by Eric McMahon, MEd, CSCS, TSAC-F, RSCC*D and Kevin Neeld, PhD, CSCS, CPSS, RSCC*D
Coaching Podcast September 2023
Kevin Neeld, Head Performance Coach of the Boston Bruins National Hockey League (NHL) team, joins the NSCA Coaching Podcast to share about strength an...
Kevin Neeld, Head Performance Coach of the Boston Bruins National Hockey League (NHL) team, joins the NSCA Coaching Podcast to share about strength and conditioning practices in the NHL. Neeld connects with NSCA Coaching and Sport Science Program Manager, Eric McMahon, on his path to working in professional hockey, the involvement of strength and conditioning at the annual NHL Draft Combine, and the partnership between the Strength and Conditioning Association of Professional Hockey (SCAPH) and the NSCA. The discussion includes perspectives for aspiring coaches about working in professional hockey, on-ice and off-ice training, and the recent growth of performance staffs. Connect with Kevin on Instagram: @kevinneeld or Twitter: @KevinNeeld| Find Eric on Instagram: @ericmcmahoncscs or Twitter: @ericmcmahoncscs
Kevin Neeld, Head Performance Coach of the Boston Bruins National Hockey League (NHL) team, joins the NSCA Coaching Podcast to share about strength and conditioning practices in the NHL. Neeld connects with NSCA Coaching and Sport Science Program Manager, Eric McMahon, on his path to working in professional hockey, the involvement of strength and conditioning at the annual NHL Draft Combine, and the partnership between the Strength and Conditioning Association of Professional Hockey (SCAPH) and the NSCA. The discussion includes perspectives for aspiring coaches about working in professional hockey, on-ice and off-ice training, and the recent growth of performance staffs.
“The shift on off-ice development and preparing for a potential combine battery takes a back seat to making sure that you’re ready to play the next game, as it should. In contrast, we have players that maybe have not played a game in three months. So there’s a lot of context that needs to be considered when interpreting the test results of the players that are at the combine.” 9:08
“What we see in some of these conversations that come up regularly is that a player might be really fast on the ice and really underdeveloped in their speed and power qualities off the ice. To me, that may be a player that you really want to take a strong look at because if they have a four-cylinder engine, and they’re beating eight-cylinder engines in races, then you increase the size of the engine. It’s likely that they’re going to continue to scale up in a positive direction.” 15:35
“It’s more of a three-pronged approach of marrying what literature and research-based evidence says along with the coach’s experience along with the values and preferences of the athlete.” 33:10
[00:00:00.00] [MUSIC PLAYING]
[00:00:04.19] Welcome to the NSCA Coaching Podcast, season 7, episode 11.
[00:00:10.97] What we see in some of these conversations that come up regularly is that a player might be really fast on the ice and really underdeveloped in their speed and power qualities off the ice. So to me, that may be a player that you really want to take a strong look at because if they have a four-cylinder engine, and they're beating eight-cylinder engines in races, then you increase the size of the engine. It's likely that they're going to continue to scale up in a positive direction.
[00:00:44.92] This is the NSCA's Coaching Podcast, where we talk to strength and conditioning coaches about what you really need to know but probably didn't learn in school. There's strength and conditioning, and then there's everything else.
[00:00:55.77] This is the NSCA Coaching Podcast. I'm Eric McMahon. Today we're joined by Kevin Neeld, the head performance coach of the Boston Bruins. Got to catch up with Kevin at the recent NHL Draft Combine in Buffalo, New York, and excited to have you with us today.
[00:01:12.94] Yeah, thanks, Eric. It's a pleasure to be here.
[00:01:16.73] I'm excited to share that we have a new partnership with the NSCA and SCAPH, the Strength and Conditioning Association of Professional Hockey. And we just really kicked this thing off at our combine meetings. And we're talking to all the coaches about just being collaborative with the NSCA around certification, around education.
[00:01:40.87] And it really speaks to the mission of the NSCA of supporting all strength and conditioning coaches, but strength and conditioning coaches at the professional level to really contribute a leadership voice to the field as a whole. So you're a part of that. You're the Eastern Conference rep with SCAPH. And we can dive into some of those topics today. Want to kick this thing off in usual podcast fashion. tell us about your role with the Bruins and a little bit about your path in the field.
