Strength Coaches = Stress Managers?

Strength coach stress manager

My philosophy in-season is very simple; train as much as necessary, not as much as possible – and a lot of times in-season less is more because of a tough weekend of games, tough practices etc. The goal is to keep them as fresh as we can, keep them healthy, and not to be afraid to call an audible and go to plan B when they walk in exhausted.

Weekend Week in Review

It’s Sunday which means I review some of the podcasts I listened to and articles that I read throughout the last week.

When it comes to the podcasts, without a doubt the newest episode of the Strength Coach Podcast with Devan McConnell and Justin Roethlingshoefer is a must much great stuff in that one podcast. You also can’t go wrong with anything involving Charlie Weingroff.

For articles, Stu McGill is a genius and is the best in the world when it comes to low back pain and health – read it! Beyond that I would highly recommend the sprinting article by Tony Holler, who is a crazy smart sprint coach based in Illinois.


Strength Coach Podcast #223

Strength Squad with Charlie Weingroff

Building Better Athletes with Brett Bartholomew

Pacey Performance with Matt Nichol

Applied Sports Science with Doug McKenney


Real Causes of Low Back Pain by Stu McGill

Ten Sprint Facts I Wish Everyone Understood by Tony Holler

Baseball and Olympic Lifts by Zach Dechant

Why and How We Program Breathing Exercises by Movement as Medicine

Heels Elevated Bilateral Squatting?

Got a lot of engagement with various coaches on Twitter with this thought the other day. Though I am not a huge proponent of excessive loading of the bilateral squat (back/front squat) I do think it’s important to be able to perform the squat pattern well as it is a basic, fundamental movement pattern.

Heels Elevated Twitter Post

As a coach I think you should always be asking yourself if you like the way the any movement looks and I typically don’t love the way the squat movement looks. One of our most important jobs is to improve movement efficiency and with the heels elevated I almost find that the movement immediately looks better, for two big reasons;

  1. the biggest reason, the heel elevation essentially gives the athlete more ankle mobility
  2. elevating the heels gives the athlete an anterior weight shift that allows them to ‘sit back’ in the movement.

Beyond this, it’s important to be in tune and understand the group you are coaching – we know hockey athletes will typically present ankle mobility issues because they skate in a boot that eliminates most all ankle movement – so why would we try to jam a square peg into a round hole.

Developing Field of Hockey Strength and Conditioning

The world and profession of strength and conditioning, a profession that is still in its infancy, was originally accepted by football programs looking to develop bigger, stronger, faster and more resilient athletes. These original programs developed by applying both bodybuilding and powerlifting methods in the training of athletes with results that helped push the profession forward and into the lives of most all other sports. There is no doubt that the profession would be nowhere near where it currently is and reached the heights that it has currently reached without these programs and the coaches that built the profession from the ground up.

Taylor Hall

As a result of the football strength training revolution, many former and current strength and conditioning programs are greatly influenced by the way that football programs have applied training principles over the years. On top of this, many strength and conditioning coaches are former football players that found a passion for the weight room during their time as a college football player and are now applying the strength principles that they learned and embrace through the years playing football.

Two things, however, have changed the landscape of the field in recent years.

One is social media and the ability for coaches to showcase the work they are doing with their athletes and share their thoughts on strength and conditioning with other coaches. The interaction coaches from across the world can have with one another is unprecedented – it’s not uncommon for coaches in one part of the world to be completely in-tune with what coaches on a different continent are doing with their athletes. The power of social media has clearly been a game changer.

social media

The second revolves around the investment that some schools/professional organizations are putting into their strength and conditioning departments. Many schools now have a football only strength staff along with an Olympic sports only strength staff. Schools have strength coaches that just work with basketball teams or just with the hockey teams. With the investment into the field, we also find more and more coaches coming into the profession filling the demand for larger strength staffs. These coaches are now coming from sport backgrounds that don’t involve football. Former college basketball players are getting into the field. Former college hockey players are getting into the field. The field is now developing coaches that have different sport backgrounds and therefore different thoughts, beliefs and opinions on how to train athletes.

