Category Archives: Tools of the Trade

Playing Connect the Dots

The Assignment of Life

Today’s theme was about connecting the dots. So much of what we do in the world of strength and conditioning is playing connect the dots to formulate that optimal program that will enroll the coach to inspire his athletes to come to us so that we can help fill the gaps with a little S&C to boost them to that next level. Coaching an athlete towards reaching that next level takes understanding, empathy, compassion, knowledge, and building rapport. Few athletes care about the process we go through so that we can provide them with the tools they need.

We begin to see the dots the moment we know the sport we’ll be working with. Name a sport and the dots will start to appear. It’s these dots of information that need to be connected in order to achieve the desired outcome.

At this point you’re probably asking yourself; so what? What’s the practical application of this theme “Playing Connect the Dots”? Take a moment to think about it…

Think of an adverse situation that you’re currently facing. Now that you have it, sit with it. Do you see the dots? If not, you should look at it a little closer. Once you decide to slow down to have a closer look, you’ll notice that this chaos is simply caused by you not taking the time to connect the dots in the way they’re supposed to be. When you connect these dots, everything will become clear.

Remember that these dots represent the life you’re living. See what you want to see.

Why Today’s Young Athletes Deserve a Strength & Conditioning Coach

In today’s world of multi sport youth athletes, the fundamentals of movement development have been put to the side to make room for the sport specific movements. I see this predominantly in the sports that I spend the most time training: Figure Skating and Ice Hockey.

So what is my role as a strength and conditioning coach for these up and coming athletes? It’s my responsibility to ensure that when they leave our sessions, they have a clear understanding of what the future of strength and conditioning holds for them. We spend the time to break down the fundamental human movement patterns, from rolling, to crawling, to squatting, to walking, to running, then lifting. And onwards to the more complex Olympic lifts.

To the parents of young athletes: Investing in a sound strength and conditioning program for your young athletes is a smart investment.

What can you expect from your investment:

  • Reduce the risk of sport induced injuries, including concussions
  • Improved self image (self-esteem and confidence)
  • Improvement in athleticism
  • Increase the possibility of making that next level team or performance category
  • Learn proper exercise techniques and lifestyle habits that last a life time**

**That last item is not only the key to athletic performance but the key to reversing the epidemics that our society is facing. Yes, those elephants in the room: obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, that are caused by the overall sedentary lives that a majority of our population is living.

Take the time to find that Strength & Conditioning Coach that is going to coach your young athlete to a life of athleticism and health.

@orion_j_herman getting in his RDL's for the day.

A post shared by Daniel Heller, CSCS (@coach_danh) on

@weswagnerypr pulling 383×3 #ProudCoach #AllAboutThoseGains

A post shared by Daniel Heller, CSCS (@coach_danh) on

When An Athlete Cries

Our lives revolve around our sport. We live our lives to the fullest, walking a fine line between sanity and insanity. Our breakdowns are few and far between but powerful and painful to witness. The fear we have of our lives being taken away isn’t obvious to on lookers because we don’t feel understood.

Last night, I got jarred pretty good in my beer league hockey game. Not sure what I did wrong, if I did anything at all to deserve a blocker to the back of the neck or to the face. As I walked into the locker room alone to remove my pounds of sweaty gear, I continued to hear the sounds of an out of control hockey game which resembled the intensity of raging testosterone adolescent males desperately trying to impress the cheer leaders.

I clasped my helmet in my hands, balling and gasping for a breath to ask “why?” again. What is the purpose behind these blows to the head, inducing a severe panic attack, followed by outrageous rage, leading to abnormally high fear. My life comes full circle in a matter minutes. Feeling death, confusion of birth, anger of confrontation and fear of loss.

All of these experiences are what make me a great coach. My mission is to support my athletes through stages of growth, maturation, elevation of sport and life skills. My friends inspire me to keep going, knowing that I’m good at what I do. I change lives as my friends, coaches, and parents have worked diligently and supportively to help me form my life.

I’ll continue to push the limits because the limits are where I feel uncomfortable and on the edge of the something great. It’s the feeling of discomfort where growth is possible. I know going over the edge is terrifying, painful, and potentially harmful, but I also know that not coming close to the edge leaves me unfulfilled and regretting the moments I’m alive.

I train smart so I can compete hard.

Being Great!!!

Over the past couple months I’ve made myself available as a virtual coach. Providing phone sessions, and posting YouTube video samples of exercise recommendations. This is not a service that I’d ever thought I’d provide, but after being able to change the lives of others from thousands of miles away, I’ve realized that the virtual world has opened up a whole new world of possibilities. Now I know that there are people who have been doing this for years, but for me it’s new and exciting.

