The first junior hockey team I consulted with many years ago the coach was adamant in my talk on nutrition that “there is no magic pill”. As I was not entirely sure what he meant by this I pressed him on the topic and he said that he did not want me to talk about all the various supplements that were just coming out at the time like creatine, DHEA, Tribulus terrestris, etc. Even protein powder was off limits despite my statement of nutritional facts and studies that were present at the time. He wasn’t interested in any of it.
Later that night over a beer at the local pub I continued my talk on this subject and he mentioned how in his day as he played at the major junior and then professional level that it was hard work that got players to the next level. All that other stuff was just window dressing. If you didn’t put the time in at the rink and off the ice (in his day it was things like longer distance running, push-ups, sit-ups, etc., which makes me cringe, but that’s another topic). He was up before school and at the rink for an hour, and then went back to the rink after school for a skate with his buddies before hockey practice. Life was about the game of hockey, and there was no substitute for time spent learning the game.
In my time in this industry as I see more and more innovations and advances in science I have to agree with this coach more and more. Advances are great, but you have to put the work in at the rink and off the ice during dryland. Couple those two things with a solid diet and you have the three legs of a stool. Everything else really is window dressing. In this day and age of the quick fix, magic pill society we forget what truly matters. We see multi-million dollar athletes in all sports getting caught on a weekly basis for performance enhancing drugs (PED’s) and think that’s the future of all sport. After talking with a number of experts in sport I will say that drug use is rampant at the highest level…but a day will come when this is not possible anymore. Our knowledge of the body and how to enhance it is growing all the time and cheating will become increasingly harder and harder to do. Some day, it will come back to the days of my youth where hard work at the rink and in the gym will get you to the next level. I wrote my book on DRYLAND training so that honest, clean athletes could harness the power of training knowledge, without having to cheat to become the best. Some day that will happen…and I look forward to that day with all my heart because it should be forever about the game of hockey, not a magic pill.