The Opportunity To Excel

Greetings from 30,000 feet!  On a Delta flight from Detroit to San Diego for my Mastermind Meeting, so stay tuned for a picture of my friend Rick Kaselj eating or drinking something outrageous!  I have to say, this is the friendliest air-crew I have ever encountered in my life.  The flight attendant greeted us as we got on the plane with a very genuine, ‘Hi, how are you today’.  Every kid coming on the plane got a set of pilot’s wings (some parents too).

One woman got on with a baby and the flight attendant took the baby until the woman got settled and even let a few of the passengers hold him, which he seemed to like very much.  Apparently the Mayor of one of the local communities near Detroit (what I overheard someone say) is on the flight with a seat right at the door, so he waited while the other passengers boarded before taking his seat so HE started greating people as they boarded the flight.  He put bags in the overhead compartment, handed out cookies and closed the bins in preparation for take off as the stewardess cuddled the baby and gave ‘Bob’ direction.  It was awesome…and no one complained when the plane was 10-minutes leaving.  What a way to start the day.

Making the most of your opportunities…

Sometimes we are acutely aware of opportunity knocking – an invitation to a mini-camp, a try-out, a week long camp, an invitation to an NHL training camp.

Most of you know that you need to be present every single moment and give your best effort to excel – after all, when will a chance like that come along again.

There are chances every day…

Just like the flight attendant and Bob – they had the opportunity to shine today and they did!  

I am going to share with you some of my observations from the first few days of the HockeySTRONG program at the Revolution Gym and give you an insider’s perspective on how to make the most of your opportunities to get better every single time you pick up a weight, work on your mobility or do an agility workout.

Fist let me say how lucky we are to have an awesome group of players to train again this year, they are awesome and prepared to put in the action to achieve their goals, for some of them this is their first year of serious off-season training, so just like many of you, it is a learning process.

Show you are ready to work – come through the door like you are there to do business.  Don’t saunter in looking like a sloppy mess – come in, get your shoes on, check the workout for the day, fill your water bottle, be ready.

Listen and then execute – when your coach or trainer shows you what to do, pay attention and listen to the cues – even during the warm up.  Every single thing you do in the gym is important (that’s why we do it), so do it well.  You might think stretches are boring, but improving your mobility can make you a faster skater and reduce your risk of injury, that’s exciting isn’t it?

There is a reason – it is okay to ask – there is a reason your coach or trainer wants you to execute exercises with specific technique, if you are not sure why it is important, then don’t be shy to respectfully ask.  If the trainer cannot give you a good clear answer, then it probably means they don’t know why they are doing what they are doing.  If they get mad at you (when you ask respectfully), then it might be time to look for a new trainer.

One of the easiest ways to make you a faster, more powerful skater or goalie is to get you comfortable in the power position with your hips, knees and ankles flexed.  Watch the next NHL play-off game and my bet is you won’t see one player skating up the ice with straight knees.  

The majority of non-elite players do not bend their knees enough when they skate or during their agility training, so that is one of our major focuses in the HockeySTRONG program and we start hammering on it right from the first day – it is so important, that we cannot wait.

When we cue an athlete to bend their knees or ‘get lower’ during a drill and they chose not to do it, that is a missed opportunity to excel.  And it is an opportunity that cannot be made up for tomorrow, next week, next month or ‘when it matters’.

In my 20 years as a fitness professional, I have never ever seen an athlete’s legs give out and have them tumble to the ground because they ‘could not’ hold that position.  Nor have I ever seen an athlete die from tired legs – so it is uncomfortable, but not fatal.  

Use perfect technique – there is a reason we teach perfect technique; it is so you are actually strengthening what we are trying to strengthen.  Remember the goal is to become a better skater or goalie, not to lift as much weight as you can.  So if you are losing form for the sake of lifting a heavier load, you need to lower your weight so you can use perfect form and strengthen those weak muscles that are keeping you from using perfect form with the heavier weight.

Bring something to eat for right after the workout if you are trying to gain muscle mass.  For a young skinny hockey player, it is unbelievable how much some of you need to eat in order to gain weight, so you need to seize every opportunity to chow down. 

Bottom line… make excellence a habit, starting with this off-season.  Big goals require big action – I am sitting on this plane right now, flying across the country because I know it will help me achieve my goal of helping 10,000 hockey players win more games with fewer injuries.  Your big goals require a commitment to serious action everyday.  You should be able to tell anyone who asks what you did to become One Day Better each and every day.

Don’t be discouraged if you are making some of the mistakes I described above, it’s not your fault, you didn’t know any better.  You probably thought you were working hard and that was enough.  Now you know some of the finer points to making the most of your opportunity to excel.

Have an awesome day!


PS – HERE is where you can get a done-for-you off-season training program (complete with videos) if you are a skater.