News & Updates
March 30, 2018
Today we talk about Escape Mechanics.
So your entry led to a good exploit. You exploited stick momentum. Now you need to take advantage of the gap you created. Time to escape your Dangle Victim.
The Mechanics here are simple. But they do need to be patterned. For example, I have a horrible habit of pushing (with my really big strong legs) instead of leaning and gliding. The two mechanics that you see Crosby use to escape defenders are:
- The Soft Hip
- The Hip Scissor with Hidden Gas Pedal
The Soft Hip
This allows you to go from a wide base, to a narrow base as you step around your DV. You appear ghost-like. Your DV thinks you’re there – when you aren’t there.
In the Downhill Skating System, we use the Infinity Flow to work on Soft Hip Mechanics.
The Hidden Gas Pedal
I call it the hidden gas pedal because when you put your foot down – you go faster. The key is that you put the outside edge heel down. Many players do not do this – but they do not. It’s usually an AWARENESS problem. (Sounds like this is a case for the XLR8 App…)
In the Downhill Skating System, we use a drill called the MacKinnon shuffle to teach this. We also use the Infinity Flow to ensure the weight is distributed evenly.
Sequencing and Dynamical Systems Theory
Remember the Tim Ferriss DiSS Method for accelerated learning? Dissection, Selection, Sequencing, and Stakes?
By now you probably see how I start with a base skill. And then I add skills to the start and end of the chain. This is my style of Sequencing. When I’m done this process, it will take me 20 minutes to teach this to a player instead of 2 weeks to teach myself. Right now, I’m seeing which parts form the base, and which parts form the beginning and end. So far the learning has been challenging – but not frustrating. This is a tell that I’m on the right track.
Some might wonder if this idea of sequencing is a good idea. Hockey games are random. So A isn’t always followed by B, which isn’t always followed by C. BUT A1, A2, or A3 is often followed by B. Which is followed by C1, C2, or C3. B is like the bridge. And the three A options and three C options are like the roads you can take either side of the bridge.
The idea with Dynamical Systems Theory Perspective on Motor Learning is stability through variability. What I mean by this is take:
- Sequence 1:
- Sequence 2
- A1, A2
- C1, C2
- Sequence 3
- A1, A2, A3
- C1, C2, C3
Let’s say that Skill B in the sequence is a deke. Skill A is the Setup. And Skill B is the Escape. (I’m removing the Entry for simplicity skate)
In Sequence 1, a player can only approach the bridge from one movement option. So they can only approach through Skill A1. Which is, let’s say, forward striding. And then after the deke, the player can only execute one skill. Let’s say a 2 foot glide.
In Sequence 2, a player becomes more dynamic. They can approach the bridge (Skill B – the deke) with two movement options: The Straight ahead stride and the crossover. Then they can escape with two skills: the 2-foot glide and the corkscrew.
In Sequence 3, a player becomes EVEN MORE dynamic. They approach the bridge (Skill B – the deke) with 3 movement options: A1, 2, and 3. Perhaps a straight ahead stride, crossovers, and a shuffle. Then they can escape with 3 movement options: 2 foot glide, corkscrew, and hip scissor.
As the before and after options get more variable, the base skill (Skill B – The Deke) becomes more stable. The motor pattern that is the deke becomes more dynamic because it can adapt to variables on either side.
This is a rough explanation of Dynamical System Motor Learning Theory. I think it helps us think about the idea of sequencing for a sport like hockey. We can agree that sequencing to teach the golf swing is probably simpler than teaching a hockey player a sequence. But if you consider the base skill (the 80/20) as your bridge, and then you add variability to the entry and exit of the bridge, you can probably build some dynamic and robust movement sequences.
In this TLOG, you see that I’m practicing one specific sequence. But what I’m really doing is practicing Sequence 1. Once mastered, I’ll add variability to the entry and exit to the bridge.
When you see players like Crosby and McDavid skate down the ice, you see players with extremely variable, adaptable and dynamic movement options. They enter the base skill from anywhere, and then they exit to anywhere.
At any point, the skill they perform probably had more entry points and more exit points than anyone else performing that skill.
This is one reason I have the Magic Mechanics first approach. Many of you know that I hypothesize that when you have the Magic Mechanics, you have more neural resources to scan your environment and make decisions. And then you exploit opportunities that you see. When you exploit enough opportunities that generate a result – that creates a decision-making pattern.
Proper Magic Mechanics are based on a concept I call the Still Point. This is where the least amount of tension and movement provides you with the position you want. The Still Point is that infinite point where you can enter from anywhere and exit to anywhere.
So the Magic Mechanics aren’t about giving you the mechanics of that one skill. But also the gives you the option to enter that skill from more places – and exit that skill into more places. And because of that variability, I think it gives players more options to exploit. When neural resources and options are in place, THEN hockey sense can develop.
People who can’t skate don’t have good hockey sense, do they? They’re just trying to stay on their feet.
Call me strange, but I researched these concepts while at the University of British Columbia. (I say strange because it had nothing to do with classwork – I just loved taking advantage of my access to research articles). I’ve been using these concepts in practice, but I haven’t been able to explain them until now.
That said, since this is my first time explaining these concepts, I’m curious to know how I did. Does my explanation and reasoning make sense? Is this helpful to you in practice? If not, please let me know what is missing. I’d love to hear from you: [email protected]
March 28, 2018
We broke down the Dangle into the Four Part SEEE Formula:
We explored the entry tactic of exploiting stick momentum. Today we look deeply at how the best in the world exploits stick momentum: Sidney Crosby.
In this video from xXLaflammeXx, we see a great compilation of Crosby’s Dangles. Their distribution looks roughly like this:
- 60% Forehand to backhand dekes
- 20% Backhand to forehand dekes
- 20% Tips/Chips past the defender
The low hanging fruit is the forehand to backhand deke. So let’s examine the NeuroLinks and Mechanics.
The reason I use Crosby is thanks to xXLaflammeXx compilation. It is a complete data set of successful dangles – from a guy who isn’t really known for dangling.
