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Podcast 125: Boston Bruins' Charlie Coyle on Sleep, Recovery, Performance & Playing for Hometown Team

June 2, 2021

Charlie Coyle of the Boston Bruins joins the WHOOP Podcast to discuss work ethic, sleep performance, the connection between recovery and delivering on the ice, and playing NHL hockey for his hometown team.

By Will Ahmed

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Boston Bruins center Charlie Coyle sits down with our VP of Performance Kristen Holmes for a wide-ranging discussion about his journey to the NHL, the importance of work ethic, and the connection between WHOOP recovery and in-game hockey performance.

Kristen and Charlie dive deep on some fascinating WHOOP data that shows how elevated recovery leads to a remarkable improvement in statistical output during NHL games. We tracked the data of one All-Star player for a full season, and found that he saw a significant increase in shots, puck touches, passes, and goals on days where he woke up with an above average recovery.

Stay healthy and stay in the green!


Charlie Coyle Podcast Quotes and Highlights:

2:37 – Journey to the NHL. Charlie details his path to the NHL and how his family inspired him to pick up sports from a young age. “Hockey was always my love. … My father got me into it. He coached me all the way up to high school. He taught me everything,” Charlie says. “He’s still my coach today pretty much. He texts me every game and gives me a pump up speech every time.”

5:36 – Putting in the Work. “I would pick apart our picket fence [with pucks as a kid]. It’s beat to crap. But you look back and I’ll go back to my parents’ place today – they’re still in the same house – and you see those marks and those dents, it brings back good memories. I know my parents feel the same way.”

6:32 – Letting Nothing Get in the Way. “It wasn’t like I was going out and hanging with girls and drinking or doing [drugs]. I was pretty straight arrow all the way through high school and even in college, I didn’t drink in college,” Charlie says. “I wanted to get where I wanted to get and I didn’t want to screw anything up. I didn’t want anything to get in the way.”

8:38 – Making Sacrifices for Hockey. “If I had to skip junior prom or whatever to go shoot some pucks or something, I used to get made fun of for [doing things like that], but it was something I enjoyed doing and I knew it was helping me get to the next level that I knew I wanted to get to. … I tried to do everything I could to gain that little edge and advantage.”

14:20 – Sleep Consistency and Naps. Charlie and Kristen talk about his WHOOP data and the challenges many pro athletes face in getting consistent sleep with their demanding schedules. “It makes it tough trying to go to bed consistently at the same time. There’s only so much you can control. So you have to do the best you can with it, I’m a big napper,” Charlie says, adding he naps all the time before games. “That’s why the WHOOP has been so great, getting to see your [sleep] results. [You think], ‘I’m waking up at 8 tomorrow, I can go to bed at 12.’ That’s what you always think, ‘Oh, I got 8 hours.’ Well, you didn’t. That’s something that’s so cool with WHOOP, to see that.”

17:07 – Sleep Debt and Performance. Kristen details how sleep debt can negatively affect mental acuity. “People don’t recognize how critical sleep is, not just for the physical restoration, but for the mental restoration as well,” Kristen says. She also notes that there’s a relationship between sleep debt and injury and illness burden. Charlie shares some nap tips.

18:58 – WHOOP Recovery & Performance on the Ice. Kristen shares some remarkable WHOOP data with Charlie that shows a direct connection between elevated recovery and increased performance on the ice.

WHOOP was asked to analyze an entire season’s data of one NHL All Star and found that the player’s statistical performance improved significantly when he woke up with a recovery above his average.

On days where the player woke up with a higher recovery than normal, he averaged 2 more shots, 12 more successful passes, 11 additional puck touches, and 0.25 more goals.

Based on the numbers, if the player had an elevated recovery for every game, he would score 12 more goals, would touch the puck an additional 926 times, would complete 763 more passes, and would register 163 more shots.

“Wow, that’s insane stuff,” Charlie says of the data. “That makes you think.”

24:28 – Psychological Implications to Recovery. Kristen and Charlie discuss how mental, emotional, and psychological factors can have a positive impact on recovery.

27:54 – Returning to Play for Hometown Team. Charlie details his trade from the Minnesota Wild to his hometown Boston Bruins. “I was so fortunate. It felt so good to be able to go home and be a part of a [good] team and possibly make a [Stanley] Cup run, which we ended up going on.” Charlie tallied 9 goals and 7 assists in 24 games in the 2019 playoffs. The Bruins lost in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals to the St. Louis Blues.

32:19 – COVID Bubble. “It sucked, to be honest,” Coyle said of the NHL’s playoff bubble during the COVID shortened 2020 season. “Things didn’t work out, we ran into the Tampa Bay Lightning who ended up winning and played great. Having no fans there, it just seemed like it was a practice atmosphere. You don’t want to make excuses, it was an opportunity to win a Stanley Cup, but compared to how it usually is, there’s nothing better than playoff hockey and it’s because of the fans. Everyone hated it, everyone wished there were fans in there, but it was a chance to win it and we came up short. It’s nice, these days, to have put that behind us.”

37:19 – Learning from Failure. “Your failures and all that, say you don’t make a team, that’s how you learn. That’s how you use it as motivation and move on. You take those failures and it helps you succeed later on. Stay positive through it all. Don’t get down on yourself. It will happen, but use it as motivation, get back out there, get up, and keep moving. I tell kids all the time, … ‘If you watch me on TV, I fall down all the time! Get back up, get in the play, and you’ll be good to go.’”

40:42 – Winning. “It’s hard to do. It doesn’t happen a lot. You always have that itch to do it. You want to keep doing it. It keeps pulling you in that direction to work hard. That’s why you do it. If you go in the gym or go on the ice in the summertime and you always have to remind yourself why you’re in there. … ‘This is going to help me in the third period in that championship game.’ That winning, it just pulls you, you want to be the best. You want to be there for your teammates.”

41:58 – Giving 100% Always. “If you take a rep off or only go 50% in the gym, you’re going to do that somewhere else too, and it becomes a habit. You get into that rhythm where you’re going 100%, and you can’t do anything less than that. You make your bed 100%, you brush your teeth 100%. It sounds funny, but you train yourself to do that.”

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Will Ahmed

Will Ahmed is the Founder and CEO of WHOOP, which has developed next generation wearable technology for optimizing human performance and health. WHOOP members include professional athletes, Fortune 500 CEOs, fitness enthusiasts, military personnel, frontline workers and a broad range of people looking to improve their performance. WHOOP has raised more than $400 million from top investors and is valued at $3.6 billion, making it the most valuable standalone wearables company in the world. Ahmed has recruited an active advisory board that consists of some of the world’s most notable cardiologists, technologists, marketers, and designers. Ahmed was recently named to the 2021 Sports Business Journal 40 under 40 list as well as 2020 Fortune 40 Under 40 Healthcare list and previously named to Forbes 30 Under 30 and Boston Business Journal’s 40 Under 40. Ahmed founded WHOOP as a student at Harvard, where he captained the Men’s Varsity Squash Team and graduated with an A.B. in government.