Archive for June, 2012

10,000 Hours?

Posted in Guest Authors, Training, Training Females, Youth Training with tags , , on June 26, 2012 by mboyle1959

Here is a great guest post from former MBSC coach Brad Stoffers looking at the misconception of the “10 years, 10,000 hour” idea so popular now.


Youth Sports and Early Specialization

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on June 24, 2012 by mboyle1959

This is a reprint of one of my first blog posts

At some point a parent decided “why not just fast-track our kids right past Little League and Pop

Warner and right into the Pros”. Parents in all sports felt they could follow the lead of Earl Woods ( Tiger’s dad)

or Richard Williams ( Venus and Serena’s dad) and just concentrate on one sport. I love to tell parent groups

that I speak to that for every Tiger Woods or Venus Williams there are probably 5000 kids who hate

sports and resent their parents for all the pressure. As a parent, ask yourself this question. Have you ever told

anyone “ I don’t push _(insert your child’s name)____ he/she really wants to do this?” The latest one to fuel the

early specialization fire is tennis star Maria Sharapova. The TV folks couldn’t wait to tell us at Wimbledon that

shehad been holed up in Fla since age 7.

Check out this quote from LA Lakers Coach Phil Jackson:

“40 million kids play sports, and most of them are between 7 and 12. By the time they are

13 more than 70 percent of them have stopped playing because it’s not fun anymore. All of a sudden when

kids get into junior high, we feel this need to have them become professionals, and the coaches

become professionals… The message I’d like to get out to them is to honor the game. The goal, or the victory

is important, but team sportsmanship, the athletic endeavor itself is just as important.”

One of the problems is that most team sports are what are called late specialization sports.This mean that

early concentration/ specialization has actually been shown to slow development rather than speed it up.

Historically the great players in team sports seem to hone their competitive instincts and develop their athleticism

in a number of sports and then begin to specialize in their teens. In addition early specialization

often leads to dysfunctional parent/ child relationships. The early search for the Holy Grail places undue pressure

on a young athlete who should be learning that sports are actually fun, not just about winning. Believe it or not,

kids play for fun and, will actually attempt to make the teams fair and encourage competition when

left to their own devices. Remember when you were a kid and the teams were uneven. You made trades to create

a competitive game. The thrill was competition, not winning. For many youth sport parents the idea

of fair teams is an anomaly. Stack the team. Get the best players. Annihilate the competition. Get a scholarship.

Make money. Lets look at the following examples:

Nomar Garciaparra ( Boston Red Sox)- played football, soccer and baseball in high school. He actually attempted to play football as a kicker while on a baseball scholarship at Georgia Tech

Mia Hamm ( All Time Leading scorer in US soccer history)-multi-sport star in high school

Kristine Lilly (Leads the World in International Soccer Appearances)-captained three sports at Wilton, Conn HS.

Brendan Shanhan ( Detroit Red Wings) outstanding Box Lacrosse player prior to entering the NHL.

Katie King- ( US Women’s Ice Hockey, two time Olympian, current Boston College Women’s Hockey head Coach) played both Ice Hockey and Softball at Brown University in Providence, R.I..

And the list could go on forever. Early specialization is a phenomenon created by self-interested and financially

motivated adults. It has little basis in fact and, the data seem to support the opposite. This is just

some parental food for thought. There is no evidence to support the theory that early specialization leads to

long-term success. In fact, there is evidence to the contrary as stated above. If you want your

child to be a great athlete, don’t focus on one sport, play a different sport each season. The people who

encourage early specialization are all people with a financial interest in your child playing

one sport year round. Those encouraging early specialization usually run the leagues, camps and skill

sessions and they fill the parents full of ideas that have no basis in fact. None of the

players mentioned above left home at 14 to go to prep school or, just played one sport from

age 6. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting the result to change.

Maybe we should just try the way that worked in the first place?

Being a A “Boyle Guy”

Posted in Guest Authors, MBSC News, Random Thoughts, Seminars, Updates, Training with tags , on June 20, 2012 by mboyle1959

I was unsure whether to post this link or not but to be honest, I’m flattered and want to share this.