[00:02:12.86] Sure. So for the Bruins, I'm the head performance coach. Our department broadly oversees all of the in-season and offseason training, all the remote program design. I know we were talking a little bit about some of the challenges in the offseason before we jumped on the call here. But the program design and delivery for players that are out of town in the offseason. But during the season, in addition to the design and implementation of the training program, we also oversee all of our sports science initiatives.
[00:02:46.29] So any of our on-ice workload monitoring, our built-in testing process throughout the year, and then also the player recovery side of things as well and try to aggregate that information and provide feedback to the coaching staff and to the medical staff whenever it's appropriate. So I am entering my sixth year in Boston. Within that role prior to that, I spent two years as an assistant strength and conditioning coach with the San Jose Sharks under Mike Potenza, who I know was a mutual friend of ours.
[00:03:22.47] And I ended up in San Jose after spending seven years as the director of a private sports training facility in New Jersey, five of which I was also fortunate to be a strength and conditioning coach with USA Hockey's Women's Olympic Team. So that's the high level overview of how I got to Boston.
[00:03:43.11] Was hockey on your radar to start? Is that what you were working towards ? You mentioned the private sector in there. What was your thought process around that?
[00:03:55.14] Yeah, it's a good question. So I, when I was, I want to say, 13 or 14 years old, had an opportunity to play for a hockey coach that really put a high emphasis on off-ice training. And that was the first time. I had lifted some weights with my older brother in the basement probably like a lot of kids. But that was really my first exposure to purposeful off-ice training with the intent of improving sport performance.
[00:04:23.31] And in parallel with that, that coach also ran a lot of power skating clinics and some skill development clinics throughout the year and especially in the offseason. And I was fortunate to be able to help out with those, too. And I just fell in love at an early age with the idea that you can put in extra work to improve and develop. So I've always-- since being exposed to the game of ice hockey, it's always been a sport that I've loved and I've been passionate about.
[00:04:56.25] And that opportunity to help out with work off the ice and on the ice and see the impact that it had on me personally, and then some of my teammates, and some of the other people that were going through those camps, I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in hockey development in some capacity. And I wasn't sure, certainly, at that stage and even as late as in grad school.
[00:05:22.21] I wasn't sure if that would be pursuing a coaching role, more of a skill-development, supplementary consultant role, or more of the off-ice and performance training side of things. So I had a little bit of a fork-in-the-road moment. So I went to school at the University of Delaware and played there for four years and had an opportunity. I went to grad school at UMass Amherst when I finished Delaware.
[00:05:53.44] And I had an opportunity after my first year at UMass to go back to Delaware and essentially run some clinics and camps with a friend of mine that was a hockey director at a local rink. And we had a bunch of things set up that I was pretty excited about at the time. And I, throughout out my first year, was introduced to Eric Cressey, applied for an internship at his facility, and had an opportunity to go do that during that same summer.
[00:06:22.21] So ultimately, I opted to take a functional anatomy class that was part of BU's DPT program. And I interned with Eric that summer instead of going back to Delaware and running hockey clinics and camps. And from that point forward, the focus has been entirely on the off-ice development side of things. But hockey's always been my passion and the sport that I'm most interested in. So it's just fortunate. I've worked-- in the private sector, you work with athletes in all sports. And I really enjoyed the diversity and the challenges in that. But I was certainly interested in getting back into a team setting and working in ice hockey.
[00:07:04.92] In joining your group at the NHL Draft Combine, I really got to see you guys in action. It was interesting because I go to a few of these different combines, but the involvement of strength and performance coaches at the testing stations, collaborating with the scouting department, it was very front and center.
[00:07:31.29] And I thought that was pretty innovative approach to putting the performance experts with the performance tests and getting the most out of these athletes who are at the beginning of the pipeline into professional hockey. Share a little bit about that evolution. It really isn't like that in every professional sport. But I thought you guys were really on to something.
[00:07:56.80] Yeah. I think there's some unique considerations with the NHL Combine that are important to recognize. One is that all the players are-- with some rare exceptions, all the players are 18 years old. As a general statement, those players will not be transitioning into an NHL roster for three to five years after the combine. So, very different from the NFL Draft, where the entry age is quite a bit older. The stage of development is much different. And then the transition plan from the combine into professional sport is immediate, where for us there's several years of a buffer zone built in there.
