Jul 122010

Hey Everyone,
Hope you are doing well and having a great summer. We have been
busy adding a ton of content every week and we wanted to make
sure you are caught up with all of it.

Newest Videos:

Slide Board Progressions- Darryl Nelson:

Three Stage Hip Flexion Progression- Michael Boyle

Soft Tissue Work: Posterior Adductor Magnus- Kevin Neeld

Incorporating The Crossover Step In Speed Training For Hockey-
Sean Skahan

Also, we have posted Matt Nichol’s presentation “Energy Systems
Development for Ice Hockey” from “Second Annual Boston Hockey
Summit and Basketball Symposium”.
Check it out at:

If you want to get the Summit on DVD, including Sean Skahan’s
presentation, go to

Latest Articles:
Managing the End of a Hockey Season- Mike Potenza

Getting Your Athletes On Board Your Bus- Sean Skahan

Why Not Play on the Best Team?- Mike Boyle

Latest Programs:

Upper Body Injury Program- Sean Skahan

Off-Season Conditioning- Mike Potenza

Thanks again to all of you who have been participating on the
Coaches Forum. There have been some great discussions:

Hockey Speed vs. Foot Speed

Question about the DB Complex video

Slide Board Length Variations

If you have any questions, let us know.

Michael, Sean, Mike and Kevin

Jul 082010

The next thing that we do in our “What to do with inhibited glutes” series is our stretching protocol.  This would be done right after foam rolling. Since the hip flexors are antagonistic to the glute max, we will continue to try and lengthen and relax these muscles.

If you have a partner to stretch you, or if you are the trainer/strength and conditioning coach, and your client needs to stretch their hip flexors, the modified Thomas Position is where to start.  In our situation, if we are stretching before a training session or a practice, we will do the Active Isolated Method of stretching.  If an athlete requests it, we will manually stretch them out on a table.  We will also use the self-static stretch variation as well before and after practices and/or during workouts.  During the AIS method, we are cueing our athlete to think about contracting the glute as we try to lengthen the hip flexors a little more each rep.

Thomas Position Hip Flexor A.I.S.

Thomas Position Hip Flexor + Rectus Femoris A.I.S.

Sometimes we will incorporate prone hip flexor stretching.  I’ve found this one helpful for athletes who may have some back pain in conjunction with inhibited glutes.  Like the modified Thomas Position stretch, we are cueing our athlete to contract the glute on the top of the movement.

Prone Hip Flexor + Rectus Femoris

Jun 182010

I wanted to follow up the blog post about the prone hip extension assessment with some follow up posts to give some examples of what we do with athletes who may exhibit under active glutes.  In this first post, I want to explain what we would do first in correcting this.  It is important to note that this series has been successful for us.  This is based on athletes giving us constant feedback about how they feel.

The first thing that we will always do is look to the opposite side of the hip on the weak glute side.  For example, if one of our athletes/clients can’t fire their glute on one side, we will look to the front of that same side hip.  What we usually see is tightness of one or more muscles including Iliacus, Psoas, and/or T.F.L.  It totally makes sense as tightness of one or more of these muscles may cause the glute on the opposite side to lengthen and weaken (Reciprocal Inhibition).  This leads me to think of a common question- “Do tight hip flexors cause weak glutes? Or- Does weak glutes cause tight hip flexors?” I honestly don’t know.  I can tell you that in our athletes, we will do whatever we possibly can to prevent both from happening.

The first thing that we will do is foam roll.  The foam roll is a great way to attack ptrigger points, adhesions, and/or tightness in the hip flexors.  We will always foam roll in this area with all of our athletes and clients.  Ideally, we will enlist the help of a massage therapist, or maybe our Active Release Practitioner.  However, many athletes may have this dysfunction, so we will use the foam roller with bigger groups of athletes.

Here is what we will do for foam rolling:


We will actually spend some time specifically on the TFL as well as roll into the IT Band.  The TFL will become tight due to over working in the hip flexion pattern- especially in skating.


This one has really helped us with getting these muscles to relax.  What we have our athletes do is put the end of the foam roll under the rib cage, superior to the iliac crest, and lateral to the belly button.  Most of our guys will feel it right away.  However, if they can’t feel it right away, we will cue them to bend the knee of the same side leg, and try to contract the glute on the same side leg.  This cue has been great for athletes who don’t “feel it” right away.  We will have them take their time until the hip flexors relax and release.  Sometimes our athletes and clients may be able to feel their glutes activate better just from doing this alone.

Apr 172010

Some great new content up on HockeyStrengthandConditioning.com

this week:

-Video of the Week- “Corrections for Hip Extension Exercises” from

Mike Potenza- The position of skating causes the quad musculature

to become overworked and tight, as a result the Vastus Lateralis

can make hip external rotation common during some bent knee and

straight leg hip extension exercises. Here are some videos that

show how we correct exercise technique in San Jose to help

utilize the entire hamstring group properly.