Another Great Story about Good parenting and Late Specialization

Posted in Random Thoughts, Updates, Training, Youth Training with tags on June 18, 2012 by mboyle1959

Travis Heller from my site was nice enough to share this article on Baltimore Oriole Ryan Flaherty and his Dad. Great story and even better the day after Fathers Day.

Testing Young Athletes?

Posted in MBSC News, Random Thoughts, Updates, Training, Training Females, Uncategorized, Youth Training with tags on June 14, 2012 by mboyle1959

I got this question on my Forum. I thought the answer might benefit some non-members who read this blog.

Question ( from a member)- I want to put a simple testing battery together to track progress and use as retention tool. This would be for 13 and under.

I was thinking of the following:
10m sprint
Push ups (1min)
Squats (1min)
Chin ups

Answer – Just FYI. Test if you want to discourage business. Kids don’t want testing, parents do. Kids want to have fun and get better in a nonjudgmental environment.

I am 100% convinced that a huge part of our success at MBSC is that we don’t test. We have continued to grow our business while many of the “improve your 40 time or get your money back” places have closed down. Hate to sound too touchy-feely but this business is much more about building community and self esteem than about test results. The sooner we get that the more successful we will be.

Functional Strength Coach 4.0 Review

Posted in Guest Authors, Seminars, Updates, Training, Training Females, Uncategorized with tags , on June 13, 2012 by mboyle1959

One of my members, Danny James, wrote a pretty extensive review of
Functional Strength Coach 4.0 that I thought I’d share below.


The latest product from one of Strength and Conditionings most formidable pioneers, Functional Strength Coach 4.0 covers Coach Michael Boyle’s current ideas on Performance Training, Personal Training, and success from the vantage point of a coach at the helm of a leading Strength and Conditioning Facility and business model.

The material is divided into two sections:

Part I: Training Clients and Athletes (both lecture and practical format)

  • Why a facility without a program is doomed to fail (programs beat systems!)
  • The only 3 goals of any strength and conditioning program
  • How to divide your time within each training session (for athletes vs clients)
  • The last 3 things you should do with your clients
  • Specific effects of Joint Dysfunction you’re probably overlooking
  • Mobility versus flexibility and why it matters
  • Why you should foam roll before every session and exactly how we do it
  • 7 Patterns of Strength Programming
  • The Key to Program Design…regardless of population
  • How we approach Basic and Advanced Periodization
  • Specific linear speed and multi directional speed day warm up progressions
  • The Truth about Functional Training
  • Why squatting starts on the ground
  • Why Everything Changes When You Stand on One Leg
  • Understanding Hip Flexion and the 7 factors affecting performance
  • Advanced Load and Strength Progressions
  • Two Things To Avoid with ‘Core Training’ (and why I don’t like that term)
  • Rotary Training progressions and regressions
  • Complex Training progressions and regressions
  • Dealing with Injury – Boyle’s Theory
  • Single Leg Versus Double Leg…when, where and why
  • 5 Keys to Conditioning
  • 3 Simple Rules for Designing Interval Programs
  • Off Season Conditioning Protocols
  • Tips for Hockey, Football, Basketball ‘specific’ conditioning
  • Much more. Including:
    – Sample 2 Day In-Season Program
    – Sample 3 Day Off-Season Program
    – Full Summer 4 Phase Program

Part II: Owning your own facility

  • Why the 10,000 hour rule will make or break your business
  • The truth about the ’4 Hour Work Week’
  • How to run a successful facility
  • How big your first facility should be
  • 3 Rules for purchasing equipment
  • Why you should…or shouldn’t…buy a franchise
  • Financials and knowing your numbers
  • How to approach Sponsors…literally and figuratively
  • The simple truth about managing and developing staff
  • Why getting clients comes down to the ‘crazies’
  • 21 suggestions guaranteed to lead to success…in business and life