A clear conclusion of this; without a doubt I feel we currently find ourselves smack dab in the middle of a strength training movement in the sport of ice hockey. The days of applying both bodybuilding and powerlifting principles is becoming a thing of the past. Hockey is slowly but surly pulling itself away from the original training influences of the past and forging its own path.

Yes, just like football and all other sports, hockey needs strong and powerful athletes that are resilient to injury. Yes, hockey athletes need to develop lower body strength and lower body power to increase their ability to accelerate, decelerate and change direction on the ice. Yes, hockey players need upper body strength to withstand the high impact created by crashing into another player, the ice, or the boards. But, the methods in creating these athletes has changed and they will continue to change with the influence of coaches that are now specializing in working solely with hockey populations.

Weekend Week in Review

It’s Sunday which means I review some of the podcasts I listened to and articles that I read throughout the last week.

When it comes to the podcasts, I really enjoyed the Just Fly Performance Podcast with Cal Dietz from the University of Minnesota as well as the All Things Strength & Wellness Podcast with Fergus Connolly, who is an incredibly smart guy working at the University of Michigan.

For articles, the article on the 6 billion nights of sleep data that Fitbit has compiled was very interesting. Sleep hygiene is something that I have been reading a lot about recently and find very interesting.


All Things Strength and Wellness with Fergus Connolly

Just Fly Performance with Cal Dietz

CVASP with Ron McKeefery

Physical Preparation with Bill Hartman


40 Quotes from Tribe of Mentors

What Your Doctor Never Told You About Arthritis by Tony Gentilcore

Less or More or Enough: How Much Information do You Need by Brett Jones

4 Rules of Posture by Chris Leib

What Fitbits 6 Billion Nights of Sleep Data Reveals About Us by David Pogue

40 Quotes from Tribe of Mentors

Over the course of the last 3-5 weeks I have slowly been making my way through Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss. Anyone who has gotten their hands on the book or have read any of Tim’s work knows that it took 3-5 weeks because the book is a whopper – 500+ pages worth of a whopper!

The other thing that people who follow Tim’s work know is that there are a ton of knowledge to gain from him. In this book Tim essentially reaches out to some of the most successful people in the world, various fields of work, and had them answer the same 11 questions – their answers are the book.

tribe of mentors

As I made my way through the book I realized I had given my highlighter quite the workout. Here are 40 quotes from various different people that I came across and stuck out to me while I was reading the book;

  1. Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage. – Anais Nin
  2. When in doubt, let kindness and compassion guide you. – Samin Nosrat
  3. Not dead, can’t quit. – Kyle Maynard
  4. I decided that if I was going to succeed or fail, it was going to be up to me. – Terry Crews
  5. Busy is a decision. – Debbie Millman
  6. You don’t find the time to do something; you make the time to do things. – Debbie Millman
  7. Happiness is a choice you make and a skill you develop. – Naval Ravikant
  8. Ego is about who’s right. Truth is about what’s right. – Mike Maples Jr.
  9. I can’t give you a surefire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time. – Herbert Bayard Swope
  10. One should use common words to say uncommon things. – Arthur Schopenhauer
  11. You can be a juicy ripe peach and there’ll still be someone who doesn’t like peaches. – Dita Von Teese
  12. Be so good they can’t ignore you. – Richa Chadha
  13. Learning to ignore things is one of the great paths to inner peace. – Robert J. Sawyer
  14. Whenever there is any doubt, there is no doubt. – Max Levchin
  15. The difference between winning and losing is most often not quitting. – Max Levchin
  16. Learn more, know less. – Neil Strauss
  17. If you’re not being criticized, you’re probably not doing anything exceptional. – Neil Strauss
  18. Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life. – Jerzy Gregorek
  19. No one owes you anything. – Amelia Boone
  20. Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. – Theodore Roosevelt
  21. There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all. – Peter Drucker
  22. Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted. – William Bruce Cameron
  23. Be the best, it’s the only market that’s not crowded. – Tom Peters
  24. Courage over comfort. – Brene Brown
  25. Reinvent yourself regularly. – Peter Guber
  26. Good things come to those who work their asses off and never give up. – Daniel Ek
  27. Always ask: What am I missing? And then listen to the answer. – Strauss Zelnick
  28. The actual consequences of your actions matter far more than your actions themselves. – Liv Boeree
  29. Dreams come true. You just have to be willing to work for them. – Annie Mist Porisdottir
  30. Think for yourself while being radically open-minded. – Ray Dalio
  31. The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. – Sarah Elizabeth Lewis
  32. Is what I am doing right now aligned with my life’s calling? – Gabor Mate
  33. If you want to go fast, go alone, but f you want to go far, you must go together. – Steve Case
  34. When everyone is saying no, you know you’re doing something right. – Darren Aronofsky
  35. Be in a hurry to learn, not in a hurry to get validation. – Evan Williams
  36. Never settle for “good enough”. – Whitney Cummings
  37. To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing. – Elbert Hubbard
  38. As a leader, there is no one else to blame. Don’t make excuses. If I don’t take ownership of problems, I can solve them. That’s what a leader has to do: take ownership of the problems, the mistakes, and the shortfalls, and take ownership of creating and implementing solutions to get those problems solved. Take ownership. – Jocko Willink
  39. Discipline equals freedom. – Jocko Willink
  40. If you want to have more, do more, and be more, it all begins with the voice that no one else hears. – Tim Ferriss


