‘I attribute my successes to being part of a bigger thing. I am not the thing’ Paul Goodman – Olympic Strength & Conditioning Coaches interviewed Episode 105

Paul Goodman, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Chicago Blackhawks in his 12th season outlines how the team managed to win 3 Stanley Cups in 6 years, and how the role of strength & conditioning has contributed to these successes. Paul outlines his long journey into the Strength & Conditioning profession, the importance of having a presence and controlling the room, and the importance of education for S & C professionals.

Furthermore, we discuss

Christian: In this interview, I’m joined by Paul Goodman. Paul is Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Chicago Blackhawks in his 12th season. He formerly worked as Director of Strength and Conditioning for the University of Vermont, and before that, Paul worked as Strength and Conditioning Coach at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Paul holds a Master’s degree in Exercise Science and is currently pursuing his Ph.D., and has co-authored a book, “Hockey Anatomy.

Welcome, Paul.

Paul: Welcome. Thank you very much. I really appreciate that introduction, Christian.

Christian: Paul, you started working with the Blackhawks in 2008. One year later, they won the first Stanley Cup after 50 years. What did you do?

Paul: I always said to some of the guys that had been there through the rough times in Chicago, that all they needed was me, and I meant that facetiously. I have no ego in that regard, but I think that the way that I approached coming into the team after being in the college ranks was just to appeal to a culture development and a level of work ethic and commitment to an office program.

I’m not going to comment on the previous persons that were there. All I know is that when you come into a new organization, there’s a certain barometer that I want to be set and the guys know that barometer. We’re trying to exceed where they were in previous years or even in previous many years ago, where we had some senior-level guys that have been in the league for a long time.

The first thing that I wanted to do was establish a work ethic and a commitment to the off-ice training, and then also provide them information. I did not want to just tell them that that is what I was doing and then go do it. I wanted to give them the purpose or a why behind what they’re doing so that when they are doing it, they feel more vested and that there’s a commitment level to execution.

I wanted to establish a work ethic and a commitment to the off-ice training, and then also provide them information, so that when they are doing it, they feel more vested and that there’s a commitment level to execution.

Christian: How has the educational element been received by the players?

Paul: It’s been great. Over the course of the time that I’ve been here, there’s been obviously turnover. We have a salary cap, you have trades, you have draft picks, so there’s always an ebb and flow to the level of time that the player might be with the team.

But the way I approach it is very open door. I’m an open book when it comes to being able to provide information on whether it’s training, soft tissue, rehab, or nutrition. I feel like it can give them a breadth of information and then they can take the information and run with it, or it’s just information for information purposes.

It changes per guy because certain guys are a little bit more distant to that and there are certain guys that really love that type of inviting communication. As much as a player wants is what I’m going to obviously give to them. I’m not going to go too much into particular areas that are very scientific or physiology or biomechanical base unless they want that.

It’s having a temperament of knowing who you’re talking to and then also engaging with the level of what their experiences are and what they want to get out of it. So it’s been received really well. Like I said, most strength coaches that are in this field, have certain people that are really into it and certain people that are a little bit more peripheral.

Christian: Yes, I can definitely relate to that. Some people are interested and some can’t be bothered at all with any explanation.

What he believes has contributed to the Blackhawks success of winning 3 Stanley Cups in 6 years

Christian: We mentioned the Stanley Cup in 2009 to 2010 and then in the next six years, you won another two, so three Stanley Cup in six years. What would you say has contributed to the success?

Paul: The first thing is when we won those Stanley Cups, there was a culture and an expectation that was internally driven. I don’t think it was something that other teams don’t strive to do, but there was a commitment to winning and knowing that you could win during the course of the playoffs or the season even.

There was a culture and an expectation that was internally driven. There was a commitment to winning and knowing that you could win.

We had some really good in-season records over the course of 82 games. The shortened season in 2013 where we started off was 26 games without a regulation loss. This had never been done before to start a season.

The culture of winning was pervasive. Again, I’m not saying that other teams don’t have that pervasiveness and that talent level. I have to give credit to the level of talent that we had and the complimentary talent that we had to some of the superstars that we had.

You do get some role players that fill invaluable roles during the course of the season and obviously in the course of a playoff. Playoff is a completely different type of intensity and season than it is compared to the regular season. The deciding factor in how come we were so successful during that period was the level of expectation, plus the combination of extremely dedicated talent.

How he got into Strength & Conditioning

Christian: So let’s go back to where it all started. How did you get into strength and conditioning in the first place?

Paul: I’ll go back to even being a child in that regard. I do remember being 11 and 12 years old and really loving to watch my dad train. My father used to work out in our basement that we had. He had the old sand bell weights which were plastic built with sand to create a certain amount of weight. He also had a bar and a bench.

My dad was and still is so physically active. There was something of adoration to that that led me to think that I liked it. I liked watching my dad train and then therefore I tried to emulate what he was doing.

My dad was and still is so physically active. I liked watching my dad train and then therefore I tried to emulate what he was doing.

I can remember doing pushups and picking up things and lifting them over my head as young as I can remember. I have some funny stories about that, about things that I’ve lifted in my day, but I think it started with that.

Then going into college, I actually wanted to go into medical school. I went to the University of Wisconsin. My uncle was the Director of Geriatric Oncology, so when I went to Madison, I had already been there working with him in this scientific lab setting.

Then I didn’t want to go into that area, but I knew I wanted to go into some aspect of Sports Medicine. Once I got into college I realized that medicine wasn’t really the track that I wanted to go to. There were areas of science that I wasn’t really proficient in, let’s put it that way.

At the time when I was an undergraduate taking physics, I recognized that biomechanics was going to be a similar type of parallel to just regular physics. However, I really loved biomechanics and I loved sport.

So when I was at Wisconsin, I applied for an internship with the strength and conditioning staff there. I was already working on the field with the football team in another capacity. But I was always around the gym.

I wanted to be involved in the strength and conditioning that was going on there, whether I was a participant or just a fly on the wall. So I got into strength and conditioning that way.

I was taking sciences along the way in my undergraduate, but I wanted to get more involved in the movement practices of athletes. I was always an athlete myself. I love the training aspect, so it seems synonymous with what I wanted to do and so that led me to being focused on getting to be a strength and conditioning coach.

So doing internships are not glorious positions. They’re kind of grinding grunt work type of position, but it was a foot in the door. After my junior and senior year, I was offered a position that was a full-time position.

They used to call them Restricted Earnings Coaches, where it was like the lowest level of pay and the lowest level of abilities to run teams. But within that, I was able to work with teams.

Doing internships are not glorious positions. They’re kind of grinding grunt work type of position, but it was a foot in the door. After my junior and senior year, I was offered a position that was a full-time position.

They used to call them Restricted Earnings Coaches, where it was like the lowest level of pay and the lowest level of abilities to run teams. But within that, I was able to work with teams.

I was an assistant for football. I was an assistant for hockey, and then within six months, I took over hockey because the gentlemen that headed it, moved on to another division one school and then it kind of grew. I ended up being the second assistant for football.

I was obviously the men’s hockey Strength Coach, then the women’s team had inception. I took over for volleyball, wrestling, and then also women’s tennis.

So my profile grew over the latter portion of the time I was there. I was an undergraduate for four years and then ended up working for the Badgers for the next six years.

How his broad skill set of working with multiple sports has helped him with the specific hockey conditioning

Christian: This skill set of working with multiple sports, do you think that has helped you now with your specific hockey conditioning?

Paul: Without question! I absolutely love that question because there is a correlation to a lot of sports. I used to train soccer when I was at the University of Vermont. I also trained lacrosse and field hockey and obviously hockey. I think that there’s a corollary to all of those sports to one another.

Now there’s a different emphasis. Soccer has probably a stronger aerobic base simply because there’s more jogging, running, walking, whereas hockey is like on the ice, off the ice. You’re working at a higher lactate level in hockey than you would in soccer, but some of the correlations of sprint repeat are similar to one another.