Exploit Stick Momentum: When Crosby approaches his Dangle Victim, he moves the puck to the left – within reach of the DV. As the DV reaches or swings, Crosby continues moving the puck to the left. As the DV fully commits to the reach or swing, Crosby moves the puck using the “Crosby flick” to move the puck to his backhand.
Entry Tactic: Sometimes Crosby dekes backhand to forehand – to get the defender to open up the forehand to backhand (which is his bread and butter). So the initial backhand to forehand deke is bait. So this is part of the entry.
Going forehand to backhand, Crosby always does a version of what we’re calling the Crosby Flick. (We’re already in the process of adding the Crosby Flick to the Kane Stickhandling System.)
As the puck moves from right to left, he allows the puck to also travel forward. This creates an arc like so:
You often see defensemen swing or reach at the heel of Crosby’s stick. But the puck starts at the midblade, and then travels to the toe of his stick. As the defender swings his stick at the heel, Crosby rolls the puck off his toe. The flick seems to weight the puck correctly so that it doesn’t jump in the air, or get too far away. It matches Crosby’s momentum from left to right and forward.
After the flick, Crosby lets his stick follow the puck – but not too closely. I’m assuming this so that if his stick is knocked, it won’t knock the puck off its perfectly weighted trajectory. (Damn you’re good Sid).
In order for this to work, the defender must generate stick momentum towards where you place the puck. Your timing and placement need to keep the puck out of range until the defender commits their stick momentum. Once committed, you use the Crosby Flick to move it to your backhand.
Sometimes, the defender will swing or reach at the toe of your stick instead of the heel. In this situation, you need to be ready to do what we call the Kane Drag. We show you how to do this in the Kane Stickhandling system course.
Data, 80/20 and Avoiding Bias
The reason I think that there are less backhand – forehand dekes in this compilation is because a backhand > forehand deke doesn’t usually “Dangle” the defender. Usually, this type of deke gives you time and space, but doesn’t actually beat the guy. Crosby might use that deke all the time, but it doesn’t show up in a compilation like this. So when I say that the low hanging fruit to learn how to Dangle is the forehand > backhand, that is representative of this sample of dangles. But that may not represent all of Crosby’s dekes. He may use the backhand > forehand much more than we realize.
Nevertheless, if Dangling is your goal, I think we’ve found a pattern and formula. I think you see the mechanics and the NeuroLinks. And if you’d like to learn those mechanics in-depth, you can check them out in the Kane Stickhandling System.
TLOG Day 1
In case you’d like to see how my training is progressing, here is a Training Blog (TLOG) video I did. You can see it here.
Thanks for reading today.
March 27, 2018
This is Part 2 of the Dangle by Design Series. Please read Part 1 to get caught up on what’s going on before you read part 2.
Today, we deconstruct the Dangle. And then we talk about exploiting the momentum of the stick.
The Four Parts of the SEEE Dangle Formula include:
- The Setup
- The Entry
- Exploit Opportunity
This is your route towards your dangle victim. Straight on? Crossovers? Hip Scissors? Shuffle Steps? Could be anything. (Hint: Straight on does not work too good.)
Here you engage your dangle victim. In most dangles, this involves a present to bait tactic (Read Part 1 to learn what Present to Bait means). How and where you present to bait matters a lot here. And it follows a pattern for successful dangles. You MUST be a master of the 5 Transition Tricks in order to properly enter on your dangle victim.
A successful entry looks like:
- You dictated your DV’s stick momentum and/or their body momentum
- You didn’t get poke checked
If the successful entry conditions are met (dictate momentum and no poke check), then you exploit your DV’s change in momentum to create space for yourself. You must have hand-foot rhythm and you must master the 5 Transition Tricks to fully exploit the opportunity that you created.
After you successfully exploit the opportunity you created, you need to protect the puck through hip wall, and have at least enough speed to maintain that gap you created. This means having good puck protection mechanics, and good transition skills.
Entry & Exploitation: The Stick
The first domino to fall is Stick Momentum Exploitation. We talk about turning heels and changing body momentum. But I believe that the most important opportunity to exploit is stick momentum.
When mastered, you should at least be able to avoid poke checks. You might not be able to get around people (escape) – but you won’t get poke checked.
There are three ways to exploit the momentum of the stick:
- Exploiting the reach
- Exploiting the swing
- Combination of both (these are the ones when the jock/jill strap really hangs off the rafters)
Entering To Exploit Stick Momentum
Upon engaging your DV, the puck needs to be in a place to bait the DV into swinging or reaching. Too far: no swing or reach. To close: poke check. Just right: swing and/or reach.
Exploiting Stick Momentum
If you entered with the right positioning, then you know a swing or reach is coming. As that swing/reach comes, the puck needs to be in a position on your blade to exploit that momentum. If your DV swings from right to left, you’d better be ready to move the puck left to right – into the open space. If your DV swings left to right, you’d better be ready to move right to left.
Mechanics: Kane Stickhandling System
In the Kane Stickhandling system, we teach players to handle the puck on the heel, then use their wrists to roll the puck down the toe for movement. During your entry, the puck needs to be handled at the heel for two reasons. 1: The puck sometimes needs to be pushed/rolled forward before going left-right and 2: The roll from heel to toe is a smaller mechanic to move the puck than moving your whole arm (maximization through minimization).
If you’d like to see the Kane Stickhandling System, it is available here.
The Foundation Of Dangles
My hypothesis is that stick momentum exploitation is the foundation of the dangle. Many of you know that I look for movement variants and movement invariants. What things always stay the same? And what things change based on the situation? I call those invariants “Movement Principles”.
I honed in on the Stick Momentum Exploitation as an invariant. In situations where stick momentum exploitation does not occur – I’d suggest that that is not a dangle (deke). Instead, I’d suggest that that is a better angle, better speed scenario. And that does not constitute a dangle.
I’d suggest that the setup and escape influence the size of the dangle. They are the variables. But stick exploitation is invariant: the principle behind the dangle. In my next posts, I evaluate my ideas after testing in practice and discuss using the setup and escape to increase the “size” of your dangles.
Don’t Create > Document
The reason I’m able to generate so much content so fast is because I don’t create. I document. You get to see this process unfold in real time. And you are involved in the process with your feedback, observations, and suggestions.
