Strength & Conditioning World Tour 2014 – Part 6: Pitman, NJ
After two straight weeks of hopping from city to city making the rounds, I arrived at my final destination on my US tour – the small town of Pitman, New Jersey.
What brought me down here was not the chance to blow my humble travel budget at blackjack tables in Atlantic City or attending a seminar on how to look like a huge douchebag on national TV and make a million bucks while at it hosted by the Jersey Shore crew.
Instead, I opted to visit Endeavor Sports Performance – a sports performance facility mainly catering to the improvement of physical attributes of hockey players (though they have some baseball, basketball and soccer athletes as well) for 5 full days to get my learn on.
In practice this meant that I got to observe the workouts taking place at the gym throughout the day and ask questions from Kevin Neeld who is responsible for running the athletic development side at Endeavor.
After the first day – during which we discussed a wide range of topics, including Kevin’s background, continuing education, how things work at Endeavor and our influences in the S&C industry – Kevin told me I should jump in and start coaching his guys and girls if I saw something that needed to be corrected technique-wise.
Naturally, this proved to be a tremendous learning experience for me since this meant having the opportunity of actively coaching and assisting in the workouts of numerous trainees ranging from 11-year-olds to adults each day.
As a result, the rest of the week at Endeavor seemed to just fly by despite the 8-10 hour days as I was helping out in coaching hang cleans, split squats, farmer’s walks, chin-ups – ya know, all that good stuff you should be doing in the weight room.
As I told Kevin at one point when we were discussing their business model, I was most impressed with the fact that whether young or old, a hockey player or not, people were coming in to improve themselves out of their own free will. So there was no need for silly antics so often manifestating in senseless cheerleader type of behavior on behalf of the trainer (which may provide some entertainment value but is still best reserved for The Biggest Loser – not a professional training atmosphere).
What I mean by that is you could tell people had a high “buy-in” with the program, or stated otherwise, they were intrinsically motivated to get faster, stronger, better.
Everybody did their soft tissue work and dynamic warm-ups as required, you didn’t need to tell someone twice to load an exercise up or move on to a harder variation if things were getting too easy, and people actually listened to what the coaches were telling them – and most importantly, they were having fun!
What also struck me was how well-behaved these kids and athletes were. I can’t remember how many times I had someone come up to me after their training session was over, shaking my hand and thanking me for the coaching cues I gave them on a squat or hang clean. I don’t know whether this respect for coaches is fostered to a greater degree in the US in general or if the exceptional atmosphere at Endeavor plays a part in it, but I do know that I was very impressed by that.
The big topic of discussion during my time in Pitman was the up-coming NHL 2014 Draft hosted by the Flyers in Philadelphia about an hour away from where Endeavor is located. Much of the speculation involved Anthony DeAngelo – a top prospect from the Sarnia Sting in the OHL who trains at Endeavor – and which NHL team would pick him in the first round.
In the end DeAngelo got drafted #19 overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning, which is a great testament to the quality of the strength & conditioning program Kevin and his staff are running.
All in all I can say that the week I spent at Endeavor was a fun one and easily one of the best experiences I’ve had on this world tour so far.
I don’t expect things to get any worse next, when I’ll be heading to Oslo to attend a training seminar by US teen national gymnastic coach Christopher Sommer. I have a feeling it will be a weekend of many interesting things learned.
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