Keith Yandle discusses his adjustment with Rangers, Mackenzie Skapski makes second start at Buffalo Sabres
BY Pat Leonard
New York Daily News
Saturday, March 14, 2015
BUFFALO – The Rangers are winning, but Keith Yandle’s(MASTP, Cushing Academy) adjustment admittedly hasn’t gone smoothly since his deadline trade from Arizona to the Big Apple.
“It’s different coming into a situation with such a good team, you’re trying to find your place and role,” Yandle said after practice in Arlington, Va., on Friday. “It’s a good situation, but you get comfortable in a situation in Phoenix. I had been there a while. So now I’m feeling it out, trying to get used to guys’ style of play. Especially for me, it’s figuring out knowing where guys are going to be or want to be (on the ice).”
Yandle has no points through five games, and he has struggled at times in his own zone. But his most difficult transition has occurred on the power play.
Yandle has played 19 minutes and 25 seconds on the power play through five games, and he has been credited with only one shot on goal – one – during that time. He has nine shots total, but the other eight have come on even strength.
Granted, he is known more for his passing ability than his shot (four goals, 37 assists this season in Arizona), but his reluctance to shoot has been odd, particularly since he’s often been the open man after an offensive-zone set-up and simply passed up the chance.
“I haven’t played with any of these guys, so you’ve got to know and figure out where guys want the puck,” Yandle said. “Obviously one of my strengths is finding guys (with passes), but the best power plays get shots to the net, and the guys are creating good traffic. If there a lane to shoot, you have to shoot it and look to make plays after that.”
Yandle said, however, that he loves being a Ranger on a team with “so much skill where the guys work so hard. You have that luxury (of skill), but the will and effort is there, too … The team is 100 percent in on A.V.’s system. You can tell guys have bought in.”
Yandle said Vigneault’s system is much different than the one he came from in Arizona, mainly in the Rangesr’ emphasis on playing defense but once possession turns, it’s “get the puck and go.”
Yandle’s best play as a Ranger probably was his poke-check of the puck off the stick of Islanders forward Kyle Okposo on a rush in Tuesday night’s 2-1 win on Long Island. He has looked lost at times in the defensive zone, but on even strength his best attribute has been that first-pass ability, the look up ice to keep the pace moving.
As for the power play, coach Alain Vigneault finally allowed on Friday that his man advantage is lacking, but he reaffirmed his confidence that the momentum will turn.
“Power plays, they go in stretches,” Vigneault said. “I look at some of our last power plays the last couple games, we’ve had some real good looks. Right now, obviously, maybe the sticks are a little bit tight. Maybe we’re not taking the shot at the right time when that opportunity is there. But I’m very confident in that group, and I know we’ll get it done.”
Here is more of what I wrote on the power play and Yandle a couple days ago. On Friday, Vigneault continued practicing with two power play units that featured his top two lines: Rick Nash, Derick Brassard and Mats Zuccarello on one, and Chris Krieder, Derek Stepan and Martin St. Louis on the other. He has alternated the point pairs, so they can work with either forward group: Ryan McDonagh and Yandle are a tandem (both lefties), and Dan Girardi and Dan Boyle are another pair (both righties).
New York Daily News 03.15.2015
Hall headed for the top
March 29, 2010
Taylor Hall is rated as the 1st pick in this years NHL Draft & just like the last 2 1st picks in the NHL Draft Steve Stamkos & Jon Tavares, Hall did NOT skate 12 - months a year. He took time off from hockey & skating.
Taylor Hall is a proponent of
taking some time away from the game
after the season
to keep from burning out.
He used pre - season schools to rev his game back up for the year.
"I know after I was done hockey season,
I always took a long break,"
Hall noted. "And when it was time to get back into hockey season I always couldn't wait to get back on the ice."
The 18 - year - old Windsor Spitfire never attended specialized power skating or stickhandling schools,opting instead for the all - around approach that included
drill and scrimmage aspect.
Hall understands that in order to reach your potential you need time off physically & mentally. This is why there are no on ice sessions in the Massachusetts Satellite Training Program for 12 & 13 year old players until July 5.
If skating & practicing on ice was the optimal method to train, we would have on ice sessions, but it is not. In fact it is often regressive.
In Europe rinks close from mid - April through early August, so there are no 12 or 13 year olds skating or playing hockey in Europe. No hockey players of any age are skating. If skating 12 months a year worked the Europeans would do it.
Why don't they do it? Answer: It is not developmental. Playing 12 months a year does not allow for time off, the playing of other sports & training, so playing hockey 12 months a year is recreational hockey.
How many Massachusetts Hockey players have been led to believe that they should skate 12 months a year only to fall short of their individual potential?