Are my ideas supported by video evidence? Do they work in real life? These are the things I want to know. Please send me an email because I’d love to hear what you think: [email protected]
P.S. If you’d like to join the conversation with the members, you can do that here, because we take these concepts to another level.
March 26, 2018
There is not enough information about dangling. For example, here’s what I learned about Dangling from 1990 to 2010:
- There is a forehand fake
- There is a backhand fake
- There is a fake shot/fake pass fake
- And there is a head fake
- There is a toe drag
- And….that’s it….
Then Darryl Belfry came along and rocked my world. Turning toes! Forcing switches! Wow! What concepts!!!
Seriously ground breaking.
For context, my strength as a player was speed and physical strength. I just burned players with speed and then overpowered them. Until I couldn’t anymore…
Around 2010 onwards I started exploring this concept known as “Hockey Sense”. So, I started to understand things like manipulating momentum. Creating lanes. And reading my opponent.
I’m happy to say that I’ve gotten quite good at deking as a defenseman now. I can read a forechecker pretty well, and usually manipulate them to create a lane or get around them. I’d say that I was pretty good at this at the professional level. I’d give myself a 7/10 rating during my last season.
That said, I’d say that my ability to deke on a 1on1 as a forward is quite poor. At the professional level it was a 2 or 3/10. Like I said, as a younger player, I would simply burn people wide. But then when I couldn’t do that anymore, I defaulted to passing.
This blog series is part of my systems approach. My intention is to put my ideas about Dangling and Deking into this article – then get feedback from smart people to adjust my approach until I generate the results that I want. Then, I document the path I took, removing the time-wasting stuff, and put it into a course for players who want to learn it 10x faster than I did.
I operate under the assumption that Sidney Crosby, Datsyuk, and Connor McDavid aren’t filled with Magic Dangle Dust. That their brains read cues, anticipate movement, and exploit patterns that generate results. If they do it – anyone should be able to do it. It will take time and repetition – but unless you believe in Magic, it should be possible.
To ensure that what I’m teaching is ecologically valid (works in real life) – I’m going to teach myself as I develop my ideas and share it with you. I did this once with the Patrick Kane challenge. It’s uncomfortable – but I realized that anyone who is giving advice should also follow it. If I’m going to give advice, I need to put my skin in the game and show my results. Otherwise, you are exposed to the hidden risks of my advice – and I am not. If I can’t teach myself to Dangle by Design, I shouldn’t be teaching it.
This might sound risky, but it’s the right thing to do. When I took advice from coaches who didn’t have skin in the game – I got the wrong advice. I’m not searching to impose my ideas on hockey – I’m hoping to expose the truth. The methods that generate results for players. Once we narrow in on the method that generate results, then repetitions count towards your progress. I hate seeing players wasting their time. It literally makes me sick.
Some of you might be thinking that Scientifically breaking down Dangling and Deking is a bad idea. It might be. Who wants mechanical, thinking, dekers. Doesn’t that take the soul out of the game? I argue the exact opposute
Here, we get into the meat of the post: The Science & Art of The Dangle
Hockey is a complex sport. Aspects of the game that should require detail get overlooked. But. that’s okay. Because today we fix that.
My cousin is an Olympic level fencer. I attended his class the other week. I was intrigued with how deeply he thought about deception, spacing, timing, and acceleration. He’d tell me things like:
- Maximization through minimization
- Presenting the blade to bait vs kill vs Trojan horse attack
- Reaction vs action
- Fencing is a game of acceleration not speed
I’ve NEVER heard a coach talk about deking in this much detail. BUT ITS EXACTLY THE SAME THING!!!
Maximization Through Minimization
A fencer seeks to make the biggest impact with the smallest change. For example, if you feint at an opponent, your goal is to exploit their reaction. To take advantage of your opponent’s movement, you need to use the smallest movement to trigger their reaction. Otherwise, you leave yourself exposed. Maximize your opportunity with the smallest amount of movement.
In hockey, you want to use the smallest movement possible to trigger your opponent. It’s a similar concept.
Presenting the blade to bait, kill, or Trojan horse attack
In fencing, sometimes you want to feign an attack to get your opponent to react. If you can anticipate his reaction, you exploit that.
When you present to kill, you know that your movement is faster, more precise, and stronger than your opponent. You know that there is nothing your opponent can do. So, you present what you are going to do, then do it. If that movement is indeed faster, more precise, and stronger, it will win every time.
Getting to a Trojan horse attack, you usually need to present bait 2-3 times. In this situation you present your blade, and your opponent doesn’t react. You make the movement larger and larger, acclimatizing your opponent to your bait. Then you go right down main street and hit your opponent with the exact movement you were baiting them with.
These three patterns apply directly to hockey.
Present to bait is when you place the puck in a vulnerable position getting an opponent to swing or reach at it. Then you exploit their change in momentum.
Present to kill is when you know that you have more speed, better momentum, or a better angle. You know what you’ve got and you take it.
Present to Trojan Horse is when you’ve used the same move on a defender once or twice and they didn’t bite – so now you exploit their non-reaction.
Reaction vs Action
Reaction is a natural instinct type of movement. There is no forethought. Just movement. Reactions are faster, but less predictable. Unless you’ve practiced them and you have the right mindset.
Action (or decision) is a conscious decision to move. Actions are slower, but usually provide a predictable response. If you are smarter than your opponent tactically, you can use Decisions to manoeuvre them into vulnerable areas. We call these NeuroLinks.
Sometimes players use Decisions to move themselves into situations where they know that their reactions win.
I think a good example of this is Belfry and Kane’s relationship. Kane obviously has great natural instinct. And Belfry points out the tactical decisions that Kane should make. Action and reaction working in harmony.
Fencing (And Hockey) Is A Game Of Acceleration – Not Speed
As mentioned, my strength as a hockey player was speed. I could go way faster than everyone. But change of speed wasn’t my thing until about 2011 or 2012. Acceleration is change of speed.
My cousin mentioned that acceleration is a variable in a couple of areas. Notably Maximization through Minimization and “Energy”.