[00:08:37.52] The other thing that's unique is the timing of when that combine falls relative to the end of the season for some players. So every year, there are players that arrive at the combine having played a game within a week of them coming. So those players, you can imagine, they obviously have gone on a long playoff run. As you go through the playoff process, the focus is on being prepared and recovered to play at your best the next game.
[00:09:08.72] So the shift on off-ice development and preparing for a potential combine battery takes a back seat to making sure that you're ready to play the next game, as it should. In contrast, we have players that maybe have not played a game in three months. So there's a lot of context that needs to be considered when interpreting the test results of the players that are at the combine.
[00:09:36.62] And I think the combine across sports has had a little bit of a reputation as being a-- or with the goal being a predictor of future success, but then also as a determinant of draft position. And there are countless examples within the NFL specifically, where every year there's somebody that really shines at the combine in one or more tests. And then you fast forward five years, and they don't really pan out as an NFL player.
[00:10:10.49] And I think despite that reality, people are still looking for that connection-- that if somebody is better at a test that they should be better at their sport. And there's so much, I think in all sports-- in hockey's certainly no exception-- there's so much that determines what will make a player successful or not that it's really challenging to say this one test or these battery of tests are going to guarantee that a player will be prepared.
[00:10:40.98] And an easy example of that is speed of execution on the ice is not just speed of movement. It's speed of recognition, speed of processing, speed of decision-making-- ultimately, the ability to then execute a skill appropriately in that moment. And obviously, there's a lot of opportunity within that process, which is, I think, still oversimplified for somebody to be exceptional in one area that may allow them to be successful, even if they don't necessarily have the fastest skating ability.
[00:11:18.01] So all of that said, I think that there has been-- to the credit of NHL organizations, I think there has been an increased dialogue between the management and scouting staffs with the performance coaches around the league on what of the combine testing battery-- of what measures are maybe most important to what that organization is looking for in a potential prospect.
[00:11:50.14] And then what does that say about the player within the context of their age, of their physical maturation, of what you can find out through the interview process, or what information you're aware of from the program that they come from, as far as their off-ice training background? And then ultimately, are they at a point from a physical standpoint where in one or more qualities where they are NHL ready now, which is rare for an 18-year-old?
[00:12:24.70] And if not, is there reason for optimism that there's enough of a growth window there that they could reach that point. So it's a little counterintuitive, but if somebody is physically mature, and they test slightly above average in all the tests across the board, and they come from a program that puts a really strong emphasis on off-ice training and the quote unquote "strength and conditioning side of things," then you might look at that and say, this is a player that is likely closer to their ceiling from a physical development standpoint.
[00:13:05.92] So that in conjunction with what they look like on the ice-- so if that player at the level that they're currently playing struggles to keep up, or isn't strong on pucks, or from a conditioning standpoint falls off over the course of a game-- there might be some reason for concern in the upside of that player. Whereas a player that-- and you see this with the Europeans traditionally-- that there's not as much of a strength and conditioning emphasis at younger ages as there is certainly in the US, but really in North America more broadly, where they may really have not been exposed to traditional speed, power, and strength training.
[00:13:50.44] Some of those kids are playing other sports and then just riding bikes in the offseason. And they come in. If they're at the exact same level-- slightly above average and a lot of those categories-- how you would interpret the upside is completely different. So at the end of the day, I think the draft process should start with how the player looks on the ice. And that should be weighed the most heavily.
[00:14:19.49] And then in situations where there's a 50/50 battle between-- a 50/50 toss-up between a couple potential picks that there's some things you like. There's some things you don't. There's areas for growth on the ice. And that's where I think supplementing that with some of the information from the combine testing process can be helpful. But more than anything, Eric, I think it's just an opportunity to get a cross-section of what that player's makeup is.
[00:14:51.50] And I think organizations are making a pretty significant investment in a player from a development-resource standpoint-- and then even financially in entry-level contracts if they sign the player-- that I come back to the idea of, would you rather not know? Would you rather not know where they are at that stage? It's not a matter of saying you know your vertical jump is 2 inches higher than the next guy, so you're a better hockey player.