Lacrosse is obviously a similar type of thing. It has a lot of quick bursts, a lot of change of direction. It has smaller space fields in comparison to soccer, which is a little bit larger. Field hockey is a similar skillset. The stick is different, so you can’t really mimic those types of things.

But generally speaking, the energy system development, the need for the sprint repeat, the change of direction skillsets, all of those things combined and intercede with one another, and so developing a hockey program has a reflection on other sports and other sports may have a reflection when I was doing those sports on hockey.

That’s a really astute question on your part because some people would say that I am a hockey Strength Coach. I would say that I train hockey and I love training hockey and I am a hockey strength coach, but does that mean I’m limited in my capacity to be able to train other sports?

The answer to that is no. This is simply because if you know the physiology and you know the anatomical structures of what muscles need to be recruited for different types of motor patterns, and you’re able to train energy systems and create a profile of an athlete, in terms of those regards, then you can really train any sport.

If you know physiology, you know the anatomical structures of what muscles need to be recruited for different types of motor patterns, you’re able to train energy systems and create a profile of an athlete, in terms of those regards, then you can really train any sport.

I feel really adept at the sports that are anaerobic heavy base, but I don’t shy away from other sports like basketball or football or baseball for instance, simply because they’re different types of sports. There’s a cross-section there.

Christian: Yes. The longer you’re in it and you know how to make a need’s analysis, you have enough experience, you can adapt very quickly to any sport.

Paul: Agree. Absolutely agree.

His darkest moment

Christian: As an S&C coach, what was your darkest moment?

Paul: I never really thought about that question before. It’s a good one. There are times in strength and conditioning coaching and I hope younger listeners hear this.

Again, we could commiserate together that there are really hard times as you’re in the industry that it’s a grind. It’s not a glamorous field. It’s a behind-the-scenes working without any adulation or anything like that.

Strength & Conditioning is not a glamorous field. It’s a behind-the-scenes working without any adulation or anything like that.

From an external viewpoint, I think if you’re working closely with the athletes, that’s what gives you the gratification and being able to really see your imagination come to fruition through the athlete. That’s empowering and that’s energizing.

But there’s a lot of times when you’re waking up at four in the morning and you’re getting ready to set up a workout, that’s scheduled for six in the morning and you keep doing that. It’s a very tiresome type of job where late nights, early mornings blend together.

When I was in Vermont, I was the only Strength Coach there for the first two years. I eventually got an assistant, but I was working originally with 23 varsity sports. It was not all of them at the same time, of course, but 23 varsity sports, then we cut down to 19 sports, but it was still by myself.

So I wouldn’t say dark. I would say extremely challenging moments where you’re questioning what you’re doing because it’s like such a grind. Even today, even to the professional side of things, I like to let people know that it’s an amazing job. This is where I want to be, but there are some hard days and nights.

We fly from city to city. We get off a plane, we go and unpack the bags at the rink and we’re in bed at 4:00 am in the morning in some places. We have to get up by 8:30 am, to go to the rink to do it all over again in a visiting city, and sometimes at home we do it.

The people that are of the know will say that it makes sense. I’ve seen that. But other people that are learning about professional sport or even collegiate sport, there’s a lot of hard times where it’s a drain.

It’s a drain on the energy system and on your focus and sleep deprivation and things like that, that I think make the reward of success, whether it’s an individual success that you’re helping an athlete or team success where you win as a collective group, makes that so much more gratifying because you’ve gone through those harder times.

His best moment

Christian: What was your best moment?

Paul: I’ve had a lot of them. I would say winning the Stanley Cups has been obviously extremely gratifying. Can’t say they’re not. That’s the pinnacle of your sport. Internationally, it’s the pinnacle because it’s worldwide known.

Winning the Stanley Cups has been obviously extremely gratifying. That’s the pinnacle of your sport.

I would have to say they’re so different also. The three Stanley cup wins that we had were so different. In 2010, we were really talented and we were really good, but it was my second year with the team. I felt like I was making a difference.

However, I’ve made more of a difference in 2013 and then even more of a difference coming into 2015. Personally, maybe I was the same in the eyes of everybody else, but I felt that in my second year, you’re catching lightning in a bottle and I’m on the ride with them. I’m doing a great job.

I’m not saying I wasn’t. But when you’re working with an organization or a group of players, because we had a core group of players that were traveling through those years with that, there’s a comradery and a bond and an intimacy with those players because you’ve been together a longer period of time than I was after just one year.

Don’t get me wrong, 2010 was fantastic. I’m not taking anything away from any of them, but I think that that team was really good. In 2013, we were so dominant. It was really a fun ride to see us come to our goal and our fruition by winning that one in a shortened season because of a lockout.

Then in 2015, we battled the most. That was a harder Stanley Cup to win. We were challenged more both in season and during the playoffs and that was extremely gratifying for the reasons of the battle.

We were battling in all the other playoffs, but the real battle of like, not an underdog per se, but one that was not as absolute as the previous ones were, or 2010 was still a grind in that regard. But I would say the Stanley Cups rank up there as my highest achievement with a team. Then there are other ones that I feel are very important. But if I’m answering your question. I would say that.

Out of the three Stanley Cups they have won, which one is the sweetest one

Christian: Yes. I actually wanted to ask, which one out of the three is the sweetest one, but you already answered that.

Paul: I would interject just one second, that 2015 was unbelievably sweet because we did it at home. The other two are really sweet because there’s a level of enjoyment when they’re not at home because it’s just the team.

There isn’t all this fanfare and all these people that come down and the celebration is fantastic on all accounts. So the away, when we were flying home and it’s just us as a team on the plane and we get to celebrate on the plane coming back to the city.

I used the word intimate before, but that is very intimate. The special time with the players and the celebration and to have that Stanley Cup sitting in an airline seat next to you is something that you can’t explain. It’s just surreal.

To have that Stanley Cup sitting in an airline seat next to you is something that you can’t explain. It’s just surreal.

Then when you’re winning at home, there’s another level of appreciation because all these fans get to see it and all these people get to enjoy it with you. I get chills just talking about it right now. It’s just like such fine memories.

His advice to a younger Paul Goodman

Christian: If you could travel back in time, 10, 15, 20 years, what advice would you give a younger you?

Paul: Be patient! Be patient and be humble because I feel like I was not patient with my own progress. Not meaning like other people weren’t giving me opportunities.

Be patient and be humble.

That wasn’t it, but my own progress in terms of figuring out myself as a Strength and Conditioning Coach, whether it be through the actual coaching aspect of it, like my cadence, my timing, my voice. It was basically to express it in a way.

Also, from a programming standpoint of finding me in all of this science and being able to really write a program that’s specific for the individual, represents the team aspect of what’s supposed to be accomplished. I did a good job, but I felt antsy almost because I wanted to get to where I feel I’m at now when I’m in my early twenties and that’s not realistic.

You can’t possibly know what you need to know in that amount of time, because most people don’t get their jobs right after college. But there’s a level of growth that needs to happen. So I would say be patient and be humble also.

I know that this probably sounds trite when I say that, but I think arrogance comes into the back when you’re working with players or you’re seeing success. I attribute my successes to being a part of a bigger thing. I wasn’t the thing.

I attribute my successes to being a part of a bigger thing. I wasn’t the thing.

I know I had a huge influence and I also know that I was impactful, but I wasn’t the only thing that brought those successes and I also used this analogy. It’s like because I won a Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013, and 2015, was I a better Strength Coach then than I am now, not winning the Stanley cup?

I might be even a better Strength Coach now than when I was winning the Stanley Cup because you have to go through the growth pattern again. You have to revisit what was successful, what was not successful and keep constantly evaluating yourself.

I’m not scared to put myself on the block by asking where I need to get better. What are the things that I need to integrate into what I do now to help maybe fortify us down the line to be successful again? There’s a humbleness to that.

I’m not saying there are Strength Coaches that are listening to this that don’t already have that humbleness. I consider myself a very good Strength Coach. I really do and because I’m so passionate about it, I study it all the time.

