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March 1, 2016

How Deceptive Players use Rhythm to Make More Space – A Basketball Perspective

We often hear things like, “You can’t teach skill like that”. Often, coaches do not even try to teach “ethereal” and “natural” skill. Maybe because most coaches cannot define what they are supposed to teach. It is too complex.

If you are like me, you believe that anything can be taught. You believe that given the right toolkit, most people can do extraordinary things.

So one day, I was watching Stephen Curry. I noticed an incredible coordination between hands and feet. I also noticed his deceptive moves. I wanted to know how he did what he did – because I believe that in some way it translates to hockey. I wanted to learn more…

Enter Aaron Chew, M.Sc., Co-Founder of Saltus Athletic Academy, Strength Coach and Basketball Coaching Expert.


Like many other young Canadians, I grew up playing a lot of street hockey. My friends and I would bring our Canadian Tire sticks (with some very illegal curves) to school and store them in the cloak room, and walk across to the local tennis court where we’d play for hours. We’d then skate to the local corner store to buy slurpees, freezies, and 5-cent candies to refuel (I heard these are 10-cents now, which is outrageous).

Being a Vancouverite hockey fan during the 1994 Stanley Cup run, I grew up idolizing Pavel Bure…the Russian Rocket. Now, I could lie and say I was immediately attracted to him because of his hockey ability, but when you’re ten years old, a cool nickname was a good enough reason to like any superstar (Felix “The Cat” Potvin was my favourite goalie growing up…go figure).

Unfortunately, trying to emulate Pavel on the street became the pinnacle of my hockey career, and I never played anything organized. Something about paying thousands of dollars per season in fees and equipment probably didn’t sit well with my immigrant family.

The Value of Cross Training

Leaving my dreams of making “the show” behind, I turned myself into a pretty good basketball player, and eventually became the starting point guard, team captain, and MVP for my varsity high school team. I then coached basketball for a number of years before becoming a strength & conditioning coach. Over the years, I’ve worked at several colleges, provincial and national organizations, and started a training business in order to help young athletes like yourselves perform better.

Looking back and knowing what I know now, those years of playing street hockey were probably some of the most valuable years in terms of my development as a basketball player. More and more literature is emerging that suggests early sport diversity is far superior than early specialization at developing well-rounded athletes, even if the different sports initially bear little resemblance to each other.

My hope for this article is to open your mind about innovative ways to cross-train for hockey and suggest how playing basketball can make you a smooth and skilled hockey player.

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