Train 2.0 Blog
June 2, 2018
If you’ve ever experienced game-changing advice, it usually goes something like this:
- You hear words or see something
- Something clicks in your head
- You test it out
- You can’t believe how effective it is!
- You wonder how you EVEN SURVIVED before you knew this thing
Studying Dahlin’s Movements unlocks those game-changing moments. It’s like he’s figured out how to exploit physics better than anyone else. And so many of his movements are opposite. (Everything popular is wrong)
He doesn’t generate tension to move laterally. He gets more relaxed.
He doesn’t push to skate forward. He doesn’t skate forward at all.
He’s rewiring our brains in real time as we watch him. Because he shatters our reality of what we think is possible with skating.
Here we examine how Dahlin is able to turn tighter without getting contracting his muscles. And this is the key to your lateral mobility.
Let’s examine this play here. You might see how Dahlin changes angles really quickly to get around the defender. If you look closely at the movement, it doesn’t come from a push. but rather an angle change of his left foot.
The result of the left angle change is a shortening of the radius of his left foot arc. Imagine the circles below as the hypothetical arc of Dahlin’s Skate blade trajectory.
Remember that as you tighten the arc, point G (Center of Mass) travels further away from the point P. Thus creating movement without pushing.
Let’s consider the neuromechanics of this movement.
Remember that your brain is limited in its ability to recruit muscles. This is based on your Motor Cortex’s ability to recruit muscles through the Alpha Motor Neurons. The motor cortex has an upward limit of alpha motor neuron recruitment. These motor neurons create contractions in your muscles. And those contractions generally create movement.
Consider what Dahlin is doing here…
Rather than push with his left leg – which would require muscular contraction, and therefore neural resources – he relaxes his right leg allowing himself to fall. His left leg and foot are oriented in such a way to take advantage of the fall to change direction. They’re on an arc created by the skate blade interface with the ice.
Most players use muscular contractions to change direction – Dahlin uses muscular relaxation to change direction. It’s a little mind-boggling.
Especially when you try it on the ice like I do here.
This is the OPPOSITE way that I used to skate. I kept having to tell myself NOT to push. It was an intense rewiring of an old movement pattern. Remember that I was notoriously bad at 1on1’s on the attack. (Self-Assessment). I had one gear – skate fast around other players. If that didn’t work I was hooped. You DO NOT want to get where I got and realize that your skill set had a shelf life.
Here’s the interesting thing for players of all ages: Dahlin’s Skating Technique (Downhill) doesn’t require powerful muscular contractions. It requires improved movement patterns and relaxation.
So the improvements you see with learning the Downhill Skating Mechanics happen irrespective of your ability to generate powerful muscular contractions. We often worry that our ability to generate muscular contractions declines with age. But if the main indicator of success is relaxation and patterning instead of power – then your age-related decline in physical capacities doesn’t matter as much – or at all…
If you’d like to learn more about the Downhill Skating System and see the full breakdown of the video above, you can do that here.
If you’d like us to send you Video Drill Per Day to Practice, you can do that here.
Thanks for reading today.
June 2, 2018
Hockey used to have a Human Resource Problem. Not today.
If there was a really good coach in New York, but you lived in Winnipeg, you MIGHT get a chance to work with that coach if they happened to have a camp in Winnipeg. Or perhaps your family has the means to go to a camp in New York. But ultimately, if you lived in Winnipeg, and the master coach was in New York – you were kinda screwed while the players in NY were not.
That problem doesn’t exist anymore. Why? The internet. Problems that used to be human resource problems are now only “information problems”.
So that’s why I built the Hockey Drill Of The Day. 15 Drills. 15 Drills that I use as a professional hockey player. 15 Drills I designed as a kinesiologist. Sent to you for free. Something that you can practice at home.
It seems more democratic to have players succeed who are willing to search for the right information – and put in the work. Versus players who are lucky and happen to live in the same city as a master coach. The internet is helping to move things that way.
I dream of players coming out of the bush, playing on ponds all their life, perhaps in Northern Scandinavia, or the Yukon… but who happen to have some great wifi thanks to Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos or someone … who stickhandle better than Kane…or shoot harder than Laine.
Our members LOVE watching our videos, learning, and participating in our Facebook Group. And the feedback they give us is that they LOVE it so much, they want to take it with them to practice. So we’re working on becoming a more usable resource.
The first thought that might come to mind is: Build an App!
This is a good idea. But I can’t code. So the build time would take too long. And every time we need to make a change it would take too long and cost too much.