I think about the players and the psychology of the whole industry. I’m very conscientious and I know that and I feel that that’s what it needs to be. The science and the thought process that you integrate with your athletes have to create some weight.

But at the same, will I ever say I’m the best Strength Coach? Absolutely not. I just think that I’m a very good Strength Coach that does special work and I take pride in that. I’m not going to get over my head and because I get to do an interview with you I say that I’m the best Strength Coach and that’s the reason why you’re attracted to me.

There are other facets that you might be attracted to, beyond my strength and conditioning. As simple as they may be, those are the two things that resonate with me.

Christian: The point you made of thinking through problems is very often underestimated. I can also remember so many times I was thinking through things and it took me so long to figure out, but you’re constantly busy with your profession. That’s not what people see, but actually, inside you, you’re trying to figure out things you can’t figure out or you couldn’t figure it out for a long time.

Paul: Yes. That’s exactly right. I have coaches that work with me and for me. I tell them that as long as you can explain your why of what you’re doing, then you have created weight to your program.

As long as you can explain your why of what you’re doing, then you have created weight to your program.

Now, that means that if a player comes to you and asks you why we are doing these reps and sets, or this exercise here, or why we are doing this work to rest ratio and if you can’t answer it, or you’re coming up with something on the fly, then you’re really not worth their time. That means that basically, they should walk out the door and they shouldn’t come back.

I think that that’s the kind of thought process that has to really be incorporated into program design and interaction with your athletes because it’s not whimsical. It has weight and you’re affecting lives.

In a certain trajectory, whether they’re an athlete or a general population person, you’re still absolutely affecting a person’s life and their wellbeing. I don’t like the word too much, because it is severe, but there’s a level of severity to what you do.

If you’re not putting weight on it, then it’s not really worth the athlete’s or the person’s time. Those are the problems that you have to figure out and you got to use your imagination and connect the sciences. You have to connect what’s pertinent for the individual and meld those all together into a program.

His advice to young aspiring Strength & Conditioning coaches

Christian: Talking about younger S&C coaches, what advice would you give young S&C coaches?

Paul: Educate yourself. I am a huge proponent of a brick and mortar, meaning collegiate education. Now I know there’s a lot of education that goes on without going, especially during COVID. Some kids are doing the e-learning stuff now in college, but that’s still brick and mortar, in my opinion.

Educate yourself. I am a huge proponent of collegiate education.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t go and do certifications, but certifications are only an opinion. So when you go and do a certification course, it’s my opinion that it is important to the people that I get to work with. That’s what my opinion is.

A certification course also is a snapshot of anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics, in relation to what they’re trying to push. Whether it’s kettlebell training, or it’s plyometric training, that’s a subset of a bigger picture of the global anatomy, physiology, biomechanics.

It’s absolutely imperative to get that background information and that wealth of knowledge from schools. They can give you that sort of landscape that you can draw upon what is important and what is not as important in your programming or in what you do on a daily basis, whether you’re a physical therapist or your strength and conditioning coach.

For young S&Cs, I would say, educate yourself as much as you can and then think about certifications about what might be important because everybody has a certification course now. You have to weigh what certification courses actually have the depth to them, and aren’t just superficial money grabs.

I really want to make sure when I talk to the coaches that I work with, if you’re bringing up an idea about what certification you might be interested in, give me the reasons why, and then let’s talk about that. Most of the coaches I work with also have their background education through schools with Master’s degrees and things like that.

I pride myself on my education path because I’ve gone after undergraduate and pursued a Master’s degree in education. Then I pursued another Master’s degree later on in Applied Exercise Science, simply because I wanted to refresh and revamp my knowledge in the field.

Now going into my doctoral program, I have another aspect that I’m really interested in, which is in Performance Psychology as it pertains to the athlete. I’m not saying everybody has to follow my path, but I do believe that the formal educational system is really important to get really down and dirty with, for sure.

The qualities he is looking for when you are hiring Strength & Conditioning staff

Christian: You are the Head of S&C at the Blackhawks and co-owner at the Goodman Elite. When you are hiring S&C staff, what qualities are you looking for?

Paul: The first quality I’m looking for is communication skills. Do I feel comfortable with that coach? If I’m looking for a coach, am I going to be comfortable with that coach?

The first quality I’m looking for is communication skills.

But mind you, this is after screening and looking at resumes and making sure that there are certain tick marks on the boxes. When I said certifications earlier, there is a certain certification that I want to see. I want to see that they’re a certified Strength and Conditioning Coach through the National Strength and Conditioning Association here in the States.

That’s an absolute. I would love to see Master’s degrees already accomplished, but if not accomplished, at least working your way to a Master’s degree or entering a Master’s degree program. That changes the level of the coach that on being hired, on what their level of experience would be.

Certain coaches come in as interns and may work through their internships and become a coach here on our private side. But I’d say that that’s the back end. The front end of it, when they’re in front of me is, do I really feel comfortable with this coach? Does the coach communicate well?

Also, does the coach actually know that they are a Strength and Conditioning Coach versus a personal trainer, which is different? Those are different entities of the same sort of spectrum because Strength and Conditioning commands a presence controlling a room, and like I said earlier, having a voice.

People that are in personal training don’t know that, or having experience and working one-on-one n a private setting is vastly different than working on the floor with a team in front of you and commanding that room. So you look at the experience that they have prior, and once you feel they’ve had some really good experiences and they could communicate well, the character of the person is imperative.

You have to have people that are really wanting to do good work for the right purposes. Sometimes it’s really hard to find those people. I’m not going to say it’s easy, but you want to find those people because they can help propel the goals and the mission of what I want to help other people with, meaning our clients or our athletes.

Strength & Conditioning Coach and Personal Training are different entities of the same sort of spectrum. Strength & Conditioning commands a presence controlling a room, having a voice, and the character of the person is imperative.

Christian: And I think the character piece is also often very underestimated, especially in a setting like professional sports, where you’re dealing with big egos at times. I believe you need to have character in order to service the athlete as best as possible.

Paul: Absolutely. I agree with you a hundred percent and that’s why communication and being competent and not being arrogant as a coach is really important. We’re here to help them. You could kind of say we’re in a service

You have to be able to flex with it a little bit, but also have some definitive markers that they’re adhering to. So there are some rules and some standards and some ethical requirements on both ends of the spectrum.

His coaching philosophy

Christian: Let’s get into some S&C-specific questions. What is your coaching philosophy?

Paul: First, it’s such an easy word, but the biggest thing about my programs is movement quality. I don’t know another way to say it because if you’re doing inefficient movement patterns, you’re setting more wrong motor patterns and there’s a propensity or a possibility of creating a systemic injury pattern. This can be obviously chronic or acute, but we don’t want to do that.

It’s such an easy word, but the biggest thing about my programs is movement quality.

When we’re in a strength and conditioning environment, we really want to make sure that we’re looking at how these bodies are moving and what they need to move like. There are certain restrictions that the body may have simply because of the nature of the sport.

Whether it’s a swinging sport or a kicking sport, they’re going to have a propensity to have dominant and non-dominant size. Now, if a person walked in the door, even from not playing a sport, they would have a propensity for dominant and non-dominant sides.

It’s working through the aspects of the game and the execution of the sport that is really necessary to address. Moving quality is always going to be the thing. Sometimes, it’s interesting though, when you think that moving quality is increasing motion in certain movements is actually imperative just to create balance and in some ways, I think not.

You’re always going to have a dominant side. Hockey is a typical example that I use because I’m around it all the time. If you’re obviously shooting the puck with the dominant side, whether it’s the right side or left side shot, you’re going to have a side that’s going to be more dominant than the other side.

Now we want to address the opposing side, simply because we need to create some balance that is going to be able to prevent some of the injuries of overuse of the side that’s always used. Does that make it necessary to get the other side actually imbalanced with the side used more often?

