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May 20, 2018

Double Your Zone Entry like Patrick Kane

Double Your Zone Entry like Patrick Kane

In this video, Corson explains the two zone entry patterns that Patrick Kane uses to increase optionality and double his team’s scoring chances. He covers how anyone can use this zone entry pattern to improve their odds of success without improving skills.

He explains that the key to doubling your zone entry is repeating similar patterns that create high levels of optionality. That is why Kane repeats two different entry points that he uses to enter the offensive zone.

Option one – enter wide and cut in towards the middle of the ice. By cutting in, he gives himself several options: he can cut back towards the boards, he can pull the puck out and drive wide to the net, he can take the defenseman on and beat him with a dangle, he can cut across the middle and make a play, and several more options.

Option 2 – enter between the dots. If the opposing team challenges before the blueline line, he passes the puck across to a teammate out wide. If the defenders give the line, he slows down, aims to pull one or two defenders towards the middle, then pass the puck wide to a teammate who has speed and room to drive the net.

These two zone entry patterns are a big part of what makes Patrick Kane so successful when he enters the zone. Try these patterns for yourself and feel the optionality as they help you double your zone entry success.

To see uninterrupted highlights of Patrick Kane: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNlSryNpWUg

Patrick Kane’s Goal Scoring Formula: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUIMqe5Ipuc&t=42s

To see Corson’s Hockey Journey: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNdhvyNlEe_q4jaIsXBZb1w
To see Corson’s Instagram: @corsonsearles

To see how I record these videos: https://ift.tt/1zAb4CX
The mic I use: https://ift.tt/2IxbMwM

 

May 14, 2018

How to Shoot Like Panarin – Training Footage

How to Shoot Like Panarin – Training Footage

Watch as I breakdown how to shoot like Panarin. I compare Panarin’s in-game footage to my own training footage – analyzing it from the perspective of a kinesiologist. Like you, I’m learning. And I’m documenting the process because I know how this plays out.

What I learned in this video is that timing the foot and release is important to get the same snap as Panarin. I’m also searching for why I kick my leg so high, but he keeps his lower. My thought is that this relates to his preference for rotation – whereas my patterning is used to pushing. Something for me to dive deeper into – and uncover.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, feedback, suggestions. Please email me at [email protected] or DM me at @train2point0 because I’d love to hear from you.

– Jason

PS. If you want to do a live training with Train 2.0. you can click this link here to get FREE access

May 6, 2018

How To End Your Fear Of Scoring – Finisher’s Formula Pt 2/2

What is on the other side of fear?

Nothing.

This Will Smith quote stuck with me. But I couldn’t figure it out.

Until I experienced it.

After doing a seminar with Wim Hof, I realized that “fear” is just a breathing pattern. And I often turned on my “fear” breathing pattern – especially when shooting in a game.

Way back, I was told that shooting is about weight transfer and generating power in your legs.  So I’d practice jumping towards the net. This generated tension in my whole body. And if you saw me shoot, you’d make a real yucky face. Why is that guy so tight?

If I stood in front of a net with no pressure, I could pick corners and shoot pretty hard. But as soon as I started moving at high speed, my shot became unpredictable.

And if I had to make a move around someone to shoot – yikes…here comes the muffin man.

In my last article, I showed you the different footwork patterns NHLers use to score. The question that remained unanswered was: how do you transition from skating to making a move, to shooting?

 

The answer isn’t some specific movement. The answer is “Awareness”.

Specifically, awareness of tension.

As soon as I started skating faster, and making moves, I tensed my muscles.

Hockey Wizards use Magic Mechanics to generate movement and direction change without tension.

The Formula looks like this: Magic Mechanics = Alignment = Minimally Tense Muscles = Optionality = Reactionary

They drag their inside edges, use subtle hip twists, and lean on their outside edges to skate and change direction without firing up their big muscles. This allows them to have optionality and react to unpredictable situations.

Since most of you are like me and have been taught to push and generate tension to move, your movements require tension.

This makes the transition from skating at high speed, to deking, to shooting: blocky and predictable.

The Wizards are reactionary and flexible.

And this comes from a minimum tension in the ankles and hips when they skate.

When I started Train 2.0 – I knew I was searching for something. And we found it.

I don’t know all the answers. But now I know the answer.

Awareness of tension.

Period. End of story.

Tension equals fear. Relaxation equals trust.

When you tell a player to use their outside edge, they have to trust that edge and relax their muscles as their skeleton aligns over the blade. The trust and relaxation is synonymous. The fear of falling disappears as the tension disappears. The body is the brain and the brain is the body.

When I used to get the puck around the net, I’d hold my breath and tense my whole body. The funny thing was that I had the skills to score. But I held them back with my breathing pattern. With my tension – that locked me into a specific path. I couldn’t be flexible or reactionary.

I don’t have to run a scientific experiment to know if I become aware of my tension, and then let it go, the change will be dramatic. This is something I KNOW. I’ve already put in the hours. Now, I just need to get out of my way.

Once I figured this out, I realized that I needed to improve my backhand. This time I tried something new.

 

  • Watch Crosby.
  • Note Mechanics.
  • Test them while being aware of the tension.
  • Then note which deliver the best results.

Because I oriented myself towards feel and tension….I noticed…guess what…when the puck was on my backhand I tensed up.

In my head, I’m a little uncertain on my backhand. That’s code for: Fearful.

When I noticed the tension, then let go of it….boom! I found it.

I noted that Crosby always has one of his edges into the ice. And he usually releases the puck around mid blade. So I’d use those cues as movement hypotheses. But the real key was: Tension. LET IT GO.

We have some work to do…I mean undo. Some patterns of fear to rewire. And this is just the beginning.

You’re no different from the “Naturals”.

I’m dead serious. Their mechanism of learning is the bottom part of the loop (Feels right -> Mastery). This article is about mastering that bottom part of the loop.

Where you and I separate ourselves is the top part of the loop. We’re more adventurous. More open to experimentation. Willing to look under the hood. This is why we win in the long run.

I see many naturals who are comfortable with the bottom part of the loop. But they literally cannot process the idea of testing movement in a different way. This holds them back.