6 Things to Do Better in 2018

The last couple years I have wrote down a handful of things that I think I need to work on both personally and professionally to help become better over the course of the next year. Sometimes I have done a great job of implementing some of these changes and sometimes I haven’t – but that doesn’t stop me from making a small list each and every year.

Here are a handful of goals for the year of 2018. Enjoy!

Explain the ‘Why’
Everything we do in the weight room has a ‘why’ – if it didn’t it would be a waste of time for the athletes and as a result I wouldn’t put it into the program. One of the things that I feel I don’t do a great job with is actually explaining the ‘why’ to the things we do in the weight room. Without a doubt, athletes will benefit a ton from understanding why they are doing things more then they will from just knowing what they are doing, helping create more buy-in and athletes that understand the rationale for what they are doing.

Less Caffeine
This one is on the list almost every single year. I need to drink less coffee. I’m a coffee addict. I also need to stop drinking coffee past 1 or so in the afternoon. It would also save me a decent amount of money over the course of a year if I lessened my intake a little.

Slow Down and Enjoy the Ride
I admittedly am always looking forward to the next thing, trying to plan ahead and stay ahead in basically all areas of my life. On the other hand, I sometimes find myself not enjoying the moment because I am always looking ahead. Time to slow down a little bit and enjoy the moment.

Getting Out and Meeting More People in the Field
This one is pretty straight forward…one goal of mine is to visit a new/different strength program or facility each month, getting to at least 12 over the course of the year. I need to meet more people so that I can learn from more people.

Take Better Care of Myself
People find this surprising because I work in a weight room, but many times my training takes a backseat (and rightfully so) to the training of the sports and athletes that I work with and I end up not training more often then I would like to admit. Focusing on the athletes is the right thing to do – they come first, but I do need to find more time to take care of myself and keep myself in great shape. I’m not looking to look like The Rock, but living a long and healthy life is a priority and I need to commit to that on a daily basis.

Implementation of Continuing Education
Most people that know me know that I listen to a lot of podcasts in my down time and in my car while commuting along with reading a lot in my down time. Both of these things have helped me become a much better coach and person, yet I still don’t do a great job of implementing a lot of the things I learn through these educational resources.

Weekend Week in Review

It’s Sunday which means I review some of the podcasts I listened to and articles that I read throughout the last week.

When it comes to the podcasts, I really enjoyed the Voyager Sport Podcast with Adam Douglas as well as the Strength Coach Podcast with Mark Watts that had a lot of hockey talk early on with Coach Boyle.

For articles, the article on overhead pressing that Eric Cressey put out is a great article and something that I’ve defiantly thought about – if nothing else I think a strong case can be made for overhead pressing with dumbbells or kettlebells only.


