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New Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Blue Jackets

An article from Blue about their new strength and conditioning coach.

Barry Brennan has moved on to Atlanta after the new hired Head Coach of the Blue Jackets has replaced the entire coaching staff with his own men. To me, Barry was an awesome guy with an exceptional knowledge of hockey and what it takes to play in the NHL.

Here are my thoughts on strength and conditioning/physical preparation coaches and head coaches..

As a strength and conditioning coach from high school through the highest level of professional sports, dealing with a head coach can be an issue from “our” standpoint.  Since the wins and loses fall on the Head Coach, he’s the boss and he’s been around a long time.  He has the experience with the game.  Our side of things are changing and many head coaches do not want to change with it.  A coach that is hard headed?  Not me!  Ha!  Yeah, especially here in Pittsburgh- land of the hard heads!

Strength Coaches or Sports Performance Coaches like Head Sports Coaches learn from mentors.  In many cases, very few coaches in sport look towards physical preparation of their sports performance athletes in a modern way.  In western Pennsylvania were football rules, 95% of the high schools are doing the same stuff that was done in the 1980’s.  Why?  Because “that’s what we did and we won”!  The coaches that have “sort of” adapted are using high end Division I football strength and conditioning programs that were samples given to them at football clinics.  There are to many reasons to list why this is wrong but I’ll touch on two of them.

#1 The high school football coaches do not have the experience to teach Olympic Lifts, Squats, Deadlifts, jumps/plyometrics, and bench(yes I said bench.  Benching with flared elbows is flat out wrong).

#2 From 9th grade to 12th graders, there may be 1 legitimate DI athletes in the entire high school football program.  The workouts that they are doing were designed for exceptional athletes(DI) who have trained at the highest level(year round) for several years under a DI football strength and conditioning coach. The advanced sports performance workouts that these collegiate athletes do are way more advanced than what 99.9% of high school athletes can handle.

Our job as a physical preparation coach is to balance our beliefs with the coaches style.  In hockey, it’s not smart to “bag skate” a team.  Why kill a team that just played four games in a tournament the day before?  It happens more than is doesn’t.  Where does that leave me in preparing for the ice hockey teams dry land or off ice training.  Each head coach has their own beliefs sometimes right, sometimes wrong.  I understand the science and what stresses the human body can handle in a given day, week, month, season.  Our job is to make sure that the athletes are 100% in an extremely physically demanding sport.  The dry land for ice hockey must be adapted accordingly.  I’m also a coach and understand the mental aspects like “mental toughness” that are more important than a bench press.

It’s tricky and not something that a typical hockey, football, baseball, lacrosse training athlete or parents understands.

Also take in mind that professional sports and are a business as are most high end DI sports.

The slope is slippy(some Pittsburgh eeze for yinz) my friends.

Original article from

Blue Jackets: He’s selling sweat equity

New strength and conditioning coach Kevin Collins wants to gain the players’ trust as he raises their fitness levels

Wednesday, August 18, 2010  02:52 AM

The Columbus Dispatch

Kevin Collins checks his stopwatch as Blue Jackets players take on the stairs inside Nationwide Arena. | <a href=

Fred Squillante | Dispatch
Kevin Collins checks his stopwatch as Blue Jackets players take on the stairs inside Nationwide Arena. | Video: Collins and the Blue Jackets at work

Jackets forward Jake Voracek works out in the weight room in Nationwide Arena.

Fred Squillante | Dispatch
Jackets forward Jake Voracek works out in the weight room in Nationwide Arena.

Blue Jackets prospect Trevor Frischmon, left, watches as strength coach Kevin Collins discusses a workout routine in the weight room.

Fred Squillante | Dispatch
Blue Jackets prospect Trevor Frischmon, left, watches as strength coach Kevin Collins discusses a workout routine in the weight room.

Blue Jackets center Tomas Kana works on a triceps exercise.

Fred Squillante | Dispatch
Blue Jackets center Tomas Kana works on a triceps exercise.

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  • Them’s The Rules

    August 18, 2010

    The two-day NHL Research, Development and Orientation camp began today in suburban Toronto. General manager Scott Howson along with most of his NHL peers are in attendance. Management teams are getting an early look at the top 2011 prospects as well as proposed rule changes and rink…

Six Blue Jackets players spent Friday running up and down the 40-step staircase leading to the Nationwide Arena concourse.

The sound of squeaking tennis shoes and grunting athletes echoed, and the T-shirts of Jake Voracek and Derick Brassard, among others, went from dry to damp to wet in 15 minutes.

Hanging from the brick wall above the perspiring players, a cartoon Roadrunner on a Time Warner Cable banner asked, “How fast are you going?”

But the man in charge, Blue Jackets strength and conditioning coach Kevin Collins, wasn’t concerned as much with the speed as the effort. And as he watched Brassard stumble to the ground only to rejoin the chase, Collins knew he was getting it.

“You are trying to push players to limits they have never reached before,” Collins said. “But you have to get them to trust you first. It’s a must in building relationships.”

The 28-year-old with the distinctive goatee won’t set forward lines or drastically influence personnel decisions. He is, however, one of the more intriguing hires of the offseason. Collins must win over players loyal to Barry Brennan, the former strength coach, while ensuring the club’s fitness level becomes a nonissue.

That wasn’t the case a season ago as the Blue Jackets finished 14th in the 15-team Western Conference. The conditioning of certain players was a story line throughout the season, and it reached a flashpoint in February when interim coach Claude Noel ranked the team’s overall fitness level as a three on a scale of 1 to 10.

General manager Scott Howson was left to determine the level of culpability among his players, Brennan and other coaches who might not have worked the team hard enough in practice. Howson chose not to renew Brennan’s contract.

Enter Collins, a former Division III college hockey player and minor-league strength coach the past five years.

The staff’s youngest member, Collins had known coach Scott Arniel from their days in the Buffalo Sabres’ organization. Collins, who has a degree in exercise physiology, earned recommendations from Sabres strength coach Doug McKenney and minor-league coach Kevin Dineen, a former Blue Jacket.

“(Collins) has been here for a month and he’s very organized,” Howson said. “He’s a hard worker who knows what he wants done and has strong beliefs in what he’s doing.”

Inside the Blue Jackets weight room, Collins barely raised his voice over the thumping music as he watched Derek Dorsett complete a core-building exercise on a slide board. Collins isn’t an instructor with bulging neck veins shouting encouragement during workouts, or one who is trying to revolutionize his profession.

Collins said that most other conditioning coaches use similar exercises, training techniques and nutritional approaches. He is simply getting to know his players and selling them on any subtle changes he makes.

Initial reports from the dozen young players and prospects training under Collins are positive. Jared Boll said he appreciates the intensity and difficulty of the workouts.

Running the arena stairs 12 times in 30-second intervals each Friday certainly has caught the players’ attention.

“I’ve gotten to know him and I trust him,” said Boll, who has added 10 pounds to his 6-foot-4 frame in the offseason.

Collins’ next task is gaining the respect of veterans such as R.J. Umberger, one of the club’s most well-conditioned athletes.

“From what I hear, he’s a good guy with a lot of great ideas,” Umberger said. “For a lot of us it was tough to see Barry go. I’m going to be honest with you, he’s one of the best strength coaches in the league. He’s a friend and someone I will stay in touch with.”

Collins ultimately will be judged on the Blue Jackets’ record, third-period efforts and energy exhibited in the second night of back-to-back games.

“Going to a new team there will always be challenges,” Collins said. “It’s never easy going into new relationships, but it’s nothing I haven’t dealt with before.”

There are no express elevators to the top for 14th-place clubs – just lots of steps.

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