Technology has boosted the shit out of the top part of the loop (Movement research -> movement exploration). We see how players move all over the world in extreme detail. And we steal like an artist to test out those movement patterns ourselves.

Train 2.0 is the “how to”. You say: improve my shot. Train 2.0 says: Test these movements in this order. Because that’s how NHLers move. Once they feel right you move along the path to mastery.

-Jason

P.S. If you’d like to get started on the “how to”, you can here. Because it’s time.

 

May 6, 2018

How to Lick Your Opponent – Physically and Mentally

Brad Marchand is playing everyone. Including you and me. Here’s how…

First, I do not encourage you to lick anyone. Aside from the obvious risk of cooties, it kinda upsets people. Best to stay away from licking.

Second, I don’t really like Brad Marchand. Mostly, I don’t like that he puts players in dangerous situations on the ice. As a pro player recovering from a concussion, I don’t condone his dangerous behaviour. I especially don’t like that his antics helped the Bruins beat the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals in 2010-2011.

But when it comes to dominating EVERYONE psychologically – Marchand is doing it.

I pause here to remind you that he has won 2 Gold Medals and a Stanley Cup. Perhaps another on the way. We might not like him. But this guy is a winner.

Brad Marchand is licking people on purpose. This is no accident. And I’ll explain the effects to you through a something known as the “Persuasion Filter”. (Credit to Scott Adams)

When Marchand licks another player, the outrageousness of the act captures our attention. Mostly because it violates our expectations of how a hockey player should act.

If I say “DONT think of the pink elephant” you think of the pink elephant. Because that’s how attention works. You capture it. Even when it’s the negative version.

That’s the key point that most people miss. Negative or positive attention is still attention. When you have attention, you can direct it where you want.

Do you think Marchand is sitting at home right now and regretting his decision to lick people? He might be. But let’s look at what happens when he licks people.

Everyone focuses their attention on him.

Then he plays better.

Then he takes the pressure off his team.

Then he distracts his opponents.

He gets his opponents off their game.

And he’s got you off your game. And most people don’t recognize how.

Why is licking so wrong and unsportsmanlike?

Personally, I wouldn’t want to be licked. I also don’t feel the desire to lick players. I wouldn’t want to taste their sweat. That part grosses me out. So it feels “wrong” to me. But why does it feel so wrong to you? What upsets you about it?

Your response to this is something I call “culture hacking”.

If you get inordinate amounts of attention, you hack culture.

Think of Kim Kardashian. Started with a sex tape. Now, she has a lot more followers than you. And an empire. And I’d suggest that she’s trying to influence the world in a positive way. I watched her bring Dr. Rhonda Patrick onto her show to talk about healthy diets. (Yes, this means I watch Keeping up with the Kardashians)

The outrage people feel on both sides of the conversation fuels discussion. The discussion that is either positive or negative is still discussion. It’s attention. And attention is the currency of today’s world.

On Facebook and Instagram, they rank posts higher that have engagement. So if you have a post that focuses on a wrist shot that generates no discussion, and a post that talks about licking your opponent (mentally and physically) – that generates a lot of discussion – It doesn’t matter if the comments are negative or positive. It’s boosting your engagement. So your post gets featured more. And you get more attention.

There are pitfalls to different types of attention capture. You have websites, media, and fake news that take advantage of the “negative attention is still attention phenomenon.” They profit from your attention when they post outrageously negative or emotionally inciting headlines. Much like there are pitfalls to Marchand’s approach to attention capture. But here’s what plays out…

When you discuss Brad Marchand…

When you factor in on whether it’s right or wrong…

When you even think about this topic – you play right into Marchand’s hands. He wants this. He’s in your head. He’s in mine. He’s licking his opponents. Physically and mentally.

I pause again to remind you that I’m not commenting on the rightness of the specific method of getting into your opponents head. I aim to give you a filter through which to view what is happening. Observe people’s reactions to what is happening right now. And their cognitive dissonance.

You might think that this post is about how to lick your opponent – but the truth is that this post is part of an awakening. We’re witnessing a hole being ripped in our reality. We are redefining what hockey “is”. Marchand is only the start.

-Jason

P.S. I’m attaching a list of cognitive dissonance tells here. I’ll note which I notice over time.

May 1, 2018

Finisher’s Formula Part 1: Improving Your Shot and Solving Motivation

Do you want to know how to stay motivated in hockey forever?

There is only one de-motivator in hockey. And that is the feeling of hopelessness. If you solve for hopelessness, you solve the motivation problem.

We see hopelessness in hockey all the time. Here are a few examples:

  • You don’t make a team. In your mind – that was the only way to get to where you want to go. So you give up hope.
  • You don’t possess a skill. You try to improve it but you can’t. So you give up hope.
  • Your coach doesn’t play you. You try to do something about it but you can’t. So you give up hope.

In all these situations, the common theme is that you cannot imagine a better future.

If you cannot even imagine a better future, you are not going to take action.

Motivation is an illusion. When people take action, they appear “motivated”. But when you dig into the psychology and neuroscience behind motivation, we see that it is a fleeting state that doesn’t stick around when the going gets tough.

Angela Duckworth talks about “grit” or “resilience”. This is the ability to keep taking action when the going gets tough. She notes that the most successful athletes, business people, and top performers have high levels of this thing called grit. She goes on to say that people who have grit have a big goal or vision. In other words, they can imagine a better future.

Some people literally cannot imagine a better future. Let’s take the common goal of aiming for an NCAA Division 1 Scholarship.

Some people imagine that if you don’t make a certain league, you won’t make NCAA Div 1. And if you don’t make NCAA Div 1, you can’t play pro hockey. They don’t imagine any other scenario.

I didn’t make NCAA Div 1. But I played in the CIS (Canadian University – now called USport). But because I kept progressing I somehow played pro.

There are plenty of ways to play pro hockey. Or to get your school paid for with hockey.

I was fortunate enough to get a scholarship to pay for my school. But I also turned my passion for hockey training into my summer business. Which ended up paying for school. Not many people imagine using hockey in that way to pay for their school. But I did.

The only reason I could execute this plan was that I imagined it first.

