As the Strength & Conditioning Coach for the team, Roger Takahashi is responsible for developing, initiating, and monitoring the in-season and off-season training programs for the 50+ players who are under contract with the Canucks, whether they are playing for the Canucks, the Chicago Wolves, the Kalamazoo Wings, NCAA, or Junior Hockey.
He is also responsible, along with the team’s Athletic Therapists, for player and team nutrition, and rehabilitation of injured players. Roger is also responsible for pre-season physical testing and analysis, NHL Entry Draft Combine analysis, providing all material for the player’s off–season training website, running and aiding in creating the Conditioning Camp, researching nutrition/ supplementation/ exercise physiology, etc. and aiding in player development from a conditioning aspect.
DAY TO DAY
During the season, game days and non–game days are similar, in that Roger usually arrives at the rink at 6:00am to make all the necessary preparations for the day.
“Injured players usually arrive around 8:30am and I’ll work out with them for two hours,” explains Roger. “Depending on the injury, we’ll either be in the gym or on the ice. When the rest of the team arrives, I will facilitate a dryland warm-up prior to the morning practice.” He also works with several individual players prior to and post practice on specific areas to improve or maintain.
Another aspect of Roger’s job is to monitor nutritional supplementation of the team. “I make pre-practice and pre-game drinks for specific players, and will also make recovery drinks for specific players as well.”
A typical game night for Roger includes assisting the players with their pre-game warm up routines, and working out with injured players and “healthy-scratches” in the gym. Post-game, he will run a flush ride on the stationary bikes and a post game workout / cool down. Roger usually leaves the rink shortly before midnight - unless the team is practicing early the next morning, in which case he’ll sleep overnight at the rink.
HIT THE BOOKS
Roger went to school at the University of Waterloo, obtaining a Bachelor of Science in General Science, and then a Bachelor of Science in Honours Kinesiology. He also is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association, a member of the British Columbia Association of Kinesiologists, and the President of the NHL Strength and Conditioning Coaches. Prior to joining the Canucks, Roger trained various athletes through his own company, and he worked in physical rehabilitation for over 10 years. He also worked in the BCHL as a Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Langley Hornets.
“Taking kinesiology and the CSCS really helped to form my base of knowledge for my position with the Canucks,” explains Roger. “I found it to be a good balance of practical and academic information for the job. Additionally, the year I spent in the BCHL showed me all the behind the scenes duties and hockey culture issues that prepared me for the NHL.”
Another tip Roger has for people wanting to follow in his footsteps is all about personality.
“When you interact with players, management, coaches, and media, personality is key. You have to be diplomatic, yet firm when needed. You must have good communication skills. Other important skills are the ability to multi-task, think outside the box, and work in a team environment.”
What advice does Roger have for others wanting to get into this position? Just like so many other positions, post-secondary schooling combined with related volunteer experience is key.
“Get a degree in Kinesiology, Human Kinetics, Exercise Physiology, or Athletic Therapy. Then get your CSCS. Finally, get some experience, even if it is as a volunteer. There are many junior teams that would welcome a Strength and Conditioning Coach, but do not have the funds to pay for one.”