Below is an interview between Justin Roethlingshoefer, Chief Performance Officer at Own It, and Freelap USA.
During the time of this interview, Justin was the Strength and Performance Coach for the San Diego Gulls of the American Hockey League. He supervised the club’s Strength and Conditioning program for all players. He also conducted all the fatigue and data management for the Anaheim Ducks of the NHL and would send reports to the head strength coach, Mark Fitzgerald.
Previously, Justin has worked with the Edmonton Oilers, Columbus Blue Jackets, Hockey Canada, University of Louisville, and Miami University.
Freelap USA: How do you apply the concept of “develop and educate” with your athletes at The Hockey Summit, and how does the educational component of your core philosophy push those athletes to take greater ownership of their long-term training and performance goals?
Justin Roethlingshoefer: The biggest thing I focus on right from the get-go with all my athletes is getting them past the thought that technology or feedback is meant as a punishment, or something other than just wanting to hold them accountable and help them buy in to what we’re doing. A lot of my philosophy is based on quantifiable feedback, so it’s a lot of data, a lot of tracking, a lot of monitoring, a lot of being able to compare. Not just video, but also power numbers, force numbers, those types of things.
Being able to quantifiably see and compare where guys were and where they’re going is, again, something that I think really helps with the buy-in factor. That helps them become autonomous and make those wiser, better, healthier decisions that over time will help them with their long-term development.
I always assume that each athlete I work with is doing this because they want to and not because they have to. At this level, the kids I work with don’t have to be with me. They don’t have to come and train. Obviously, they know it’s what they need to do for their careers, but I hope they want to do it for themselves, too. Ultimately, the more information they have helps them make a living at the game they love.
Freelap USA: In terms of producing measurable results, how do you apply technological tools and data to drive and support decision-making, rather than simply collecting data for the sake of collecting it?
Justin Roethlingshoefer: What we do is start every day with a resting heart rate, a Wattbike six-second sprint, and a long jump with the 1080. So, from both the Wattbike and the 1080, we get peak power numbers. On top of the resting heart rate, we also get the lowest heart score over the course of that time.
We do it at the same time every day, usually around 8:30 a.m., and what we get from it is a series and set of data that we can now look at in terms of CNS function and firing, as well as the autonomic nervous system. By being able to look at those two factors, we can see: a) where we’re at from a recovery standpoint; and b) whether we’re becoming more or less powerful, or whether we’re entering a fatigue state that we need to back off of.
From Monday to Tuesday, it’s not uncommon for us to see a dip in peak power. Why? We’re fatigued from Monday still. No problem. Wednesday is always our recovery day; a day we focus on getting guys on the table, the NormaTecs, we’re focused on what we need to do to help the guys recover. Steam room, sauna, massages—that type of stuff. If, on Thursday, we come back and the numbers are still down, that starts to be a bit of a red flag that we watch. We don’t necessarily change anything, because we’re not going to make decisions based on a knee-jerk reaction.
By Friday, hopefully we’ve stabilized because we’ve got one more day underneath us. If we come back the following Monday and the numbers are still down? Okay, now we need to change something with this individual.
Is our volume too high? Is the intensity that we drive with this individual too high? Do we need to back off in certain areas with certain sets and exercises? Or, are we just not focused on the right things? Should we have a strength focus with them instead of some of the power work that we do? Do we need to change up something we’re doing in a different realm, on the ice or off the ice, playing with the balance part of it?
Theoretically, we should get a dip from Monday to Tuesday, Wednesday is a recovery day, we should be able to come back with our baseline levels from the previous week on Thursday, with maybe a slight dip Friday. On Monday, we’re supercompensated and should be higher than we were the previous Monday. So, over the course of eight weeks, we’re seeing increases every single week, week to week to week, and we’re turning our guys into much stronger and more powerful athletes.
Freelap USA: Another important concept in your coaching is to “empower change.” How does emphasizing this goal drive your athletes to transcend the status quo and pave the way for growth and results?
