It’s Not Always How Much but How Well

As another off-season begins, it’s an exciting time to grow both physically and mentally in order to put yourself in a better position for the next season.

Because of this excitement it can sometimes be easy to think more is better. In fact, athletes will bury themselves under mountains of work and grind through marathon sessions in the gym and on the ice only to feel beat up and run down by the time they start training camp.

This is problematic considering we want the exact opposite to be true. We want to feel like we are peaking at the start of camp. Yes, we want to work hard in the off-season, but we also want to work intelligently. Every exercise and movement should have a purpose: To further develop our athletic attributes.

There is a misconception that if you don’t leave the gym half dead, dragging yourself home, it means you didn’t work hard enough or make constructive use of your time. Some trainers and strength coaches buy into this philosophy just to make their clients happy. When compounded over multiple off-seasons this training style quickly becomes counterproductive and leaves many broken-down, tired athletes in its wake.

Always remember this: Off season training should be about quality over quantity.

The hockey season is already a grind and the off season is already very short. We want to actively recover from the rigours of the season and progress into the next year. This can be done at the same time with well thought-out, smart programming.

My suggestion is to take a little time off, away from the ice – and away from skating — at the beginning of the off-season with more focus on mobility and base movements. This will give your body some time to recover while we put it in a position to be able to train again at a high quality level. We call this phase the primer phase as its priming our body to be able to train at the level we want. Here’s a good primer program:

Mobility: A high frequency sport like hockey has many repetitive movements that cause tightness and imbalances. These should be addressed through mobility work. We want to be able to move without restriction in order to get the most out of our training.

Aerobic: You need a proper aerobic base to be able to train, even in the weight room when we’re doing strength work. If we can’t recover between sets by having an efficient aerobic system, we are entering each set at a deficit and not getting the most out of it or hitting our full potential.

Base Strength Movements: A proper execution of the five basic movements (push, pull, hinge, squat, and carry) should be introduced at the appropriate progressions. This is our foundation. You cannot build an athlete on a poor foundation. It is only a matter of time before it becomes exposed and things fall apart. Tempo training should also be worked in with special attention to the eccentric loading of these movements in order to help with regaining strength — and strengthening tendons to get them ready for the intense strength and power work to follow in the training progressions.

Accessory Work: Smart accessory work can directly help to correct imbalances, improve mobility, aid in injury prevention and will complement the basic movements. It doesn’t have to be rocket science, just simple and well thought out. Hockey is a contact sport with lots of shoulder injuries so rotator cuff work should be programmed in as it helps with injury prevention, shooting, and assisting in the basic movements. This is an example of something simple, but effective.

Remember off season training is about quality not quantity. It should have you feeling at your best when camp starts. When it comes to training it’s not always about how much but rather how well. Enjoy your off season, work hard, and if you need help come see us.

Until next time,

Strength, Courage, Hustle, Commitment

AJ Zeglen, Focus Fitness Manager & Head Strength Coach

Originally published in Game On Magazine

Enjoy the Process

It is a simple message but you see it get lost in the shuffle more and more. Athletes and parents often get distracted or so caught up in “making it” that they lose focus on what’s important. The most important part of your child’s development in their sport is that they are enjoying the process. They enjoy going to the rink, going to the gym, seeing their teammates, getting better, playing a game they love. This is so important because there is a really strong chance that your child will not make the NHL. And guess what? That is ok! Less than 1% of hockey players will realize a dream of playing in the NHL. Does that mean that they shouldn’t dream about making it and work hard to get there? Absolutely not! They definitely should! And they should pursue it with all their heart as long as it is their choice and they are enjoying it every step of the way. The pressure of the selection process starts absurdly young. I’ve seen parents and kids devastated that they did not get drafted or selected or noticed at ages in their early to mid-teens. Tons of kids at this age are still developing, all of them at their own speed. We have worked with countless athletes that would be described as late bloomers who were passed over multiple times but now play at NCAA Division 1 schools or different levels of pro hockey. They realized it was not the end of the world, they focused on what they could control, worked hard and enjoyed the process of training in the gym and on the ice, getting better every day and the rest took care of itself. We also have a number of professional hockey players who play in other pro leagues around the world and absolutely love it. There are plenty of options out there for those who focus on and enjoy the process of becoming better. The lessons taught in training far exceed their use solely in the sport as well. Valuable life skills like dedication, teamwork, commitment, selflessness, leadership, and perseverance are taught through the process of training. These skills will benefit an athlete in any endeavour they ever choose to pursue in their lives. The relationships and bonds formed through training, working hard and getting better with other people are some of the strongest friendships that a person will ever develop in their lifetime. Enjoy the process, love the process, be thankful for the opportunity to get better and you will have a level of success that will have a positive impact on your life.