What I prefer is a direct channel to Players, Parents and Coaches. Enter Messenger Chatbots.
We create Messenger Bots through Facebook. This allows us to deliver value, and gather feedback from you really fast.
We can quickly and easily make adjustments to the flow and content. And we can personlize your experience. A coach in Florida doesn’t want the same experience as a player in Calgary or a mom in Sweden. We can customize the experience just for you! Plus, we have a ton of flexibility in how we deliver you content. And what content we send you.
We built two bots already called WODbot and TrainAI. And players, parents, and coaches absolutely love them. They use them all the time. So we decided to build some more. Like Drill Of The Day.
If you’d like to get one drill per day sent to you from Train 2.0 for free, you can do that here.
Thanks for reading today!
June 1, 2018
The secret to receiving passes at speed isn’t to improve your hands. It’s to improve your footwork and patterning. You get way more OPTIONS when you take certain routes. And those routes are NOT higher risk. I call this a hidden asymmetry.
The pattern that elite players like Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby use involves picking the puck up on an arc. This means that as a pass comes to them, they will lean onto the edge of one of their skates and make a slight turn.
There are likely several reasons for this arc (slight turn) in the ice like throwing off the defenders angle, reducing tension in the body, creating an angular attack, etc. Whatever the reason for this asymmetry, you will notice that it occurs extremely often with the elite NHLers when they receive the puck with speed.
Keep an eye out for this asymmetry in the next NHL game you watch. You might just start noticing it happen everywhere.
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June 1, 2018
McDavid doesn’t have the best shot, but he has an NHL level shot.
Laine isn’t the best skater, but he’s an NHL level skater.
We can probably agree that Dahlin’s shot isn’t his biggest asset. It’s probably skating with the puck.
Do you ever wonder if something ties the two together? And does this extend to stickhandling too?
I came up with a two-part model for hockey mastery. I call it Yee-ing and Yang.
I simplified my previous model which looked something like this…
Simple is usually better.
Awareness takes two forms:
- Awareness of real world mechanics (usually in the form of physics, biomechanics)
- Awareness of self (movement, ego awareness)
Inherent to that, we also have:
- Contrast: Comparison between best practices and yourself
- Innovation: Combining elements of best practices to create better practices
Many of you know that I did a lot of reps when I was younger. I blamed myself for not making the NHL.
Work harder. Do more reps. Practice more. That’s what I told myself.
The problem with my reps was that I didn’t have awareness. No awareness of best practices. Minimal awareness of my own movement. And so minimal awareness of the difference between the two.
The mission of Train 2.0 is to bring awareness to the players who are willing to put in the reps. It’s a pain point for me. And I’m extremely empathetic to the player who wants to put in the reps but isn’t getting the results they want. And it comes down to awareness. Here we shine the spotlight of attention on the mechanics top performers use so you can improve your self-awareness.
Last post we discussed Dahlin’s Internal hip rotation. Today we discuss how your shooting is built on top of hip rotation. And how most skating styles shut off hip rotation – making it challenging for players to transition from skating to shooting.
In my post on how to skate like MacKinnon, I claim that skating isn’t about holding your pelvis still while your feet move…but rotating your pelvis in space as your feet dig into the ice. In this article, I make the same claim about shooting.
Elite hockey players understand that all hockey movements are different in degree – not kind.
A left turn isn’t much different from a deke left. A deke isn’t much different from a shot.
When you grasp the principles of these hockey movements, you’ve grasped it all. One explanation for the NHL elite skaters are also pretty good NHL shooters effect.
These clips are from the exact same play. In the clip, Dahlin receives a pass, fakes a shot, then shoots. The main thing is that both skating movements are identical. The only difference is what the hands do. Do they release the puck or control the puck?
The skating movements we see are:
- Wide stance (corkscrew)
- Unload left foot and transfer weight to right foot
- Soften left ankle and knee to allow the hips to rotate
- Hold inside edge of right foot
- Twist hip towards the net
- Either allow the hips to twist then catch the puck on the backhand and pull to forehand
- As you allow the hips to twist, release the puck towards the net (shoot!)
This is optionality in a nutshell. Being able to hit two different movement options from the same position. He can probably hit even more options depending on what he sees. Here’s an example of the same skating setup and yet another option.
The point is that the fake shot, shot, and pull across the body are all built off the same skating foundation.