Acceleration and Maximization through Minimization
Speed change is a fake. Let’s say that you have 5 gears. And you go from gear 1 to 5. A couple things happen. First, the speed change takes a ton of energy. Both mental and physical. So, it is not efficient. Second, the speed change does not invoke a response from your opponent because it is obvious.
Acceleration and Energy
If you’re at a constant speed, your energy never changes. You might not think this matters – but players who vary their energy can be efficient, and manipulate the energy of their opponents.
For example, when you have hard energy, you are focussed on one thing. Both visually and tactically. When you have soft energy, you are scanning your environment – not specifically focused on one thing. Your mind is relaxed, open, and sensing. Constant hard energy burns you out. Constant hard energy has you too relaxed to do anything.
Thinking of energy masters, Lionel Messi comes to mind. He seems to be low energy, and almost lulls his opponent into matching his energy level, then exploits it at the last second.
How to Learn This The Fastest
I apply Tim Ferriss’ methods for accelerated learning to everything in hockey. I think that this focus is a competitive advantage for Train 2.0 and our players – because we are the best in the world at applying this method to hockey. The Four Parts of Tim Ferriss’ DiSS Method for Rapid Learning are:
Here I explain the process if you’re not familiar with it.
- Deconstruction: Reduce the complex aspects of the skill or pattern to simple components
- Selection: Select the 20% of those components that generate 80% of the results
- Sequencing: Learn those 20% of components in the right order to keep yourself in flow (Correct challenge:skill ratio)
- Stakes: Put social pressure on yourself – or find some way to make yourself accountable
Here’s how this is gonna work:
- We are in the process of deconstruction right now. Taking each part of the deke apart, figuring out what it is, and then giving it a name.
- Selection: Once deconstruction is finished, we will look for in-game patterns to see what 20% is used in most dekes.
- Sequencing: I’m world-class at layering simple skills to create a complex skill. But my trick is the first time around (with me) I’m much slower. That’s why I’m much faster at creating the sequence for my players the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, millionth time around. I’ll take myself through the tinkering so you don’t have to go through it.
- Stakes: That’s what I’m doing here. I’m placing social pressure on myself to improve my dangling and deking.
I realize that this article went much longer than it should be. So, if you got to this point, thank you for reading. I’ll see you in the next parts. Until then, please email me your thoughts. I’m interested in feedback on my approach, NHL patterns you’ve seen, and your suggestions for resources. [email protected] Look forward to hearing from you.
P.S. I’m really open about sharing my journey and process. And if you’re looking for an in-depth “How To”, including how you can learn to Skate, Shoot, and Stickhandle 10x faster, you can find that in the Members Area.
March 21, 2018
It’s a little-known secret that the puck flexes the stick.
Yes, the ice also flexes your stick. But with today’s sticks, almost every shot, pass, and stickhandle results in stick flex.
When you understand this key distinction – you can actually leverage your stick to its full potential. And then you can stop wasting your effort on power bleeding mechanics (like leaning on your stick).
It helps to know the situations where the puck flexes the stick. And distinguish when the ice also flexes the stick.
The saucer pass and shot share similar mechanics. In particular, the puck follows the same blade rhythm: It moves heel to toe.
To dial-up power, today’s shooter can do three things:
- Move the pivot point forward
- Generate more rotation
- Use ice to create stick flex
Moving the pivot point forward means that the stick’s force producing part of the lever has a large range of motion. Thus can generate more power (since power = force x velocity and velocity = speed/distance). You can see how the pivot point is closer to the body with a saucer pass, but with a shot, the pivot point gets moved further ahead of the body along for the pulling hand to pull for a longer distance.
I mention that a shot is not a translation. Like a two foot broad jump. People who focus on weight transfer as THE variable get this part wrong. Instead, the shot is a rotation skill. Like tennis, baseball, and javelin. Adding rotation by arranging your feet so that your hips turn adds more power. With a rotation, think of it as increasing the length of your lever. It also increases the force end of this equation because force production that starts near your centre (core) compounds as it travels down the kinetic chain.
Here we see MacKinnon using almost no rotation. Just a push – pull lever motion. In comparison, notice how much rotation Laine gets.
The ice does generate stick flex. It’s sort of like pushing a bendy 4.5 ft bamboo rod through a 4 ft window. You push the rod forward. (Credit to Jeremy Rupke for this analogy). Player mess this up when they think they need to push down into the ice. The real way that you increase the flex of the stick is to make the window smaller by tipping your hips and tilting your shoulders. I understand why people call this “leaning on your stick” because that’s what it looks like. This is an illusion similar to the “Toe Off illusion.”
Understand that the there is a Power – Quickness Tradeoff. Going back to the MacKinnon vs Laine comparisons, you see that MacKinnon releases the puck quicker but with less power. Vice versa for Laine. But you do see that MacKinnon still gets stick flex! That’s just the nature of sticks today.
It helps to understand this distinction so that you avoid doing something that bleeds your power, balance, and quick release.
Some say that every skill you add to your talent stack roughly doubles your odds of success. Hockey is about being adaptable to situations. And the more tools you have, the more situations you dominate.
Learn how to dial your power up and down while maintaining the mechanics of shooting Wizards. You do this by understanding the mechanical principles that lead to more shot power.
If you’d like to learn this step-by-step, I’ll tell you how I structure this in the Shooting Mastery Course and with my coaching clients:
- We start by feeling the movement principles of the Hip Engine, the Inner Spring, and Tipped hips, and the Kinetic Chain. This is without a puck and stick. It’s just about feeeeeeeeel.
- Then we add the stick back in and start to play with the idea of leverage. How to position your body, your feet, your hands for maximum stick leverage.
- Then we add the puck back in – and cover basic drills that incorporate the movement principles. We keep the demands low so that the player focuses on the feeling.
- As the player hones in on the right feeling of the movement principles, we add more game specific footwork and movement patterns.
- Then we create the NeuroLinks so that players identify when to use their new mechanics to exploit opportunities and get results.