Here is an excerpt from Dave King's book. He describes Evgeni Malkin, when he was 19 years old, before he became the 2008 - 2009 Stanley Cup champion and MVP runner -up.
King of Russia: Dave King.
A year in the Russian Super League
With Eric Duhatschek
Speaking of coaching Evgeni Malkin:
Unquestionably, he's going to be a great player. He's about 6'3” and very linear in terms of build.
Athletically, he's extremely gifted. Not only is he a great hockey player, but
he's also our best soccer player
an incredible tennis player.
His body awareness is something to behold…And as with all great players, his eyes are always up and he sees the game one or two plays ahead at all times.
Whitney fitting in with Oilers
Defenceman will play Friday against the team he didn't fit in on
By DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency
Ryan Whitney(MASTP 1996 - 2001) enjoyed his time in Anaheim, even though things never quite seemed to fit.
A first round pick accustomed to playing big minutes in important situations, Whitney got a little lost in the shuffle with the Ducks and eventually became expendable, getting shipped off to the Oilers just prior to the NHL trade deadline.
“I think kind of from the day I got there, (head coach) Randy (Carlyle) didn’t like me very much,” said Whitney.
“I just kind of got that vibe. It’s not that he didn’t like me as a guy, but I don’t think he liked me as a player.
“I was playing a lot, it’s not that there was an issue with ice time, I just never seem to fit his mould. (GM) Bob Murray said it best when he called me and told me that it wasn’t working out.”
A former fifth overall pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Whitney was traded to Anaheim in February last season. On Friday, he’ll be going up against his former team for the first time when the Oilers play host to the Ducks in the final game of a four-game homestand.
“I did enjoy my time there, I made a lot of friends there,” Whitney said.
“It’s always nice to play against the guys you became friends with and played a lot of games with. It’s always pretty fun. I think it’ll be a good game — they have to win games to try and get into the playoffs — so it will be nice to try and beat them and play the spoiler.”
Whitney, 27, still stays in touch with some of his Ducks teammates. While not playing on the first defensive paring in Anaheim,the native of Boston( Thaye Academy & BU) was still a little surprised to be moved at the deadline.
“I wasn’t counted on as a guy to play against other teams’ top line, I was playing against the second line,” he said.
“They had Scottie Niedermayer there and last year they had Niedermayer and (Chris) Pronger.
“When Bob called me and told me I was traded, I was curious about it and he just said that it just wasn’t working. Those were his exact words. Take that however you want, but that was the situation there.”
With the Oilers, Whitney is the top defenceman.
He’s playing on the top pairing with Tom Gilbert, gets first-team power play minutes and is the first guy over the boards to kill penalties.
“He came up in a real good organization (Pittsburgh) and he really looked good with other skilled guys around. He could pass the puck and he has range,” said Oilers head coach Pat Quinn. “He had lots to learn about the defensive side of the game, but he looks to be improved over his years of playing.
“I’m happy to have him because I like how he passes the puck. My picture of a strong defenceman is someone that can get the puck out of trouble fast, not by carrying it necessarily, but by being able to move it.”
Whitney looked at the trade to Edmonton as an opportunity to make a fresh start with a team dependant on his services.
“Yeah I do,” he said. “It’s tough not being in the playoff this year.
“I think at this point next year we can at least still be battling for a spot.
“When you’re rebuilding, you can never expect to jump from worst to first, but at the same time, if you get some good young guys in here, you get a new start, and I think we’ll be a much better team next year. It’s exciting.”
By Vern Gambetta,
Gambetta Sports Training Systems, Sarasota, FL
Today we have better performances that we have ever had, but there are more injuries and fewer athletes able to sustain high performance levels for an extended career. What is missing? It is athleticism. We know it when we see it! We talk about it, but do we develop it? What is it? Lets begin by defining the term. Athleticism is the ability to execute athletic movements at optimum speed with precision, style and grace in the context of the sport or activity.. It is easy to see when someone has it.
Despite our apparent progress we have increased specialization and sacrificed overall athleticism. We are lead to believe it is an either-or proposition. Produce a better athlete or produce a better pitcher or basketball player with refined specific skills. Ultimately the goal is to produce the best possible athlete who does a particular sport. This will enhance performance and reduce injury.
With the same amount of training time available is it possible to train to improve athleticism without sacrificing specific skill training. We need to eliminate the distinction; the two are not mutually exclusive. They are co-dependent and intertwined, one enhances the other. There is time within the context of the existing structure to fit in athleticism components, It needs to be made a priority.