Until next time,

Strength, Courage, Hustle, Commitment

 

AJ Zeglen

Focus Athletes Medal in Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games

The Olympics in South Korea were pretty special for Canada. Our country set a Canadian Olympic record for most medals ever won at a Winter Olympics with 11 gold, 8 silver and 10 bronze for a total of 29.

This was especially exciting for us at Focus Fitness as we had two athletes contribute directly to the medal count with Kaitlyn Lawes, gold medal in mixed doubles curling and Quinton Howden, bronze medal in men’s ice hockey. We also had Focus Fitness alumni Bailey Bram, Brigette Lacquette and Jocelyne Larocque all take home sliver in women’s ice hockey as well as Focus Fitness alumnus Brooks Macek take home silver in men’s ice hockey.

To even know six people who have competed at the Olympics is pretty amazing but to have all those six athletes come through your programming at your facility at various points of their development is really something special and something we take a great deal of pride in. Here is a little about our two Olympic medal winners that currently give pour their heart and soul into their training at Focus Fitness.

Kaitlyn has been at Focus for ten years now working closely with trainer and therapist Melissa Skibinski. I’m not sure there could be a better fit for the two of them. They both expect the best out of each other and they both deliver, their list of accomplishments since they started working together is nothing short of amazing. I believe Kaitlyn’s approach to training is one of the things that has separated her from the field and helped her reach the top of her sport. Her work ethic in the gym rivals that of any athlete we have ever had in Focus. She trains hard. Period. We all look forward to continue to help and support Kaitlyn anyway we can as she continues her career. She has been a part of Focus for so many years now she in part of the family and when she does well I think we all feel extremely proud of her success.

Quinton Howden has been a part of the Focus family for over 6 years now. He played multiple seasons with our home organizations the Winnipeg Jets and Manitoba Moose before going to the KHL. Not only is his work ethic on the ice and in the gym top level, he is also one of the best people you will meet. Honest, sincere, hardworking, stand up human being. The type of person you want around your facility and part of your programs because he makes every around him better. I have worked personally with Quinton over the years and was really proud and excited for him to be named to Canada’s Olympic team. Being a part of the Canadian team is an accomplishment in itself, but doing it with Canada’s flag ship sport of hockey is the icing on the cake. We all took great pride seeing Quinton being named to the team and then again watching him win a bronze medal.

This is why we do what we do.