This new world has given me an opportunity to hone my verbal communication skills. If I am not able to verbally communicate what needs to be done, then I will not have served my client to the best of my ability. The question that pops to mind is; how am I able to deliver what I’m delivering without ever seeing a client in person? Here’s my simple break down!

1. Patience
2. Curiosity
3. Full commitment to the moment
4. Full commitment to my client’s goals
5. Presence to my client
6. Compassion
7. Empathy

Yes, I know I’m listing qualities about myself that make me the great coach that I am! The same things that make me a great coach in person, are the same qualities that make me a great virtual coach!

What makes you great?!?!?!


Seeing the Trail through the Trees

As we learn to focus on our goals, we will get distracted on long the way. This is normal, and it happens to us all.

We can think of our path towards our goals as a trail to success. And most trails are cluttered with obstacles and lined with beautiful distractions. It takes practice to travel a long our paths with focus and determination. Planning and preparation is key. However all the planning and preparation cannot prepare us for the endless possibilities of what could get in our way.

This is not about planning and preparation. It’s about picking ourselves up. Dusting ourselves off. Recollecting ourselves so that we can continue down our path. (This will be discussed more in the second part)

I’m revisiting this after a conversation I had with a dear friend this afternoon about the homeless in downtown Los Angeles, California. The conversation turned from discussing the current state of homeless to potential causes of falling so far from a path that leads to a life of desperate begging. Two words came into play; failure, and embarrassment. And we posed the question, How do we overcome failure, and embarrassment to continue down our path to success after tripping over an obstacle on your path or being distracted by something along side it?

As I see it we have two options: 1) Go at it alone with a feeling of solitude and independence. Leaving it completely up to us as individuals to get back on the trail. And 2) Travel with others who have different destinations, but are still on a path for success. Giving us a support system that encourages, comforts us if we fall down. I’m not saying one is better than the other, what I’m saying is that we have the ability to make choices. That’s what it comes down to! Making the choice to travel alone or with others.

This is part one of a two part series. I’m inviting you to think about the two options. Ask yourself; which way do you travel on your trail? And how do you feel about the other option?

I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts…

Either way, travel safely, mindfully. If you get distracted, get back on the trail to success alone or with others.

Back in the Saddle

This weekend was my first weekend back on my dirt bike since I had a minor tumble in January that left me limping away, and kept me off it for several months. That accident also kept me off the ice for several months. As I got back on my bike, started to kick it over, I realized after the 15th kick, it was probably telling me, “ya, you’re not ready to ride me yet.” Once I did get it kicked, It wouldn’t idol unless I kept the choke on. Seriously? This just got irritating, but then I had an epiphany!

How do I improve at something I’m not great at that I do a handful of times a year, but truly love?

The answer is; DO IT MORE!!!!

As a hockey coach, that teaches power skating (ice skating specific to hockey), and instructs off ice strength and conditioning classes, I get asked quite frequently from new skaters, “how do I improve my skating when I’m off the ice?’ The answer is there is no replacement for practicing a specific skill.

My epiphany! When not participating in the skill that needs practice, focus on other aspects of my self that I utilize on a daily basis! My strength, endurance, power, focus… blah blah…. yeah I said blah blah… say it! It puts a smile on your face.

Next time, a student/client asks me what can I do to improve when not practicing, that’s going to be my answer.

This topic can go on forever… so now I want your thoughts!

As a professional in any field, have you experienced something similar with yourself, or a client?

Bag of Tricks: Whats in your professional tool kit?

Be passionate about the tools you possess for no one can use them in the same way that you can…

I wrote the above statement back on December 6th of 2011. My goal was and is to inspire professionals to embrace the tools and skills they have accumulated from their education and experience.

Have you asked yourself recently, what’s in your professional tool kit? I was inspired to ask my self this question when I was attending the Institute of Functional Medicine conference in Denver. One of the speakers in the closing session invited us to embrace the tools we have, we may not need all of them all the time, but acknowledging and being proud of having these tools will make us more powerful healers, precise trainers, and goal oriented motivators. What are your tools that make you who you are?

I don’t believe we need to lay all them out for everyone to see, because with every experience comes a new tool. A new combination of tools. Acknowledging our patients and clients for the experiences they provide for us, for without them we would not have anyone to work with.

I appreciated the need for protocols, but without flexibility our customers are merely being placed on a conveyer belt, and thats not fun and inspiring. What is inspiring is guaranteeing that our customers are treated as unique individuals with unique goals that we’re proud to be guiding them towards.

I vow to be perfect (see quote below) and to do my best for everyone that crosses my path. By doing my best I’m holding onto my integrity and authenticity that has gotten me this far.

“Being perfect is being able to look your friends in the eye and know that you didn’t let them down because you told them the truth. And that truth is that you did everything you could…” – Coach Gary Gaines