Also included is Boyle’s renowned one hour ‘Success Secrets’ lecture filmed at the 2011 Perform Better One Day Seminar, which explores:

  • Why Aren’t You Successful? Follow this rule and everything changes
  • My personal take on Goals…setting them and achieving them
  • 2 types of people who succeed…and why
  • The #1 thing that happens to Anyone who is Excellent at Anything
  • The Speaking Circuit
  • Articles and Books
  • Do you Really want your Your Own Facility?
  • The Mike Boyle Strength Coach Story
  • The Pros and Cons of Membership Sites
  • Have Something to Offer, not Something to Sell
  • Specific Action steps to help you build momentum

With an impressive volume and variety of content, one would be hard pressed to deny the relevance of FSC4 finding its way into the resource library of not only coaches and trainers of all levels, but also athletes, non-competitive active populations and individuals involved in the areas of therapy, rehabilitation and business.

FSC4 is the crystallisation of everything Boyle has gleamed from his thirty years of study and application in the field of functional performance, training and facilitating the rehabilitation of a diverse population that includes everyone from active adults to scores of athletes in every major high school, collegiate and professional sport, including US Olympic Women’s teams in Soccer and Ice Hockey.
It is also three decades of Boyle’s private education from books, articles, seminars and interactions with his peers, as well as observations of innovative leaders in the areas of rehabilitation, business and personal development.
Boyle removes the applicable components of these environments, those that lend themselves to successful performance enhancement outcomes, and effectively blurs the delineation between the landscapes, distilling his conclusions into ten + hours of open book on the integrated model that mass-produces sustainable athletic potency in a timely and less importantly, profitable fashion.
It is not so much a ‘how to’ blueprint with follow along catch-all programs (although some sample programs are included) as much as ‘here is what we are currently doing, this is why’ not unlike previous instalments of the Functional Strength Coach series.
The content is delivered in somewhat of a refreshingly relaxed and open format without the text-book tone one might expect of a professional of such standing and standard with the typical Michael Boyle blunt-force, colourfully quote laden and analogy rich approach to efficiently and effectively articulate his ideas, much like a good coach will employ urgency and economy of words or cues, to communicate with his athletes and extract an immediate understanding.

Repeatedly the presentation careens into lengthy off-the-cuff discussions and demonstration that for any devout student of the game, proves gold upon gold.
Each topic is explored open-ended to the utmost width and breadth of its parameters including references to relevant literature as well as Boyle’s own anecdotal evidence derived from unrelenting in-house trial and error. Boyle shares candidly his thoughts, often humorous and trend defying, on many subjects hotly debated amongst industry professionals, to encourage critical thinking rather than rouse controversy, which of itself has brought upon him much of the latter. Ideas which he unapologetically admits, are subject to flux.

”It’s called learning.”

says Alwyn Cosgrove in his video review.
Constantly learning, in this industry, as in life, is a necessary and lifelong discipline, without which nought but mediocrity, stagnation and bareness thrives.

”Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature’s inexorable imperative.”
– Herbert George Wells

Expanding further with many real world examples, case studies and personal in-the-trenches perspectives provides rare and fascinating insight into some of the daily occurrences at a world-class facility, including the many hard-fought triumphs and humbling errors that have helped build a business, shape the prevailing thought process, and certainly the field as we presently know it.


For anybody that has been closely following Boyle’s material for some time, much of the training and programming information will be somewhat familiar. There are however still many updates and sprinklings of new information to be relished that will not only challenge your previously held notions of sound programming, but can be immediately incorporated into your current system for athletes and general population clients alike.