In actuality, no, because that might become an inefficient movement for their shot. It might lessen the force on the shot. It’s a potential. Also increasing range of motion, say in an overhead sport, whereas it’s necessary to create movement, but if you’re creating too much movement, are they going to be able to have force generation in that extra movement that they’re able to go through?

Those are just examples, of course. But when you walk into our training facility, whether it’s the Blackhawks side or my private side, they’re going to be hit with movement quality, right from the get-go.

They’re also going to be hit by training there. I know that might sound trendy, but we do a lot of movements that work with the foot. We work the foot as much as we can in a short amount of time, then up to the ankle, then up to the knee, and then up to eventually the hip.

We do this systematically in every session and as you know, neural endings that end up in the foot have an upward stream back up through the body. Connecting the neural aspects of the foot back up through the body actually lends for better movement patterns and connection with the mind and the body through that scope and not to be out there or holistic with it, but that is true.

Plus, injury prevention and we get ankle mobility, we work the knees to make sure that there’s tracking and we’re doing that right. That’s what they get hit with right away and then we go on to movement at a bigger range of motion movements.

Another aspect that they won’t see in our program is any axial loading of a heavy nature on their anterior or posterior spine. This means that we won’t put an axial load, like a front squat on their chest or on their shoulders and I won’t put a bar on their back and I’m talking about a heavier load.

We still do movements where they have to rack the weight or they have to hold the bar on their back, but it’s not in a capacity that’s going to have compressive forces down. I think those are the three biggest things that summarize and not take up all the time, but moving quality, barefoot training with working on the foot, the ankle, the knee, and then eventually the hip and then no axial loading on the spine.

His core values

Christian: What are your core values?

Paul: I have three things I tell the youngest kids when they walk through the door. We have eight-year-olds that we train. Whether they’re eight or eighty, they have the same rules because we have to treat our general population with some rules and restrictions as well, because they’re coming into a training environment.

We’re not a gym where they could just walk in and start working out. When a person walks in, they’re met and greeted, and they’re there for a training session.

The first thing is being on time. Next thing is, do honest work. The third thing is being respectful and that’s respect from themselves to themselves, themselves to us as coaches, themselves, if they’re in a team, to their other teammates, themselves to the room, and themselves to the equipment.

The first thing is being on time. Next thing is, do honest work. The third thing is being respectful.

If they disrespect any one of those things, then we’re going to have a conversation. Those are the three things. Being on time, obviously, that’s probably everybody’s thing, but if you’re going to fast forward, do honest work.

I give everything I have to programs and also to my coaching and I put myself in it. I get emotionally vested in both aspects. I care for the industry a ton, and I want to respect the industry and respect myself within the industry.

Expecting honest work back for that is an absolute that people should be able to respect that I gave them that. I’m not going to laundry list that person and tell them that this is what I did for them. I’m not going to do that, but if you’ve come into it with them, then there should be a level of appreciation that you put in hard work so that they should be able to put in hard work and now we’re not just wasting time.

That is the clientele that is attractive to us also. It’s the same thing with players as those are the players that are attracted to me too. The respect thing, I think we all would agree that if we have mutual respect for one another in all the other aspects I mentioned, then we’re going to be in a pretty positive work environment in that regard.

We’re going to get along just fine and be able to achieve goals and achieve expectations and work through problems together versus being separate where I’m on an island and they’re on an island and then we’re trying to build this bridge across. I’ll take it one step further and because it just came to my head and this is something I really buy into is that I don’t want people to buy into what I’m saying.

I don’t think buy-in is the right terminology because that’s like I’m selling something to that individual. I’m selling you that you’ve got to buy into it because I’ve done all this work and that makes me credible, so now you’ve got to buy it. I don’t think that’s really safe, or the right way to approach it.

I believe that people first have to trust you. You have to create a level of comradery and trust and appreciation for one another. Then once they trust you, they believe you.

People first have to trust you. Then once they trust you, they believe you.

They have to believe that what you’re doing is in the best interest of themselves and that you’re in it for them and that you’re working for them. They have to believe that what you’re going to do is going to be able to be productive for you and then they buy-in.

That’s how I think it goes in because I don’t believe that you can just sell somebody by telling them my name and that I won three Stanley Cups. Or tell them that I won Rose Bowls in College and did all that stuff so they should do what I say.

I have a proving ground with every person that comes through the door. It’s not an absolute that they come through the door, whether they’re an athlete, on the professional side, or a client that’s coming in. It’s not an absolute that they’re going to come in and ask me to give them what I have.

That does happen, but most of the time, you got to build those bridges. You got to build your level of comradery and trust and belief before you tell them that you got something. Then you will get some buy-in from the players or from the population.

Christian: That also now comes full circle with what you said earlier in the development of your relation at the Blackhawks with the players there. The longer you are with them, the more the intimacy and relationships formed.

Paul: Exactly.

The person that has influenced him most

Christian: Which person has influenced you most and why?

Paul: I’m not going to say names because I think that might be off-putting and I haven’t gotten permission to say names from others, but I’ve had strength coaches that I’ve seen and worked with that have taught me how I don’t want to do things. I think that’s a learning experience unto itself.

I’ve had strength coaches that I’ve seen and worked with that have taught me how I don’t want to do things.

You take information from how other coaches, either coach or handle programming or handle interactions with people. You then discern what are the things that that person does well, and what are the things that I would never want to do or treat people the way that they are treating people.

What I’ve learned from the coaches that have affected me in a way that I, still to this day, believe it’s positive because I don’t think we can emulate the great ones. You can try to emulate the greatest coaches and the greatest players, but you still have to be you.

You still have to be able to have your own voice and personality when you’re a coach or whether you’re an athlete. I think I’d take away some of the aspects of the negative side of things from coaches that I’ve seen and try to relay that into a positive approach in how I now coach people, or how I care for people and take interest in them versus being a commodity.

A really important piece to take into consideration. I’ve had some coaches, I’ll say one name because he won’t mind that I said it, but he was not a strength and conditioning coach. I had a coach, when I was at Wisconsin, who was the head football coach at the time, Barry Alvarez.

He’s currently still the Athletic Director there. I could say I didn’t have many interactions one-on-one with him on an intimate level, but I had one resonating interaction with him that I was in his office and he was asking me about me.

I had been with Wisconsin for a number of years at that time. We had a conversation and I remember the truest words that I’ve ever heard. This is twenty years ago, and it still resonates with me this day.

I don’t think I hold this quality, but he said that when he was growing up, his father always told them that he should be felt when he walked through a room. I always like going back to that thought process of being felt.

It’s like having a presence, having command, or having ownership of who you are as a person and then emitting that to people around you. It doesn’t mean that you’re loud. He wasn’t loud or brash or boisterous. He just had this presence, you wanted to work for that guy.

You wanted to make sure that you were on your best whether he was around or not because you knew he had a presence about him and he had an expectation of others around him to be able to hold onto that commitment and that desire to be great. He wasn’t a Strength Coach, but I always remembered it and I never will forget it.

I’ve passed that along to other people and coaches that I’ve worked with because I believe it’s a very powerful statement. I would say that’s been an influential part and not to admonish other coaches that I’ve worked with on other teams and there are a lot of them that resonate with me for different reasons.

They may not be in strength and conditioning as some have. You take a little bit of everybody’s type of personality, but, I have got to give that name out there to your listeners because he was a very big impact on my life, just from that one conversation with him.

How to develop a presence as a coach

Christian: Yes. How would you go about developing a presence?

Paul: It’s communication first. It’s showing an interest in the person as a person or the team as a team. Controlling a space over the course of time with the presence of care, but also a commanding presence of diligent work will ultimately create a culture that when the athletes walk through the door, that they know what you’re about, that you’re not going to waiver.

You’re not going to be moody and go with the ups and the downs of wins and losses that I’ve always said that athletes and teams go up and down, but strength and conditioning coaches have to be stable. They can’t go to the lows and be low with those players because they’re looking for somebody to bring them out of that low.

If you’re a super high and you go up high with them, then you’re not in a stable place to tell them to come back. You can’t tell them what they all did to become high. You have to be able to tell them to come back to levels of appreciation where you’ve been.