That’s how I approach it. I’d love to hear how this goes for you. And if you’d like some help implementing this plan, or you’d like to take advantage of the refinements I’ve made over my years of coaching, playing, and research, you can register for the Shooting Mastery Course here. Either way, please reach out to me and tell me what you think of this article: [email protected]
March 14, 2018
One skill that is valuable is called Pattern Recognition,
For example, chess players can memorize all the pieces on a chess board better than anyone else – but the chess board needs to be laid out in a game-like manner. If the chess pieces are laid out at random (non-game scenarios), their memorization is just as good as everyone else’s.
This is an example of how experts look like they have super-powers. But they just have better pattern recognition.
One thing that fans of Train 2.0 say is that once they see the Magic Mechanics – they can’t unsee them. And once felt – they cannot be unfelt. They start seeing the game from a whole new perspective. And they start playing that way too.
Today I engineer a similar “see and don’t unsee” moment for you. One that unlocks a pattern that is rarely talked about – but executed regularly by the Wizards. This is your advantage.
It’s called: The Rollover.
The Rollover is when you roll from your inside edge to your outside edge without taking your foot off the ground (or vice versa). “Choppy players” lift their foot up to transition from one edge to the other. “Smooth” players are adept at rolling over the edge.
You see the Rollover pattern with speed skaters here.
And you see it with Dahlin’s stride here.
And with Kucherov’s shootout goal here.
And Kuznetsov’s breakaway goal here.
And Crosby’s deke here.
This pattern allows Skating Wizards to change direction without tension generated from the large muscles of the hip. The small muscles of the feet and lower leg change the angle of the blade, and the rest of the leg follows along.
The Magic Mechanics hypothesis is that you want to move with the least amount of tension in your muscles because it improves efficiency, but also frees up neural resources to process your environment. The Rollover Pattern satisfies these characteristics.
Since you change direction without much tension, the “smoothness” of your skating improvements immediately. One thing to note is that many players lack the ankle mobility to get into these positions. I talk about that here.
I just shot some videos of the Dahlin Stride, Crosby’s Hip Scissor to Tripod, and the Extended Anchor. I did an in-depth breakdown for Members and these videos are being added to the Downhill Skating System.
Here’s the Dahlin Stride.
Here’s Crosby’s Hip Scissor to Tripod.
Here’s the Extended Anchor.
Please send me an email with your thoughts, feedback, or suggestions on this article. Your feedback is helpful and appreciated: [email protected]
March 12, 2018
I once said that “If a player connects their hands and feet in all movements, they are a pro hockey player.”
I still agree with that. In this post, I show my work.
Continuing using new WORDS (since mine are the best), I introduce some new stickhandling concepts to you.
We talk about:
- How the hands and feet are connected
- The difference in connection between Quick Handles and Vectoring
- “Don’t Overhandle It”
How the hands and feet are connected…
It seems that many coaches view stickhandling as an isolation of the arms, hands, stick and puck. They ignore that the heels drive the hips, which drive the core, which drive the ribcage, which drive the shoulders, which drive the arms, which drive the hands, which drives the stick, which drives the puck AND THAT’S STICKHANDLING….PHEW!!
We call this “driving” the Kinetic Chain.
The elastic components of the lower parts of the chain attach to the upper parts and influence their movement. When each part is connected with fluidity, the movement is effortless and efficient. I say “efficient” because the muscle does not need to actively contract to move.
Technical Note: Passive vs Active Muscle Contraction
I’ve alluded to this many times without addressing it directly. This part is technical and skippable. I do my best to simplify the concepts.
Active muscle contractions require an impulse from your motor cortex. The impulse from the motor cortex generates an impulse along your alpha motor neuron. Your alpha motor neuron connects to your muscle at the neuromuscular junction where the nerve releases the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine triggers cellular mechanisms that cause muscle contraction. It’s important to note that these cellular mechanisms consume “energy” in the form of Calcium, ATP, and Acetylcholine. I call it “energy” to simplify the explanation.
Passive muscle contractions aren’t contractions at all. When you stretch a muscle, it has elastic components within the muscle and tendons (which attach muscles to bones). If you pull your finger back, notice how it springs back into place? This is due to the elastic components of your finger muscles and hand.
Players who generate more of their movement with “passive muscle contractions” leverage the elasticity of their musculature. This reduces the demand for neurological and cellular resources. When one body part (say the heels) drives the next body part in the chain (the hips) – the hips don’t need to generate as much of an active contraction. Pass this “connection” up the chain, and the energy and efficiency compounds.
Note that beginners learn to move with active contractions first. As they gain expertise, they learn to leverage their passive systems. The ratio tips towards more “passive” movement. Hockey Wizards maximize their passive systems.
[End of Technical and Skippable Content]
If you plant both feet shoulder width and lock them in place, then stickhandle, you ignore the lower part of the kinetic chain. So you turn off power. You turn off efficiency. And then you turn off your ability to stickhandle at speed.
You can build your stickhandling skill with your feet locked in place and get pretty good. But as soon as you get in a dynamic scenario (changing direction, off balance, skating at speed) your body’s model of stickhandling falls apart.
But if you connect your feet movements to your stickhandling through the kinetic chain, you maintain the same stickhandling capability while stationary as you do at speed. So it makes sense to build your stickhandling from the bottom up instead of top down.
What is the difference between Quick Handles and Vectoring?
I borrow the term “Quick Handles” from Pavel Barber. It refers to a quick brushing of the puck with the blade on an angle. Quickhandles don’t move the puck. In fact, one of their main uses is to settle the puck in place.
With Quickhandles, your hands and stick move fast, but the puck remains in about the same place. Or at least on the same path.
Vectoring is new term. A vector is a mathematics and physics term for a course or direction. We use this term to describe when the puck moves from one spot to another. You might see how Kane’s feet re-arrange every time he changes the vector of the puck.
Quickhandles are a lot of fast stickhandling with the puck in place. Vectoring is when the puck moves from one place to another.
How do the hands and feet connect with Quick Handles and Vectoring?
Quickhandles don’t require the influence of the feet since you aren’t changing the vector of the puck. All you need for Quickhandles is a balanced base. We use the Hip Engine, Hip Scissors, Corkscrews, Soft Hips, and Shuffles to ensure we provide a balanced base for Quickhandles.