Overcoming Hopelessness With Validated Learning

I was never good at deking. I’d skate up to players with a ton of speed – move in a strange way – then usually lose the puck when they poke checked it.

So I watched DVDs, YouTube Videos, and my good teammates to try to figure out how to deke better.

I made head fakes, shoulder fakes, and chest fakes like the DVDs told me. They sometimes worked. But I think it was usually by accident when my spastic movement caught the defender by surprise.

Then I did something different.

I recently put my learning engine to work on deking and dangling.

  1. I researched NHLers
  2. I wrote an article – instructing others and myself
  3. I tested the instructions by getting feedback
  4. I repeated the loop

I went from a player with close to zero knowledge of how to setup and exploit defenders for dangles – to a player that knew exactly what to do.

My feelings of hopelessness changed to feelings of excitement.

And this looks like “motivation”.

The Finisher’s Formula & Fake Learning

The next part of my game that sucks is scoring. Look at my stats for proof.

So I decided to aim the learning engine at scoring.

The benefit of the learning engine is something called “Validated Learning”. This is different from the popular “Fake Learning” that many Drone Coaches use.

Fake Learning is similar to Fake News because it is fake.

Like Fake News, Fake Learning takes some aspect of reality, then distorts it in a way that makes it seem like real learning.

Take toe pushes for example. When players skate, the last thing to leave the ice is the toe. So it looks like a toe push is important. Some coaches take this and tell players to toe push. Then players toe push, hold too much tension in their lower leg, and get overtired. Oh, and lack agility. And efficiency.

Like Fake News, Fake Learning is damaging to the people that consume it.

I steal the term Validated Learning from Lean Methodology. The idea is that practice beats theory. Practitioners have skin in the game – while theoreticians do not. Validated Learning is rooted in reality through results. Fake Learning takes an aspect of reality and then distorts – so the “learning” is only in someone’s head – it doesn’t exist in real life.

A cool part of my situation is that I can simultaneously research ideas (as a kinesiologist), test them (as a pro hockey player), and then validate them further (by teaching hundreds of hockey players).

Getting The Mechanical Advantage

The difference between a horse and a car is a mechanical advantage. And when you find a mechanical advantage, the difference is exponential.

A common example of Fake Learning is the “Hard Work Solves Everything Hypothesis.”

Hard work is important. But it doesn’t matter how skilled you are at breeding horses – cars beat horses every time.

When you find the right mechanics (what I call the Magic Mechanics) the difference is literally order of magnitude.

 

Remember that the Magic Mechanics simultaneously make your task easier and more effective while giving you more situational awareness. When you explore with the Feel Your Body Learning System, then optimize through repetition, the result is NHL skill.

The Problem With Repetition

Here is how Validated Learning occurs:

Many hear that you should do repetitions to get better. This is true. But only if you’re at the right stage.

I did enough reps to make the NHL. So did a lot of people. The problem was that I didn’t start with “feel right”. So when I jumped to repetition, I skipped a bunch of learning steps.

If you’re like me, you might be feeling a little icky right now. Maybe uncomfortable that so many of your reps didn’t start from this place.

Luckily we live in the Golden Age. Technology solves this problem. First, because your movement research is easier than ever. Just go to my Instagram account to watch slow-motion clips of NHLers moving. Second, because you can access my research and system – from anywhere in the world: you can access that here. Third, because we can crowd source feedback on results faster than ever thanks to Internet 2.0.

You’re on a wild ride right now. You might say this is a revolution in hockey training. And I promise that this is just the beginning.

Applying This To Scoring

My research into scoring is mostly pattern oriented. We’ve done a ton of research into the patterns of mechanics that NHLers use to score in the NHL.

These guys use 2-4 patterns to consistently score. Then they score on some random plays. Top NHLers score about 70% of their goals from consistent patterns. The other 30% from random plays.

My hypothesis is that “goal scorers” have consistent patterns that they exploit. Everyone else scores based on a mix of randomness and mechanics.

So the Finisher’s Formula Looks something like this:

(# Patterns Known x Skill) + (Offensive Zone Ice time x Skill) = # of Goals

Where Skill = Mechanics + Mindset

Where My Goal Scoring Formula Sucks

My shooting mechanics suck. So it doesn’t matter how many patterns I know or how much offensive zone time I get, I won’t get many goals. My formula predicts this. But algorithms are useless if they predict the past accurately. They are only useful if they predict the future. So as I improve my mechanics around shooting, we should see a corresponding improvement in goal production. If this formula predicts this future – then watch out.

 

 

Starting Mechanics: Edgework

FYI: Our System is to write these articles, then update the Shooting Mastery Course in the Members Area. You can access that here.

The main problem with shooting is that people practice repetitions in their garage with mechanics that are not supported at speed.

Imagine putting bicycle tires on your SUV or Car. Then imagine putting the car on a hoist, and running the engine so your tires spin. No problem, right? Ok, now put the car on the ground and hit the gas. Turn some corners. What happens? It all falls apart.

This is solved when you shoot at speed with the right footwork patterns. And there are only 6 footwork patterns for shooting:

  1. Front Leg C-Cut (Laine Fourth Secret)
  2. Front Leg Outside Edge (Matthews Release – Burns Release)
  3. Back Leg Inside Edge (Kucherov & Kessel Release)
  4. Back Leg Outside Edge (Most common release – Marchand is a master of this)
  5. Forehand Backhand – Weight Shift Step
  6. Lever Only Shot (Crosby Release)

There are subcategories of each. Here are some examples that we cover in the Shooting Mastery Course:

  1. Front Leg C-Cut (Laine Fourth Secret)
    1. Back knee collapse – Laine Shot
    2. Kick Shot
  2. Front Leg Outside Edge (Matthews Release – Burns Release)
    1. One-Timer
    2. Matthews Release
    3. Burns Point Shot
  3. Back Leg Inside Edge (Kucherov & Kessel Release)
    1. Tornado Shot
    2. Lazy One-Timer
    3. Kessel Release
    4. Blade Pivot
    5. Karlsson Shot Down the dots
  4. Back Leg Outside Edge (Most common release – Marchand is a master of this)
    1. One-timer going to the net
    2. Marchand Release
  5. Forehand Backhand – Weight Shift Step
    1. William Karlsson
    2. Artemi Panarin
    3. Nathan Mackinnon

The Main Road Block

The Mechanic holding players back from Mastery of these different releases is Edgework.