In my play, if I made a fake, I was off balance for the second move. Let alone the third or fourth – like we see with Dahlin. My skating was powerful, but my pelvis was fixed in position while I used my legs to push to change direction. This is the difference between skating downhill (which is like skiing) and push power skating (which is like skateboarding). And it held me back.
A player should seek to make their movements “Adaptable”. Each movement should be able to blend into 3-4 other movements. The key is to use your edges, your rocker, and your hip rotation in each movement. Don’t stomp. push, or hold your core still – as many coaches instruct.
The Downhill Skating System is a course we developed to help you learn the mechanics of Downhill Skating. If we talk about the Yee-ing Yang Model of Hockey Mastery for a second…
…I’d hate to see players who are willing to put in the reps, not reach their potential because they don’t have the awareness. You might be wondering how I got to my level of awareness. It honestly took me taking a degree in kinesiology at the University of British Columbia, playing hockey for 25 years (sometimes professionally), coaching for over ten years (including other pros), and studying thousands of hours of video. I’d like to share that with you – and I put that into the step by step video course: Downhill Skating System.
That said, I always like to mention that you can still learn the principles even if now isn’t the right time to invest in the course. Pay close attention to my blogs, podcasts, and YouTube videos. Then put in the work. That’s what I did, and you can do it too! Either way, I want to ensure you’re empowered to take action. Either to get started on the Downhill Skating System through the course, or putting in the work to learn the principles yourself. It is quite literally game changing.
Thanks for reading today!
May 30, 2018
Dahlin is pretty good at skating forward. But I’ve never seen such dynamic point play going from forward to backward to forwards. He’s like the McDavid of defense. What is behind his transitions? Special Swedish Sauce? Magic Dahlin Dust?
As many of you know, I prefer applying ideas from physics instead of magic.
Let’s look at how Dahlin transitions from forward to backward so fluidly. Let’s look at one key mechanic: Internal hip rotation.
For those that don’t know, internal hip rotation is pointing your toes inwards. As if you’re pigeon toed. Datsyuk is a renowned pigeon-toed player. My Russian coach was a funny pigeon-toed walker, but probably the most beautiful skater I’ve ever seen.
Some of you might already think that Dahlin MIGHT have an unnatural internal hip rotation. We can’t rule that out. But most of the time, what seems like a mobility problem is something I call a “Perceived Mobility Problem”. If you experiment with different alignments you can probably find a way to get into the right positions – where mobility doesn’t limit you. I have pretty “normal” mobility. Before breaking this play down, this is something I didn’t think I could do. Until I tried it.
On this play, Dahlin transitions backward to forward, forward to backward, and then shoots. As he transitions, he dekes the pants off this poor forward.
The first two mechanics he uses are well known:
- As he receives the puck he’s in a 10&2 or Mohawk (whatever you want to call it). He shifts his weight from right to left as he receives the puck.
- He gets into a wide stance. We covered this in the last article.
After that, things get more exotic and spicy. This is stuff we haven’t seen before.
- Aggressive left hip internal rotation. In order to do this his hip, knee, and ankle flex. You see his right knee move forward. This is a key mechanic that gets around the “Perceived Mobility Problem”.
- The left hip internal rotation changes his momentum from directly forward to going. The blue arrow is his initial momentum. The red is his momentum after the left foot c-cut/left hip internal rotation
- From here, he skids his right foot as he internally rotates it. When his right foot blade aligns with the red arrow, he allows the edge to dig in. Now his momemtum is the same, but he’s shifted from forward to backwards, and from left foot to right foot.
- Now Dahlin has a ton of space and can get his shot off. Something we’ll talk about more in future articles.
You can probably see how Dahlin’s aggressive internal hip rotation allows him to get on an aggressive arc. This arc changes his momentum so that the transition from forward to backward is seamless. It’s much harder to transition from forward to backward if your momentum isn’t going in the same direction. Dahlin’s internal hip rotation solves for that.
Do I suggest mobility drills to improve your internal rotation? No.
They will help. They’re good for you. But they are not needed to get internal hip rotation like Dahlin.
In the Downhill Skating System, we just posted a breakdown on how to position your knees and ankles for maximal internal hip rotation. We explain exactly how to get around the “Perceived Mobility Problem”.
I wrote this article so that you see what Dahlin is doing from the perspective of a kinesiologist x pro hockey player. If you think that adding this to your game will help, I suggest that you experiment with mechanics to get around the “Perceived Mobility Problem”. The hope is that suggesting that mobility isn’t the problem will encourage you to explore new ways of moving – like Dahlin. And if you’d like to see the exact movement experiments that I worked through to get to this point, and to help our Train 2.0 Members, you can see that in the Downhill Skating System.