-“Diversify Your Athletic Lifestyle” from Sean Skahan looks at why

it is important for young hockey players to be an athlete at

several sports. Developing skills and having fun playing other

sports can have a positive effect on any hockey player at any



-“In Season Training-Something is Better Than Nothing”- Mike Boyle:

Kind of a lousy title for an article but, it’s true. I often talk

to coaches who say “we don’t train in-season, we don’t have a

weightroom”. I think I have a simple, low cost solution.


-Also, Check out the Endeavor Hockey Assessment Form that Kevin

Neeld uses with all of his hockey players. They started

implementing this recently so they don’t have enough data to draw

any conclusions, but it should be interesting to see what

commonalities they observe after testing all of their off-season

players this Summer.


Any questions, let us know,

Kevin, Michael, Sean and Mike.


Apr 112010

There are several strength and conditioning coaches and trainers who prescribe isolated glute max muscle “activation” and/or strengthening work.  These are exercises such as glute bridges, 1-leg glute bridges, quadruped hip extensions, and others where the emphasis is on the quality of the muscle contraction.  There are also several coaches and trainers who think that activation exercises are a waste of time and think that this concept is just a fad.  What I have found is that they may think that if their athletes are doing exercises such as squats, lunges, single leg squats, split squats, etc, then they are strengthening their glutes and the activation exercises are unnecessary.  I am one who does prescribe glute activation exercises.  We will do glute max isolation exercises on a daily basis with our players.

First, I think it is imperative to note that my job is to help keep the best players in the lineup on a nightly basis.  I understand that injuries such as fractures, concussions, and lacerations are beyond my control.  However, I am on the cautious side when it comes to soft tissue injuries.  We will do everything that we possibly can to help prevent injuries from happening- even with healthy athletes.

I was first introduced to the Prone Hip Extension Test by Al Vermeil at a seminar we hosted at Boston College back in 2001.  A few years later, I was able to attend a course on the Janda Method.  That’s when I learned how to administer the test properly.  This test has helped us identify athletes who don’t use their Gluteus Max’s when completing hip extension movement.  In a proper sequence of muscle activation, the hamstrings would fire first, glute max second, opposite side lumbar extensors third, same side lumber extensors fourth, opposite thoracolumbar extensors fifth, and same side thoracolumbar extensors sixth.  Several times, the gluteus maximus may not turn on at all.  Sometimes, we will see a difference in right vs. left side function.  In my opinion; this is a recipe for disaster.  Players who are continually going out and performing in their sport with this kind of pattern have a good chance of getting hurt.  Lower backs, hip flexors, and groins, can be affected by this.  Think about it, a player who can’t fire his glute max in order to help produce a significant amount of hip extension is going to find a way to do it without them.  Hamstrings, and lower back are the likely candidates.  These muscles may over work and strain.  I would also be worried about the athletes who are doing squats, lunges, single leg squats, and split squats, with this weakness too.  They are figuring out a way to do those exercises without their glute max.

Apr 052010

Eric Cressey and Michael Reinold have released a 4 DVD set of a seminar that they did back in November.  These are 2 smart guys who have the ability to apply their knowledge to some of the best players in baseball.  In my coaching situation, bridging the gap between athletes looking to get healthy and athletes looking to stay healthy is what it’s all about.  Check it out – Optimal Shoulder Performance

Apr 012010

1-      HockeyStrengthandConditioning.com is up and running.  If you train hockey players, you have to check it out.  We will start posting content on a weekly basis real soon.  I am really excited about it as there are several strength and conditioning coaches and athletic trainers from all levels including the NHL, AHL, major junior, and others. 

2-      I got a pair of Vibram Five Fingers a few weeks ago.  Honestly, I wish I got them sooner.  I’ve been training with them and have been on a few walks with them.  I believe they have helped me with some neurological symptoms that I have had in my left foot.  Surgery for a bulging disk back in 1999, and another surgery that I had to remove a non-cancerous mass in my spinal cord at the cervical level, has given me trouble with sensation.  I really believe that the Vibrams have helped wake up some proprioceptors and muscles that may have been shut down in my foot.  I am actually able to move my pinky toe by itself.  Something I haven’t been able to do for a long time. 

3-      Another thought on my training, I really love Jim Wendler’s 5-3-1 program.  I continue to make gains in strength on this program as I keep going up on my Military Press and Bench Press.  My “Actual Max” has gone from 155 to 190 in the Military Press while my Bench has gone from 225 to 265.  (I do not squat or deadlift, see #2 above).  Not bad results.  Something I may look into with my junior hockey players this summer.  What I really like about it is the simplicity of it.  It is a basic program that is really easy to plan out.

