Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Q&A: Mike Boyle

Earlier this year, we offered a post on BU’s renowned strength and conditioning coach Mike Boyle, noting that his presence and recognized achievement are among the reasons recruits make BU their college choice. Current freshman Alex Chiasson is an example, having told NHL.com ““Mike Boyle is there and he's known around the world for what he's done with hockey players."

In the following Q&A, posted with permission from New England Hockey Journal, Boyle shares some of the expertise that has made him a recognized thought leader in sports conditioning. It originally appeared in the publication’s October 2009 print edition.

Circuit Training: Q&A with ... BU's Mike Boyle

Michael Boyle is one of the world’s foremost educators in the areas of performance training, personal training and athletic rehabilitation, with a client list that reads like a “Who’s Who” of athletic success, both in New England and across the country.

Boyle has been involved in training and rehabilitation with a wide range of athletes, from stars in every major professional sport, to the U.S. Olympic women’s teams in soccer and ice hockey. In addition Mike has served as a consultant to some of the top teams in the NFL and NHL, as well as numerous Division 1 colleges, and has spent two decades on the staff at Boston University.

In 2007 and 2008, “Men’s Health” magazine named his Massachusetts facility, Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning, one of the top workout facilities in the U.S.

Boyle’s impact is now being felt globally through his Web site, www.strengthcoach.com, a top source of performance enhancement, and through the translation of his book, “Functional Training for Sports,” into Japanese, Chinese and German.

Q--What are the first things you tell a young player who’s new to your training program?
A--It depends on the player’s age. For young players we tell them it is about how they do things, not how much they lift. Young kids are often in the ego stage of, “How much can you bench press?” We need them to understand that they wear the skates on their feet and that lower body is where it’s at.

Q--If you had a list of a few top exercises to help young players improve their conditioning and injury prevention, what would they be?
A--Sprinting, jumping and single-leg squatting

Q--What’s one aspect of a strength and conditioning regimen that’s too often overlooked by hockey players?
A--What is often overlooked is lower-body training. It is amazing how many kids will lift on an upper body-only type program and tell you that skating is enough for their legs. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Q--What are the biggest changes in your field over the last five years?
A--The biggest changes in the past five years have been negative. Kids play all summer instead of training. The tournament organizers are getting rich and the players are getting worse. USA Hockey has recognized this and is trying to implement a new Development Model to try to get the horse in front of the cart again.

Five years ago we had most of the best young talent in Massachusetts on a training program. Now most of them are on the tournament circuit. There are no Mass. players going to the National Team Development Program this year. To me, that shows that we are failing to develop players with the current games-oriented approach.

Q--How much of a factor is fatigue in the third period and what can be done to combat it?
A--I think fatigue is a huge factor and it goes back to what we talked about above. Players who don’t train or have a structured offseason will have difficulty improving their conditioning. You need to push the body in training to improve conditioning.

Q--What are some of the best cool-down tips you can give players?
A--The best cool-down tip is actually a nutrition tip. Drink a high protein/high carbohydrate shake after every practice or game. There is no better time to get nutrients back in the body than right after a game or practice. We are fanatical about shakes with our BU players. Chocolate milk is a great simple post-game or post-practice drink.

Q--Nutritionally speaking, what do you recommend before or after games for players on the go?
A--For after, see above. For before, concentrate on food. Food does not come in a box or in a wrapper. The longer the ingredient list, the worse the food. Ask yourself when you eat, “Is it food?” Fast food is the lowest form of food. Avoid it whenever possible.

Q--What do you work on with players to increase their recovery time between games?
A--We have a set post-game routine. We ride a stationary bike for 6-8 minutes, foam roll to self-massage sore and tired muscles, and then we stretch and drink a shake. You can buy a 12-inch foam roller and keep it in your hockey bag.

Q--You’ve spent 21 years at BU. What was the most satisfying part of last year’s championship?
A--I think having my 10-year-old daughter with me the whole time. She got to see the games, be on the ice during the celebration and be in the team picture that you see everywhere. She’s the little girl in the right corner in the red jersey. When we won in 1995 I was relieved because it was our third final game of the ‘90’s. 2009 was special because we hadn’t been to a Frozen Four in a long time. It was also special because we had players like Jason Lawrence (Saugus, Mass) and John McCarthy (Andover, Mass.) on the team that I had known since elementary school.

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