Sometimes we overlook the obvious. In the incessant search to improve sport performance we have gotten away from the essence of it all. The foundations for athleticism are basic coordinative abilities. According to Drabik (Children & Sports Training) the coordinative abilities are:
Balance – Maintenance of the center gravity over the base of support, it is both a static and a dynamic quality.
Kinesthetic Differentiation – Ability to feel tension to in movement to achieve the desired movement.
Spatial Orientation – The control of the body in space.
Reaction to Signals – The ability to respond quickly auditory, visual and kinesthetic cues.
Sense of Rhythm – The ability to match movement to time.
Synchronization of Movements in Time – Unrelated limb movements done in a synchronized manner.
Movement Adequacy – Ability to choose movements appropriate to the task.
The coordinative abilities are all closely related. They are the underlying foundation for and the prerequisite for technical and sport skills. Once the coordinative abilities are developed better athleticism is sure to follow. It is imperative to look for every opportunity to incorporate elements of athleticism in all aspect of training. Specific sport skills are a combination of patterns of complex motor programs. Though experiencing all different patterns of movement we learn to let things happen. We learn to let the motor program run. We cue an action that will result in a “chain reaction” of efficient movement.
There must be a spontaneity and anticipation, not a robotic programmed approach in teaching and coaching movement. It has been my experience that athletes will find their own best way of doing something if they are put in a position where they have to adapt. Give them increasingly difficult movement problems to solve. They are very adaptable. We need to encourage an extemporaneous approach much like a great jazz musician improvises.
Several factors have caused a decline in athleticism:
Early specialization in one sport has contributed to the decline in athleticism.. The choice is to produce better athletes or produce highly specialized athletes with a skill ranges very specific to their sport. Ultimately the goal is to produce the best athletes with a broader range of motor skills developed through free play and exposure to many varied motor programs not highly specialized robots.
One sided training with an emphasis on one or two components of performance rather than a blend. The components of performance and therefore training are: speed, strength, stamina, suppleness, skill and recovery. There is a synergistic relationship between all components so all components must be trained during all phases of the year in varying combinations.
Monkey See – Monkey Do Syndrome. Just because an athlete has been successful with a particular training method does not mean that the method is the best or should be copied, many athletes are successful in spite of, not because of their training. Make sure that what you are doing is based on sound training principles and a good progression.
“Nobody gets hurt, but nobody gets better.” Training that is so conservative or narrow that the athlete is never challenged. The justification for many machine oriented strength training programs is that they are “safe.” In fact, because they fail to challenge the athleticism of the athlete they might actually predispose the athlete to injury.
Training must have a purpose that will transfer the training to the sport. With a base of athleticism specific training will be even more purposeful. The basis of training athleticism is rooted in running, jumping and throwing which encompass the whole spectrum of human movement. The body is a link system referred to as the kinetic chain. Athleticism training is all about linkage – it is all about how all the parts of the chain working together in harmony to produce smooth efficient patterns of movement. The brain does not recognize individual muscles. It recognizes patterns of movement, which consist of the individual muscles working in harmony to produce movement.
The fact is that we live, work and play in a gravitationally enriched environment, it cannot be denied. Over reliance on machines will give us a false sense of security because they negate some of the effects of gravity. Gravity and its effect must be a prime consideration when designing and implementing a functional training program or we are not preparing the body for the forces that it must overcome. We cannot ignore gravity, it is essential for movement. It helps us to load the system. Therefore we must learn to overcome its effects, cheat and even defeat it occasionally.
Understanding and training athleticism is a challenging process. It demands creativity and imagination. It is often contrary to conventional wisdom as represented in current mainstream sport science research that emphasizes specificity and measurable outcomes. Do not be limited by conventional wisdom use it as a staring point and move forward while thinking and acting outside the box. You and your athletes will enjoy the day to day challenges of training with the results a higher injury free performance level.
Coach Ward Speaks To Satellite Players
This article was written by Tom Sullivan, Asst. Director of Off Ice Training. He can be contacted at
or at 781-831-3901.
On Saturday June 20th, The Satellite program had the privilege of listening to Bruins Coach Geoff Ward address the group for about 10 minutes. Coach Ward’s resume is extensive and can be found on the Boston Bruins website under coaching staff. Coach Ward touched on a number of topics and I wanted to take this opportunity to review the points he made.
Coach began his talk with observations of the Satellite program thus far. His opening points touched on the quality of instruction that the kids are receiving as well as the direction they receive from Mike Lalor. If you have not had the opportunity to take a look at the MASTP website, please take a look under the staff page. How many programs do you know of that have a 12 year NHL veteran and Stanley Cup winner at the helm and a group of instructors on the cusp of entering professional careers?
