July 28, 2011

From NEHJ: Choosing the right training coach critical

by Sean Skahan

Sean Skahan (photo: Anaheim Ducks)

Today’s hockey players are becoming bigger, stronger and faster while becoming more fit than they were in years past. In addition to young players participating in other sports, they also are participating in strength and conditioning programs at their own school, with their team or with private training companies in their communities.

Strength and conditioning for sports now has become a common necessity that really wasn’t around until recently. It now has become a business, as sometimes there are several training facilities in a neighborhood.

With the sports training market becoming saturated, there usually are several options when it comes to choosing one for your son or daughter. Like any other businesses, in my opinion, there are some good ones, some average ones and some not so good ones.

Here are some quick guidelines on making a selection for a strength and conditioning coach/personal trainer or company. These are based on observations and opinions about today’s hockey players and performance:

* Make sure that the trainer(s) has a degree from a four-year college/university. A master’s degree would be a plus. Preferably, their degree is in exercise science, kinesiology, biomechanics or any other major related to exercise and/or sports medicine.

* Make sure that the trainer is certified by a reputable certification agency. For strength and conditioning coaches or personal trainers who work with hockey players, the Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach (CSCS) certification from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) is probably the most reputable certification. Another good certification is any certification provided by the National Academy of Sports Medicine (N.A.S.M.).

* Ask for testimonials and/or references from athletes that they have coached. They should be able to provide current or past testimonials from people who have trained with them. If they can’t provide you with any testimonials, ask for references. If they can’t give you any references, find another trainer. Also, make sure that the trainer actually trained and worked with an athlete who they say they may have.

* Don’t get caught up in the “bells and whistles” about the facility. Most of the good strength and conditioning coaches and personal trainers out there can get results without the high-tech equipment that may be considered “hockey-specific.” Also, they may not need a large facility the size of a Wal-Mart.

In today’s world, it is easy for anyone to get a personal training certification from a non-reputable source and then partner up with someone with a lot of money and start a sports training business. I always would prefer an individual or company that started out with close to nothing and then grew their business by getting positive results from their athletes and clients.

As a parent who is paying for your child to participate in a strength and conditioning program, you must do your homework when trying to choose one. Hopefully, these guidelines and recommendations will help you make the right decision.

This article originally appeared in the July 2011 issue of New England Hockey Journal. Sean Skahan, a native of Quincy, Mass., is the strength and conditioning coach of the Anaheim Ducks. He is also part owner of www.HockeySc.com, the leading online hockey training resource. He can be reached at feedback@hockeyjournal.com.