Vectoring does require the influence of heels because you change the direction of the puck. Let’s say you’re a lefty. If you want to move the puck from left the right, the first impulse should be through your left heel as you move the puck on your forehand. Then as you catch the puck on your backhand, your impulse is through your right heel. Foreward to backward vectoring requires rearranging your feet to maintain the pattern.
We could go on ad nauseam to describe how the hands and feet connect for vectoring. Ultimately, you need to Feel Your Body Learning. If you’d like to accelerate that, we have the Kane Stickhandling System that helps you get the feeling faster.
Quickhandles can be done while you Vector the puck. As the puck goes from A-B, your Quickhandle doesn’t require a change of Vector, so it also doesn’t require an impulse from your heels.
The Quickhandle sometimes evolves into a “No Stickhandle Stickhandle” as you Vector. This is where your stick doesn’t even touch the puck as it follows the Quickhandle Pattern. This gives the illusion of faster hands. And if you think it isn’t a game skill, think again…
You’ve probably noticed that some Drone Coaches tell their players not to stickhandle the puck. Allow me to translate this DroneSpeak for you.
They mean “Vector efficiently”. Players at lower levels sometimes require several foot and stick movements to vector the puck into a passing or shooting position. Or they Quickhandle without moving in space.
Pros vector the puck into passing and shooting positions quickly and efficiently. They do it at speed. And they do that while Quickhandling. THAT is the difference.
No one tells Kane to stop stickhandling. Because he Vectors quickly and efficiently. And he layers Quickhandles on top of his Vectors.
No one tells McDavid to stickhandle less. Because he uses the Corkscrew as he Quickhandles (Sometimes the No Stickhandle Stickhandle) – and skates faster than anyone.
What to do…
The concept of Vectoring may make it easier for you to understand how the hands and feet connect. Understanding how Quickhandles layer on top of Vectoring may also help your stickhandling progress. I’ll share with you how we treat this progression in the Kane Stickhandling System:
- Quickhandle Mechanics
- Still Point Posture
- NHL Grip Code & Pivot Principle
- Quickhandle Isolation
- Basic Patterns
- Advanced Patterns
- Layering Quickhandle on Vectoring
- Basic Patterns
- Advanced Patterns
- Timed and measurable patterns
You can follow this basic outline yourself to improve your stickhandling mechanics. I spent over 10 years and thousands of hours researching the fastest way to learn this progression. And we compiled it in the Kane Stickhandling System which you may want to use to accelerate your acquisition of these Mechanics and Patterns.
Either way, I hope this article was helpful to you. Please email me if you have any questions, suggestions, or comments: [email protected] Love to hear from you!
March 11, 2018
Some of you may wonder why this is important. Some of you might notice that I stopped using technical vocabulary. And others might wonder what words have to do with edges.
The truth is that words are powerful.
“I’m happy.” vs “I’m fucking ecstatic.” – that’s a big difference. And it comes from words.
The term “Linear Crossover” is a horrible set of words. It’s good for Darryl Belfry because it caused a ton of conversation – and that conversation leads to attention. But it’s bad for players in three ways:
- It is not simple
- It is not visual
- It does not “sound” good
Perhaps it is Belfry’s intention to make his terms confusing so that others can’t steal or copy. I don’t claim to read his mind.
You might notice that at Train 2.0 – we use particular words. And sometimes, you might notice that the words evolve over time.
The Hip Scissor, The Soft Hip, The Inner Spring, The Top Hand Pivot.
None of these were terms until we started breaking down NHL Mechanics.
Even the word “Mechanic” is now popularized.
The key to these words is that they are simple, visual, and sound good.
Words seem insignificant. But consider that before the “Inner Spring”, no one had any idea about the difference between Inner Spring and non-Inner Spring. The words made it an idea. And then we evaluate against that idea.
Some of you may point out that the term Inner Spring is still sort of unclear. It is. Some of you get it right away. And for others it takes time.
That takes me to my second point: A/B testing.
We introduce words and ideas at a rapid rate. Then we see which ones stick. Which ones get peoples attention. Which ones people ask about. Then we double down on those words. Using them often. This causes an evolution of our words over time.
We take the same approach with our instructions for those terms. We test different ways of explaining those concepts. Find which ones work and stick – then double down on them. This causes an improvement in our instructions over time.
Getting to my point, and I promise that I have one: Edges.
I don’t think there are good words to describe edgework in hockey. So I introduce 3 new words to you:
Gliding (Still Point)
The best players spend most of their game “gliding”. Even when they stride, they glide. And they can glide on both inside and outside edges.
This is like a car skidding around a corner. Edge sliding tends to scrape snow off the ice when you’d do it. Edge sliding is commonly used for stops. But also for Anchors, Dahlins, Gaudreaus, and Jab Steps. Elite players use sliding as a way to decelerate or change direction quickly.
When you lift your foot off the ice and plant the edge in a way that generates force directly into the ground.
Holding an edge occurs when you hold your balance on an edge by tensing the muscles of your feet, legs, hips, and core.
- Stationary: Holding
- Striding: Holding
- Transition Tricks: Holding
- Inside Edge: Holding
- Outside Edge: Holding
- Stationary: Gliding (Still Point)
- Striding: Holding/Stomping
- Transition Tricks: Holding
- Inside Edge: Holding
- Outside Edge: Holding
- Stationary: Gliding (Still Point)
- Striding: Stomping
- Transition Tricks: Holding/Stomping
- Inside Edge: Holding/Gliding
- Outside Edge: Holding
Moderate Skaters (Midget and Below)
- Stationary: Gliding (Still Point)
- Striding: Stomping/Gliding
- Transition Tricks: Holding/Stomping/Gliding
- Inside Edge: Gliding
- Outside Edge: Holding/Stomping
Good Skaters (Junior, College, Minor Pro)
- Stationary: Gliding (Still Point)
- Striding: Stomping/Gliding
- Transition Tricks: Stomping/Gliding
- Inside Edge: Gliding
- Outside Edge: Stomping
Great Skaters (Most NHLers)
- Stationary: Gliding (Still Point)
- Striding: Gliding
- Transition Tricks: Gliding
- Inside Edge: Gliding
- Outside Edge: Stomping/Gliding
McJesus, Crosby, Barzal
- Stationary: Gliding (Still Point)
- Striding: Gliding
- Transition Tricks: Gliding
- Inside Edge: Gliding
- Outside Edge: Gliding
Gliding Deep Dive
Let’s look closer at the Mechanics of Gliding.
