News & Updates
February 9, 2018
If you read my previous post on How to Skate Like McDavid, I talked about one specific mechanic: The Tipped Hip.
In this breakdown, I talk about why the tipped hip is an important mechanic in the greater context of the Downhill Skating System. Specifically how the tipped hip generates “lean” so McDavid can skate downhill. And how McDavid could generate even more lean to skate even faster.
Let’s take a look at a quick comparison:
You might notice in both pictures, the athlete is going downhill. (But only one works with Darryl Belfry.)
But let’s break down the mechanics involved.
In the Downhill Skating System as with the Downhill Skiing System that I recently pioneered, you’ll notice the following similarities:
- No pushing
- Gliding on edges
- Leaning with body to generate changes in velocity
- Tipped Hips
Notice how McDavid is able to hold his gliding edge with his body lean in these pictures.
Let’s compare McDavid’s lean to Duchene’s lean. I looked carefully for the same drill and movement so that we’d get an accurate control.
You might notice that McDavid has more lean than Duchene. If you watch the clips of McDavid going through the Power Edge Pro, you might see that he is noticeably quicker than Duchene. Every time Duchene orients his center of mass over his skates and pushes with his legs, you might notice that he slows down.
In the above photos, notice how McDavid starts with a more aggressive lean. Then maintains his lean. You can see where his center of mass is situated compared to his legs – and compare it to Duchene. McDavid maintains his lean, while Duchene straightens up.
Then, just for interest, I put a time stamp of the gap between when McDavid released his shot, and 0.83s later when Duchene released his.
In this particular frame, you can see Duchene’s center of mass orient over his legs as he pushes with his left leg. Meanwhile, McDavid shifts his weight from foot to foot keeping his center of mass to the inside of his turn.
This is where the tipped hip is helpful.
While on one leg, McDavid can more easily orient his center of mass in the direction he wants to lean – and thus generate velocity in that direction.
So now, let’s talk about lean, fall, and center of mass.
The best way to understand this is to compare it with turning a bicycle.
You lean your body in the direction you want to go. As you can see, your center of mass orients towards the direction of the fall. You generate velocity in that direction. Same as skiing.
Back to McDavid:
What limits most players is how hard they can push into the ice. Their speed relies on their ability to generate force in the direction they want to go. But McDavid doesn’t even try to push where he wants to go. Instead, he leans where he wants to go. Like he’s riding a bike. And that’s how he’s skating downhill.
So how would we make McDavid faster?
Let’s agree for a moment that McDavid has mastered the footwork and center of mass orientation necessary for maximum speed. What then, would hold him back?
The answer is eccentric and isometric loading. To add more speed to McDavid, you would improve his ability to handle heavy loads under eccentric and isometric loads. That’s so his body can get in even more aggressive leans in more situations.
But let’s say that you are not McDavid – and you want to skate faster in all situations on the ice. What would you do?
Developing the ability to load eccentrically and isometrically will help. But not to the same degree as learning the mechanics of leaning downhill to generate velocity. You’ll know you’ve got it when you don’t have to “push” with your legs – and your velocity comes from twisting, tipping, and leaning. Then you’ve got it.
By this point, you might be wondering if I recommend the Power Edge Pro as a training system. Sure. It’s a good system. Let’s also examine another system that focuses on lean, footwork – and not pushing:
Here I point out that the system is irrelevant. But the mechanics are very relevant. In Boris’ system (Boris taught Auston Matthews since age 6 or something), his focus on edgework allows players to be comfortable leaning in more directions more aggressively. The footwork makes it easy for players to orient their feet at points of traction to provide lean.
It seems like both the Power Edge Pro and Boris are able to teach the mechanics of Downhill Skating. And the mechanics always win.
The main mechanical principle that you want to understand from this post is lean.
- The more you lean, the faster you’ll go
- The more you lean, the more you can glide on your edges instead of stopping your momentum
- You want to use foot positioning, comfort on your edges, body orientation and tipped hips to generate your lean
- If you don’t lean, you need to push to generate force. If you need to push, you’re toast.
Study NHLers center of mass relative to their feet – ask yourself what mechanics can help you achieve that. And if you’d like help answer that, you can check out the Downhill Skating System where we explain exactly how to master those mechanics.