Coach then went on to speak about the importance of training. He mentioned that one of the biggest issues that the Bruins have when they acquire a new player is their training habits. The simply don’t know how to train like athletes, having spent the majority of their time training like bodybuilders. The training foundation that the STP participants are receiving at this time in their career is setting them up for athletic success in the future. Coach Ward then went on to name three points that I believe were the main takeaways from his talk.
As an NHL coach, he mentioned three things that make up a successful player in the league (as well as at any level). The three points are as follows:
1. Ability: Do you have the ability to play at a baseline level that will make you competitive against your opponents? Can you skate well? Do you have speed? Can you pass? Shoot? Play physical?
Application: Currently at this point in their careers, STP players should not spend the bulk of their time worrying about their ability. As they progress in their careers, ability is something that will be developed through practice and repetitions.
2. Attitude: Do you have a great work ethic? Are you a good person away from the rink? Overall do you have a good attitude? Is having a good attitude going to make you a good player? Probably not. But if you are a borderline player and a great guy or gal, you might make the team over the player who is a jerk.
Application: In my opinion, STP participants are at a crucial phase in developing a positive outlook on sports, training, and life in general. You may not realize this, but even at a young age, coaches are paying close attention to your attitude. How do you think it looks when we call the group together and explain the training plan and you hear “total body station with Coach Sullivan” and you start rolling your eyes or complaining and moaning to your buddies? Do you realize that I can name every kid who stays after to pick up everyone else’s trash or pucks or help load the car up? The only kids’ names that I know are the ones who consistently come and work their tail off and never complain.
3. Intelligence: Sometimes this is called hockey IQ. Do you know where you are supposed to be on the ice? When different situations arise, do you know your options? Are you the type of player that coaches refer to as “really smart on the ice” or “she sees the ice really well”. If not, you should be.
As he wrapped up his talk, Coach Ward talked about the virtues of having fun while playing and training, trying as many sports as you can, and giving the mind and body a break. Take some time to really think about all of these points and see where you can get better.
Play sports to develop athleticism
By Jack Blatherwick
As spring arrives, serious hockey players should plan for off-ice training that will produce the greatest results —the most bang for your buck. This does not mean that training should start right now or that it must be in the form of structured workouts. Playing fun sports that are explosive and athletic would be a great way to invest your energy this spring. This is a feature of the USA Hockey program that is excellent advice.
Lacrosse, soccer, track, basketball and tennis require, and therefore develop, athleticism that transfers to hockey: quickness, agility, speed, coordination, strength, explosive power, endurance, body control, core stability and dynamic balance. Keep this list in front of you while you plan, because NHL stars have an incredible combination of athleticism and skill, and most of them developed this playing other sports.
Unfortunately, after they are established in the NHL, their off-season training is not as athletic as when they were young, unless they train in Moscow. Too often, they start losing these qualities before they should. This shortens careers unnecessarily and exposes them to muscular injuries that may not be an NHL epidemic if players trained less on a bike, less in the weight room, and played more explosive sports like tennis, racquetball, squash and handball.
For your own sake, do not mis-interpret my words. The weight room is an important part of the summer program for NHL’ers; and it should be part of your development at the right age. But it is a small part of the overall program; yet the trend is to spend too much time in the weight room, and not enough on integrated athleticism and skills. Most NHL’ers did it right to get where they are, but once they are established, training takes a serious nosedive, even though they work very hard.
INTEGRATED ATHLETICISM: this is the dynamic result when athletes put all the elements together at once, the kind of athleticism we saw on the basketball court when Michael Jordan dominated. It’s the kind of integrated package we see in a Kobe Bryant, a Randy Moss, Larry Fitzgerald, Pavol Datsyuk, Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Jenny Potter, Krissy Wendell, Natalie Darwitz or Marta Vieira da Silva.
Some, who know basketball believe Michael Jordan was the greatest of all time. He wasn’t the greatest shooter, but he could really shoot. He didn’t have the greatest vertical jump or fastest sprint time, but darn close. His greatness was in his ability to integrate all his athletic qualities with his skills, and make sudden, unexpected adjustments in the midst of moving obstacles — monsters like Shaq, for example. The greatest hockey players do the same thing while maintaining puck control and getting off shots in situations that average players cannot.
In other words, they put all the pieces together at once. That’s integrated athleticism, and the more your workouts are integrated, not separated (compartmentalized), the more likely your results will be athletic and skillful like Jordan. Close your eyes for 10 seconds, and picture your favorite athlete in a game; then make plans to move your training more in this direction.