[00:15:23.79] It's we've scouted how you are as hockey players. There's a database of central scouting rankings of all the players. There's a clearer picture on that. So what are the underlying physical capacities that may explain some of the things that we see on the ice? In what we see in some of these conversations that come up regularly is that a player might be really fast on the ice and really underdeveloped in their speed and power qualities off the ice.
[00:15:56.17] So to me, that may be a player that you really want to take a strong look at because if they have a four-cylinder engine, and they're beating eight-cylinder engines in races, then you increase the size of the engine. It's likely that they're going to continue to scale up in a positive direction. So those are some of the things that I think our profession's voice has become louder in communicating and contextualizing within the organization as a whole, which is obviously trying to aggregate information from different vantage points to make the best decision on a player.
[00:16:35.65] I love the depth that you covered that. It highlights that as performance coaches, we do seek windows of trainability in athletes that come into our training system. And there are opportunities to train players regardless of where they come in. But from a scouting and predictability standpoint, it's not black and white in terms of a higher score in a vertical jump test does not necessarily mean the best athlete or strength or power in four or five years from now-- especially in a sport like hockey, where you're on the ice.
[00:17:14.83] And I think one thing that's interesting is when you're saying speed and power, and then I go to the combine and there's an agility test, and there's a jump test, and a bench press, and a Wingate, these are dry-land assessments. Want to ask you, specific to hockey, is there a bigger divide or disconnect between speed, strength, and power, as we typically view it in a dry-land environment to what you see on the ice if you were to test an athlete for skating, speed, and those sort of metrics? Is it a bigger gap there? Or are they pretty relatable?
[00:18:00.14] I think where there's a fairly strong connection is that if players develop those qualities off the ice, they will translate into improvements on the ice. Where the transfer might get a little cloudier is in the current kind of cross-sectional. You're comparing two players. This player is stronger off the ice. Are they also stronger on the ice?
[00:18:30.51] And as an example, one of the first pro players that I ever worked with off the ice was not traditionally strong. I think, compared to a lot of our college players, was below average in lower-body and upper-body strength, regardless of what movement we use to assess that. And on the ice, his ability to protect the puck and give and withstand contact was a real strong point of his game.
[00:18:58.56] And the other maybe illustrative example is that a lot of there are a lot of examples that I can think back on across my career where a player off the ice is not fast, meaning maybe a 10-yard or 20-yard acceleration is below their peer group. Vertical jump is below their peer group. And they're the fastest player or one of the fastest players on the ice.
[00:19:27.46] And there are some unique physical characteristics that are characteristics of skating. It's a little bit more of a concentric-dominant pushing motion. It's obviously heavily biased in the frontal plane compared to some of the traditional testing. And just the efficiency of how good of a skater is a player can have a significant impact on how they're able to generate speed on the ice, where a lot of those off ice tests have their own skill component.
[00:20:05.11] So if you're doing a especially with the shorter-distance sprint tests-- 10 yards and 20 yards-- that pattern in sprinting, the first few steps in off-ice acceleration has the most direct translation into on-ice skating. But it's still very different. And even within that, getting the variability in a 10-yard sprint time related to the quality of the start and the efficiency of the start is extremely high.
[00:20:34.91] So how much time then do you spend with the player who plays their sport in a different medium on just maximizing the sprint start of however a team or an organization or a group is testing that 10-yard sprint? And if you're looking at an off-ice and an on-ice acceleration test, if a player's on-ice acceleration test is good, that's what you want. If their off-ice is not, then you're looking for potential reasons for why that may be.
[00:21:07.85] And more importantly, you're just looking for that player to make incremental continuous progress in that quality. And that will still transfer even if their 2-point start on a 10-yard sprint test isn't perfect. So I think there are a lot of outliers if you're expecting the performance in an off-ice test to translate directly into on-ice performance.
[00:21:35.71] But I still think that the process is very useful, not just in being able to track progress in certain qualities that might be of interest to a player's game, but also in attempting to explain why something may be good or not. So somebody's slow on the ice, and they're slow off the ice? Well, it's easier to get off-ice testing data than it is on ice. So now you have a KPI for that player that you can track over time and emphasize as part of their training process to make sure that they're making progress in the right direction.