The Rocker Effect: Skates have a profiled rocker. So when you are on an edge, the resulting movement of the blade is like a C in the ice. This might be why Boris Dorozhenko focuses so much of his drills on a heel to toe action.
The Edging Effect: Skates have two edges. When you make contact with the ice with one edge instead of two, you increase your speed due to less friction.
The “Lean” Effect (Skating Downhill): When you glide on an edge, your center of mass is not oriented over your feet. Instead, you are leaned over like a bike turning a corner. If you glide on an edge as you lean, the lean (shifting your center of mass) generates your movement.
Here is how the Rocker Effect, The Edging Effect, and The Lean Effect work together to give McJesus-like skaters more speed, control, and power in everyone hockey movement:
- The Rocker Effect creates a C.
- The C-creates centripetal force.
- The centripetal force allows you to lean (shift your centre of mass).
- Leaning allows you to be on one edge.
- Being on one edge reduces friction.
- It all works together for MORE SPEED
Your ability to glide in all movements: stationary, striding, Transition Tricks, inside edge, outside edge determines your mastery of skating.
Comparing Glide Mechanics to Holding Mechanics
Holders hold tension in their legs to keep their feet under them. Then they push with their legs muscles in straight lines to change direction and accelerate. They are stiff like oak trees.
Gliders have very little tension. Then they shift their center of mass to change direction and accelerate. Their legs bend underneath them like bamboo, and their hips swivel and tilt to ensure they are on their edges and leaning.
Comparing Glide Mechanics to Stomping Mechanics
The best way to tell if a player is stomping or gliding is if their leg movement generates downward force into the ice. From now on, you’ll notice stompers when you see lot’s of leg movement – without much body translation. Meaning: the body doesn’t actually move in space. The legs just do a lot of work.
How To Improve Your Skating By Improving Your Edges
At first, your biggest improvements will come from standard edgework drills. Hold your inside edge. Hold your outside edge. Switch. That kind of thing.
At that point, most players’ progress either takes off or plateaus. The players who take off understand gliding and apply it to all of their movements. A good percentage of these gliders are bow-legged. My hypothesis is that it makes them “Drone Coach Proof”.
The ones who plateau – are ironically the ones who go to the most power skating. (I call them Push Power Skating Instructors). Their improvements come from increases in strength and power. Meanwhile, gliders improvements come from the ever-increasing dynamism of their gliding mechanics (just watch McDavid and Crosby’s evolution – watch Barzal’s soon to be evolution).
You might notice that my differentiator between Great Skaters and McJesus, Crosby, Barzal is one thing: Gliding on the outside edge. We call this the Hidden Gas Pedal. If you compare Barzal to Lucic – Lucic is a very strong skater, but look at his outside edge on this set of crossovers. Then compare to Barzal. Lucic can handle a puck at speed with great heel contact, and he’s strong and powerful – but the Hidden Gas Pedal separates the Barzals, McDavids and Crosbys.
If you’re at a plateau and want to get past it – or maybe you’re already a glider and want to turbo-boost it – you may want to check out the Downhill Skating System. We give players step by step instructions to master these mechanics and implement more gliding in their game – in all 5 use cases. You can check that out here.
As mentioned, we evolve our approach, our words, and our instructions over time. With feedback, we refine what we do. So if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please email me at [email protected] to talk hockey!
March 10, 2018
Many ask how to skate faster. This is a good question since speed kills.
Many players, parents, and coaches are led astray with this line of questioning. They ask: how can I skate faster. But they are not specific enough. Because the top players know how to skate fast in a game.
Darryl Belfry popularized the two most important principles in this area:
- Speed behind the puck
- (Linear) Crossovers (What I call Transition Tricks)
The fastest skaters in a game are those that have more speed…
- Relative to their opponents
- At the right time
As a “really fast” player – I can attest to this. At my peak, I could squat 5 plates, clean 295, and outsprint anyone on my team. But if you saw me in my college game, my speed was neutralized. I didn’t have the mechanics to generate and maintain speed in Transition Tricks (like crossovers, shuffles, soft hips, half-corkscrews, etc.) And thus, I was only fast in a straight line. And the ONLY TIME this was helpful was in a race to a loose puck.
As Belfry states, getting loose pucks is not a translatable skill. Why? Because as you move up in levels, the occurrence of loose pucks dries up. Since the opportunities to win loose pucks dries up – so does your ability to exploit those opportunities.
When you watch end to end rushes that result in goals, you notice that there are 0-1 straight ahead strides. Yes, you read that right. Zero to one. But don’t take my word for it…
Detractors might point out rushes like this one:
But that relates to the pattern of speed behind the puck. As Robby Glantz and Lars Hepso indicate with Barzal, he skates low and slow. So he’s gathering his speed with shuffle steps and crossovers while the defender is flat-footed – or has their momentum going the other way. When Barzal gets the puck, he has more speed than the defenders due to his pattern and transition mechanics.
You see a similar pattern with Bure.
And with McDavid. Notice that he reaches his peak speed when he does a crossover. I pause the GIF there for a second to show you.
If you watch other NHLers enter the zone, they usually hit the tripod position, start stickhandling, and look for a pass or shot. Just an example.
If you watch Bure, McDavid, or Barzal, they maintain their speed with their footwork. They use what I call the “MacKinnon Shuffle”, Crossovers, Hip Scissors.
What to do:
I have a hypothesis that mastering the 5 Transition Tricks to generate and maintain speed while changing direction also translates to straight ahead speed. And since 95% of the game is Transition Tricks, it makes sense to focus on mastering the Transition Tricks. It’s a question of where to focus your limited resources of TENERGY (Time + Energy).