Of course, there are elements that need to be separated at times to really increase the intensity of the stimulus. For example, this is where the weight room is important for strength — or sprinting for quick feet. However, it’s doubtful that an over-emphasis on compartmentalized training could ever produce a Michael Jordan or Alex Ovechkin. It certainly never has.
Unfortunately, compartmentalized training is what the ‘experts’ recommend, because one or another of the compartments happens to be their expertise. This is why NHL’ers fall into this trap once they become wealthy, because there is a lot of money to be made selling each piece separately.
Imagine this extreme example: machines are invented, so that someone can sit practically motionless and strengthen muscles without the integrative involvement of areas in the spinal cord and brain that are critical for coordination of Jordanesque movement — as if strength, not athletic movement, is the objective.
There is a lot more to moving your body quickly and with poetic athleticism than simply making each muscle stronger, especially if the muscles are not moving your body during training the way it moves in games. Do not fall into this trap at a young age. It really doesn’t hurt NHL players much between the ages of 20 and 30, except for their groin/hip injuries. As they get older, however, they should be training the way they did as kids — not like middle-aged potbellies at the fitness centers.
This is why kids (and their parents/coaches) should not ask an NHL player how he trains. What you want to know is how he got there.
Make sure your strength is integrated into athletic movement — that your endurance matches the metabolic demands of a game. Don’t buy into the compartmentalized endurance workouts that ‘experts’ recommend, workouts that are isolated as either aerobic or anaerobic training, but not both at the same time.
As a parting note that will really upset the ‘experts,’ I believe core training for youth hockey players should be integrated as quick, explosive, agile activities like tennis, or soccer, lacrosse, football or basketball, not the fads that are sold as core training.
In other words, participate in other sports.
Sprinting: the surest off-ice training to improve skating quickness
By Jack Blatherwick
Advice from many sources is abundant, and often misleading. To understand how to prioritize offseason training, I wish every youngster could see up close an NHL practice and dryland workout. World-class hockey skills and athleticism are obvious in this setting, and they can be hidden by bulky equipment and game conditions when players are seen from the 30th row of an arena.
Stick skills and skating are exceptional, and should never take a back seat to any other form of training. To develop as a player, it is not possible to spend too much time in these areas. Skating experts may not like the skating style of some players, but our tests from 30 years show that superior skating speed, agility and acceleration are required to play college or professional hockey. Besides unique mental qualities, NHL stars have superior multi-tasking abilities, putting skills and athleticism together at once, while their eyes and mind are busy making quick, creative decisions.
One of the most important athletic qualities is skating quickness. So here is an important fact — and there are not many invariant facts in exercise science: players who accelerate quickly on skates are also quick sprinters over a short distance. The shorter the sprint, the better the correlation to on-ice acceleration.
Without exception, we find high correlations like the one shown in the graph below for a professional team (r=0.86), and this is typical of every team (every age) tested in 30 years. Given the number of times this result has occurred, the probability that it would not occur with the next team tested is about one in several trillion.
A recent published study concluded that the relationship between sprinting and skating speed was only valid at younger ages, but speeds were timed with a stop watch. With all due respect, the authors might just as well have used a sun dial. I offer this acerbic, rather unprofessional criticism for one reason: kids would be misled if these conclusions were not challenged.
Besides mathematical probability, the photo below of Kyle Okposo (N.Y. Islanders) and Rodney Glass (Arizona State) shows a remarkable similarity in the first few strides. One difference of course: skaters must externally rotate their ankle and hip, but computer analysis verifies the two-dimensional similarity in biomechanics. After the first few strides, skating and sprinting become progressively different at higher speeds, and perhaps this is why coaches have failed to advise youngsters that sprinting is an important training tool.
As velocity increases, skating thrust is directed more to the side (so arm swing must also be across the body), while sprinting posture becomes more upright, and there are changes in the nature of force production. So the biomechanical similarity holds only for the initial acceleration, which is of course, most important for hockey.
Any hockey player, at any age, who wants to be a quicker skater should do quality short sprints. Longer sprints may be helpful in developing quick feet, and certainly sprinting is a good way to prevent hip flexor injuries. Allow plenty of rest, so each sprint is as fast as possible. Example: for a thirty meter sprint, allow 30-60 seconds rest — the more quality, the less endurance.
This is not just mathematical and biomechanical inference. In testing hundreds of players before and after significant skating improvement (over various periods of time) each one who showed improvement in sprinting acceleration also improved skating acceleration.
Sprinting is vastly under-rated as a training tool, perhaps because it is not so easy to collect an exorbitant fee for this advice. This is an incredible oversight, because there is absolutely no other training modality that has such compelling statistical implications.