Athletes and teams go up and down, but strength and conditioning coaches have to be stable.

That commands a presence and I think that that doesn’t happen right away. I’m thinking of team sport mostly, but when I started with new teams, there’s an uncomfortable nature that I had with myself in wondering how I was going to get the team. I wondered how I was going to get them to really feel what I’m trying to do for them.

It’s not overnight and it may not even be over a lot of nights. It’s a lot of time that you have to spend to create that comradery and the trust as I said earlier. When you walk through the door, they’ll know what they got to do.

There could still be conversation and good time associated. I don’t want people to think that I come in there and I’m cracking the whip, right at the start. No, at minute one, we’re still feeling each other out.

There can be conversation while we’re doing some myofascial work. I’m not trying to say everything is sterile. A sterile environment is not a very good cultivating environment.

There has to be a collegial feel to it and energy and a vibe to make sure that everybody is feeling what you’re trying to get across to them. That commands a presence so that Paul is known to create this feeling when I’m in the room and then they know it and that’s where you get the presence from.

Things to avoid as a Strength & Conditioning Coach

Christian: Before we move on, I’m interested. You said you saw a few things that you don’t want to do. What are these things?

Paul: The things I wouldn’t want to do are yelling and screaming at players, demeaning a player, and putting yourself above the player. Those are things that I can visualize in my head as being very uncomfortable when I was in those positions.

The things I wouldn’t want to do are yelling and screaming at players, demeaning a player, and putting yourself above the player.

Now to switch a little bit to a lesser intensity type of conversation with that same thought process. Not over-coaching is a very big thing that I try to instill in my coaches and myself, because you have to let athletes or people figure things out. You’re giving them a stimulus.

They’re trying to figure out that that puzzle of how to make what you just said, or you demonstrated come to fruition with their bodies. When I first started, I can remember one athlete who I was coaching and giving an exercise that was very simple.

I’ll tell you what it was. It was a reverse hyper, and it is a great exercise, but there’s only a few coaching cues that you need to really engage with. I was coaching every single rep to this player. He ended up playing in the NFL for a number of years, and he was one of our better players.

I remember I had just started out as a full-time employee and I was coaching. Probably out of nervous energy and fear for not wanting to do a bad job, I was over coaching to compensate, and he got off the reverse hyper and tells me that sometimes more is less.

He walked away from me and I got it, and again, this is twenty-five years ago now and I’ll never forget that. Sometimes you have to hold back a bit and let people be people and figure out what you’re trying to do and let that be something that you can let them figure out and you can just coach them through it.

Over-coaching is something that I learned not to do and not to just be seen, but to actually have poignant vocal points that can be quick, it can be snappy but gets the message across and gets people to execute in the way that you want them to execute.

Over-coaching is something that I learned not to do.

Christian: Yes. I fully agree with you. Essentially, it’s about them learning and figuring out the movement by doing it, not necessarily by being told.

Paul: Yes, exactly. That’s why video is great, explanations on the paper might resonate, but they have to feel it. Also, when you’re one-on-one or with a group, you can manually manipulate. You can get to better communication if you’re not in the same space.

Regardless of whether you’re in the same space or not, you have to let them be human and let them be able to do what you just said. Figure things out and let their bodies tell them how to work.

How to manage expectations

Christian: When we’re dealing with individuals as S & C coaches, the individual has expectations. How do you manage these expectations, especially if the individual, the athlete, has a different idea of what needs to be done then your idea, how do you manage these expectations?

Paul: That’s a really great question, by the way. I’ve never been asked that question, but I’ve had conversations about that. Just to be unveiled, when you’re dealing with the especially professional athletes, they have a lot of people that come at them, saying that they’re the best and they need to work with them because they provide this, this, and this.

They have a lot of noise, and some of the noise they actually take and they’ll listen to, and then they’ll try to bring it into what they’re doing. Hopefully, I’ve created a comradery with those people that we can have an intellectual as well as a real conversation about why they are bringing that in and what’s the necessity that they see.

First off, it’s a dialogue. How do they see that benefiting them? How do I mitigate those things? I have an expectation of what I think the athlete needs and then what they bring to the fore.

You have got to have that relationship built because maybe they do want to integrate this and they’re very passionate about it. Who am I to say that they can’t because they’re still them and although I may have a differing opinion, they still have to be them.

It’s a dialogue. You have got to have that relationship built.

That’s their lives, their livelihood, and their performance. I can have an outside view of trying to help them because I’m around them more times than I’m around my wife at certain times of the year, so we’re like married together in a certain regard.

I know more about them than they even think I know because I’m sitting with them on planes. I’m watching them eat. We’re going to the same hotels, going to sleep at the same times, waking up and doing this all over again, so there’s an intimacy.

We use the word intimacy a lot, but there’s a lot of intimacy in that knowledge that you know a lot about this person and they think they know what they need, but in actuality, it might take an external person to be able to bring that home to them. My expectations of them have to go in hand with their expectations of themselves.

If I’ve done a good enough job, then those things can blend together and we can come up with a pseudo-marriage between those two things or multiple things because there could be more. The overriding factor is that if they acknowledged that I care for them and about them only, not meaning I care that you listen to me because it’s my voice, but if there’s a level of care knowing that I appreciate what they need to do and they also know that I have an interest in what they do, then I think that we can meld those things together.

That’s the biggest part of getting external noise to be able to resonate for both of us, not just be them versus me. There has to be communication. I have to take an active interest in them.

Now on the private side of things, when people come here through the door, that’s a different type of relationship because they’ve already said by committing to us that they know what they want. Those goals that they’re looking to achieve and my goals, usually go hand in hand because that’s why they’re there for me to provide some goals and expectations.

Like I said, with the trust, they have to trust that they’re going to get to those places because of me or my staff and my programming because we’re in it with them. Their goals might be their goals and our goals might be our goals, but we’re going to work on them together and those are absolutes.

Those are things that we can go hand in hand. On the opposite, it’s like if somebody brings in something from an outside source in the professional environment, I have to blend that a little bit more than I do with the absolutes of the private side.

Why he is in his position for 12 years now

Christian: Professional sports are often very fast-paced, hence coaches and staff move around a lot. Why do you think you are in your position for 12 years now?

Paul: I remember my interview here with the [Black]Hawks and I remember sitting down with our General Manager – Assistant General Manager at the time. Our team President was there as well.

They asked me why they should hire me. I knew that question was going to come. I wanted to answer it a certain way because I felt very passionate about how I wanted to answer. The answer I wanted to give, I did deliver and I was really proud of myself when I walked out of there. I told myself that I gave it.

It was that everybody has a great resume if they’re coming up to this level of being interviewed. There’s no way that that person that’s being interviewed doesn’t have a proficient resume. I didn’t know anybody in the organization. I didn’t have a person that was guiding me in.

To them, I was a stranger. The interview process, however many hours it was, I was still a stranger, and the way I communicated it was that you have all of these resumes in front of you who are probably really bright, shiny people that are looking to become the Head Strength Coach for an elite team in an organization that’s been known for seventy-five years at the time or something along those lines.

I told them that I knew how I was going to resonate with people. I know what I could do and I know how I would emphatically be emotionally tied to what goes on there. I told them it was not about me selling myself to them. I wanted to know how they felt about me.

I told them that I knew that what I could provide was going to be of the highest level of substance. It was going to be the highest level of care and it was going to be the highest level of interest and those were the three things that I could give to them then.

It’s your belief that I can do that for years to come and I think this is going on my 13th season, coming up whenever we start to play. I think that level of passion, and I’m not using that word lightly, because I know I am very passionate about what I do, maybe to a fault that sometimes, but I know my passion and my care of what I believe in, how I would want to approach it and give to others.

I know I am very passionate about what I do, I care for what I believe in.

