMS, when we are assessing the athletes’ rolling, we are looking for their weakest link. What position are they unable to roll to/from? Where do they get stuck? After we know this, we will simply get them to correct that part of their rolling ability. This will help improve the Rotary Stability.
(Special thanks to Charlie Weingroff for allowing me to use this video which includes a great explanation about rolling.)
Trunk Stability Push Up
An important aspect about the TSPU part of the screen that I have seen is that there might not be as many immediate changes from the corrective strategy perspective. For Trunk Stability Push Up corrective strategies, we have been successful at using basic push up position progressions.
Before we get into push up progressions, we will always start with the plank. We like the RKC version of the plank where our elbows are slightly ahead of the shoulders, the feet are squeezed together, and we are asking the player to contract all of the muscles in his body to make him as stable as possible. As we get better at planking, we will incorporate push up position holds and then increase the volume of Push Ups.
The FMS can give us a map of where not to go or what not to do in our training. Gray Cook is known for saying “Don’t put fitness on top of Dysfunction”. There is a system as to how to determine what are exercises are appropriate/inappropriate according to FMS results. The CK-FMS community would refer to this as “Red-Lighting”, “Yellow Lighting”, or “Green Lighting”. The FMS can tell you which strength training movements should not be done (red), proceed with caution (yellow), or proceed (green). For example, athletes with “1’s” in the SM, should stay away from any overhead pressing. Those with “1’s” in ASLR should stay away from exercises such as Kettlebell Swings, Deadlifts, and Double Leg Squatting.
I must admit, when I first learned this system, I originally thought it may be too much on the cautious side of things. We keep it simple by not allowing anyone in the shoulder mobility group with 1’s to overhead press with kettlebells, dumbbells, or the barbell until we have a minimum of symmetrical 2’s. With the ASLR group, we won’t do Swings or Front Squats with those who have 1’s. Not until their screens are a minimum of symmetrical 2’s.
For some coaches, using the FMS in the team setting could be a difficult task at first. What has worked for us in making it as simple as possible is the following:
1- Identification of the weakest link
2- Placing each athlete in a specific pre-workout group according to their weakest link
3- Using the correct exercise strategy which could include soft tissue work and diaphragmatic breathing. How do we know if it is the right exercise? By re-screening and determining if there is a positive change
4- Adhering to the rule of not putting fitness on dysfunction
When we think about the time spent on everything above, we are talking about 5 minutes of soft tissue work and 5 minutes of breathing and correctives. Then we proceed with our team warm up. For the most part, these 10 minutes and then making the necessary adjustments for contraindicated exercises are when we are really individualizing our program.
(1) Cook, G. (2010). Movement. Aptos, CA: On Target Publications.
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.
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).