Particularly enthralling were the hands on components of Part 1: Training Clients and Athletes. From foam rolling to movement preparation all the way through FMS correctives to exercise hierarchy and progressions, this is where we are able to witness one of the fields foremost experts indulge his exhaustive knowledge of the human body and passion for teaching AND sharing that knowledge, personally take the coaching floor, cueing movement and identifying and correcting live faulty patterns and imbalances of many of the participating attendees. I pulled countless gems out of these demonstrations.
A repeating decree in FSC4, as in all of Boyle’s products, that serves as a kind of strength Coach manifesto can be extracted and expressed as follows;

  • Don’t hurt anyone
  • Get results
  • Share what you learn

These same concepts when translated and applied to daily life;

  • Don’t hurt anyone
  • Be productive / Effective / Useful
  • Pay it forward

Immodesty I confess, prior to viewing FSC4 I was quite confident that my programming and coaching efficacy was as good as it could possibly be at this time, given the monumental amount of information at my disposal. How could it not be? I spend almost the same amount of money on continued education in a week as I spend on food. I read more hours in a day than I sleep. My eyes are wide and my mind is open. My net is ready and this slate is clean.
As with the first page of a new book, I am giddy at the journey with hope that I may happen across new and useful input or by delightful correction intervened be. I follow other lifelong learners and unsatisfied seekers past reputations reach and safety’s scope into the eon of our responsibility. There is not much that escapes me along the way.

”Each generation’s job is to question what parents accept on faith, to explore possibilities, and adapt the last generation’s system of values for a new age.”
– Frank Pittman

I viewed all seven discs in their entirety sitting increasingly unassertive throughout as Boyle succinctly and profoundly proceeded to punch holes through some of what I considered to be a rather durable training philosophy. There was the gaze of realisation, as when a bullet finds its home beyond the Kevlar. An acute cognisance that things were about to completely change.

It was wonderful.


Within the realm of Functional Performance Michael Boyle is the glowing standard which we should all strive to equal. I say equal rather than surpass because frankly, I can’t yet comprehend how anybody could possibly contribute more to the science and practice of Strength and Conditioning than Michael Boyle now or ever, and I hope that I am wrong.
New information will always emerge but lacking those individuals who are at the frontline to locate it, question it, trial it and report on the outcome, would not only subdue the influence of such information, but indeed arrest the advancement of human performance training as a result.

Functional Strength Coach 4.0 is an expression of that standard, that serves also as the hand rail that you would use, on your climb up to that lofty marker.

Simply put, you WILL do better. FSC4 will compel you, in every aspect, to lift your game.

If you are unfamiliar with Coach Boyle’s work, I assure you that FSC4 will represent a redefining shift in thought as it pertains to training the human body, for the very best.

Purchase it here.

While you are at it, also get this and this.

Because the best just don’t miss anything.

Making It to a College Team

Posted in Hockey, Training, Uncategorized, Youth Training on June 12, 2012 by mboyle1959

Below is a recent correspondence with a friend. I think you will find it informative.


Hi Mike, I hope all is well. I’m writing because I have a friend who’s son is an up and coming hockey player. He is going into his sophomore year of high school. He played as a freshman on the varsity team. He’s a great young man and is very skilled player. His mom asked me to help them out with what he needs to do to attract colleges. Based on your experience with BU hockey team do you have any suggestions on what colleges are/would be looking for and what if any information we can send to schools on his behalf. If you have any contacts that we could speak with that would be great.

Thanks for your help!


Thanks, a question like yours actually merits a thoughtful answer.  The process of being “noticed” by schools is simple. Get better, continue to improve. Many parents are under the impression that exposure to coaches and scouts is the problem. In reality, there are millions of dollars a year being spent on finding the best players. Parents want to believe that if they can simply get the right person to see their son or daughter that the process can in some way be expedited.  They take an adult view. Things like connections and introductions come into play. Highlight flims are made, it’s almost like a marketing campaign. However the problem is it is a marketing campaign for an often unfinished and unproven product. The key is to make sure the product ( the player) is solid, not that the marketing is in place.