At first, I didn’t recommend the Power Edge Pro. But, it obviously helps players learn the Magic Mechanics of the Transition Tricks. It doesn’t FORCE the Transition Tricks – but it helps encourage them. So it’s a good system, but not a foolproof system. My reasoning is that if it was foolproof, we’d see more players with the same Mechanics as McDavid coming from that cohort. Don’t be fooled by late adopters of the system who were already good before testing it out.
After studying the system, I’ve incorporated elements of it into the Downhill Skating System. They key I’ve found is to use the obstacles to force a pattern – but then encourage the Magic Mechanics through verbal and visual feedback.
- The Hip Scissor
- The Soft Hip
- The Crossover/Shuffle
- The Anchor/Gaudreau Stride
- The Half Stride/Corkscrew
If you’d like to learn the exact drills we use to teach players these mechanics step-by-step, you can see that in the Downhill Skating System here.
Hockey is a complex sport. Our goal is to take the complex and make it simple for players. I don’t present this work as a finished product. Please let me know what questions, feedback or suggestions you have. Your feedback helps us to refine our thesis and make the instructions better. Email me at [email protected]
March 10, 2018
This a long post on shooting mastery. It isn’t for everyone. But read on if you’re ready to transform your shot. This is: How to Shoot In Hockey.
The Wizard Feel Hypothesis:
Many of you know about the Feel Your Body Learning System. The idea is that when you feel the Magic Mechanics – you can’t unfeel them. They happen to feel so good, and work so well, that you won’t want to do anything else.
The interesting thing about the Wizard Feel is that it usually doesn’t come from Drone Coach Advice.
Even more interesting, is that Wizards Feel the Magic Mechanics, but think that they’re following Drone Coach Advice.
One of the best shooters I know told me that you need to lean on your stick to shoot harder. But after hundreds of hours of research, it’s clear that Wizards do not lean on their stick.
Shooting coaches say to have your top hand out. But after thousands of hours of research, it seems like NHLers sometimes have their top hand out – but sometimes don’t! So that’s a little confusing…
The Wizard Feel Hypothesis is that once you feel the Magic Mechancs, you can’t unfeel them. And they feel so good that you wouldn’t do anything else – even if a Drone Coach told you. And Hockey Wizards happen to get the right feeling early on – so they just keep doing what feels good.
This is very different from the Drone Coach Model of Improvement. Which goes like:
- Take my advice
- Don’t get better
- It’s your fault (work harder!!!)
I talk from experience – because I got trapped by the Drone Coach Model with my shot. And I always had a shitty shot as a result.
I practiced. Oh yes I practiced. But it took a lot of research and unlearning to truly unlock my shot’s potential. Here is what I found (unlearned):
The Shot Is A Rotation – Not a Translation
Many coaches talk about something called Weight Transfer. They consider the Weight Transfer to be a crucial part of the shot. They even say that the horizontal displacement of the body is a critical movement to generate power.
When you understand that a shot is a rotation – not a translation, you understand that the weight shift is incidental. It occurs because it has to. Not because it is the driver.
In order to maximize your rotational aspects of your shot, you need four mechanical patterns:
- Edges into the ice (ridiing a rail)
- Feet arrange for your hips to twist towards the net
- Hips are arranged to support a rotation of your shoulders
- Shoulders are arranged to support the rotation of your arms, hands and stick
Don’t Flex Your Stick
Drone coaches got all excited with carbon fibre sticks. They think that you need to lean into them to generate power. All you generate with leaning into your stick is frustration when your shot sucks. Believe me.
If the bottom hand travels downwards (for stick flex) you get off balance. You also need to arrange your body weight over your stick every shot. This reduces your optionality (your ability to exploit multiple options).
Our research shows that NHL players use their bottom hand as a guide and a pivot point. They move their bottom hand toward the target, then pull back with the top hand. The pulling of the top hand plus the resistance of the puck (and sometimes the ice) leads to the flex of the stick.
Ice resistance is an interesting topic. You can clearly see NHLers using the ice to generate extra resitance – thus creating extra flex. You’ll note that none of these players make downward force into the ice with their bottom hand. The bottom hand travels towards the net, but the blade just contacts the ice slightly behind the puck. When it does that, the pivot of the pull hand and guiding hand combines with the resistances of the ice to generate stick flex.
Many coaches say to pull and shoot with the toe. The truth is that NHLers today still shoot like players from yesterday. Heel to toe.
The difference comes from the stick. The stick allows you to pull at a different angle – making the more trebuchet and less slingshot.
The toeing in is more like a self-pass. It allows players to use the ice as resistance. Sort of like a mini one-timer or slapshot.
One key for players looking to improve their one-touch shots or one timers is to focus on making contact with the heel. This will make their one-touches and one-timers more solid feeling.
Tipped Hips & Shoulders
The Path of Least Resistance Hypothesis is that you will do the easiest thing given the context. Like a bolder rolling down a hill, it will choose the path that offers the least resistance.
When you have mechanics that allow joints to flow, and the kinetic chain to fire, your body wants to use that path because it offers the least resistance.
Tipping your hips is one of those mechanics. When the hips are tilted, it allows the shoulders to tilt on top of the hips. When the hips and shoulders tilt, your hands pull the stick in a more vertical path. By this, I mean that the stick rotates more like a tilted Ferriss Wheel instead of a door swinging shut. When the stick travels in this way, you get more whip from the top pulling hand.
What to do now:
If you want to know how to shoot in hockey, know that there is the easy way and the hard way. The hard way is valiant – but dumb. The easy way is also the smart way. And it’s also the fun way. The way that feels good. And that’s why the Wizards cannot shoot any other way.
This article is a detailed breakdown of WHAT the Magic Mechanics are. If you’d like to learn HOW, we cover that in a step by step course called Shooting Mastery: How to Shoot Like Laine, Matthews, Kessel, and Kucherov. It is a 4-week course that takes you step by step through all the Magic Mechanics – and teaches you how to FEEL the Mechanics of the Wizards.
Footnote: We consider Train 2.0 to be a work in process. Our mission is to help players make the NHL by giving them simple, trustworthy, and measurable instructions. We do this by researching NHLers, instructing our members, then getting feedback to refine our hypothesis. If any parts of this article do not make sense, let us know and we will update it for you. Email me: [email protected] – would love to hear your thoughts!