And in case you’re really liking my blogs, but want to listen to my ideas on the go, I’d love for you to check out my Podcast called the Train 2.0 Show. It’s really good for listening to and from the rink. Or perhaps while you’re training. Or clearning. That’s usually when I listen to podcasts.
Thanks for reading today.
May 29, 2018
Imagine a young half Chinese boy with big glasses standing right in front of a 20″ Panasonic TV.
My dad used to get mad at me for standing so close. I got mad that he had such a small TV.
But that was the reality of the 90’s. At least for me.
But now I’ve got an iPhone. And I can hold it as close as I want to my face. Thank goodness for that. Because the other day I stared at Rasmus Dahlin for at least an hour.
Love mentioning the 20″ Panasonic TV because it reminds us how far we’ve come. Today, we can pull up any NHLer or elite skater on our phone and watch them on command. I even screen recorded the Dahlin clip and played it in slow motion.
RIGHT NOW is incredible. 10 years ago we had to watch NHL when a network decided. Now we watch it whenever we want. In HD. In slow mo. On the bus. In the car. It’s crazy. And we’re really fortunate. Thanks technology 🙂
What is Dahlin’s Secret? What does he do differently?
Many of you know that I talk about something called the Downhill Skating System. I’ve been talking about gravity, center of mass, and stuff. I learned the precise physics studying Kinesiology at the University of British Columbia. But I’ve mostly forgotten the precise terms for the physics. But luckily one of my friends sent me this to remind me:
g is the acceleration due to gravity, which is equal to 9.8 m/s2 on earthG is the center of mass of the system (which consists of skater plus skates, which together can be treated as a rigid body)P is the approximate contact point between the skater’s blades and the iceL is the distance between point P and point GFx is the horizontal contact force, with the ice, acting on the skater’s blade at point PFy is the vertical contact force, with the ice, acting on the skater’s blade at point Pθ is the angle between the horizontal and the line passing through points Pand G. This is the angle of “lean” (a constant)
Since θ is constant, the system is in a state of rotational equilibrium. This means there is zero moment acting on the system about the center of mass G, about an axis pointing out of the page. Mathematically we can write this asFx (Sin θ )(L) – Fy (Cos θ)(L) = 0
Therefore, to maintain his balance when accelerating forward, a skater will crouch (or bend) forward in the direction of motion. This prevents him from falling (tipping) backwards due to the torque caused by the forward component of the force F. By crouching (or bending) forward, the skater is moving his center of mass forward which creates a counter-torque. This counter-torque balances the torque caused by the forward component of F, and this prevents him from falling
What this really says is that the further you can get G away from P without falling, the faster you will skate. The more you LEAN the more “Downhill” you got. (Faster!)
Let’s take this even deeper. Literally and figuratively.
What do you notice about Dahlin?
Let’s say we took away his left leg….
Doesn’t that look like the speed skater above?
Then, let’s imagine that Dahlin plants his left leg and his right leg disappears…
Hmmm. Doesn’t that also look like the speed skater?
Remember that the further G is away from P, the faster you go. The more “downhill”.
The difference between a speed skater and a hockey player is optionality. The ability to hit numerous movement options.
The following clips are all from the same rush…
Do you notice how the wide stance becomes an aggressive lateral movement if you remove one of the support legs? All you need to do is remove some pressure on one leg, and boom you’re moving laterally. Why? Because G is away from point P.
The deeper and wider you get, the more aggressive your lean when you remove one leg’s support.
From now on, you’ll notice that the best players have wide stances when attacking and deking. Once you see it you can’t unsee it.
What separates players who can get into wide stances? The players who can smoothly get in and out of wide stances. Remember, options. Look at the next two frames after Dahlin’s wide stance…
This is where the outside edge comes into play. Movements we call the Hip Scissor and MacKinnon Shuffle. The hidden gas pedal.
Dahlin transitions from wide stance to the outside edge as good as any NHLer right now. Maybe McDavid has an edge on him. He combines this with a rhythmic and rotational Kane drag.
You can’t teach this. Until you can.
The biggest thing holding players back is “Perceived Mobility”. You read this article that says “Get wide and deeper”…but feel a mobility block and then believe it’s not for you.
The edge Dahlin, McDavid, Crosby have is that they found the Magic Mechanics to get wide. The Mechanics and alignment that don’t rely on mobility. There is a way to position your knees and hips to be wide like Dahlin. To be able to transition to the outside edge. Most will never explore that area. But you can now. This is now your edge.