Let’s take the back leg inside edge shot as an example (Kessel & Kucherov Release). If you try to hold your skate strong so that it’s balanced on both edges, your foot and ankle become tense. That tension carries up your body into your legs, hips, core, shoulders, arms, and then hands. Every movement has a counter movement. So if you want your upper body to rotate freely, your lower body needs to counter-rotate with equal and opposite force. That’s impossible when you’re using muscular tension to hold it in place.

Instead, if you get on an edge, your lower body rotates. If you sequence it correctly, the lower body counter rotates to provide equal and opposite rotation to your upper body. When you’re on an edge, your lower body doesn’t require any tension to rotate. It just glides. And the rocker of the blade allows the lower body to rotate – without any effort or tension.

Many players hold tension in their ankle and don’t trust the edge to hold. So this holds back the upper body rotation.

A player might hold edges well on some shots. But resort to tension on others. One of the best shooters I work with can rip one-timers with the c-cut footwork – but struggles with the inside edge back shot. He holds tension in his ankle on that specific edge. Obviously, his upper body mechanics work because of his one-timer. But they are only held back on one specific footwork pattern. Teaching him to trust his edges on that specific footwork pattern will teach him to unlock that shot.

I use to tension on ALL my shots – no holding edges. So my consistency is horrible. If I accidentally get on the edges – the shot is a rocket. Otherwise, it’s weak.

The Next Steps

First: Move from movement exploration and awareness phase to the trust phase in all 5 footwork patterns. Trust and use the edges on all 5 footwork patterns.

Second: Research the transition to the 5 footwork patterns.

And that’s where we leave it today. Next article, we review the feedback and results. Then we discuss the research on how to transition to the 5 footwork patterns.

We’re on a wild ride! I know this because the feeling of unlocking the Dangles is incredible. Progress. Knowing. It is the ultimate freedom and joy. I know how this is going to play out with shooting too. And this is just the beginning.

If you’d like to be notified when the next article comes out, you can sign up for the 3-Part Guide to Natural Instinct here. You’ll be added to my email list, and I’ll send you an email when the next article drops.

Thanks for reading today. As always, please send me your feedback, suggestions, and questions: [email protected] or @train2point0 on Instagram.

-Jason

April 26, 2018

Dangle by Design: The Mechanics of Magic

Many of you know that Free Will is an illusion. Or at least, that’s what Neuroscience says.

So let’s talk about how the “coaching” you receive is actually screwing you up.

Do you ever notice that the players who dangle when they’re young – can dangle when they’re older? And how stay at home defensemen usually remain stay at home defensemen?

This usually looks like something called “natural talent”. But how do you get under the hood, jiggle things around, and rewire a player to unlock their “natural talent”? Or is that even possible?

 

It helps to know that we humans aren’t much different than sea cucumbers. By that, I mean that we move away from pain and towards pleasure. (I think sea cucumbers do that, don’t they? I’m not bothering to look that up because I think it is a funny analogy.)

Basically, if you do something, then get a reward – you get a hit of dopamine. This FEELS good. Then your brain says, “Oooohhh, how can I get more of that?!?!?”

Let’s say you stickhandle through some cones and you get it just right – you get a hit of dopamine and it feels good.

The FEEL GOOD from dopamine serves a purpose. It helps your brain link your movement with the reward of getting the puck through the cones.

Then the brain goes: Oooh, I like that! How can I get more? LET’S DO IT AGAIN 🙂

And so it happens again. And again. And again.

Before long, you’ve done 10,000 reps. Because it feels SO DAMN GOOD. Because it’s INEVITABLE!

Natural Instinct

A young hockey player picks up a stick. They move in some random and chaotic way. And then something cool happens. Everyone starts cheering!!!

Brain: WOW, THAT FEELS GOOD. I WANT SOME MORE OF THAT.

The young player moves around again. Trying random shit. And boom! Everyone is cheering again!

Brain: Hmmm… that feels good again. It seems that when I move my legs this way and my arms that way, everyone cheers! Maybe I’ll do that again!!!

This cycle repeats again and again until the young player is a young adult and playing professional hockey.

Stopping Natural Instinct

Think. Analyze. Fear.

Period. End of Story.

Thinking Is An Illusion

As mentioned, thinking is basically an afterward explanation for behavior.

Ever wonder why McDavid and Crosby can’t explain their success? Why Gretzky SUCKED as a coach?

Their decisions are instinctual. Literally.

When the brain sees a hockey pattern that it recognizes, the brain pathways fire automatically. Why? Because there is a strong connection between the pattern, action, and reward. In short: it feels good. We call this a NeuroLink.

Feeling Bad Is The Enemy

A young player picks up the stick and puck. They try to deke. They lose the puck. Then a “helpful” coach tells them, “don’t lose the puck.”

The player is afraid to disappoint the coach. So the player fears that situation. They stay away from that situation. End of story.

Thinking Is Also The Enemy

When you stop and think ….you literally stop….and then think.

“Thinking” is a sequential process. You think one thought. Then another. Then another. Slow. Deliberate. Process.

Your unconscious mind processes thousands of stimuli at once. Automatically. Smoothly.

Learning to Deke By Thinking (Ya right!)

Going into a deke situation by THINKING usually works like this:

Brain: I’m gonna do this. Oh. There’s the poke check. Oh. Now I don’t have the puck. Damn.

The Strategic Use Of Randomness

When you start a new task, it’s helpful to be as random as possible. This concept is explained in the book Algorithms to Live By.

For example, if you are searching for your favorite food, you’ll find a “more favorite” (optimized) food by sampling randomly rather than by narrowing your selection early.

Let’s say you think your favorite food is grilled cheese – so you only sample grilled cheeses – you will find your favorite grilled cheese. But it might not be your actual favorite food. (This is called a local maxima.) If you sample randomly at the beginning by trying some grilled cheese, some steak, some vegan options, some pizza…you might end prefering a middle of the road pizza more than your favorite grilled cheese. (This random sampling allows you to find the global maxima of your food preference curve.)