Be Good At The Things That Require No Talent

I’ve had the privilege of working with athletes of all different age groups and all different sports, this includes NHL players, CFL players, gold medal winning Olympians and of course the Winnipeg Jets and Manitoba Moose. Because of my experience in the field I often get asked what it is that separates the great players from the good. How come some athletes “make it” and some don’t. The perception a lot of people have is that the majority of the athletes that compete at the highest level have natural ability that far exceed the norm. While this is true when comparing high level athletes to a vast majority of the population I can assure you that when comparing athlete to athlete the biggest contributing factor is effort. Effort? Really? How can something so simple be the deciding factor? It’s simple, effort dictates everything we do, when we do it and how well we do it. It is the single most important factor in our success. Think of all the greats in any sport who have achieved legendary status: Jaromir Jagr, Jerry Rice, Michael Jordan, Tom Brady. These players play or played with and against the other top players in the world in their respective sports, rose to the top and stayed there for a long time. What is the first thing people talk about when they mention these names? They talk about their work ethic, their dedication, their preparation. Guess what? All those things are 100% controlled and driven by effort. It takes absolutely zero athletic ability to be good at these things. One of my favourite quotes and best pieces of advice I ever received in my life is, “Be good at the things that require no talent.” Be on time, be willing to learn, pay attention, be ready to work. All of us have the ability to do these things well but you would be surprised how many people choose not to. Understand that it is a choice that you make every single day and it is all about effort. This message holds true for any endeavour you choose to pursue in your life. In athletics: be at practice on time, be ready to work, study your playbook, work hard in the gym. At work: be on time, read and further your education in your field. At home: listen to your family members when they speak, if you say you will do something do it, give compliments. All these are examples of things that require not talent, just effort and they will make you successful in all different aspects of your life. Effort is life’s greatest equalizer. Be good at the things that require no talent and you will have success.

Until next time,

Strength, Courage, Hustle, Commitment

AJ Zeglen

A Little Extra This Off-Season

For years, both Stelio Mattheos and Nick Henry have skated with Dave Cameron to help in their off-season development.  They are two players that exemplify what it means to be a hockey player through their hard work, attitude and attention to detail.  It is those qualities that have allowed for both players to continually develop over the off-season months and have caught the eyes of NHL scouts.  Both players are ranked high by Central Scouting for the upcoming NHL Entry Draft to be held in Chicago June 23-24.

Nick Henry had a breakout season as a rookie with the Regina Pats finishing with 35 goals, 46 assists for 81 points in 72 games.  He is currently ranked 25th by central scouting. Nick participates in our Junior/College Summer Program.

Stelio Mattheos had a great season with the Brandon Wheat Kings where he finished with 26 goals, 35 assists for 61 points in 69 games.  Stelio also represented Canada after the WHL season with the U18 team as one of the assistant captains.  Mattheos had a great tournament with 4 goals in 5 games and was named one of Canada’s top 3 players. He is currently ranked 38th by Central Scouting.

We wish both players the best of luck in the upcoming entry draft.

– Dave Cameron

Interested in joining an off-season development program? Check out our Jets Hockey Development programs and camps.

Deep Squats and Random Thoughts

The question of how deep one should squat is always a topic of debate. There are many different factors that go into a properly performed deep squat such as strength, mobility, stability, mechanics and practicing the skill. If you can do these things well you can squat deep and despite what the naysayers might tell you it will be safe. Let’s debunk one of the main arguments that the anti-deep squat crowd will tell you, that squatting deep is hard on the knees, specifically the ligaments. When making this argument the main ligament called into question is the ACL. Now if we actually look at the numbers the section of the range of motion that puts the most stress on the ACL is the first 15-30 degrees. From there the amount of stress actually decreases as you go deeper. Even at the point of maximal stress on the ACL (15-30 degrees) the amount of stress is usually only about 25% of what the ACL is cable of handling. So as you can see the maximal stress comes quite early in the squat motion is not at a level that should be of any concern on a healthy knee.

The only thing you can control in your life is your effort. The outcome of your endeavors may not always be what you had hoped for, but never let that be because of your lack of effort. Your effort is who you are: how you work at your job, how you work at your relationships. People take note of the effort you put forth in all aspects of your life and either consciously or sub-consciously that effort becomes their perception of you. Your effort is how the world sees you and if you are honest with yourself, your effort will be how you quantify your own self-worth. An honest person cannot hide from their lack of effort. Even though your effort may not guarantee certain levels of success if your life, I do believe that people are inherently good and your effort will not go unnoticed by those who put equal effort into their life and relationships. While the accolades and monetary accumulations may happen, the respect and relationships formed will always be guaranteed. So be a good person, put the effort in.