If you’d like to see the movements, skill blends, and experiments that help you learn this quicker, you can learn about those in the Downhill Skating System Course. We break down exactly what you can work on to learn these principles.
It bears mentioning that you can learn the principles of Downhill Skating without taking the course. I like to ensure that if you’re reading this article you’re left feeling empowered to explore. I won’t tell you that all the secrets are in the course. You can find the secrets yourself. What is in the course are the step by step instructions and videos that I’ve invested hundreds of thousands of dollars and thousands of hours researching and developing. They will help you get there faster because I did the hard work for you.
I know that some of my readers are not in a position to invest in a course like this right now. So that’s why I go to great lengths to ensure that you feel empowered to explore for yourself if that’s where you are. And if you’re in a position to invest in learning these principles, I’d love to welcome you. Either way, thank you very much for reading today.
May 29, 2018
The Explosive Start is a unique part of the Downhill Skating System.
Four factors contribute to the Explosive Start:
- Leg Extension Power
- Friction & Force Direction
- Limb Lengths
Leg extension power is a popular feature of the explosive start.
Power is usually measured in watts. Or the amount of work over time. More work in less time equals more power. So you can influence power by increasing the amount of force your legs can generate through extension. Or you can do the same amount of work faster. Or if you wanna go all McDavid on this, you can do both at the same time.
Luckily for you, the same mechanism that helps you generate more force usually helps you generate force more quickly. That mechanism is called: Fast Twist Muscle Fibres.
Your muscles are composed of different types of fibres. Some contract quickly AND with lot’s of force. Other contract slowly and with less force.
The ones that contract quickly and with lot’s of force are called Type IIb fibres – or fast twitch muscle fibres.
You also have Type IIa (intermediate fast twitch) and Type I (slow twitch). There might exist some hybrid types. But we’re not 100% sure on that.
Science tends to agree that you cannot change your composition of Type IIb fibres. But here’s what you can do…
You can improve your brain’s ability to turn on Type IIb fibres. Most people can only access about 20-30% of their muscles at a time. With specific types of training, you can increase that percentage.
Recent research suggests that some of the intermediate fibres may be able to convert towards fast twitch fibres with the right training.
What is that “right training”? There are specific and proven methods for improving leg extension power. We include these as part of the Perfect Off-Season program. But before we get too far down this rabbit hole, let’s remember that leg power is only one part of four parts.
Know that there are plenty of ways to improve leg power. But it is only one variable in this equation. Case in point: Jack Eichel outperforms Connor McDavid on all measures of power. But McDavid is the faster skater.
The second pillar of the explosive start is leverage. Levers provide mechanical advantages by producing more work with less effort. If you hold the effort constant, but improve the leverage, you get more work. So you can skate faster.
Many players give up their mechanical advantage when they push with their toes. Others do that when they hold their pelvis square instead of twisting it.
Limb lengths factor into the idea of leverage because players come in all shapes and sizes.
You might notice that players of asian descent have a deeper knee bend than some others. i know this because I’m half Chinese. I was praised for my excellent knee bend while others were berated for not getting as deep as me. The trick was that is was easy – almost effortless – for me to get that deep of a knee bend. I also happened to have a great squat in the gym. Is this due to a deep seated dedication to the knee bend religion? Or was this a product of my limb lengths. Probably the latter.
Whenever I see a coach discuss joint angles, I usually get turned off. I admit that I’ve done this in an effort to be helpful before. But let’s imagine that we create a model to predict perfect joint angles for optimal mechanical advantage. It’s ridiculous to say that this model should be built on one variable. How many, then, should we include in our model? Probably lots.
As we increase the number of variables in our model, if just one of our assumptions is off it ruins the entire model. In fact, that error compounds.
This type of thinking seems too complex to be useful.
A better method might be to suggest movement experiments for athletes and then let their “feel” dictate how to adjust. I admit that this approach leaves room for error. And this approach would probably be ridiculous for a more predictable sport like running or cycling. But as statistical research suggests, hockey is the most random sport in the world. A better model for our athletes to follow is to be adaptable. It follows that a player needs to trust their ability to figure out, based on feel, what form to adopt, given the circumstance in front of them. Encouraging this skill is something we need to do as coaches.
The biggest obstacle blocking most players isn’t a thing. It’s literally something imagined. The ego. Fear of embarrassment. Inability to step outside the comfort zone.