The Ego and Fear Of Failure

Logically, you should sample as many movement experiments as possible early on. If you move around randomly at the beginning – eventually your brain is gonna fire you some dopamine. And then it feels good. You associate the pattern, action, and FEEL GOOD – and then repeat again and again.

Even though this is the optimal solution – most don’t do it. Why? Because of fear of failure. The ego doesn’t want to look silly.

If you’re gonna be random at first, 99.999% of the time you’ll screw up. That’s guaranteed.

If you don’t have fear of failure, you can fail early and often by doing random-ass shit. Over time, your brain will make connections by feeling good with success, thus honing your reactions. If you have the stomach to handle embarrassment, rejection, and mistakes – then you can get to this point.

Don’t Think. FEEEEEEEEEL.

You cannot think your way to the NHL. I know this because I tried. And it didn’t work.

What you can do though, is put yourself in a position to learn through feel.

For example, you can study the movement of the puck on a player’s blade when they stickhandle. Then you can test how that feels. When it feels great, you get that hit of dopamine, and then start the process of mastering the feel…urgh…I mean skill. Through repeition.

This is what I mean when I say: Once you feel it, you can’t unfeel it.

Learning Through Feel

Let’s use the Dangle as an example. I noticed that Crosby always Dangles by moving the defender one way, then taking advantage of his stick momentum and going the other way.

If you look deeper, Crosby usually moves left, then reacts to the stick movement of his opponent. If it comes out at him, he goes under the stick and across. If it sweeps across, he pulls the puck towards his body and then across.

He sets it up with lateral movement across the opponent. Either with crossovers or a hip scissor.

Then when the defender swings his stick, Crosby allows his reactions to take over.

He doesn’t consciously think: “Oh, his stick is swinging this way, so I move that way.”

Instead, his brain is literally wired to FEEL good selecting the drag when he sees the cue to drag – and curl when he sees the cue to curl.

How to Learn Through Feel

Players who learn through feel have two things:

  1. The Mechanics Platform
  2. The Mindset

The Mechanics Platform is a sliding scale. As your mechanics improve, your platform raises. You stand on top of the platform to do things.

The Mindset includes a willingness to fail, and a desire to experiment.

Adjust the Mechanics Platform

When we talk about “Progressions and Regressions” (boring name) – we talk about adjusting the Mechanics Platform. Remember that learning through feel requires an instinctual reaction to an opponent’s cue. Let’s look at the Crosby Curl vs Drag example. This decision only has two options. So Crosby’s brain needs to hold both motor programs at the same time. And then fire the correct one.

If Crosby’s brain only holds one motor program, how could he ever make this “decision”? He’d be deciding between something he can do and something he can’t. You don’t call one option a decision.

In this case, we’d “Regress” or Lower the Mechanics Platform. We teach Crosby the pattern he’s missing. Once he’s proficient, we introduce the decision again. Then we let him learn which “decision” to make through FEEL.

The Movement Hypothesis

Rather than consider our knowledge of human movement as fixed, we should assume that evolves. I used to believe that I needed to come across as an expert and project that I knew everything about movement. But that is utter baloney. And any coach who says they’ve “figured it out” has decided that they don’t want to grow anymore. I decided to keep growing. So I declared myself a non-expert. I view myself as a tinkerer instead.

This view of the world suggests that Hockey Wizards likely have optimized mechanics. Once we have basic skills mastered, we can use their mechanics as a hypothesis to test. We aim to imitate their mechanics on certain movements. If it feels good, we keep doing it. Once felt, it cannot be unfelt.

If the movement hypothesis doesn’t FEEL GOOD, we might not be getting it. It doesn’t mean that’s it is worthless. Perhaps our Mechanics Platform isn’t high enough yet. We come back to it when it feels right.

If you improve the quality of your movement hypotheses dramatically increases your progress. And your confidence.

I can’t tell you how many times I tell players: Why not try the opposite?

Everyone says bend your knees? What happens if you don’t?

Everyone says lean on your stick? What happens if you don’t?

Everyone says push when you skate? What happens if you don’t?

I take opposing positions to common hockey cues so that players feel more freedom to experiment. I guess I’m lucky that it works so damn well.

Dangle By Design: The Mechanics Behind The Magic

Is it possible to learn how to Dangle by Design? The answer is yes. How do I know? Because I taught myself. Right in front of your eyes. Watch my YouTube channel to see how I did it.

I took the exact same approach that I outlined in this article.

  1. Develop Movement Hypotheses from Crosby
  2. Test Movement Hypotheses
  3. Master the Mechanics through feel
  4. Slowly Raise the Mechanics Platform with progressive drills designed to introduce the right feel-based decision making

If you’d like to know what I learned on this journey, you can read my 5 Part Dangle by Design blog series starting here.

If you’d like to see the exact, step by step, video breakdown if my progressive drills, that is available to members here.

And if you have any feedback, suggestions, or questions, please email me: [email protected] because I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading today.

-Jason

April 13, 2018

Dangle By Design Part 5: The Setup

This is Part 5 of Dangle By Design. Click here to read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, or Part 4. I recommend that you start here at Part 1.

Decision-making is an illusion.

In talking with a former professional quarterback, he told me, “The decision has already been made for you – you just react.”

In Part 1, we discussed the idea of action vs reaction. Read that here.

So what does this mean? And how does this relate to the setup?

Here is the setup:

The first part doesn’t matter. It’s variable. Crossovers, c-cuts, shuffles, 10&2…doesn’t matter. Speed probably does matter.

The second part matters a lot. Because this is the part of the pattern that allows for dangles.

The second part of the pattern is: Cut across the defender’s body on the diagonal angle, from one side of the body to the other.

See that pattern here.

Now, this is where action vs reaction comes into play.

You make the decision (action) to go across the defender’s body on the diagonal.