– AJ Zeglen

Dave Cameron’s Guide On What to Expect as a Hockey Canada Skills Coach

I was extremely fortunate to be invited as a skills coach for the Under 17 Hockey Canada Development Camp from July 25th – 30th.  There were 111 players invited who were split into 6 teams for the camp.  I was working with 2 teams, Team Black  and Team Blue to help in their development as players.  A lot was asked of myself (working with the D men) and Daniel Tzaczuk (working with the forwards).

DHall of fameay 1 – July 25th

All the coaches, trainers, medical staff, mental performance staff and camp coaches arrived into Calgary.  We were transported to our dorm at the U of C and then to WinSport Arena home of Hockey Canada for welcome meetings and staff meetings. Our initial coaches meeting was held in the Hall of Champions which is like a room out of the Hockey Hall of Fame with all the trophies. It showed us that we were now at a different level and our coaching had to be at its best.  Our coaching staff had talked at length before out arrival, but this was the first meeting face
to face for many of us.  We met until late that night to make sure we were prepared for the player’s arrival.

Day 2 – July 26th

As players arrived into Calgary, we greeted them at the dorms.  We had a quick team meeting to lay out some ground rules and introduce our staff and then made our way to the WinSport Arena.  Throughout the evening, players went through physicals, equipment fitting, medicals, pictures, etc. As coaches, this was a great time for us to get to know some of the players a
nd put faces to a name. With many busy days ahead, the players were given their schedules to prepare, highlighting their on-ice sessions, off-ice testing, mental training, stress management, media training, equipment showings, nutrition, team video sessions and more.meeting

Day 3 – July 27th

Dan and I were asked to lead the first day of practice to “set the tone” for the week. We planned the first 30 minutes where Dan put the players through skill work. The following 30 minutes were built off of what Dan had done, having the D men and Forwards split to work through position specific drills. Players loved the tempo of the first skate and it really allowed us to break some of the nerves they had.

The second skate of the day had players going through their on-ice testing with players testing both with and without a puck in forward speed, backward speed, transition skating and weave agility.

Day 4 – July 28th

I was asked to lead the first 20 minutes of practice with dedicated work to lead into our offensive practice.  We focused on quick puck movement which worked well leading into the offensive rushes and regroups we were working on.  Assistant Coach Dave Struch (Regina Pats – WHL) did a great job to explain how our team would be looking to attack.  We finished the session with some work with the D men on finding shooting lanes and creating offense from the blue line.

After a busy day of lectures, players came back on the ice for their positional practice. Dan took all the forwards while I was able to work for 90 minutes with the 12 D men from Team Black and Team Blue. We focused on skating and mobility, puck movement (working to eliminate extra stickhandles), partner support and movement and shooting from the point (build off day 3). After a long day players were exhausted and ready for bed!

Day 5 – July 29th

Dan Tkaczuk was asked to lead the first 20 minutes of practice with topics that would lead into our defensive practice.  He focused on a lot of skating work followed by a quick stickhandling and shooting circuit. Chris Dennis (York University) lead a great practice focusing on tracking pucks, defensive positioning and defensive support.  This was a tough practice for some players as a few concepts were new but they learned quickly how important these skills were.

July 30The second session of the day was a small area games session where we had both Team Black and Team Blue on the ice.  Players played a variety of games with some 1 vs 1, 2 vs 2, 4 vs 4, face-off battles and even some PP and PK work.  Players worked extremely hard and competed for the full 90 min.

July 6 – July 30th

Game Day …. Starting with a morning skate for Team Black where the guys had an upbeat 30 minute skate followed by 15 min of positional work with the forwards and D men. Team Blue was next where they followed a similar set up for practice.  This was the end of our work in preparation as the rest was now up to the players to perform. Dan and I headed to the airport where we watched the game online. Both Team Black and Team Blue came away with wins.

The teams played 2 more days of games without the skills coaches present.  Team Black ended up winning the mini tournament with Team Blue finishing 4th. This was an incredible learning experience for me to be able to work in that environment. I am honored to have been able to help with Team Canada’s U17 preparation for the tournament in October.  I wish all the players all the best this upcoming season and we will be cheering loud from Winnipeg!

