Barwis aims to put Wings on cutting edge of medicine, analytics
Mike Barwis on Wings GM Steve Yzerman: “He’s the main reason that I’m excited about this opportunity.”
The Red Wings want to be at the forefront of sports science and analytics and how they are applied in maximizing the performance of hockey players and dealing with their injuries.
That’s why they hired Mike Barwis as the team’s director of sports science and human performance over the summer.
Barwis, 46, is an internationally renowned strength and conditioning coach who is also an entrepreneur through his BARWIS Companies. He works with a wide variety of athletes, non-athletes and those with physical challenges.
In a recent interview with Hockey Weekly, Barwis talked about his program, working for Steve Yzerman and what new methods Barwis will bring to the Detroit program.
Barwis talked about his approach to rehabilitation, working with pro athletes and non-athletes who are trying to overcome physical limitations.
“You’ll see Draymond Green,” he said, naming the NBA’s Golden State star, Michigan State alum and Flint native, “training beside a little girl who is taking her first steps.”
He said Detroit created the department of sports science and human performance because new general manager Steve Yzerman wants to do everything possible to allow the Red Wings as a team and each player individually to be the absolute best they can be.
“He’s the main reason that I’m excited about this opportunity,” Barwis said. “… I’ve worked with a lot of general managers over the years, and he’s one of the sharpest and most progressive general managers I’ve ever been around.”
He added that Yzerman also maintains some of the more traditional approaches to hockey conditioning but combines the best of the old and the new.
Along those lines, Barwis says that adding the methods of sports science and analytics and the information gleaned from them will be added to the traditional way that the Wings and the other NHL teams have approached strength and conditioning, injury recovery and maintenance.
“It used to be only players in a weight room with a strength and conditioning coach and a trainer,” Barwis said. “But we’re adding some scientific evaluation tools and a few more people to help them.”
Piet Van Zant remains as the Red Wings’ head athletic therapist.
Mike Kadar, who had been the team’s strength and conditioning coach since 2015, had already left the team before Barwis was hired. Rob Campbell replaces Kadar.
Barwis, who has worked with athletes in 44 sports, has trained hockey players for more than 20 years.
“I’ve worked with players from every NHL team and have 60-70 players in here” – referring to one of his Barwis Methods locations – “every summer,” he said.
A native of the Philadelphia area, Barwis began his professional career in 1993 at West Virginia University's Department of Athletics. He was appointed director of strength and conditioning for Olympic sports in 1998 before assuming the responsibility of the football program in 2003.
In the winter of 2007, Barwis joined football coach Rich Rodriguez at the University of Michigan to serve as the Wolverines' director of strength and conditioning, where he completely overhauled their training program. In addition to the football team, he worked with the Michigan hockey program among others from 2007-10 before opening his first Barwis Methods location in Plymouth. The company now has locations in Canton, Grand Rapids, Port St. Lucie, FL., and south Florida.
Barwis became a Red Wings fan while at Michigan, which was another reason he was excited about the opportunity to work with the team when Detroit first approached him “12-14 weeks ago.”
Barwis is energetic and enthusiastic and says his main goal is to “help as many people as I possibly can.”
Red Wings fans will be ecstatic if he can help the Red Wings return to Stanley Cup contention.