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You Can’t Do A Pullup?! Neither Can Highly Rated NHL Prospect

The article concerns the following question – You Can’t Do A Pullup?! Neither Can Highly Rated NHL Prospect. So you may have just heard recently that one of the top hockey prospects for the upcoming NHL Draft, Sam Bennett, couldn’t do even one pullup at the NHL Draft Combine.  Yes, he can’t do a pullup.  The kid (yes, he’s just a kid) has taken a bit of ribbing in the media for this but this doesn’t shock me given the lack of strength and conditioning knowledge of some of the sports writers that covered this story. What I can’t comment on is Sam Bennett’s training leading up to the draft combine.


I have no idea what he was doing or who he was training with, so really, what’s to comment on here.  Some trainers don’t even know what tests are going to be done at the draft combine until a day or two leading up to it.  So how can you prepare someone in that amount of time? Anyway, what we do know about Sam Bennett is that he’s one hell of a hockey player.  In 57 games this past season, he scored 36 goals and had 55 assists.  For all the math whizzes out there, that’s 91 points in 57 games.

Not too shabby if I do say so myself.  I remember a guy not too long ago that couldn’t bench press 185lbs at the draft combine and now he’s in the top 10 in NHL scoring.  He said something to the tune of, “I don’t bench press the puck into the net.” Now the fact that Sam Bennett couldn’t do a pullup should have NHL scouts drooling at the possibility of what he’ll be like once he actually starts a consistent training programs with an experienced professional (Again, I have no clue what training he’s done in the past, so forgive me if he’s been working with someone for a while now).

Most of the players I’ve trained were in the same boat as this kid when they first showed up at my door.  I’d have a day where the group would test some things, like pullups, for my own knowledge as well as for some good healthy competition between the players.  I can only remember a handful of those guys that could actually do a proper pullup, while the rest struggled, squirmed, and flailed attempting to get one rep in.

The reality of the situation is that he’s a young athlete that hasn’t even come close to his full potential when it comes to gaining strength.  Another thing to note is that relative strength is only one aspect of athleticism.  Remember that hockey players require the ability to change directions quickly, accelerate quickly, and produce force at a rapid rate. Despite not having that much strength, this kid has been able to excel.  Assuming he starts to really dedicate himself to the weight room, this kid is going to be a dangerous professional player for years to come.

Now if you’re in the same boat as Sam Bennett and can’t complete a pullup, here’s some tips to get you on your way to smoking his NHL Draft Combine score:

1. Lat Pulldowns and Dumbbell Rows

Without even touching the pullup bar, you can improve your back and bicep strength by doing lat pulldowns and rows.

2. Band Assisted Pullups

I love using these with the players I train.  It takes a bit of their bodyweight away when the band pulls itself back to it’s resting point.  There’s a number of different bands with various resistance ranges that you can use to gradually build up to doing a pullup on your own as well.

3. Reverse Pullups

This is another way to get players up on the bar without having them demoralized by not being able to do a pullup.  Use a bench or chair to get yourself up to the top point of a pullup.  Lower yourself slowly until you’re hanging by the bar (think 5 second count).  You’ll still be building strength, albeit the eccentric portion of the movement. So if you’re still not able to do a pullup, don’t fret.  You still have a chance of getting drafted high in the NHL Draft, like Sam Bennett is about to.  If this is a weakness of yours, make sure to work hard at making it a strength.  That’s #bluecollar!

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