I think that resonates, and I don’t think that I’m timed out, simply because I’ve been here for double digit years. Now, I am one of those senior Strength and Conditioning Coaches in the NHL, which is hard to believe because it feels like it’s been a flip of a switch in timeframe, but that’s why I’ve had longevity.

I had commitment from the organization who I respect a ton and I think respect me reciprocally in the same vein because they know I just care that much and I will do whatever it takes to be able to provide the best of myself to the team – always the team.

How to deal with conflict

Christian: In a team of coaches and support staff, everyone is wearing his own head. How do you deal with conflict?

Paul: Straight up, right in the face of it. I think that if you’re in this environment like I said, we’re almost married to each other. If you’re in a disgruntled situation, that’s not going away because you’re going to see those people over and over and over again and so you have to address it straight away.

If you’re in a disgruntled situation, that’s not going away, so you have to address it straight away.

Being part of a mature relationship is being able to say that something is bothersome to you. You don’t let it fester and become bigger, to use a quote, like ‘nip it in the bud’, so to speak, you don’t want to let it become something bigger than it is.

That’s what you have to do. I’m not saying I’m great at it. There are times where I’m not the best of myself when it comes to conflict, because either I’m sticking to my guns, or I feel uncomfortable in a situation of when to bring it up or how to bring it up.

I would be remiss into thinking that I could do that on all occasions. I don’t think that I’m perfect and I know how to handle conflict exactly. I don’t. I’m never going to say that I would, but I try to be the best I can when there’s a conflict of interests involved.

I try to rise above my own insecurities in this situation to be better than I think I would be in if I wasn’t trying to be cognizant of my own behaviors. It’s a work in progress. I think we’re all a work in progress in that regard, but you try to do the best job you can and not let something get bigger than it is or that it was.

I try to rise above my own insecurities and to be cognizant of my own behaviors.

That’s the best way to approach it is just being patient with yourself, knowing that you’re going to do the best job you can, but also recognize that not every time you get faced with conflict, that it’s going to be perfectly resolved.

A typical training day in the life of an NHL S&C coach

Christian: How does a typical training day in the life of an S&C coach in the NHL look like?

Paul: Every day is very different. The off-season is very systematic. There are certain times that the players come in, we train as a group, or as an individual during the course of a day and then they’re on their way.

They do what they want and usually, we train early morning. I like early morning and the players seem to like early morning. That’s pretty systematic, usually starting around seven or so, maybe some days around eight and go for a few hours, both on and off the ice, or off the ice at this stage, but in season is a whole different picture.

If I’m going to take a typical day, I’m usually at the rink by 7:00 or 7:30, and then I do all the prep work, whether it’s doing the nutritional stuff with recovery shakes or in-game preparation of the drinks that the guys would take in terms of that regard and working on the nutrition aspects for the day.

I probably have the program done for the day. On a game day, I do some heart rate monitoring and GPS system software stuff that I do with the players for the practices. I get that set up and make sure all the belts are out there.

I make sure the system’s up and running. Usually, I start the practice on the system and then I go back and I usually work with the injured guys that are not viable to practice at the time. During their practice, I’m usually working with them, they get off the ice and take the system.

I take all the information through the data ports and then import it, try to create some spreadsheets and graphs for coaches and for myself and for the players as well. These are three separate entities, mind you, they don’t get the same thing.

If it’s a game day, then the guys go back to their houses and do whatever they do. I’m usually working on some other things. If we have injured guys, or we have healthy scratch guys then we might do some extra work then.

Games start around like 7:30. We usually are there all day anyway, so we’re not going home or anything like that. The guys start floating around about three and a half hours earlier. I’ve already done all the prep work with all the drinks that they get for the games and players start coming in.

I have my massage license as well. I also do myofascial stretching routines with the guys that need it for activation or whatever they may need for soft tissue work. With a few guys that come to see me prior to the game, we do some dynamic warmups, do some activation stuff with certain players and the guys go and play.

I have some of the healthy scratches work during the actual game. We emulate the times that they would be on the ice. After games, we actually train the guys that played in the game. After the game is done and they’ve trained, then you close up shop and call it a day.

On the home game, most days, I’m usually at the rink by 7:00, home by 12:30/1 o’clock, and be done with the day and start all over the next day. The road is way different. The road is a whole other animal because we’re flying from city to city.

Usually, it just might be a cool thing for your listeners to know that when a game ends, so just say a game ends at 10 o’clock, we’re usually on the bus, all of our equipment, bus packed out by 30 minutes later, and then we’re on a flight 30 minutes after that, headed to the next city. So if a game ends at 10, we’re usually on our flight by 11, and then we’re flying however many hours to the next city or home, whatever you may say.

So that changes the spectrum. Generally, everything else is the same. It’s just adding another piece of the puzzle of leaving and going to the next city and setting up at the next city, which is like early morning hours. So it’s something that I think might be interesting.

The “Blackhawks Road Trips with Paul Goodman”

Christian: There’s a video, “Blackhawks  Road Trip with Paul Goodman” on YouTube. How many road trips, like this, do you have in a month or in a year?

Paul: So we have 42 road games; so it’s an 82 game season, so 42 road games. Tough to say how many trips are like that but because, well, we’re visiting 41 cities. We might get there a couple of days before the game, or it might get there the day before the game.

We never land on the day of a game. That’s not something that we do. But any road game that you see is that. That’s pretty much what you see every single time we go out there because that’s the level of what we do; it’s always the same.

You got to set up the visiting room; you have to have the players feel like it’s their room with all their gear lined up. I have to get my stuff set up for the sports science side of things for the myofascial things, for the training side of things. So that’s what it looks like.

Check out the Blackhawks Road Trip with Paul Goodman

It’s a pretty good snapshot. There’s more to it than even just what was shown in the video, but it does give a pretty good feel of what a day in the life actually looks like on the road.

How to design a training program

Christian: How do you design a training program?

Paul: I design a training program similar to the philosophy of movement quality first. I see how a person or an athlete moves and a lot of the guys are really proficient in a movement when they’re at the professional level. You’re dealing with a 1% athletic population there.

This isn’t everybody by any means. Generally, they’re pretty in tune with their body and meaning how they move their body. Now, playing a sport may infringe upon some movement quality, so you want to identify what are those areas that you can work on.

So we do a battery of assessments with the players when they first enter into a season and a lot of those assessments are basically evaluating their moving quality, as well as forced production, force reduction, reacceleration, output, power output, things along those lines. I don’t care about the results being great.

I actually want to find the results that aren’t great so that we have things that we can actually propel and work on. I think that’s maybe a different thought process than some people may have on the terms of assessments because I’m not grading their successes at all because I don’t think that’s fair.

You’re grading your successes based upon their own successes. I think that’s the way to do it versus marketing success based upon everybody else. That’s what I try to say.

How I design a program is how I would always design a program in finding their areas that need to have a level of acuity, whether it’s getting rid of external rotation of the hip, making more internal rotation so they have more streamlined movements of their lower extremity versus being externally rotated, which is hockey.

Hockey is a very externally rotated sport of the lower limb. So trying to streamline, it makes things more in line, so to speak. I’m not trying to change what they do or change how they are, but try to get things more in line with what would be an athletic body versus just a hockey body.

I look at certain movement qualities of whether it’s lunging or lateral lunging or crossing under and incorporating our movements with that to create thoracic spread, open up the chest cavity and the thoracic spine by doing complex movements. Now start off basic work to more complex as you see acuity being developed and then building that.

That’s always the first start of a session. So I said, we start with foot and ankle and knee and hip, and that’s part of it. And so we do movement quality, non-weight bearing – non-load bearing work to start off a session. Their load is their body weight.

Sometimes they’re asking when we will get to the working part of things. I usually tell them to wait and then they will say that it was a pretty good working part of it. If you’re trying to do the movements with quality, a simple movement that people are doing is lunge walk and they feel that it is easy for them to do.

However, if they put purpose behind their lunge walk and add these components, then they’re really feeling like it is making a difference. From there, I do structural loading. As I said, it’s not axial loading.