For some players, I say, “Test this.” They fully embrace the test. Ignore the possibility that they’ll look stupid. And commit to the movement.
They immediately find that the movement feels way better than ever. Or they find that it feels uncomfortable. Either way, they figured something out.
Many players are unwilling to even test. And so they don’t learn anything new about how things could feel for them.
Ice doesn’t have friction. But when your blade edges dig into the ice, you can grip the ice if your leg generates force perpendicular to the orientation of the blade. When your blade is on an edge, the rocker of the blade allows you options for force production.
Many players give up all their power because they do not orient their blade in the ice in a way that allows them to generate force. You see this when a player’s blade kicks without gripping the ice.
The body is a mixture of bi-directional relationships. For example, if you smile big you feel happy. And if you feel happy you smile big. If you win, your testosterone goes up. If your testosterone goes up you’re more likely to win.
In sprinting, the more you lean forward, the more power you need to generate in your leg extension. And the more power your legs can generate, the more you can lean forward. By leaning forward, I don’t mean dropping your chest. I mean moving your centre of mass forward.
Leaning forward is a mechanical advantage because you push the ground away from you more horizontally instead of vertically. This leads to more forward translation instead of vertical translation. (It’s important to note that this feature of running is only important in acceleration phases – vertical translation of runners at top speed is predictive of velocity).
When you’re accelerating, the more force you can direct directly behind you, the more efficient your force production angle. But the more power you need. The more power you have, the more you can push directly behind you.
Eventually you reach the upper limit of your power capacities. You need to orient your blade differently and direct force laterally to continue your forward momentum. The lateral force production becomes a more efficient choice given the speed of the skater relative to the ice.
Regardless of force production behind or to the side, only one leg pushes at a time. When the one leg pushes, the hips twist. The harder you twist your ribcage the other way, the harder your hips can twist.
The ribcage sits on top of the pelvis. It’s connected by the mysterious “core”. Most people think that the core is something to hold stable. But the core is actually an inner spring to be leveraged. Not held down.
The harder to twist your ribcage, the harder the hips can twist and vice versa.
The grossest misunderstanding of physics is the forward – backward arm swing. I try not to say that things are stupid. But this is just stupid. It’s kind of like saying that gravity doesn’t exist. The arms are attached to the shoulders which are attached to the ribcage.
It literally takes more control and talent to swing the arms forward-backward instead of side to side – meanwhile players bleed away mechanical advantage like crazy.
Force production is generated by rotation through the body.
And this leads to our last point: In McDavid and MacKinnon’s starts you clearly see the ankle extension synchronized with the hip twist. What LOOKS like linear force production is almost always torque in the body. The shoulders twist, the ribcage twists, the core twists, the hips twists, the femur twists in the hip socket, the knee joint twists, the ankle twists. Yes, the femur also extends at the hip joint. And the knee also extends. The ankle too. Many SEE this and assume that because it is the dominant motion it is the only motion.
It’s quite challenging to describe, but can be summarized as such:
The force vector is directly behind the player at a stand still. It becomes more lateral as the player gains speed. The force is generated through rotation in the body.
I’m leaving out a few aspects of the Explosive Start because this post is already very technical. We’ll revisit them another time. Now let’s talk about application:
One way to improve all four pilars of the Explosive Start this off-season is to do rollerblade sprints up hills. Imagine cruising around in the sun without a shirt, tunes on and improve all four aspects of the explosive start.
You could do sprints without rollerblades. This would improve the power component of the Explosive Start. Adding rollerblades helps you optimize the other three.
Going up a hill mostly teaches you proper blade orientation and force direction optimization.
I dedicate these articles to explanation and sharing the message of Train 2.0. I dedicate the Train 2.0 Membership and courses to the application of these ideas. You can take these ideas and test them yourself. I want you to. I can’t stand when people say that the secrets to execution are hidden behind paywalls. They aren’t. Everything you need to know is contained in my blogs, YouTube, and Podcasts. Some of you will want to apply this knowledge faster. For example, I’ve been experimenting for years on what specific drills, progressions and words lead to the fastest learning. If you’d like help with that, I created a video course called the Downhill Skating System. You might want to take the Downhill Skating Style Quiz that we created to see your biggest opportunity to learn Downhill Skating.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Would love to hear your opinion, thoughts, and questions: [email protected]
May 27, 2018
Today you learn the many ways Downhill Skating is analogous to skiing. But power skating coaches usually instruct a “skateboarding style”.