In plain English, skating quickness, agility and speed are essential for playing at a higher level, and there is no known off-ice training regimen that is as likely to improve skating quickness as quality, short sprints. Is it best to combine this with hockey-specific leg strength and explosive power? And should skating practice be included? Absolutely.
Copyright 2009 Gale Group, Inc.
All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2009 Weider Publications
Joe Weider's Muscle & Fitness
June 1, 2009
SECTION: Pg. 124(5) Vol. 70 No. 6 ISSN: 0744-5105
HEADLINE: Not another teen uproar: high school athletes are infatuated with sports supplements. But when it comes to their anxious coaches and protective parents, where's the common ground? We open a roundtable debate that covers all sides of this controversial topic;
Few topics are more controversial than that of teenagers and their use of sports-nutrition supplements.
With the general public still whipped into a frenzy over the various doping scandals in professional sports and the mainstream media too willing to lump protein powders and creatine in with illicit drugs, it's no wonder parents and coaches are more than a little confused.[paragraph] There have always been plenty of critics and paranoid skeptics throwing around hot-button phrases. Instead of getting caught upin hyperbole, we decided to gather a panel of diverse experts who live and work at the front lines of this debate. Along with our own twocents, we hope their insight provides a guide toward the best choices for teens looking to take their athleticism to the next level.
what's your biggest concern regarding teenagers and supplements?
FAIGENBAUM: "Definitely safety. Their bodies are still developing, growing and maturing. When it comes to any supplement, I'm more interested in the long-term health effects. Unfortunately, if you look at the science behind many products, most of the research has been done on adults. Just because a supplement has been found to be safe and effective for a college-level football player doesn't mean we can assume it's also safe for a teen."
SHAO: "I would say responsibility. From a social standpoint, the real question is, 'Are teenagers mature enough to follow product directions appropriately and in a responsible manner?' Granted, this applies to any consumer product, but it definitely pertains to dietary supplements as well."
STOUT: "I'm concerned about teens who rely on a supplement first, and diet and exercise second. If a teenager turns to supplements as acrutch, he could develop bad overall habits that might make him more likely to look for the same quick-fix response with other drugs as an adult."
NITKA: "I'd say lack of education. Their belief is that supplements are better than food. It try to educate them, [telling them] that if their diets aren't adequate, if their training is sporadic, if their intensity is too low, then they're not ready for supplements. But it simply doesn't match what these kids see on TV. They're always looking for a shortcut, and that's how many view supplements."
M&F SAYS: We agree with Stout: The focus should be on training and a whole-foods nutrition plan. If you have poor training and eating habits to begin with, you have bigger problems to tackle than choosing which supplement to take. Only after consistently training and following a solid nutrition plan to the point where a plateau is reached is it okay for kids to consider adding some basic supplements to their regimens.
If a teen is on top of his diet and training, which supplements doyou recommend?
M&F SAYS: The best supplements for teens to consider are those that are simply a concentrated form of a nutrient they already get in fairly large quantities in their diets. This means amino acids--including branched-chain amino acids, glutamine, beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) and creatine, which is actually an amino acid-based supplement--and protein powders or bars, healthy fats such as fish oil, and vitamins, minerals and other antioxidants."
SHAO: "A multivitamin, first and foremost. It has been shown that on average, Americans come up short in achieving recommended intakes of a variety of nutrients, especially vitamins C, D and E, calcium, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids. There's less research on teenagers, but anecdotal evidence suggests that they're even more deficient because their dietary habits are much worse."
FAIGENBAUM: "Agreed. Also, in terms of hydration, I'm well aware that teenagers drink more flavored beverages than water. If a teenager prefers a sports drink, that's fine so long as he keeps in mind how many calories he's consuming."
Are there any supplements you discourage teens from using?
NITKA: "For me, something is safe only after I've found enough information about it in scientific literature. When a teen asks me abouta supplement, I encourage him to prove to me why he should take it. He may still take it, but at least that challenges him to first do his homework. However, I'm concerned about energy drinks being used to improve performance."
SHAO: "There's nothing specific that gives me cause for concern from a safety standpoint. Regarding energy drinks, there really isn't any need for teenagers to use them. It's their off-label use--exceeding the amount recommended--that might pose a problem, but that would be so for anybody, not just teens."
FAIGENBAUM: "In my view, under no circumstances should an adolescent ever take any type of prohormone or testosterone-booster such as DHEA [dehydroepiandrosterone] or and rostenetrione. A teenager's physiology is dynamic, and anything that manipulates his hormone levels should be off-limits."