[00:22:07.45] If somebody is really good on the ice and not good off the ice, is it a technique issue? Or is there some fundamental capacity off the ice that, again, should be a point of emphasis in the training process? So as a diagnostic process, I think it can be helpful. You just can't make assumptions that what you're seeing off the ice is what you're going to see on the ice.
[00:22:35.60] Yeah, I think that's really interesting. You always have to balance your thinking of performance in the dry-land area versus on the ice. And I think of that almost through a scouting lens when you're looking at how a player is performing on the ice during a game or during a practice. But that mentality is really valuable as a performance coach, just to be able to connect the dots to what you're doing in the weight room or during conditioning sessions.
[00:23:07.46] Kevin, I want to ask about SCAPH. You guys as a professional group have gotten more organized over the past three, four years, coming together as a group of professional hockey strength and performance coaches. And it's not just the NHL. It's the AHL and the developmental levels. And it's been really exciting to get to know how your developmental systems work.
[00:23:36.26] And what I'm learning is that the majority of the coaches who I met are CSCS professionals, and so up to standard in terms of where the field is at. And there's a number of teams. I'd say most teams probably have assistant performance coaches at the NHL level. And we see dedicated staff at the AHL as well. So tell us about the work of SCAPH, what you guys are working to accomplish, and give us a little insight into that.
[00:24:08.38] Sure. So I think the positions and infrastructure that you outlined are relatively new in the evolution of performance enhancement in professional hockey. So you go back 20 years or so, and the head athletic trainer may have had some exposure to some strength and conditioning principles or their background. And they would oversee some of that. And then some teams started to hire strength and conditioning coaches.
[00:24:39.75] At this stage, almost none had anybody overseeing the AHL level. There were no assistants at this time either. And I think two things have happened in parallel. One is that there's been an increased recognition for the importance of physical preparation for the sport. And then the opportunity for a competitive advantage by having players that are better prepared from a physical standpoint. That has led to the expansion of staff.
[00:25:13.93] So you fast forward a little bit. You're starting to see teams add assistants. I also think as part of that you're seeing the emphasis that's placed on getting players physically ready from a developmental perspective as well. I've been fortunate. In the private sector, we would work with and test youth hockey organizations. You have players at all these different age groups. And you have players that are competing at different levels.
[00:25:46.72] And pretty consistently, as you would expect, you would see significant differences in the physical testing numbers of players as the levels increase, both in terms of age and in terms of ability. And you see similar things with our Women's National program, where you go from the U18 to the over-18 players. We had a team that would play a round robin with Canada. That was a U22 team.
[00:26:17.89] And then looking at the senior national team, there's incremental progress across different physical testing variables in those groups. And we see the same thing at our level. That when you're looking at prospects versus AHL versus NHL players, there are differences in the physical makeups of the players, whether that's just in size, whether that's in markers of strength, different markers of power, of conditioning.
[00:26:45.04] So there's some real value in helping to scale the players' physical development up and preparing them to compete at the next level. So with increased recognition there, I think you're starting to see some staffs expand in size. And in parallel with that-- and I think this is true across all sports and all levels-- that there's is there is a larger integration of technology. And also, more responsibilities are falling under the umbrella of strength and conditioning and performance.
[00:27:25.30] So that may include things like oversight of nutrition and supplementation. It may include, quote unquote, "sports science." So within-sport monitoring process, recovery monitoring, some of the things that I mentioned earlier. And that is increasing the workload on the professionals in those positions. So I think as there has been more of a spotlight placed on the potential benefit and competitive advantage of having quality people on the staff, there's also been more responsibilities that have been funneled under that umbrella.
[00:28:02.14] So that's a long-winded way of saying that has led now to what you described, which is almost every team across the league has a head and an assistant at a minimum. And the way that the rest of the staff at the NHL level is constructed depends on the organization. Some people have performance directors. Some people have sports scientists. Some people have nutritionists. A lot of times, there's a lot of shared responsibility regardless of the titles.
[00:28:30.52] It's let's get a couple people into these roles and then divvy up based on what needs to be accomplished, what that individual's primary skill sets are, and just make sure that we're getting everything done that we need to. And every AHL team now has a strength and conditioning coach. So with SCAPH-- which, I promise, I'll get to what you actually asked here.
