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Justin R.

Strength Coach (Anaheim Ducks / San Diego Gulls), Founder of The Hockey Summit

Tell us about what you do

I'm a strength coach for the Anaheim Ducks and San Diego Gulls, and work down here at the hockey summit. My partner and I founded this years ago, and the biggest thing we wanted to do was make sure that we provided our athletes with an all inclusive environment of which we can optimize development and create an environment where we're able to give them the best of everything, and by doing that, we wanted to make sure that we covered every single base from nutrition to recovery to performance to on ice to off ice to sports psychology to pretty much everything that could really be in the foundational core group of what an athlete needs to be successful.

In doing that, we wanted to make sure that educate all of the guys on what products are actually out there, what's good, what's not, and create that filter so that they don't have to filter it for themselves. They just need to know that whatever we provide for them is the best of everything, from the infrared light beds, the cryotherapy, the massage, acupuncture, for recovery, the yoga, and then from the nutritional side, the DNA nutritional analysis that we do, the protein, the BCAAs, the stimulants, the products to bring you back down from Power ON, Power OFF, plant-based protein versus whey protein, and just really getting them in touch with some of the best products that they really didn't know existed before.

So, that was the premise that we had on first delivery, and we've had nothing but success with it and great positive feedback. It actually ends up creating a lot of conversation for us and our players, and when they're looking for something else, we're able to go and do the research for them and ultimately bring it in, which is what happened this year with Modus, where we wanted to bring in a plant based protein, something that was a little bit easier on the body to digest, getting away from some of the whey, and still providing the whey protein for some guys because some of them don't have issues in doing it, but I wanted to make sure that in that we were able to have the best product.


Tell us about your experience with Modus and switching to plant-protein

The way that Modus is formulated and the way it tastes is the best product on the market in the plant based protein area, and it's been a great success.

The biggest thing that we get from the DNA analysis is it's usually about 50/50. The guys have some type of issue with whey or lactose intolerance, but a lot of it comes down to whether they're able to digest it and create bloating or inflammation or whatever within their stomachs. So, it's not necessarily that, oh, you have this inability to digest it. It's almost a feel thing. What they actually end up determining for themselves is either positive or negative.

So, what we like about having both whey and plant based protein as options is we get a lot of guys start to put them together, whether it's a scoop of each or half a scoop of each, whatever the prescription is for them, because they get a different flavor profile, but then it also decreases some of that whey protein going into their system and they're able to help digest it a little bit easier as well. So, a lot of our guys when they show up at the rink in the morning, I've really wanted to try to get them off coffee because what ends up happening, it's not that I don't like coffee, I think it's great for what it is. If you drink the purest of coffee, but you get these guys going and they're throwing sugars or creams or these fancy specialty coffees, and it doesn't give them the same effect that nutrition we would want from just a simple stimulant.

The biggest thing that we get from the DNA analysis is it's usually about 50/50. The guys have some type of issue with whey or lactose intolerance, but a lot of it comes down to whether they're able to digest it and create bloating or inflammation or whatever within their stomachs. So, it's not necessarily that, oh, you have this inability to digest it. It's almost a feel thing. What they actually end up determining for themselves is either positive or negative.

Tell us about your experience with optimizing players' performance

So, with Power On, it's been really exceptional because we've been able to take honestly 100% of our guys off coffee. We're not providing it anymore. We haven't gotten any backlash from it, which has been awesome, and just simply taking Power On in the morning allows the guys to have that caffeine feel that they are alert and energetic and ready to go without the heart arrhythmia or the increased elevation in heart rate. It's spectacular with the group that we have down here because they're all down here for a purpose. They're all down here for a reason. So, when it's game time and when I mean game time, whether it's on ice, off ice, speed session, in the same, whatever it is, it's almost like they're able to flip a switch and be dialed in and focused on the task at hand and it's fun, don't get me wrong. We have a blast, we have a great time, but it's also a work environment.

Wanting to create a sole environment where every single piece of the puzzle is looked after for the players, they're not having to go to one person to get nutrition help, one person to off ice, one person do yoga, one person do their recovery work, one person do their sports psychology work, another person to do their sleep habits, another person to do their game and analysis because outside of our bubble that we work in, you'd then run into issues of teamwork. You run into issues of having them all congruent and work together and be a seamless transition. There's often snags here or there. Somebody wants more of your time. Your yoga instructor wants you to do three or four sessions a week. On ice coach wants you to do two or three more power skate sessions a week. Your strength coach wants you in there every day doing something, and one, it becomes very costly, and two, you just simply run out of time. Nobody's working congruently together to make sure that it's all for the athlete and exactly what they need and balancing out and no one actually knows what the actual other person's doing.