Your mechanics and pattern need to be sound so that you can go left or right. You must be able to do:

  • The Crosby Curl (Crosby Flick)
  • The Kane Drag

  • Anchor Left and Right (The above two examples are an anchor to the right)
  • Soft Hip (The above two examples are a soft left hip – going from wide to narrow to step around the defender)

Then you react to the defender’s stick and body momentum. If they go too far to the left, you go right. If they go too far to the right, you go left. This is the part of the dangle that you don’t pre-plan. You simply react that what you see and feel.

This leads us to the Mindset Of The Dangler.

You may have heard me mention the power of humility, being wrong, and getting embarrassed on the podcast. This is extremely important if you’re going to take the next step to adopt the Mindset Of The Dangler.

I hypothesize that most “learned reactions” in hockey are conditioned responses. Yes, like Pavlov’s dogs and rats in a maze. That kind of conditioning.

In particular, operant conditioning.

In operant conditioning, you take some sort of action, then get a reward. If the reward is positive, you get a dopamine boost. This feels good. And this begins the wiring process in your brain.

What exactly wires? The link between the opportunity, action, and result.

The more you fire this pathway, the more it wires together. What fires together wires together.

We call these “NeuroLinks”.

Here’s where the Dangle Mindset falls apart: If you’re not willing to put yourself in a reaction situation because you don’t trust your instincts and you don’t want to fail – you can never create these conditioned responses. Your bag of flesh known as a body needs to experience many situations until it happens upon the right combination of movements that triggers the right chemical response. So you literally have to flail, in about 1000 different ways, until your body accidentally stumbles on the right combination of flailing. If you repeat that right combination enough times, you form a strong NeuroLink, and your brain pathways wire together. Then you get consistent results. A bonus is that it feels good!

Anyone who can skate can get the setup right. This is the action portion of the dangle. The Decision portion of the dangle.

Anyone can practice the mechanics. Get them perfect. That’s simple.

Anyone can read the stick momentum and the body momentum. Also simple.

But few have the balls (or lady balls) to put themselves in a reaction based situation  – where they trust their instincts and let their body learn unconsciously. Because they are afraid of looking stupid. And yet, that is the most important part of the dangle.

Don’t confuse willingness to fail with wanting to fail. Or willingness to be embarrassed with wanting to be embarrassed. No one likes those things. But some people learn to love the pain. Because they associate that pain with growth.

Frustration, anger, guilt, blame – these emotions do not work in the Dangle Mindset. Because they restrict you from trying again. From flailing and failing in new and creative ways. A desire to seek out this type of punishment and turn it into something you crave is the mindset of a Dangler. And over time, as your body creates those connections, it automatically wires the right pathways together. You just have to get out of your own way and let the learning occur naturally.

Please take into account that there is a time to practice these reactionary instincts. And a time play it safe. Off-season. Practice. Fun games. These are the times to hone your instincts.

Game 7 OT? Probably not the time. Stick to what you know your instincts are already good at.

So, to finish off the Dangle By Design Series:

  • The setup includes a variable entry pattern
  • Cut diagonally from one side of the defender’s body to the other
  • As you cut diagonally from one side of the defender to the other, be in a position (mechanically – called “Still Point”) to go left or right to that you can react to the defender’s movement
    • Master the Crosby Curl
    • Master the Kane Drag
    • Master the Anchor
    • Master the Soft Hip
  • Read the cue of stick momentum
  • Allow yourself to react to the movement of your defender. It’s too fast to pre-plan this. Let your instincts take over.
  • To develop your reactions and instincts you must be willing to fail many times until your brain wires itself together naturally
  • The only thing holding you back is your ego (humility, willingness to fail, willingness to be embarrassed)

I hope you enjoyed this series. I enjoyed writing it and learned a ton. Would love to hear from you – please tell me what you learned and what you think I overlooked. Coming up next is the Dangle by Design Course – which will be the step by step video lessons to teach you how to do this. If you’d like a sneak preview of it, make sure to sign up for the Train 2.0 Membership.

Thanks for reading,

Jason

[email protected]

 

April 13, 2018

Decoding Darryl Belfry

I was asked to decode this Twitlonger Tweet from Darryl Belfry. Read his original post with my comments alongside it.

I am presented with one of those “if I had to do it over again” situations. I’m going to share with you what some of the key pieces I’ll do different, to hopefully give you some insight that may help you with your respective teams.

This year, with my daughter’s hockey training group, I have a chance to go back in time with concentrated development time with this age group 11-13 year olds. It’s exciting because, the last time I was in this age group, we had some special special talents. However, I was a kid training kids. Which had it’s value, but I look at this situation as a chance to put in action all those lessons learned.

The following are the four cornerstone pieces, we are currently putting into place.

1. Way back when, I did edges and balance to start every session, however, it was the same set of edges and balance. This time around, we will open ever session with edges, balance and weight shift (weight shift was something we added later when we did this before – now it is front and center) and the development track will be progressive and have specific stages of proficiency I want to hit.

Progressive Development Track with specific stages of proficiency. This sounds like Belfry is going from a reps for reps sake model to a minimum requirements model. There is acceptance criteria for each stage that the players must meet. I assume a player is assigned extra work if they do not meet those requirements at the same time as their teammates.

2. Practice habits was frankly a differentiator for me years ago, I was about as demanding for effort as there was and had the benefit of strong horses to pull the group. I graded my practices by pace, ice management and work:rest ratio. This time around, the effort demand will be there but I’m excited to carve out more “true teaching” moments. Steal a page from the way I work with my private pro clients – focus on feel-based learning principles and a sharper demand for personal commitment to technical excellence.

True teaching moments? Contrasted with high effort? Does that mean that previous practices were high effort without “true teaching moments”? It sounds like Belfry’s definition of “true teaching” moments includes feel-based learning principles and more technical detail. I call feel-based learning principles “Feel Your Body Learning”. My methodology is to introduce new movements as a “Movement Experiment”, then ask players how it feels. I ask them to constantly compare movement hypotheses with their own trust in their body to see what feels better over time. In contrast, most coaches tell a player what to do, and that’s the end of the discussion. Ignoring how it feels for a player. In my experience, players who do “movement experiments” and pay attention to how they feel get “AHA!” moments as their body finds the Magic Mechanics. I wonder if this meets the criteria for a True Teaching Moment? I imagine that “sharper demand for personal commitment to technical excellence” means: Players focus on their mechanics more. And the standard is higher. He might not let sloppy mechanics slide. And perhaps he’d use that higher standard for more teaching moments.