[00:28:54.73] As rapidly as that has evolved within the organizations, we really need to have a centralized voice in communicating to the league what some of our needs are, providing feedback on things like the NHL Combine testing process, which has evolved a lot in the last 10 years and will continue to moving forward. And really, just have an open line of communication on back and forth with the league on the way that our field is evolving-- how that can be helpful to the players and to the organizations.
[00:29:35.10] And at the same time, I think just making sure that they have a clear understanding of what we're attempting to do and our goals with some of the things that we're integrating into the preparation process. And then also to hear from the league what some of the concerns may be as they navigate some of the liability concerns with players, some of the concerns from the Players Association, maybe, on using information to support or against a player in contract negotiations, for example.
[00:30:08.57] So the primary goal of SCAPH was really to just create a centralized organization so the league had a clear group to communicate with. And then, obviously, that's a two-way street that we want to make sure that our needs and our voices are being heard to the league as well.
[00:30:27.81] These are groups that advocate for strength and conditioning. They advocate for the values of the NSCA and what we believe in. And I want everyone to know in the SCAPH group that you have our support from the NSCA. It's really valuable to have these relationships-- these partnerships-- because it provides a great example of how we can make progress in terms of creating dedicated strength and conditioning coach roles, like you mentioned. They haven't always existed.
[00:31:02.78] A lot of time and effort goes into advocating for the value of a performance coach-- for a strength and conditioning coach. And an interesting perspective you bring up on the staffs growing in size. And this has happened across NCAA, all professional sports. I notice you have not only a CSCS and an RSCC*D, but you have your CPSS. And you're probably one of the early adopters for the sports science certification that we have.
[00:31:35.55] And it really speaks to what you were mentioning-- just the more analytical mindset that strength and conditioning coaches have today. We've always had testing. We've always had our principles and core values. But it is being delivered in a more technological way. And you really highlighted some of those aspects and how they relate across the NHL. I think that's really great.
[00:32:10.37] Culture of hockey. You mentioned-- I thought this was really interesting when you mentioned international players, maybe, don't have as much of a training background. And that's just generalizing. Whereas in the US, there's a heavy strength and conditioning emphasis. What's your approach in working with an athlete? They're obviously a great hockey player.
[00:32:33.74] They come into your program, and you're getting them at the NHL level. And maybe they just don't have a great foundation. It's a little counterintuitive for us because I think sometimes we think of great athletes are going to have great effort, and they're going to be great at all the performance aspects and squats and all the things we love to do. But that's not always the case. How do you work through those?
[00:32:56.87] Yeah, I think there are two things come to mind immediately. One is everybody's backgrounds are going to be different. And you think back to evidence-based practice models. And I think traditionally that's viewed as, what does the research say? We should just do that. And really, it's more of a three-pronged approach of marrying what literature and research-based evidence says along with the coach's experience along with the values and preferences of the athlete.
[00:33:32.38] So I think certain players, based on their background, have affinity for certain training methods or certain specific exercises. So in my setting, I try to look at the program-delivery process more from what is the intended neural or physiological outcome of the training stress that I want to impart on that day.
[00:34:02.03] And then within that, if there are really strong preferences for one exercise or one method over another, as long as they fit within the bucket of what I want to accomplish-- and it's not going to hurt them based on some of our movement testing and their injury history and conversations with the medical staff-- then we maintain some flexibility in exercise selection and some of those things to make sure that we're getting what we want out of the training process on a particular day.
[00:34:35.12] But the athlete then also has a voice in that process and an increased level of buy-in in the training process in general because they're able of tie in some of the things that they feel strongly will benefit their performance. So that's one thing. I think from recognizing that we have-- I've had players as old as 42, I think, that I've worked with at the NHL level, and then as young as 18. So everybody's at a different stage of their career in addition to different backgrounds as they're entering their career.
[00:35:09.57] So I really try to look not just from a performance-testing standpoint, but also tying in feedback from the coach, from our front office, from the players themselves, importantly, from communication with the players about some lifestyle habits and some other things that maybe are supporting their ability to recover and their readiness on any given day. And you take all the factors that can impact performance. And I try to look at that as, where can we best help this player?