We’ll do Zercher Squats, we’ll kettlebell squat, we’ll kettlebell double front squat, we’ll trap bar deadlift. Base strength movements are more along those lines versus the heavy loaded Back Squats and Front Squats and things like that.

I’ve gotten away from Olympic lifting for the sport anyway, for hockey. There are so many issues with a wrist, elbow, shoulders that either through acute trauma or just overuse that I have found that the Olympic movements actually exacerbate the problems versus actually enhancing power for the athletes.

You’re working on more things of a preventative nature versus actually getting a benefit from the actual movement. I’ve gone away from that.

I have coaches that I work with on the private side that have never worked with me and they may have come from other philosophies of coaching, that may be more systematic, like here’s your speed day, here’s your strength day, here’s your dynamic day. So they may go onto those models.

I say to them that I don’t hold a model. I hold the goals they have for the session. What are the goals of that session? For later sessions, whether it’s in the week or whether it’s down the line in the month, or maybe even down the line at three months from now, what are your goals for that session?

I don’t hold a model. I hold the goals for the session.

Being respectful of where they are in the season or off-season, and having a purpose that you’re trying to get to, but what are the goals of that individual session? And then knowing your anatomy or physiology or biomechanics and energetics, put together a session using that imaginative quality.

I don’t like coaches to be boxed into saying that they have to do a structural lift, so it has to be this. They can define what their structural lift is and then maybe there’s a reason better to say that one week, they need to work or this day we need to work on trap bar Deadlifts because I want to elicit this sort of reactive strength index when you go to them or a power index when you go to the next exercise or you’re just trying to develop strength and that’s it.

That has more of a strength-based than like a kettlebell front squat, for instance. So you have to have a purpose, like purpose and movement, the purpose of programming, but at the same time, imagine it. Don’t just go in a box and write it and be like, this plugs there, this plugs there and now, I have my program.

That might be good for some people, but for me, I find it kind of boring. I find it kind of cumbersome even to be boxed in. To finish this last comment off, I only do two-week blocks.

I do want to create a stimulus that is actually felt with a benefit the second week because the first week people are just getting a learning effect. They are getting a learning effect, but they’re also getting a training effect because they’re going to do it multiple times, not just doing it once.

Now, if they were to do it once and you only did it once on the second week then, yes, you’re not getting a training effect. But if you’re doing it enough times during the course of the sessions throughout that one session, the learning effect will be gone.

They’re going to get the training effect then, and then the second week there might be an iteration that’s slightly different or more complex to that first week and then we move on. The next two weeks blocks are building to the next piece and so on and so forth.

I feel that that actually keeps the athletes’ attention and quality of movement and that they don’t get bored with doing the same thing over and over and over again for three weeks or four weeks. It’s more work on my part for sure, but it’s worth it because the quality of what I’m giving them and the quality of response will be multiplied.

How to balance developing physical qualities in the short period of time available during an NHL season and maintaining them

Christian: And that leads almost perfectly into the next question. The NHL is famous for many games in a season. How do you balance between developing physical qualities in the short period of time available and maintaining them?

Paul:  Fantastic question. That’s a hard one also. It’s a hard question because we have some players that are 18 years old playing into the NHL. And then we have some players that are 37 years old playing in the NHL. These players are playing in the same league and same team.

The way that I believe you have to approach the players that are in the developmental stage of things is that we have to capitalize on the non-game day playing off-ice training. Capitalizing that little lightning in a bottle type of circumstances because the older players may need to utilize those days as just recovery days.

Their bodies, although extremely fit and able to handle a lot, may need more time of recovery than the 18-year-old may need. You still have to be careful with the 18-year-old because they still can get burnt out and they can get fatigued and you can do some things that would obviously diminish their performance when they get onto the ice to play.

But you have to be very careful. And so that is a very careful line that you have to walk along, but I think it’s imperative to create ground with those players in the developmental aspects when you get to those players.

The season itself is very tricky to periodize. Having goals and expectations, it gets very tough. We might play a lot of home games, say in the month of October when the season starts off. This is not this season, of course, but in previous seasons we would be playing a lot of home games.

Then when you know you’re playing a lot of home games where you could get a lot of good quality training done, when you go and now you know you’re going to be hit with some long road trips if you’ve had a lot of home games. And so how do you get that quality on the road?

I’m going to tell you, it’s really hard because like I said, we’re only in and out of a city after a game in 30 minutes. How much can you get done in that 30 minutes? And that’s not even considering that we have to pack up everything. The guys have to get dressed and then get on the bus.

I really only have a potential for 10 minutes. So 10 minutes of time, I still want to get something done. But at the same time, I have to be mindful of the circumstances and what are the parameters that I’m working on there and how do I elicit a training effect.

I have to be really diligent with what are the three or four movements that I need to work on? And then bang, let’s get those done. Now, at least I feel like they’ve accomplished something. They feel like they’ve accomplished something.

But it’s tricky. It’s a very tricky and difficult system to really come up with. There are certain plots of the season that have longer breaks than others and so for that, you could get yourself towards those goals and those windows of time, and then try to capitalize on better training or more systematic training.

But in the course of an 82 game season, I would be remiss if I think that any strength coach has that locked down because every single season is different based upon our travel schedule and our game schedule and it’s really a big, big puzzle. I look a week out basically and see where I could kind of capitalize.

I should mention that at the start of a season though, it’s a massive, massive system that I come up with that projects out when I’ll have the opportunity to train the team. I take into consideration flight times, time zone changes, game time, when we are projected to go to sleep, all these different aspects of whether it’s literals, meaning here’s our flight, here’s when we land, here’s when we play.

I take into consideration flight times, time zone changes, game time, when we are projected to go to sleep, all these different aspects.

The figurative ones may ask when they’re going to possibly get to sleep. Some people may fall asleep right when they get home. Some people may be wired and need to stay up a little bit longer, but generally, where are they going to fall asleep?

Then other aspects that I don’t need to bore you with, but that goes into this massive document. It basically projects out when I could train and what kind of training I want to do during those windows of time.

His training and education facility Goodman Elite

Christian: I mentioned earlier, you are the co-owner of the Goodman Elite facility. You offer training onsite, remote training, and education. Tell us more about that.

Paul: My training facilities are inside the same training facility as the Blackhawks training facility. It’s just on another end of the rink. It’s in the middle of two of the rinks and the Blackhawks have their own dedicated site, which I run as well, but this side is the private side.

We offer individual training sessions with myself or with one of our coaches. This is a one-on-one type of training that you would typically see in a training facility, but as I said, it’s not a gym, it’s a training facility.

So the second a person signs up and walks through the door, they’re met with one of our coaches or myself. And then they go through a training program with me or one of the coaches. So that’s one-on-one.

We have team training where we may get a small group of players, ranging from kids to teenagers that come in as small groups and we’ll do small group training, three, four, or five kids in a small group where they get that dedicated training experience.

It’s a training environment where they’re doing not just very sterile movements; they’re doing movements that’ll create athleticism. Then we’ll do team training where we have a program. Here, that brings in their full team and at different age levels.

They go all the way from 2010 birth year up until they’re 18 years or younger. So all the different ages of that that we train in the team setting. So a little bit different dynamic because the space is what it is. It’s limited to what the space is.

I have the room set very wide open so I can change what I want to do versus blocked in by a lot of bulky equipment. So our room is very open. People will walk into whether it’s the Blackhawks side or my private side and they’ll comment that we’ve got plenty of room for new equipment.

I quickly tell them that we don’t want more equipment. We want to be able to move equipment around so that we get different types of training stimulus and elicit a different response.

Then we train pros. We’ve had UFC fighters, we’ve had a major league baseball. We obviously have hockey. We’ve had a rugby interest too. I used to play rugby, so there’s an interest there as well.

So we get different types of training of the people in the brick and mortar. Then when we do satellite training, whether they’re all over, basically. I’m training a player that plays in the KHL and the Russian League.