The point that your friend’s son is at is also the point that the wheels usually fall off. Right now your friends  son is a good player on an average team. The question is “what’s the next step”? For many parents the next step is the fatal mistake of the “summer exposure tour”. This usually involves getting sucked into every invitation only, super select camp or tournament they can find. In this case a young kid with potential is taken off the fast track and his development is stalled as he searches for exposure. The truth is the summer is the time to get off the ice and train to get better. The only kids who are getting scholarship offers as sophomores are the few exceptions to the rule. If this kid was one he would already know. The key now is to keep the nose to the grindstone and continue to get better both from a hockey perspective and a physical perspective. The vast majority of players going into college are not 18 year old high school graduates but, twenty year olds with 2 years of junior hockey under their belt. The road to a scholarship is a long slow grind. I wrote an article called

Training is Like Farming

This is an excerpt

I think I remember Stephen Covey in his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People making reference to what he called “the law of the farm”. The reference was meant to show that most of the truly good things in life take time and can’t be forced. Covey described the process of farming and alluded to how it requires patience and diligence to grow crops properly. In addition farming requires belief in the system. The farmer must believe that all the hard work will yield an eventual long-term result.

The concept has always stuck with me. The process of developing an athlete at any age is much like farming or, like planting a lawn. There are no immediate results  just as there are no immediate results from farming. The process requires even more patience.  First, the seeds must be planted. Then fertilizer (nutrition) and water must be applied consistently. Only the correct amounts cause proper growth. Overfeeding can cause problems, as can under-feeding. If I sit and wait for my lawn to sprout, I feel many of the same frustrations of the parent. When will I see results? How come nothing is happening? All this work and nothing. The key is to not quit. Have faith in the process. Continue to add water and wait. Farming and athlete development are eerily similar. Years may pass with no real notice. Suddenly coaches begin to call.  Your reaction might be “it’s about time someone noticed”. Much like the first blades of grass poking through the ground, you begin to see success. You begin to experience positive feedback.

When my friends or clients talk to me about their frustration with the process I always bring up the farm analogy. We live in a world obsessed with quick fixes and instant results. This is why the farm analogy can be both informative and comforting. Development must be approached over a period of weeks and months, not days. The reality is that there is no quick fix, no easy way, no magic plan, no secret formula. There is only the law of the farm. You will reap what you sow. In reality you will reap what you sow and care for. If you are consistent and diligent you will eventually see results

The law of the farm.

Plant the seeds

Feed and water properly

Wait for results, they will happen, not in days but in weeks and months.

Bottom line. Get him involved in a good strength program. Avoid the “go to another tournament or camp every weekend of the summer to get seen” thing and work on getting better. Slow and steady wins the race. Most parents lose it right at the wrong time and run of in the wrong direction. Tell them not ask anyone for advice who hasn’t developed 100’s of college players. I have. As I said, slow and steady wins the race.

Only One Body

Posted in Injuries, Low Back Pain, Random Thoughts, Training on June 6, 2012 by mboyle1959

( the following is reprinted for a second time. Back in 2009 I might get a few hundred views. This time I might get a few thousand. I’m not sure where I posted it first by this is the second time on this site.)

Imagine you are sixteen years old and your parents give you your first car. They also give you simple instructions. There is one small hitch, you only get one car, you can never get another. Never. No trade-ins, no trade-ups. Nothing.

Ask your self how would you maintain that car? My guess is you would be meticulous. Frequent oil changes, proper fuel, etc. Now imagine if your parents also told you that none of the replacement parts for this car would ever work as well as the original parts. Not only that, the replacement parts would be expensive to install and cause you to have decreased use of your car for the rest of the cars useful life? In other words, the car would continue to run but, not at the same speed and with the efficiency you were used to.

Wow, now would we ever put a lot of time and effort into maintenance if that were the case.

After reading the above example ask yourself another question. Why is the human body different? Why do we act as if we don’t care about the one body we were given. Same deal. You only get one body. No returns or trade-ins. Sure, we can replace parts but boy it’s a lot of work and it hurts. Besides, the stuff they put in never works as well as the original “factory” parts. The replacement knee or hip doesn’t give you the same feel and performance as the original part.

Think about it. One body. You determine the mileage? You set the maintenance plan?

No refunds, no warranties, no do-overs?