February 2, 2018
McDavid’s mechanics are fascinating. Mostly because they go against common Power Skating Principles. When players ask how to skate like McDavid – they don’t realize that their Power Skating is actually holding them back from achieving it. I talk about these contradictions in this presentation.
Many of you know that I am a professional hockey player – but also a kinesiologist.
Like you, I saw McDavid’s Fastest Skater Competition in the 2018 All-Stars Competition – and marveled at his crossovers. You are probably aware of the research done indicating that McDavid crosses over more than most players in the NHL. The study suggests that this is linked to his success off the rush.
I’m often asked if, “All I need to do is crossover more?”
The answer is “Yes.” Sorta.
What if McDavid had mechanics that made crossovers easier?
Remember when you had to find a landline to make a phone call? Well, now it’s much easier to make calls because you’ve got your iPhone. So you probably find yourself talking on the phone more than you used to – because it’s easier to.
Imagine if McDavid’s mechanics made it easier to crossover. Then he might crossover more. And that’s what we see.
I suggest one simple mechanic McDavid uses that makes it easier to crossover. I call it the “Tipped Hip”.
The tipped hip is when the hips (pelvis) are tipped at an angle.
The tipped hip mechanic combines two important forces: First, the body produces force best in the “saggital” plane. Or straight down and back.
The muscle responsible for this is the gluteus maximus. It is the most powerful muscle in the body. And it combines two important skating movements: hip extension and external rotation.
The second force at play is “horizontal force vectors.” To visualize this, imagine that as you skate, you push the ice into the boards.
When you combine the fact that the body produces force down and back and you need to generate horizontal force vectors you have a puzzle. Let’s call it the Power Skating Problem.
Track coaches know that the more vertical forces (up and down) put into the ground, that faster a runner will go. You can actually predict running speed by measuring vertical displacement. This is because you bounce off the ground to generate speed. (We call this “bounce” the stretch-shortening cycle)
In hockey, you do not bounce off the ground. So vertical forces and vertical forces (pushing down into the ice) are not an efficient way of getting around
The Power Skating Problem is that you keep the hips level – but need to generate horizontal force (pushing the ice into the boards). To do that, you need to abduct the leg. As shown in the diagram above. When you use abduction you use smaller muscles. So you can’t generate as much power.
With the tipped hips, you see how the line of force changes. Now when the hips are tipped, you can generate horizontal force (pushing the ice into the boards).
You see that here:
And even here:
McDavid’s mechanics solve the Power Skating Problem by aligning the hips (pelvis) with the correct line of force production (horizontal – pushing ice into the boards).
They also make it easier for him to crossover.
Can you see how McDavid is able to get more range from his foot that is crossing under? That’s not due to magic. It’s due to mechanics. And likely the tilt of the hips. (I say “likely” because I don’t have x-ray vision)
You may notice a similar tilt here on a straight stride.
So if we want to increase the number of crossovers players do, we may want to use mechanics that make it easier. McDavid uses a tipped hip mechanic to make it easier and to get more range. Players who use this mechanic find immediate increases in speed and power. Not because of magic. But because of mechanics.
[End Of Mechanics Discussion]
Now I’d like to talk about something called “sequencing”.
I call this “automatic learning”. Where you create drills that force the correct mechanics to occur. You start with a basic skill – and then add one new skill layer at a time. Before long, a player is performing with completely different mechanics. If I’ve done my job as a coach right, the player doesn’t even know that they learned anything. It all occurred so smoothly and easily for them. And the learning is unconscious. That’s the best kind.
Many of you will find enjoy the biomechanical perspective of this post and then aim to implement what you learned. This is smart. I urge you to use sequencing to deploy this new learning. Otherwise, it will end up being a hot mess on the ice. Yuck.
If you know exactly how to sequence this new learning, then do not read on. You’re good.
If you’d like to learn the expert sequence for learning this mechanic, you might want to check out the Downhill Skating System – How to Skate Like McDavid course.It could save you hours and hours of time. And it provides you with proven method for making this change.
Let me know what you think about Tipped Hip. Do you think it’s legit? Or have I been hit in the head too many times? Send me an email and let me know.