So, when the athlete is having to balance that for themselves, it becomes very taxing and at the end of a summer, they quite often ask themselves, well, did I do enough? Did I not do enough? Is this what I actually needed to do? Should I have done something else? Whereas here, everything is in house. Everyone's on the same page, so we use a lot of technology and a lot of tracking information. I know exactly where we're at. So, if we need to back off on something or put somebody in a different environment, such as maybe another recovery session, or maybe get them on the table with our massage therapist, or maybe back off in the weight room one day, or back off on the ice one day, or another guy we need to start pushing a little harder and doing a couple extra sets of something, or have him do an extra speed session or an extra conditioning session, or whatever it may be, we actually know that and can track it and communicate with everybody that's not 100 feet away from us.

So, again, having everybody on the same page and the same team, working for the player, that's the biggest thing. It's no longer a bunch of different people working together for one entity. We're one entity working for that one player. We're in a completely different level.

We haven't had anything less than 15 NHL, American League, European Pros, on the ice every single session, in the weight room every single week, and the environment is exactly that's. Every player is here to get better. Every player is here to take their game to the next level. Every player is here to learn and every player here is taking full advantage of that, which is, I think to us, one of the most exciting things.


Tell us about your experience with optimizing sleep and recovery

We want the best available to these guys. We want them to have the choice. We don't want to say, this is what you have to have and shove it down your throat. It's giving them options and giving them the autonomy, saying, what works for you, and go from there. So, with sleep and recovery, the biggest thing that we do is we track our guys' sleep utilizing the Polar watches, so making sure that we know where their sleep fragmentivity is, taking a look at how much deep sleep they've getting versus restless, unsettled sleep, and being able to create a sleep routine with them. Our sleep doc, Jose Colon has been phenomenal and instrumental in educating these guys on what a sleep routine actually is and how to get healthier sleep routines going, basically, from the same routine every night, trying to start going bed every night, trying to shut it down every night, leading to the Modus product Power Off, a lot of guys utilize that before they go to bed, and it allows them to get in a situation where when they hit the pillow, they're ready for that undisturbed sleep.

It's not basically something that they get hooked on or addicted on or reliant on, it's something that just gives them that comfortability so that when they need to go to bed and they need to make sure they can have that good sleep, they're able to get there. It aids them in being able to shut that mind off, because a lot of times with athletes they've got so much going on in their minds, they are thinking about things constantly. What this does is it allows them to get into that sleep state that otherwise they would have a hard time doing. That parasympathetic nervous system becomes enhanced and they're actually able to get into that rest and recovery state, rather than being on all the time, and that sympathetic nervous system have it kind of shut off.

So, with all the tracking that we've been doing through our Polar watches, what's been really, really encouraging is not only have we seen those major power increases from every player, but also the sleep and recovery. Guys were coming in with sleep fragmentivity of about 85%, and after being in our sleep routines, after being in our proper nutrition patterns, after being in our proper loading parameters with both on and off ice training and the recovery aspects and then again, helping them out with the sleep aids that we've been utilizing, we've been able to take the majority of guys from that mid 80s to that low to mid 90s in terms of percentage.

So, decreased sleep fragmentivity while still maintaining eight to nine hours of sleep is unbelievable, and they come and wake here in the morning and they're A, not sore anymore, B, energized and ready to go, C, they have a drive to get better, they have that desire to train, and D, their moods are incredible. I think the biggest thing that we hear constantly from the guys, even that have been here for 10, 11 weeks, is that they don't feel like they're training. They don't feel like it's a grind, where the summers can often be.

What we're able to do is focus on strength gains, focus on power gains, focus on those individual needs that they actually require to get them to that next step so that we're not having to push, push, push and grind and all of a sudden they get to camp and they get a really good month in and all of a sudden October comes around and they're exhausted, and they feel like they are in the dog days of the season already and we're really looking at game one or two of the NHL, American hockey league season.

Having that feedback in terms of being able to feel fresh all the time and not having, I can't tell you how many guys have come up to me and said, "JR, I have not felt this good going into a season ever," and that's not of 18, 19, 20-year-olds. That's of 29, 30, 31, 32-year-olds who have been doing this for 10, 15 years.

We really have something special, and something that's really unmatched in an environment that promotes excellence. This teamwork, this gel, this bond between all these players that doesn't exist anywhere else, and it's very unique, it's very powerful, and with every single company that we have supporting us and every single company that we have behind us, we've been able to provide this environment for our players is unmatched.

So, decreased sleep fragmentivity while still maintaining eight to nine hours of sleep is unbelievable, and they come and wake here in the morning and they're A, not sore anymore, B, energized and ready to go, C, they have a drive to get better, they have that desire to train, and D, their moods are incredible.