I must admit that many of my Downhill Skating insights came from the ski slope. I didn’t start skiing until I was 21, and in the last 7 years I’ve improved each year. As my skiing technique improved, so did my skating technique. My Downhill skating to be precise.
Downhill Skating implies momentum – like how skiing is downhill. With forward momentum, you use the profile of your ski/blade to til over and put yourself on an arc to turn. Downhill skating and skiing both require weight shifts plus edging to control your direction and maintain your momentum. They both require subtle shifts in weight by moving the pelvis.
Skateboarding is similar to Power Skating because you have a vector based on your wheels or blades. And then you use one leg to push to gain speed. Once you’re at speed, pushing to change direction is useless, and all you can do is lean the board a bit and hope not to fall off.
The similarities between skiing and skating continue past this analogy. And those similarities unlock the secrets to strides like Nathan MacKinnon.
When you’re skiing from the base of one chairlift to another and striding, you learn that you cannot flick the toe. You can generate a primary impulse through your heel. This keeps the entire ski (skate blade) on the snow (ice) as you extend the hips and knee. The toe only begins its force production at the end of your hip twist.
It was here that I realized:
Most coaches (skating, strength and conditioning, skill) assume that the pelvis remains fixed while the striding leg femur externally rotates extends and abducts. Or at least I did. What actually happens is that the ski/skate remains fixed while the pelvis moves.
The anatomical movement of the femur in relation to the pelvis is the same. External rotation, abduction, and extension. But the point of reference is all off. And I think it screws everybody up. EVERYBODY.
Very few understand just how earth-shattering this is. But now you do. I’m sure someone is gonna tell me that this knowledge is documented in an obscure figure skating books from the 1970’s – but this knowledge is not taught in hockey or power skating. As this idea catches on, watch as skaters transform in front of your eyes.
Key Takeaway: The pelvis moves in relation to the feet to generate force. Not the other way around.
When Mackinnon Strides out, he can keep his entire blade on the ice longer than many other players. This is because he keeps his heel on the ice longer. When he extends in the ankle, it’s more of an uncoiling or whip effect as the pelvis finishes its twist.
If you think of keeping your pelvis facing forward and then externally rotating, abducting, and extending your leg to push away from you at a 45-degree angle, you’ll immediately feel your groin pull. It might not actually pull – but you’ll feel a strain.
If you do the same motion, but twist your pelvis, the striding leg snaps into a fully extended position.
While the feet stay oriented in space, the pelvis rotates so that the striding leg’s femur externally rotates, abducts, and extends. Meanwhile, the front leg internally rotates, adducts, and flexes relative to the pelvis.
The Meta-Principle here is feet oriented in space, pelvis generates movement.
The corkscrew is a movement used by defensemen on the breakout, McDavid on breakaways, and MacKinnon while deking. In all these situations, the feet are oriented and the pelvis generates movement. But very few players do this movement. Likely because they think they need to keep their pelvis in place while their feet move instead of the other way around.
Since most players get tighter at speed, most players lose the ability to use this movement. So they lose optionality, reactivity, and flow at speed.
The reason that the corkscrew is such an important movement is that it gives players optionality while counterbalancing the hands’ movement.
Optionality: A move that can transition into 3, 4, 5 other moves
Counterbalance: Every time the hands move, the pelvis counter rotates to maintain equilibrium
It’s exciting that it took me a long time to figure out to explain something that I’ve been FEELING for several years. It’s exciting because when I can explain what I feel – it gives you a better chance of feeling it too. It’s useful to note that I have a degree in Kinesiology from a top 35 school in the world and I took special courses in functional anatomy. The reason I bring this up is that if I struggled to explain in anatomical terms what I’m feeling, I doubt that anyone else has done this. And this means that you’ve found an informational advantage. I hope that you put this to good use by executing on your information arbitrage.
If you’d like help with that, I created a video course called the Downhill Skating System. 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.
May 26, 2018
The term downhill skating comes from the idea that it is easier to bike, rollerblade, or skateboard down a hill than up a hill. This is a feature of our physical world.
Most skating instructors focus on getting your balance first. Then pushing second.
Almost all power skating instruction centers around the idea of pushing. Even the name implies pushing: Power.
Power equals work over time. Implied in that is a measurable linear force. The foot pushing the ice away from you.
Downhill skating is a very different approach. I hypothesize that skaters like McDavid, Barzal, and Mackinnon have structural features that predispose them to learn these techniques. I don’t discount the fact that they also have the psychological characteristics to put in hours of practice.