STOUT: "I agree with several points. I don't believe in energy drinks because most contain stimulants that can cause various side effects, especially an increase in blood pressure. I also don't like any supplement that's druglike, such as anything that binds to receptors and causes a metabolic reaction. All of these prohormone products and estrogen-blockers should be avoided by growing kids. I prefer supplements that contain ingredients that aren't metabolic and are either absorbed if needed or excreted, such as protein, carbohydrate drinks, creatine, amino acids, HMB and CLA [conjugated linoleic acid]."
M&F SAYS: We all seem to be in agreement here: Teens should avoid supplements that contain stimulants, as well as supplements that alter hormone levels like testosterone. A teen's brain and body is still in the developmental stage. Stimulants and supplements that alter hormone levels can have harmful effects on developing body systems, which can have a long-term negative impact on teens' health and well-being. For example, there's some compelling data on the impact of stimulants on an adolescent's propensity to addiction. We are just as concerned about the gratuitous and apparently acceptable socialization of coffee and energy-drink consumption among adolescents as we are with the number of adolescents who may experiment with prohormones.
Are there other specific issues that teenagers bring to the table?
STOUT: "Lack of guidance is an issue. If their child is really trying to reach some sort of goal--improved athletic performance or lean muscle gain--parents need to keep a close eye on the ingredients in the products their teen wants to take. If they don't understand them, they should ask a professional if it's something they should be concerned about."
FAIGENBAUM: "I agree, but my research has shown that very few teenagers turn to a physician for information on supplements. Instead, they make the mistake of conferring with their peers. That's a huge problem in my opinion. I want young athletes asking [parents,] coaches and teachers about supplements instead of asking their friends or searching the Internet, mainly because there's so much misinformation out there."
M&F SAYS: The argument that teenagers should turn to physicians, parents, coaches and teachers assumes that the aforementioned have specialized knowledge on the topic, and they rarely do. Thus, when a kiddoes go to these folks, he often gets the "just don't do it" advice or is given misinformation based on the adult's own lack of specialized knowledge. That's why kids turn to their friends and the Internet. Instead, isn't it far better that they get advice from a magazine capable of providing quality information because it actually has an editor in chief who's finishing his PhD in exercise physiology and a science editor who did his PhD post-doc in cellular and molecular physiology at Yale University School of Medicine?
Why is it so difficult to find data on teens and supplements?
STOUT: "There have been a lot of studies performed to see how children react to certain nutrients. But it's much harder to gain permission to test supplements in children, which is why you see less data. Whenever you consider performing research on a specific population, you must have a solid hypothesis and an outcome that could benefit society. If you were asking permission to study a supplement's effect on muscular dystrophy, it's considered worth investigating because the benefits outweigh the potential risks. But getting permission to study a supplement's effect on teen athletes doesn't meet the same acceptance, mainly because it's not considered a benefit to society."
Any final advice for teens considering supplements?
NITKA: "First and foremost, they need to focus on diet. I do a diet analysis on teens interested in supplements, then show them which foods would fill any deficiencies that could be holding back their performance. It's time-consuming, but this information helps them begin to understand the solid nutrition an athlete needs to have in place, so they're not relying on just swallowing a pill or throwing back a drink."
FAIGENBAUM: "I agree. It's not what they take, it's what they do. If they're dehydrated, eat poorly or don't train properly, their performance drops a certain percentage. But if they can focus on sensiblenutrition, proper hydration, adequate sleep and a well-designed, periodized training program, the gains they could expect might range from 3%-Io%, which far exceeds anything a teenager might get from takinga legal supplement. It's money in the bank."
SHAO: "I always want to make sure the parents are involved as muchas possible when it comes to supplements. Just as they should be responsible for shaping their child's behavior, they should be equally responsible for helping educate their kid on the proper use of these products."
STOUT: "If [your child is] using a product that's safe for teens, make sure he's actually training while using it. Some teenagers believe that just taking a supplement yields results. Even though certain substrate nutrients can accelerated and/or enhance the benefits of training, if you're not exercising in the first place, no supplement iseffective. Period."
M&F SAYS: The bottom line is dietary supplements are just that: nutrients that supplement your diet. The primary focus should be training and diet. When you add supplements to an already strong training and nutrition plan, the results you see will be that much more dramatic.
RELATED ARTICLE: EXPERT PANEL
JEFFREY R. STOUT, PhD, FACSM, FNSCA, FISSN Vice president of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), assistant professor in the department of health and exercise science at the University of Oklahoma (Norman)
ANDREW SHAO, PhD Vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs for the Council for Responsible Nutrition (Washington, D.C.)
