June 15, 2018

Are MarsBlades Worth It?

Are MarsBlades worth the investment? And what are you really getting out of them?

You can consider this part MarsBlades review. And part Magic Mechanics Deep Dive.

Why Would Anyone Want MarsBlades?

The mechanics of skating and the mechanics of rollerblading are different. Unlike what typical Power Skating Instructors suggest, rollerblading does not ruin on your on-ice stride mechanics. But they do ruin your inefficient Power Skating stride. So I understand the Power Skating Instructors’ concern.

Rollerblading does not ruin your Magic Mechanics stride. Rollerblades are excellent to work on your Downhill Skating.

People always ask me about off-ice training for on-ice performance.

As many of you know, I built the Downhill Skating System by reverse engineering the movements of elite NHL skaters, then teaching them to myself and to the players I work with. As a kinesiologist and pro hockey player, it is interesting to see that the movements I discovered were not the ones being taught. I realized that this is our advantage.

Naturally, I developed a set of building block mechanics and put it together in a system. It’s called the Downhill Skating System because the secret sauce is that instead of using muscle tension to move, Downhill Skaters shift their center of mass and use the rocker of their edge to move. The result is that players skate way faster with way less effort. This frees up neural resources to process the rest of the game.

The Gap Between On-Ice And Off-Ice

On the ice, you can practice 100% of the Magic Mechanics.

On rollerblades, you can practice about 60% of the Magic Mechanics.

On Marsblades, you can practice about 80% of the Magic Mechanics.

The Physics Of The Gap

Skating on ice has 4 physical characteristics: Low friction, a concave blade with two edges, a top layer that can be removed predictably with a blade, and that blade has a rocker known as a radius.

Rollerblades simulate the low friction with wheels. The friction of the ground simulates the edges. But the top layer of the ground can’t be removed predictably. Your slides have an element of unpredictability except on a perfect surface. So slides, and stops shouldn’t be attempted. And there is no blade rocker.

Marsblades have the same characteristics as rollerblades, except they have a blade rocker.

The Mechanical Implementation

The main difference between the MarsBlades and rollerblades is the rocker. You might be curious why this makes a 20% difference.

Most people immediately feel a difference when they cruise in a MarsBlade. And they LIKE it. It FEELS better.

If you consider the idea of the MarsBlade, the wheels don’t move differently on the ground than normal rollerblade wheels. But the way your body relates to the wheels changes. I can’t explain what happens differently with the physics because I can’t wrap my head around it. But I can explain the FEEL of the effect. And that’s what matters.

Here are a few ways that it FEELS different – and the effect it has on my movements:

  • When doing an edge rollover, a mechanic I call the Scooter, my shin angle is more aggressive with the MarsBlade than with a Rollerblade. I’m able to transition from one “edge” to the other smoothly. With rollerblades, if the shin angle is aggressive, you are likely to skid out the wheels. And it’s harder to rollover from one edge to the other.
  • When doing a 10&2, I place pressure on the heel, and I end up going faster while maintaining control – like skating. When placing heel pressure on rollerblades, they usually skid out.
  • When doing “Gaudreau Turns”, I get a more aggressive shin angle again without the blades sliding out. With blades, if you turn too tight, they wheels skid out.
  • When doing Corkscrews, I can actually cut the MarsBlade in an arc. Just like the ice. On rollerblades, the arc isn’t as tight.
  • When doing crossovers and “MacKinnon shuffles”, I can land on the heel and feel the rocker. Just like the ice. With rollerblades, you feel a “clunk-clunk”. With the MarsBlades you feel the rocker.

The 20% gap between rollerblades and MarsBlades comes from the feeling of the rocker, the ease of rolling the edge over, and the tightness of the turn. The 20% between the MarsBlades comes from the tightness of the turn (you can still get tighter on the ice – especially with Downhill Skating) and not being able to shave the top layer off the ice – you can’t do punch turns, edge slides, or stops.

Is it worth it?

If I was limited in my ice time, I would definitely get MarsBlades to train my skating. I would justify the investment because others are spending money on ice time – you invest in a blade that gives you ice-likeness.

I recommend that you ONLY get the chassis. The Verbero boot is very uncomfortable. When I first put it on, I was pretty sure someone designed it for maximum discomfort. I’ve never felt anything like it. Luckily, my feet seem to fit into most things, so after a few blades, they started feeling better. Everyone who tries my MarsBlades complain about the boot. And my friends and clients who have slightly different feet find them unbearable.

If you’re an occasional blader and you don’t intend to make a big push in your skating development, the MarsBlades are probably not worth the investment. I didn’t use them for the longest time. I still did all my drills in them. Just less well, with less speed, and less smoothly.

You can practice about 60% of the Magic Mechanics of the Downhill Skating System with rollerblades. About 80% with the MarsBlades.

As the off-season is taking off, many people ask if you can learn the Downhill Skating System over the summer – even without ice. So I recorded all the on-ice drills of the Downhill Skating System on my MarsBlades for you to see. Like I said, you can do them on rollerblades – but about 20% less good. Considering the compounding effect of 20% per training session, is it worth it to you?

If you’d like to see the off-ice MarsBlade drills for the Downhill Skating System, click HERE.. You might want to take the Downhill Skating Style Quiz that we created to see your biggest opportunity to learn Downhill Skating.

Thanks for reading today,

-Jason

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