Justin Roethlingshoefer: A lot of it is the culture that we situate them in. Down here at The Hockey Summit in Florida, the culture when you step in with the group of players that I have, even when new guys come in…it’s amazing how much culture aids in what we’re striving to do.
A perfect example of this is that I’ve had three or four guys come in just this past week and say: “I can’t get over how every single guy comes in in the morning, throws their heart rate monitor on, makes their protein shake, eats breakfast, gets on the table and works with a therapist, all on their own!” I don’t have to say a thing. I’ve laid out where everything is for them, and the guys just use it.
Why? It’s not because I told them they have to. It’s because the culture that we’ve created here is all about them. It’s all about what can we do for them as a player to help get them to the next level, to help get them that next contract, to help get them another two to three years out of their career, and really help drive that development.
We’ve got kids as young as 18 who were just drafted and players as old as 36 who have four kids and a wife and are hoping to play another year or two. So, we have a large spectrum of players who are each on their own individual programs and all come from different walks of life, and they’ve developed this culture based on us meeting what they individually need.
Freelap USA: How do you adapt your core philosophies to match the needs of athletes in different phases and situations, whether they are private clients training with you in the off-season, athletes hoping to secure a roster spot in pre-season, or professionals trying to round into playing shape?
Justin Roethlingshoefer: The philosophies don’t change. The philosophies stay with a quantifiable, measurable feedback model, where everything is based off power metrics, heart rate metrics, survey metrics, and recovery heart rate metrics, and what we then do is take a look at that person as an individual and what they need. Obviously, their training age comes into account, their injury history comes into account, any movement dysfunctions that we find out from their 3D image body scan comes into account, and from there, we train them as an athlete.
We’re not training them as a hockey player; we’re training them as an athlete. We need them to move better, we need them to be stable, we need them to be able to absorb force. And those philosophies don’t change whether you’re 18, 25, or 35. Those are all the same things. However, the way we accomplish that goal changes based upon their limitations and their individual needs.
Freelap USA: What was your inspiration for launching The Hockey Summit? How do your coaching philosophies, programming methods, and holistic approach to nutrition, recovery, and more all come together under that umbrella?
Justin Roethlingshoefer: The biggest issue from my own playing days was identifying and ultimately getting it set up where I had everything—on-ice, off-ice, nutrition, recovery—kind of laid out for me. During my time at Miami, I had a group of players who were going on to play in the NHL and they said, “Can you put something together for us?” So, The Hockey Summit was kind of born out of that.
I wanted to make a holistic, all-inclusive environment where I look after their housing, I look after their cars, we do a DNA nutritional analysis, and we have concierge meals set up for all the guys so that they have meals according to what the DNA analysis says. We have the on-ice looked after with skills and skating. We have the weight room looked after with all the technology and tracking data that I use to administer tracking both before lifts, as we talked about, and within lifts, from heart-rate monitoring to bar speed analysis to force plates to the 1080 Sprint.
From the recovery aspect, we do yoga twice a week. We have massage therapists, chiropractors, and dry needling guys there every single day for these guys. There are NormaTec recovery lounges for the guys. There are infrared light beds, steam rooms, and saunas, fully at their disposal. Having that all-inclusive environment is something I would have killed for.
Also, making sure that they get all their work done in the morning by 1:00 or 1:30 p.m., so the guys can golf, go to the beach, sit at the pool—wherever helps them actually rest and recover. Because, mentally, that’s one of the biggest grinds: juggling the timing and schedule and running around. Mentally, you get to the end of the summer and you’re like, “Oh my God, I’m feeling like it’s been an absolute grind.”
I’ve got guys down here that are with me for five, six, seven, eight, nine weeks, and at the end of it they’re like: “I am ready to go. I feel absolutely phenomenal. I feel fresh. I don’t feel like I’ve been training all summer, but I’m in absolutely the best shape and as best prepared as I’ve been.”