3. In my previous time, I worked a lot in opposite situations (forecheck vs breakout, rush offense vs rush defense, point shooting vs shot blocking, etc) and leveraged the situational focus to reveal the teaching situations. This time around, I am teaching the D first in an effort to stack the technical deck in their favor. I’m going to allow the F to be creatively expressive and rely on their instincts. Why?

In the ages of 11-13, the forwards offensive skill set is generally miles ahead of the defenders technical defending skill set. The gap between encourages the F’s to believe they are better than what they really are. The D are behind in their technical ability to control space and therefore F’s are fooled by a success rate that is tilted in their favor.

In teaching the D first, I’ll raise their technical footwork, skating ability to hold defensive side position, stay square to the defender, use a purposeful stick, force turns and stops, control hips and use wedges and seals – and that’s just defending out of the corner – which is where we are now. Once I raise the D’s technical ability to defend, I’ll reduce the F’s success rate organically through translatable defensive principles. This will stack the deck in the D’s favor enough to see if the F’s can problem solve.

Once I’m comfortable with the D’s ability to control the F, then I’ll dive in and teach the F’s the translatable skill sets that they can use to grab control of the space. Then once the F’s adapt, the focus goes back on the D to raise the level again.

By focusing on the D first, we create a “leapfrog learning environment” and that is a big adjustment I want to have in place this time around.

Let’s start with the term “translatable”. Belfry uses this to describe skills that produce results regardless of the level. Some skills have a shelf life (like straight ahead speed). Others don’t (like creating space).

Ok, so translatable skills are the 80/20 skills – because once learned, they can be used all the way up. Doesn’t make much sense to learn skills that expire in a couple years, does it?

So he’s saying that he’ll teach defensemen these translatable skills first.

I think his reasoning is this: if you want to get better, you need a challenge. A challenge usually means that there is a gap between where you are, and where you want to be.

There is already a gap between forwards and defense at the 11-13 age level. I observe this as well. So the first gap to close is moving the defense closer to the forwards.

Then he creates a second gap, by moving the defense past the forwards. As this occurs, he tests the forwards ability to adapt creatively to the new demands. If the adaptation occurs organically – great! If not, he instructs the forwards how to problem solve.

Then the forwards move ahead again. I believe this skill gap closing – skill gap opening is what he refers to as a leap frog environment.

4. The last cornerstone is “competitive advantage” …. very different approach than that of building “compete level” … with the objective of creating intelligent competitors. I want that fierceness and will to win but through the competitive advantage lens.

This will be built through …. oh you didn’t think I was going to tell you everything did you!! I want to hear what you think I mean by this and how you would go about teaching it.

This type of competitiveness will supplant the current “compete level” and is a big differentiator at the world class level. Let’s build in in our kids now!

Compete level vs competitive advantage? Closest analogy would be business. A competitive advantage is a circumstance that puts a business in a better business position. So one business is actually better positioned to exploit an opportunity than others.

I think compete level refers to pure intensity.

Pure intensity runs out when players get tired.

Competitive advantage doesn’t require intensity. But when executed with intensity yields results.

Any example of this would be one of my favorite habits of “Stick on puck, hands on body.” I had a player who would run headlong into board battles, get on the wrong side of his opponent with his stick flailing, and lose every time. Once I showed him the habit of “stick on puck, hands on body” he turned his intensity into turnovers. I’d say that’s a good example of competitive advantage over compete level.

Well – those are my thoughts. My attempt at Decoding Darryl. Let me know what you think: [email protected]

April 4, 2018

How Skate Effortlessly – Forward Stride Mechanics

In this post, I explain the edge rollover for effortless striding. And we discuss how new skate boot technology allows the young stars to exploit this key mechanic for a new standard of skating. The tough part about hockey is that it is this curvy, rotate-y, weird-y sport. Plus, the human body moves under a bunch of equipment. So you get people who haven’t studied the movement making recommendations based on surface observations. When I say study, I mean STUDIED. Like do you know the origin and insertion of every muscle? Have you reworked your own stride? Have you put your skin in the game and published what you think works? Have you instructed thousands of players? It’s okay to put out ideas about the stride and movement that are wrong. I do it all the time. But you need to adjust your hypothesis as evidence comes in. I do my best to do that. I never looked at the stride part of the stride. Until now. I posted this video on Instagram: And my astute members pointed out toe push. By now, you know I’m the guy who talks about heel pressure and demonizes the toe push. You also know that it’s not a black or white situation in hockey. The body adapts to movement demands. I had to dig deep into my brains to figure out how Larkin, McDavid, and MacKinnon stride forward without relying on the toe push. The answer is the edge rollover. I talked about the edge rollover here. But I discussed it in the context of transitional skating. Since many are obsessed with the straight-ahead stride, (despite its minimal contribution to in-game performance at higher levels) I will indulge you. Power Skating Coaches teach the stride like this:

  1. Get low
  2. Push back with your striding leg
  3. If you’re low, you get a long stride

The focus here is on the knee angle and the depth of the hips. On the surface, it looks like Wizard skaters skate like this too. We look at a picture of McDavid, draw some lines, and BOOM! That’s our “analysis”. If we look at another angle, we see a different picture. Let’s examine the angle between the skate boot and the ice. If you let this angle shrink by falling forward, what happens? The support leg goes forward. The further you fall forward, the more your knee bends. The more you fall and the more your knee bends, the longer you stride.   With Downhill skating, you are literally just catching yourself as you fall. This is the EXACT same as POSE Method Running. One step leads to the next.

This image is thanks to posemethod.com

  The acceleration phase of the sprinting stride sees athletes with an aggressive forward lean. Their center of mass is forward.

This image thanks to digitaltrackandfield.com

I seriously do not blame power skating coaches. The stride is tricky. It’s hard to tell what is going on under all the pads. And explaining these concepts for the first time is tricky. Let me try to summarize these new ideas here:

  • The support leg bends to support the fall.
  • The striding leg extends as the body falls forward and away from the foot.
  • The edge rolls over as the angle between boot and ice shrinks.

