Athlete Development – An Individualized Approach

Vancouver Canucks General Manager Mike Gillis is taking a comprehensive approach to ensuring that each and every one of the athletes on his payroll has access to the assistance required in order to be the best hockey players that they possibly can be. From providing daily nutrition support for specific athletes, to researching and improving the team’s strategies on sleep and jet lag, Gillis is carefully assessing the strengths and weaknesses of each of the players and coordinating an individualized support plan that is being implemented by his team of dedicated sport medicine and science practitioners – physicians, therapist, strength and conditioning coaches, dietitians and even sleep experts.

Matt Sekeres of the Globe and Mail recently wrote on this and characterizes Gillis’s actions as “outside of the box thinking”. SportMedBC’s CEO Lynda Cannell applauds Gillis’s efforts and encourages high performance coaches at all levels to develop these type of plans for their athletes. “It takes a comprehensive,  individualized approach to establish an effective performance enhancement program. Coaches are often good at identifying specific areas of weakness, but lack the necessary follow through and engagement of appropriate experts to address these weaknesses.”

In the area of nutrition, Gillis has singled out a couple of players who needed to work on their fitness and weight control. He has gone as far as hiring a team chef that now prepares and provides these players with three healthy meals a day to help them with their weight loss process. Sport dietitian Jennifer Gibson, SportMedBC’s Manager of SportMed Nutrition Programs, works with many professional athletes and knows all too well that day to day nutrition is often not a big priority. “I think that it’s great that the Canucks are taking their nutrition this seriously and with such detail. Proper diet and hydration give the foundation that the players need to practice and play at 100% of their potential. We know that nutrition plays a big role in helping the guys with recovery, regeneration as well as preventing illness. When you are investing so much in the salaries of these professional athletes, ensuring that they are healthy and have optimally performing bodies is critical to maximizing ice time and team performance.”

Read Matt’s full article in the Globe & Mail here.

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