We do communications via FaceTime and go through programming and I’ll send them all of my programming, I link to videos of demonstrations so that they have a full comprehension of what the words are actually saying versus me trying to explain it over FaceTime or a text.

It’s a very systematic process to that as well, that we work with Zoom sessions for players as well, or teams actually. For instance, because of COVID, some of the teams couldn’t gather. We were working with our girls’ team in a program.

The other day we had one of our coaches host the Zoom session for the kids that weren’t able to obviously train in person. We had 36 of the girls attend one Zoom session for a training. It’s all bodyweight when we’re doing the zoom sessions, but it still has a purpose and an intensity to it that gets conveyed, and then the girls were really good at responding to that.

Then the last piece of your question is education. We’ve run clinics and symposiums, and we continue to grow the educational forum. Like I mentioned, I’m really heavy into education and helping other coaches with their education. I feel really passionate about reach on that educational front.

I’m really heavy into education and helping other coaches with their education. I feel really passionate about reach on that educational front.

We have ideas and bigger plans trying to do something internationally, actually, with getting an education from other coaches and building coaches. Not definitely all through my eyes. I have ideas and I love to contribute to them.

Obviously, that is our ultimate goal with that educational system that we want to put in place. But that’s the whole point of education is to get other minds like yourself and other people together and collaborate and learn from one another and that’s the only way that you’re going to grow.

You can have your own imagination. You can think that you know everything. I didn’t know you until recently, and so, I’m going to learn more about you through your educational pathways, through your system, in this podcast, and listening to some of the previous guests that you’ve had.

If you’re not doing that, then I think you’re going to be stagnant and stale. I’ll end with this little comment, but people always ask me, well, what do you listen to or what do you read? I don’t really read much anymore simply because when I’m reading, it’s usually for my doctoral work.

I don’t really have quality time just to read a book or something, but I listen to books all the time, or I’m not a big podcast person until recently, actually. Certain people got me inspired on podcasts and I’ve listened to some great ones lately that I’m excited about.

I mostly listen to books because it gives like a depth of a certain topic and none of them are on strength and conditioning. They’re usually on – I really like listening to books that are mindset-oriented, leadership-oriented, task-specific types of books, like growth.

I think that a growth mindset or fixed mindset really gets a true testament to whether a person’s going to be able to adapt or not. So that’s the kind of thing I listened to.

Some people will say that that’s boring, but it’s not. Not at all to me because I feel that those two aspects, leadership, and mindset, really transcend anything I do physically with a player. They actually dominate.

His podcast tips

Christian: What are the podcast tips that you have? You said you found some really good podcasts.

Paul: Like your podcast. You allowed me as the guest to talk. I’m thinking and I’m working my thoughts while talking to you, and I’m new to this podcast. I feel honored that I’m even a guest on your podcast because I listened to other people’s podcasts and thought that it’d be really cool to be considered one of those types of people.

Then you would consider me, I feel very honored and special. So I thank you for that opportunity, but you’re allowing me to work through my thoughts while I’m speaking and not interjecting.

I like dialogue, don’t get me wrong. But with a question and answer type, it gives a format and it gives a direction to the podcast where people can say that they understand the topic better through that person’s eyes, versus it being like a running dialogue where you’re not really sure and you’re catching snippets.

I’m not saying one is better than the other, but I appreciate this format, so you let me work through the question a little bit while I’m talking. Hopefully, I didn’t speak too much because I do have a tendency to over-speak at times.

The podcasts that I’m drawn to is not necessarily the topic, because the topic may not be anything that people would think a strength and conditioning coach would be listening to, but I think that the topic and the way the topic is handled and the guest has to be willing to be unveiled a bit and not just simply give like surface-y answers because I think that’s boring.

I think that that’s what had tuned me out of some listening to certain podcasts is because yes, I see that you want to go somewhere, but then you’re holding back. Maybe it’s because you don’t want to divulge too much about your philosophy or what they think because maybe it’s controversial or maybe it’s proprietary.

But that opens the lens up to who the person is a little bit. That’s when you get connected to the person that’s being interviewed and certainly the interviewer you getting connected to because you show passion for the area. But the person that’s getting interviewed, has to speak and be not afraid to get down to some crux things that are really what they’re core about.

The book Paul has co-authored “Hockey Anatomy”

Christian: Let’s talk about your book. You have co-authored the book, “Hockey Anatomy.” What does the reader get from that book?

Paul: The book is brought into segments. Our team orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Michael Terry, was the other author and he’s the Director of Sports Medicine at Northwestern Hospital as well. But he and I co-authored it.

So his part of it was basically writing the introductions on what areas were pertinent to the sport of hockey, whether it’s strength, power, mobility, there are nine different areas, like agility, speed, conditioning, etc.

He wrote the introductions on each of those in the prep and also the introduction of the entire book, which lays out the science behind those aspects to say why they are important. Then my responsibility was coming up with the exercises or drills for that matter that would be representative of that area.

But not just a drill and just basically I explained the drill. I explained the execution of the drill. But drawing out what are the muscles of the anatomy that are being primarily recruited and secondary recruited? So what are the primary, secondary movement muscle moments, and then incorporating that into why it’s important for the sport of hockey?

What is the hockey focus? It takes you down this or takes you up the stepwise type of progression of understanding why some areas of exercise are important. Here is how I do the exercise. Here are the muscles that are going to be engaged while doing those exercises.

How are these exercises and these muscle groups important for the sport? So it has a big impact and especially for whether you’re a coach or a player, I think you can get something out of that. We are opening ourselves up to actually having that book be utilized in collegiate courses as well because it’s more functional anatomy versus just anatomy.

The learner nowadays actually can benefit from understanding movement patterns and seeing what muscles are recruited versus just memorizing muscles. I think you actually might memorize muscles faster by knowing that how they’re recruited and how they’re used in movements.

His interview nomination

Christian: We’re getting to the end of the interview. Do you want to nominate someone to be interviewed?

Paul: I think a really good person to ask is a really good professional friend of mine. And his name is Matt Pryce, he’s the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Los Angeles Kings.

The reason why I’d recommend him is he probably wouldn’t show it necessarily in a podcast, but he’s one of the funniest guys that are in this industry, in my opinion. Maybe it’s my sense of humor that I love his type of sense of humor, but he’s wicked intelligent and super bright in the field and he cares and he’s buddies.

It’s almost like a kismet type of thing where I relate to how he thinks. He relates to how I think, and he’s equally as passionate about the area without being all over people about the area. What we both like to do is take a step back, appreciate the space that needs to be between my passion and your interest.

You may say that you’re interested, but if I go right into everything that I’m passionate about with you, you might say that it is too much. So being aware of what that space needs to be. He does an excellent job, so I would recommend him and he would be a great guest because he’s had some really great experiences with the Canadian national team.

Before he was hired with the LA Kings that are great experiences in a breath on his resume that speaks volumes about him as a professional. So I would say if you could get ahold of him, and you will, he would be a great interview.

Christian: Really cool.

Where can you find Paul Goodman

Christian: Where can people find you?

Paul: I have a website Goodman Elite, that’s the website for our business. Then I have two social media. I’m not really good with the handles that I think, but if they look up Paul Goodman and Chicago Blackhawks they’ll find my personal one and that they look up Goodman Elite, or the only Goodman Elite one that there is, those are both on Instagram and Twitter.

I’m very open. I love getting whether it’s email or getting emails through my communications. I love communicating and I love being open for people to communicate with and obviously. I get some interest from a lot of different sources, but from the people that might be listening to this, I think that what I would like to say is don’t be afraid to reach out.

Those are the types of people that sometimes, you have to be an arm’s length away from giving out their contact information, but Instagram is always a very good one and then they can find me, and then email on Blackhawks will be pretty simple to figure out also. So I think that those are the ways to communicate with me.

Paul Goodman’s social profiles



Facebook page



Christian: I will link all of that up. Paul, thank you. Thanks a lot for your time. Thanks for sharing your expertise and experiences.

Paul: Thank you so much, Christian. It’s been great. I really appreciate the interest.