-Dave Cameron, Jets Hockey Development Head On-Ice Instructor & Program Manager

3 Strength Coaches You Should Be Following Right Now

With social media always presenting new avenues for people to connect the strength and conditioning industry has never been more popular. Like anything in life there is always bad with the good and there is a ton of really terrible information out there. The good news is there are some absolutely amazing people out there sharing their knowledge as well. Here are in my opinion three strength coaches that you have to follow:

  1. Eric Cressey: everyone has moments when someone flicks the switch and the light bulb goes off in your head and all of a sudden everything makes sense. For me this moment came almost ten years ago reading an e-book called “The Ultimate Off Season” by Eric Cressey. He is known as both the “baseball” and the “shoulder” guy and while he is the industry leader in both these fields his knowledge reaches far beyond that. He is extremely generous with the information he shares and everything he says will make you better. You can sign up for his free e-news letter at ericcressey.com, follow on Twitter: @EricCressey and Instagram: ericcresey. I strongly suggest you do all three.
  2. Jim Smith: is one half of the force behind Diesel Strength and Conditioning along with Joe DeFranco. Jim’s free e-news letter is my favourite read every week. He includes great strength and conditioning information that is often accompanied by videos and pairs it with great life lessons. His delivery of this is always on point and the positive way you are left feeling after reading his work will have you ready to crush everything you do that day both in and out of the gym. Check out the blog on dieselsc.com, sign up for his e-news letter, follow him on Twitter: @dieselstrength and on Instagram: smittydiesel.
  3. Jason Ferruggia: the man behind the Renegade army. Jason’s mix of knowledge on training, business, life and old school hip hop are top notch. His website jasonferruggia.com will direct you to all the gems that he has to offer including his blog, newsletter, Twitter, Instagram and my personal favourite his podcast appropriately named Renegade Radio. It’s one of the best podcasts I’ve ever heard and covers everything from training, business, life, and music with incredible guests that will give you knowledge to improve your life.

AJ Zeglen

The Benefits of Lifting Weights

There are many obvious benefits to a good strength and conditioning program. Increases in strength, speed, power, and conditioning are all great physical attributes that will put you in a better position to be successful in your chosen sport. But it is my belief that some of the best benefits lay just underneath the surface and although they aren’t as visible to outsiders they are the ones that will have the greatest positive impact on your life.

  1. Being good at the things that require no talent: Working out requires no talent. No one is born good at working out. It’s all about hard work. Show up, listen, pay attention to detail, work hard, give your best effort and you will find success in the gym. None of these things require talent, they are open to anyone and can be a great equalizer in your sport and in life.
  2. Mental toughness: Some of the things that you will experience in your work outs will bring you to your knees. But you will learn to disassociate with the pain, keep pushing and persevere. I call this “accepting the suck”, some things in life are going to suck but the ability to accept that it’s going to be hard and keep moving forward can change your life. It is a learned skill and you will find it in the gym. A close friend of mine calls squats the metaphor for life. You have all this weight on your shoulders pushing you down. You can either let it keep you there at the bottom or you can push and fight and stand back up.
  3. Confidence: the confidence that you develop going through battles in gym and coming out the other side are unparalleled. The combination of physical strength and mental fortitude that are required to complete certain workouts and programs will increase confidence to new heights. It will spread to all aspects of your life and make you feel like you can accomplish anything. And you can.
  4. You get what you put in: perhaps my favourite life lesson that the weights give you is what you put into something is what you get out. The weights never lie to you. If you haven’t put in the work they won’t move. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from. It doesn’t matter if you make ten dollars a year or a million. If there is a weight sitting on the floor in front of you and you haven’t put the work in you will not be able to pick it up. In a time when everyone is awarded for everything and everyone gets a trophy and people are given passes and moved through the system because no one wants to hurt anyone’s feelings the weights hold true. They don’t care about your feelings, they won’t pass you just because and they will always tell you the truth.
  5. Working out is for everyone: everyone has the ability to get stronger. Just like the weights won’t lie to you they also don’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter if you are short, tall, skinny, overweight, male, female, young, old or of any ethnicity or socio economic background. If you put the work in you will receive the positive benefits and results.