How about this perspective? One of my clients is a very successful businessman. He often is asked to speak to various groups. One thing he tells every group is that you are going to spend time and money on your health. The truth is the process can be a proactive one or a reactive one. Money spent on your health can take the form of a personal trainer, massage therapist and a gym membership or, it can be money spent on cardiologists, anesthesiologists, and plastic surgeons. Either way, you will spend money.

Same goes for time. You can go to the gym or, to the doctors office. It’s up to you. Either way, you will spend time. Some people say things like “I hate to work out”. Try sitting in the emergency room for a few hours and then get back to me. Working out may not seem so bad. Much like a car, a little preventative maintenance can go a long way. However, in so many ways the body is better than a car. With some good hard work you can turn back the odometer on the body. I wrote an article a while back ( Strength Training- The Fountain of Youth) that discussed a study done by McMaster University which showed that muscle tissue of older subjects actually changed at the cellular level and looked more like the younger control subjects after strength training.

Do me a favor, spend some time on preventative maintenance, it beats the heck out of the alternative. Just remember, you will spend both time and money.

A Developmental Model for Youth Coaches and Players- Dr Richard Ginsburg

Posted in Guest Authors, Training, Training Females, Uncategorized, Youth Training on June 5, 2012 by mboyle1959

Dr. Richard Ginsburg, noted sports psychologist and member of the faculty at Harvard Medical School, presents his “Top Ten Tips for Coaching Youth.” Ginsburg, who also serves as a member of US Lacrosse’s Sports Science and Safety Committee, challenges youth coaches to examine what they love about the game and to consider what inspires them to coach.

Ginsburg’s 10 tips for coaching youth, with links to a full article when available:

1. Fun is essential. Studies have shown a strong correlation between enjoyment of the activity and participation longevity. Kids remain active in a sport if they are having fun. Performance also improves when participants enjoy playing the game. Full article.

2. Teach sportsmanship early. Coaches must seize the opportunity to impart good values (integrity, respect, compassion, etc.) and to model good behavior. Full article.

3. Remember that kids are not mini-adults. Kids are a work in progress and must be treated and coached differently than adult participants. Full article.

4. Design age-appropriate practices. Coaches should consider the physical, psychological and cognitive abilities of youth players when developing practice plans. Drills and plays should use the appropriate complexity, based on the age of the players. Coaches should be organized in order to minimize the amount of time spent standing around during practice. Full article.

5. Define success appropriately for each age group. For pre-kindergarten and kindergarten aged kids, the primary focus should be on having fun and safe activity that provides kids with joy of movement. Among elementary school aged youth, the emphasis should evolve into developing skill competencies and building friendships. With middle school and high school players, defining identity and recognizing their individual strengths and weaknesses becomes part of the equation. Full article.

6. Provide positive feedback. Coaches are encouraged to give accurate praise. Research shows that a ratio of at least 5:1 between positive and negative feedback is needed. Full article.

7. Save specialization for older kids. Research shows that 10,000 hours of activity are necessary to move a person’s skill set to a significantly upgraded level. Is that the kind of commitment a younger player should be making to the game? The motivation to participate must be intrinsic. Full article.

8. Avoid over-training. Ginsburg stresses that youth play just one sport per season and have at least 1-2 days off per week. He also encourages that kids have extended time off; preferably a break of at least two or three months from the game. He also cautions against a dramatic increase in training levels to minimize the risk of injury from overuse. Full article.

9. Use appropriate equipment. Avoid ill-fitting hand-me-down equipment, primarily safety equipment like helmets and shoulder pads. Make sure it’s a good fit. Full article.

10. Avoid “playing up.” The temptation is to move kids into older age groupings based on skill level or physical development. But Ginsburg says there is a benefit to being the best player on the team. It helps develop other abilities, like leadership skills and patience. There could also be injury risks and risks of social alienation for players who are moved up the chain. Full article (PDF).

Ginsburg encourages coaches to find a way to share their love of the game with their youth players. And remember to define success appropriately – whether it’s winning, having fun, skill improvement, learning sportsmanship, or something else.

► 10 Best Practices for Parents of Youth Players
► USL Position Statement on Gender Classification