Downhill skating uses shifts in body weight that leverages the rocker of the blade to create movement.
When a skater has forward momentum, and they tilt their skate, the rocker of the blade creates an arc that the skate follows. If a skater maintains their original body weight position (center of mass), the player will fall over because the forces acting on the player are not in balance.
If the skate tilts to the right, and body weight shifts to the right at the same time, the player’s forward momentum turns into centrifugal force. If the player maintains their skate position and body weight, the player will glide on an edge and remain in balance.
An added feature of this movement is that the player will accelerate in the direction of their weight shift. When I use the term acceleration I use it to describe a change in velocity. Velocity is different than speed because it indicates a direction. Speed does not. So the player’s “speed” may not increase, but the player’s acceleration changes. And you’ve always heard that hockey is a game of acceleration.
You might pause here and consider that power skating usually involves inside edge and outside edge holds. Instructors have different terms for these. For our purposes, we’ll call them inside and outside edge c-cuts. They do a good job teaching alignment of body and control over edges. Power skating instructors will use different footwork and edging patterns to increase the challenge. I think these are all good things.
These drills teach players to align their bodies to maintain balance while on an edge. But the only problem is that they generally don’t teach players how to do this in dynamic game situations. Nor do they encourage a translation from training to gameplay. I think that some players naturally get that translation due to structural features of their hips – and I think this explains the varied success of power skating instructors.
The footwork for a typical rush in the NHL looks something like this:
- Shuffle Step
- Shuffle Step
- Soft Hip
- Hip Scissor
Each movement uses the principle of body weight shifts and using the rocker of the blade. But each movement is incredibly dynamic. At any moment, that movement might need to morph into 4 other movements depending on where the defenders move. So each movement in this chain needs to provide options.
Few players know these positions. Even less can transition between them smoothly.
A factor in transition is muscular tension.
When you are slightly out of balance or out of alignment, your body contracts muscles to bring it back into alignment. A good way to test this is to stand up and relax all your muscles. You’ll notice that your skeleton naturally aligns. If you move out of balance, your muscles need to contract (generate tension) to move back into alignment. If you hold an out of alignment position, your body must maintain tension to hold yourself there. Think of a plank.
Helping players find alignment in these positions and movements is critical to reducing tension.
Reducing tension in your movements provides more optionality and quicker reaction times.
When you contract your muscles, it is a graduated response. To contract a muscle, your brain talks to motor neurons. Some motor neurons attach to a small number of muscles and have fine control. Other motor neurons attach to larger numbers of muscles and generate more force – but give up fine control.
Larger motor neurons generate more force, but they also take longer to generate that force – and to turn off the force.
If you are in a position that is out of balance and you need need to generate tension in your muscles to maintain it, you reduce your ability to be reactive. More tension means that you’re recruiting more motor neurons that keep you in your movement track. If you have more tension in your muscles, it takes more time to relax your larger motor neurons and then fire new ones. These milliseconds are critical in high-pressure situations.
The most common “Tension Blocks” I see with players are:
- They don’t use their outside edge properly
- They hold their ankles stiff
- Their hips don’t move to allow body weight alignment
- They externally rotate their femurs
The idea of the Downhill Skating System is to teach players the postures and movements that reduce tension in their skating. This leads players to be able to smoothly shift weight over their edges to accelerate. I’ve included a list of other articles on the Downhill Skating System for your reference here.
If you want to learn how to apply the Downhill Skating System Principles to forward striding, you can read this article.
If you want to skate more smoothly, you can read this article.
If you want to improve your edges, you can read this article.
If you want to skate faster in a game, you can read this article.
If you want to know how McDavid could skate faster, you can read this article.
The intention of this article is to help you understand how the best skaters in the NHL move. If you’d like help implementing this knowledge, I created a video course called the Downhill Skating System. 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!
May 23, 2018
Finding Ice In Whistler With Pavel Barber
What do hockey players do for fun when they aren’t at the rink practicing their craft? When they’re not at the gym grinding out a heavy workout? They spend there extra time searching for new and exciting locations to practice some more! That’s just how your mind works when you love the game as much as we do.
That’s why Pavel Barber, Zack Wear, Andrew Ross and I went on an adventure to find ice to skate on in Whistler, BC. The idea was to film some training videos. Finding ice didn’t work out… but we had fun along the way. We had a few drinks, told a few stories and had a few laughs. It was a great old time with some great guys. Here is our journey as documented by Andrew Ross.
PS. If you want to do a live training with Train 2.0. you can click this link here to get FREE access