The lessons that can be learned in the gym through working can literally be life changing. I’ve seen this in many of the people I have trained over the last twelve years and in myself. You need resistance to shape character and you will find plenty of it in the gym, both physical and mental. All these benefits exist for everyone and they are waiting for you on the other side of those gym doors. So get it there, it’s yours for the taking. Strength, Courage, Hustle, Commitment.

AJ Zeglen

A Spring Season in Review

Stubby

Spring Hockey. Some parents search for teams with the highest winning percentage, or most exciting tournament destinations. Some who believe that Spring Hockey is truly about which team has the best group of parents to socialize with.

Jets Hockey Development Spring Program is taking a step away from the common spring hockey experience. We pride ourselves in a program that is always evolving and changing to adapt to the player’s needs. We feel that it is our responsibility to provide each player a valuable hockey experience. A program with experienced, knowledgeable coaches who respect the willingness to win, while understanding the importance and impact of long term development.

Our program is based off of a greater practice to game ratio rooted in continuous repetition of fundamental hockey skills, providing each player individual instruction to reach their goals within the season. All while providing an exciting, beneficial program that players can be excited to be a part of and parents can be proud to send their son or daughter to.

JHD Spring Hockey can be summarized in 2 words: Player Development.

This year’s spring season has just wrapped up for all of our Jets Hockey Development players, with 11 teams and 2 skill development programs. Here`s a little highlight of how the last few months went:

Practice

Teams excelled in a total of 18 training sessions, some of which were exhibition games, where they worked on individual skills including; skating, puck handling, passing and
shooting. Players were introduced to team concepts based on the age and level they played at. We were more than thrilled at the receptiveness of players to the teaching that was provided, which was echoed in the exhibition and tournament games.

1v1

Off-Ice Training

All 8 off-ice training sessions were held in our very own Focus Fitness. Players were introduced to how to make off-ice training a part of their regular routine. Players used the gym space for age appropriate workouts, improving their strength and flexibility.

Tournaments

All teams attended 2 tournaments this spring where they were able to put everything together. As some may have noticed with a varying display of results within our teams, it is often difficult to predict the level of teams in which you will come up against. Regardless of competition level, all teams showed their relentlessness through working hard, having fun and implementing the skills that were being taught in practice. We saw a huge improvement in the skill level of all the players, from week 1 to the end of the season.

Skills Groups

The two skills groups did an amazing job this spring in working to improve in skill specific practice session.  Many of these players unfortunately signed up late when rosters for teams were filled, but decided that dedicating their time in spring to work on their individual skills was going to be a huge benefit to their development.

skatingLooking Forward – Spring 2017

Looking forward to the 2017 spring program, we’re excited to have players return and work on developing their game.

We’d like all parents to keep an eye out for our evaluation skates, which will commence around the end of September. These evaluation skates are vital in helping your players secure a spot on one of our spring teams.

In order to make our program better, we will be offering a more consistent training schedule, be in close contact with potential tournaments to find appropriate level tournaments and our professional coaches will be leading all of our on and off-ice sessions.

Come join our Head Coaches Dave Cameron, Lee Stubbs, Nate Hatton and Dean Court for another great spring.

Teams for 2017
2004 Future Jets & Jr Moose
2005  Future Jets & Jr Moose
2006 Future Jets & Jr Moose
2007 Future Jets & Jr Moose
2008 Future Jets & Jr Moose
Skills Groups
2004-2006
2007-2008

“I can’t believe how much better my son got in a 7-week time span.” – Parent from 06’-08’ group

“This is our sons 3rd Spring at the Iceplex and has been by far the best development camp in my opinion.”- Parent from Moose Team

“The coaches were great and supportive to the children and their progression.” – Parent from Future Jets Team

“The on ice practices have been second to none and we really see a difference in our son.” –  Parent from Moose Program