[00:35:48.26] So there's a player that's underdeveloped that doesn't have a strong training background. When they first come, we're just trying to instill positive fundamental habits, making sure that they're preparing appropriately before they go on the ice, make sure that they're training consistently and doing basic things-- but doing them with the technique that we feel is safest and is going to have the best transfer to their sport-- using methods that then are going to also help establish what some progress and whatever their primary training goals are.
[00:36:17.90] So a player that's undersized maybe needs to put on a little bit of weight and work on getting stronger. A player that is physically appropriately developed, whether that's because of their training background or not, maybe their quote unquote "first-step quickness," or their speed, or their within-game endurance-- maybe those things are more pressing primary goals. So we'll try to dial up a little bit more work in those areas while still, obviously, keeping the big picture in mind and making sure that we're still touching all of the other qualities that are important for the sport.
[00:36:55.28] So those are the two big things, I think, is just trying, to the best of our capacity, quote unquote "diagnose limiting factors" for the individual players. And then also recognize that they have a vested interest in their development as well in that their experiences shouldn't be completely overlooked just to squeeze them into a program that I think is most beneficial for them. I think we've seen now that a lot of players will reach successful outcomes using different methods.
[00:37:28.73] And I have a lot of colleagues that I have a tremendous amount of respect for within SCAPH and outside of it that approach things a little bit differently than I do. So I think it's keeping the big picture in mind as far as, what are we hoping to get out of the training process? And where are opportunities where we can maybe improve the athletes buy-in by giving them a little bit more of a voice in the process?
[00:37:54.50] Yeah, I heard a lot there. And just to summarize what I heard, principles and values-- we have them as performance coaches. But our players have principles and values that guide them as well. And so do our fellow coaches who we work with. And it's part of a system that we're a part of. Communication is a huge part of that, just getting to the players and the people we work with to be able to deliver a high-quality strength and conditioning experience to meet the needs of individual players.
[00:38:34.22] And having a strong rationale-- and evidence-based rationale-- for what we're doing so that we can explain across all of the different stakeholders-- the player, the coaches, the front office-- what we're doing, why we're doing it, why we think something's important. And also our ability to stack that against other priorities that are within the system. I think that's one of the big challenges within professional sports.
[00:39:01.21] But we're hearing more and more of that with NIL at the college level as well and the transfer portal. And I think it's interesting. It's something that coming from the professional sports background-- and we often hear this with the pro sports side of things-- it's an area of the field that everyone is benefiting from right now. So I really appreciate you sharing that.
[00:39:27.88] Kevin, this was awesome, man. You really dove into the testing and a lot of the combine information. And we learned about SCAPH. And it was awesome to hear your path and how you got to the NHL. So thanks for being with us.
[00:39:44.30] It was my pleasure, Eric. Thanks for having me.
[00:39:46.31] Hey, for our listeners, what's the best way to reach out and connect with you?
[00:39:51.84] Probably two places are easiest. I have a website. It's just my name-- so kevinneeld.com. That's K-E-V-I-N N-E-E-L-D. And then also, I'm on Instagram and, as much as my schedule at work and my family life allows, I try to put up some content and maintain a presence there. And my handle there is just @kevinneeld. So pretty easy to find. People can reach out through either medium, and I do my best to get back to people as soon as I can. So if anybody has questions or just wants to touch base, I look forward to hearing from you.
[00:40:26.37] Awesome. That was Kevin Neeld, head performance coach for the Boston Bruins in the NHL. Thanks for being with us today. We appreciate all of our listeners. And a special thanks to Sorinex Exercise Equipment. We appreciate their support.
[00:40:41.49] Hi, coaches. This is Mike Caro, longtime college strength and conditioning coach now working on the tactical side of the profession. The NSCA Coaching Podcast brings highlights from all areas of our growing field to help you navigate your coaching path. Subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts so that you don't miss an episode. Thanks for listening.
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[00:41:00.37] This was the NSCA's Coaching Podcast. The National Strength and Conditioning Association was founded in 1978 by strength and conditioning coaches to share information, resources, and help advance the profession. Serving coaches for over 40 years, the NSCA is the trusted source for strength and conditioning professionals. Be sure to join us next time.
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