MIKE NITKA, MS, CSCS
Chairman of the High School NSCA Special Interest Group, head strength and conditioning coach at Muskego High School (Wisconsin)
AVERY FAIGENBAUM, PhD
Founder of strongkid.com, associate professor of health and exercise science at The College of New Jersey (Ewing)
CHRIS LOCKWOOD, MS, CSCS & JIM STOPPANI, PhD
MUSCLE & FITNESS' editor in chief and senior science editor, respectively
BY THE M&F STAFF
40 The percentage of daily calories that most teens reportedly consume in the form of snacks after they eat dinner
The Great One's message to parents: Let your kids have fun;
It's important for children to play other sports,
says Gretzky after a spate of young stars have lost their desire for hockey
BYLINE: ERIC DUHATSCHEK
He doesn't pretend to have all the answers about youth-hockey burnout, but Wayne Gretzky knows what worked for him - and what works for his kids.
Mr. Gretzky reiterated yesterday a gospel that many Canadian parents have ignored - that too often, young hockey players can get burned out by the pressure and the time commitment.
"First of all, I think every kid is different," said Mr. Gretzky, a Hall Of Fame player and currently the coach of the NHL's Phoenix Coyotes. "Some kids can play every day, all year long, like Gordie Howe - until they made him take his skates off( Gordie did not play summer hockey, there was no summer hockey in the 1940's). But that's a rarity, I really believe that.
"In youth hockey, in most cases,
it's really important for kids to play other sports
- whether it's indoor lacrosse or soccer or baseball.
I think what that does is two things. One, each sport helps the other sport. And then I think taking time off in the off-season - that three- or four-month window - really rejuvenates kids so when they come back at the end of August, they're more excited. They think, 'All right, hockey's back, I'm ready to go.' "
Mr. Gretzky's comments came after a handful of recent examples of young athletes who, for whatever reason, lost their desire for their sport.
Stefan Legein, a Columbus Blue Jackets' draft choice and a member of Canada's world junior championship squad, notified the team last month that he wouldn't be attending training camp, reportedly because he'd lost his passion for the game. Brandon Regier, a 16-year-old from Abbotsford, B.C., passed on a chance to play for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League this year (he was the team's first-round choice in the bantam draft) because he wasn't interested any more. Colorado Avalanche prospect Victor Oreskovich, a second-round pick in 2004, retired last October and returned to school to complete a business degree.
Mr. Gretzky, the NHL's all-time leading scorer,
spent much of his youth as a multi-sport athleteand became good at both baseball and tennis as a youngster.
Winters, he'd spend hours skating on the backyard rink that his father, Walter, flooded every year in Brantford, Ont., once the weather got cold enough. But once hockey ended - and in that era, hockey usually ended in April - he was ready for something else.
Today, many young athletes, seeking to achieve an elite level in a single sport, often devote all their energies toward that pursuit.
Summer hockey camps are so common that many parents fear their children will be left behind if they don't participate in them.
"It's a fine line," Mr. Gretzky said.
"I know, for myself, when the hockey season was over,
I couldn't wait to play baseball.
I had no interest in playing ice hockey until September.
Then you get a guy like Gordie Howe, he couldn't skate enough. I don't have the answer, other than I think it's good for kids to participate in all sports."
Mr. Gretzky and his wife, Janet Jones-Gretzky, have five children - and the three oldest have chosen different paths athletically. His oldest daughter, Paulina, was mostly a dancer. Ty spent a year playing hockey for Shattuck St. Mary's, a prep school in Minnesota, but is now devoting more time to golf. Trevor is a two-sport athlete at Westlake Village Oaks Christian - high-school quarterback on the same team as Trey Smith, son of Will Smith, and Nick Montana, son of Joe. Trevor is also the catcher on the school's baseball team.
Mr. Gretzky said he encouraged all his children to sample a variety of sports.
"I always tell them, at a young age, you should just go out and play, just enjoy it," he said.
"As you go along and you get better, then you can start thinking, 'Okay, I can go to school' or 'I've got a chance to maybe get a scholarship.' But at a young age, 12 or 13, 14, 15 - just play and enjoy it. Learn what it's like to be around your teammates - the highs of winning and the lows of losing. Just enjoy it - and my kids do that."
The year after he retired from the NHL, Mr. Gretzky coached his son Trevor's little-league team.
Over the years, one of the most frequent questions he's been asked by parents seeking his advice was to assess the chances of their children playing professionally.
According to Mr. Gretzky, there is a neighbouring town close by his Los Angeles residence that he described as "a baseball factory."
"But not one kid has ever made it to major-league baseball from there," Mr. Gretzky said.
"It's a tremendous program; a lot of them get scholarships and play Division 1, but to actually play major-league baseball, not one.
"But everybody asks the same thing, 'Do you think my son can make pro?' The answer is, he's 15, just enjoy it. Just let them have fun."