Strength Coach Podcast #222

Purposeful Strength Podcast with Kevin Carr

CVASP #114 with Matt Wenning

Athletic Lab Podcast with Dan Pfaff

Athletic Lab Podcast with Ryan Horn

Voyager Sport Podcast with Adam Douglas


Random Thoughts: January Edition

5 Lessons from 2017

Ask for Help, Reclaim Your Sanity by Brett Bartholomew

Unload Week 1 Jan. 1-7 by Stu McMillian

Decoding the Isometric Mid Thigh Pull Strength Test by Carl Valle

Build the Perfect Deadlift

Should We Really Contraindicate All Overhead Lifting by Eric Cressey

Random Thoughts: January Edition

Another month, another group of random thoughts that are going through my head. Some from working day to day in the weight room, some through listening to others thoughts in podcasts, and some due to what I have been reading. Enjoy!

  1. As a strength coach, you what and your how can and probably will change over time, but your why needs to always be constant.
  2. If an athlete is so tied and run down that they can’t practice/lift at a decently high level (close to normal), the entire sports performance staff and coaching staff has dropped the ball.
  3. Our goal as strength coaches is to make every single kid on a team better, not just the high end players. That being said, I also think the most potential for growth is in the middle of the curve athletes. If we can raise that middle curve we can make a huge impact on the team.
  4. I think a lot of injuries are a result of poor programming, whether it be in the weight room, at practice, or the combination of the both. This is obviously something that we will never be able to truly measure but I think there is a strong correlation between well thought out programming and healthy athletes.
  5. Weight room performance is typically only looked at in a concentric pattern, yet eccentric and isometric work play a large role in developing a better, more durable athlete.
  6. Simple thought: eccentric hamstring strength is a game changer for athletes for numerous reasons. Train it.
  7. Can we prevent all ACL injuries? No. Can we have a huge impact on reducing the likelihood of an ACL injury? Absolutely. Instead of continually trying to add horsepower to the athlete we need to spend more time teaching athletes how to decelerate and absorb force. Deceleration, landing mechanics, change of direction, eccentric work, and 1-leg strength are all key in this.
  8. Almost every mistake can be avoided with better attention to detail.
  9. N = 1 all the time. The answer is always “it depends” when talking about what is right for an athlete. What’s right for one athlete isn’t necessarily what’s right another athlete. It always depends.
  10. On the CVASP Podcast Matthew Ibrahim talked about how many athletes have a difficult time keeping their ribs down and not flaring them during a deadlift. His thought: add an anti-extension core movement between sets of deadlifts to help ingrain proper rib/pelvic positioning. Solid idea that’s worth a try.

5 Lessons from 2017

2017 was a pretty fulfilling year for me. Like everyone, I had some ups and some downs, but all things considered things went very well and I have nothing to complain about.

Reflecting back on the year, here are 5 things that I learned both professional and personally about myself;

Relationships > Everything Else
Both personally and professionally, the more you open up and the more you work to develop positive relationships the more successful you are going to be. Invest in building relationships with the people around you. The more I open up and develop relationships with the people around me, the better things seem to go both personally and professionally.

Caring Less What People Think About Me
As I get older I have clearly noticed that I slowly care less and less what others think about me. Don’t get me wrong, if everyone thinks you are an ass you may way to do something about it, but generally speaking I have become less worried with how others feel about me. I feel it is more important to focus on concerning myself with things that I have to deal with, both personally and professionally.

My Coaching Style is Different
As the years go by I become more and more secure in my coaching style. I am not the loudest guy in the room. I am not the guy that is going to light people up and chew them out – and I’m okay with that. As a coach its important to be you – athletes will see right through the BS if you try to be someone you aren’t. I’m getting much better embracing who I am as a coach and doubling down on the strengths that I have instead of trying to be someone I’m not. Own who you are and embrace it.

“Me” Time
I clearly thrive off of ‘me’ time where I can relax and listen to podcasts and/or read – it’s almost how I re-charge after a long day or week. Its important for me to work that into most of if not all of my days as it is essentially a hobby for me, and I think it’s important to have hobbies outside of your profession to keep you centered.

Be Better at Applying Knowledge
I’ve always been someone that takes pride in continuing education and trying to learn as much as I can both personally and professional through books, articles and podcasts. Because of this I come across a lot of great info that I can apply to either my life or profession. But all this knowledge is useless if you don’t apply it to what you do which is something I’m not great at and something that I need to be better at going forward.