Mar 202010

First, I want to say thank you to all of you who read the blog. I’ve recently heard from some friends who are readers. It’s great to know that you enjoy the information.
Continuing education is an important aspect of improving in any profession. As I mentioned on the blog before, I believe it’s important to always be learning new information as it is changing often. I really like the quote by Pat Riley, “If you’re not getting better, you are getting worse”.
During the season, for continuing education, I will spend most of my time conversing with and visiting other coaches as well as checking out some of the sites and blogs on the internet. During the off-season, I try to get to as many live seminars that I possibly can. Here is a list of the seminars that I plan on attending this off-season:

May 22nd- 23rd, 2010
The 2nd Annual Boston Hockey Summit and Basketball Symposium.  I am fortunate to be a speaker at this event. 

June 4th- June 6th, 2010
Perform Better Functional Training 3-Day Summit

July 9th- July 11th, 2010
Northeast Seminars – Current Concepts in Trunk and Lower Extremity Examination, Integration and Training

Mar 112010

I want to tell you about an incredible new site that I am part of that you absolutely need to check out of if you train hockey players.  It’s called http://www.HockeyStrengthandConditioning.com.

I have partnered with legendary Boston University Hockey Strength Coach Michael Boyle, Mike Potenza (San Jose Sharks), and Kevin Neeld (Endeavor Hockey) and assembled “The Greatest Collection of Hockey Strength and Conditioning Coaches on the Planet!”

Our advisory board is a Who’s Who of Hockey Strength and Conditioning including Chris Pietrzak-Wegner (Minnesota Wild), Jim Reeves (Mind to Muscle), Brijesh Patel (Quinnipiac), Cal Dietz (Univ. of Minnesota), Chris Boyko (UMass), Maria Mountain (Revolution Sport Conditioning), Tim Yuhas (Yuhas Performance), Matt Nichol (former Toronto Maple Leafs), and Kim McCullough (Total Female Hockey).

There are a ton of articles on the site already with topics ranging from Strength and Conditioning, Programming, Youth Training, Injuries, Female Training and Coaching.   There are webinars, audio interviews and videos up as well, all about hockey!

Each week, we will be adding videos, articles and programs to the library and with this group, you know the Coaches Forum will be jumping.  Each month, there will be webinars and audio interviews added as well.

Right now until March 31, we have an incredible offer: Only 1 dollar for 30 days, then $9.95 a month after that.  I don’t know how long the $9.95 a month is going to last, so you should jump on this opportunity.   It’s only a buck, and you have until March 31.”

Dec 182009

I’m frequently asked when players should stretch and what types of stretching they should do. The answer I usually give to both of those questions is, “It depends.”

It depends on a number of factors: Is it for before practice? After games? At home? All of these questions need to be addressed before giving advice on proper stretching protocols.

Stretching is very important to any hockey player. Over time, if you aren’t stretching frequently, overuse injuries, such as muscle strains and pulls, can occur because your muscles are too tight.

In hockey, the muscles that have a greater chance of being injured include the adductors, hip flexors and lower back. That’s because hockey players skate with their knees, hips and spine bent. When they’re not on the ice, they’re usually sitting on the bench while they wait for their next shift or they’re sitting in their locker room stalls during intermissions.
The movements performed in hockey, combined with prolonged sitting, can contribute to the shortening of the muscles in your body. To prevent this from happening, some simple daily stretching techniques need to be implemented into your off-ice program.

Dynamic Stretching: This is done before practices and games, and it’s characterized by simply executing different types of movements. We really refer to it as our “Dynamic Warm-up.” During this time, the athlete is actively stretching and warming up the muscles used in that particular movement. We might do a specific exercise, such as a body-weight squat, for 8-10 reps.

Active Isolated Stretching: Founded and endorsed by massage therapist Aaron Mattes, this type of stretch we do within our strength-training workouts and with individuals who may need extra attention on certain muscle groups. When we’re in a strength-training sessions, we’ll always stretch the opposite muscle group of the one we’re strength training between sets. For example, if we’re working our upper-back muscles in an exercise such as a chin-up, we’d active isolate stretch our chest muscles between sets. Here, we hold the stretch for six seconds, relax, and repeat. We do three repetitions.

Static Stretching: This is usually what people refer to when they think of traditional stretching. Here, we hold our stretches for a period of 20-30 seconds. Again, we’ll stretch our groins and hip flexors, as well as other muscle groups that can traditionally become tight in hockey players such as the IT bands, quads, hamstrings and chest. Static stretching is done primarily after practices and games, because when you stretch after activity, it’ll help bring the muscles back to a lengthened state after being used in the game or practice.

What I’ve learned about stretching is that it shouldn’t be too easy; it should be almost uncomfortable, but not painful. Most people will stretch within their comfort zone and work muscles that don’t need to be stretched, while the ones that do are often neglected.

No matter what method you use or when you use it, stretching can be very beneficial for the overall performance and well being of a hockey player.