Skate boots are very stiff nowadays. Many of you know that I recommend undoing eyelets with the Downhill Skating system. So you probably wonder why we don’t just go back to older, less stiff skates. I wondered the same thing. But what if today’s Downhill skater was leveraging the stiffness of their boot. Literally using the stiffness to efficiently transfer energy from the leg to the ice. That makes sense when you look at these clips here.

The ankle joint acts like a pivot for an ankle lever. My hope is that you can take this information and apply it for in-game results. If you’d like to see the program I put together called the Downhill Skating System. You might want to take the Downhill Style Skating Quiz to see where your biggest opportunity for efforless speed and mobility.

-Jason  

April 4, 2018

How To Scout Millennials For Hockey

Here is how to scout millennials in hockey. Leveraging technology. And identifying value gaps identified through video research.

Take into account that I have zero expertise as a scout. So rather than consider this post as advice, let’s consider it as more of a Thought Experiment.

So let’s discuss how a scout might leverage technology to improve their scouting efficiency. My background is that I am a professional hockey player, kinesiologist, and a technology enthusiast. I’m not in the NHL, but I made it to pro. I don’t have a PhD in kinesiology, but I knew enough to graduate with honors with a Bachelors from one of the top 40 schools in the world. I can’t code or program, but I know enough about technology to run my entire business online.

On their own, my skill in each area is mediocre at best. But together, this talent stack leads me to have some unique viewpoints. They probably aren’t practical for reasons unbeknownst to me – but I’m hoping that they are entertaining at the least.

In this post we cover:

  • How To Leverage Social Media For Scouting
  • The Magic Mechanics Gap That Most Scouts Miss
  • Patterns Of The Pros

How To Leverage Social Media For Scouting

Sliding Into DM’s

DM stands for Direct Message. It’s a way of messaging users on Instagram.

The way dating works today is something like this:

  1. You see an attractive human on Instagram.
  2. You follow them.
  3. You “like” a few pictures on their profile.
  4. If they reciprocate then you…
  5. “Slide into their DM”.
  6. If all goes well, you start a conversation.
  7. Then you go on a date.
  8. Bam! Relationship. Welcome to 2018.

But this situation isn’t reserved for dating. Most modern-day networking takes place like this. You see someone’s business account, follow them, like a few pics, then slide into their DM. If the business relationship has legs, it takes off too.

The reason Instagram works so well for this (right now) is that it is free and it has eyeballs. People keep trying to invent new platforms that pull people off Instagram onto their paid platform. But Instagram keeps winning.

Why not use this exact same approach with players that you’re scouting?

This has the added benefit of evaluating them on their maturity and professionalism.

You could also leverage the hockey professionals on Instagram who coach players. By browsing hockey coaches profiles, you see who is coaching draftable players (they are usually tagged in the posts). This means that you see their @username in the caption of the picture. If you see this, you can send a DM to the coach to ask their opinion on the player. And you’d better bet coaches check their DM’s on the regular.

On that note, you’ve probably noticed that millennials suck at email. And they don’t even reply to texts. But they sure as hell answer their DM’s right now. This might be strange for you – but it’s something you can use to your advantage.

As a scout, I’m assuming that you’re older than a millennial. Maybe new to social media. So you might face a few stumbling blocks. Allow me to suggest a way of navigating them.

Having a private account with no pictures and an anonymous name isn’t going to work. It’s best to broadcast your name and team affiliation, show your human side, show your professional side, and interact with the community. The internet changes the game. Things are more transparent than ever. And networks like Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn reward that transparency. Embrace it.

That leads me to mention that if a player doesn’t follow you on Instagram, your message doesn’t go directly to their DM inbox. It goes to their “Requests” inbox. So it may not show up for them right away. If they don’t get back to you, that might be why. But the nice thing about the DM is that you can see when they’ve read your message and when they haven’t. Sneaky eh?

The Virtual Scout Network

Let’s take this a step further.

If I was the head scout of an NHL, Major Junior or College Team, I’d have my team set up a hashtag. The hashtag would be something like #canucks2019draftprospect

I’d get the team to publicize this hashtag. You’d ask fans, coaches, players to use this hashtag on posts. This would curate the content into a format that you can consume quickly and easily. And the content would come to you, instead of you searching for it.

What posts might show up in this hashtag? Probably some garbage. But you might also get some hidden gems. Almost all games are recorded on video nowadays. Someone sees a great play, they’re aware of the hashtag – next thing you know it’s on your radar. If I was a player, I’d promote myself with that hashtag too.

Instagram has this feature where you can follow hashtags. So everytime someone uses that hashtag, you get a notification.

I imagine a scout going about their normal duties – but augmented by technology and social media. Notified by Instagram each time a play is identified. They are like a cyborg with supernatural reach and a finger on the pulse of the game. They’d have laser like focus on the hotspots. You could even search the locations of rinks around the world to see what posts pop up there. You know there’s talent at the Burnaby Winter Club in Burnbaby, BC. Well how good is it? How about the Mastercard Centre in Toronto? You can see it there too.

I imagine the scout would look for two things:

  • Players that show up repeatedly on this hashtag (with good plays)
  • Or extraordinary plays

No rational scout would make a recommendation based on Instagram clips alone. But they might follow the trail and notice things that they didn’t notice before. For example, they might see a whole bunch of highlight clips that involve this player. Or maybe they track down the player’s skill coach and watch some training clips.

This is the 2018 way of finding Datsyuk somewhere in Siberia. And you’d better bet that Russians love Instagram. They’re always on that thing.

The Magic Mechanics Value Gap

When you place a bet on a horse race, the odds are decided by bookkeepers. These bookkeepers give the best odds they can without going out of business.

If you want to make money at the racetrack, you need better info than the bookkeepers. If you think the odds for a horse to win are 3:1 and the bookkeepers are pricing it at 7:1, you’d better bet big on that every time. The caveat is that you need to know that the odds are 3:1. The way you know is with better information.

Better information usually comes in the form of data. But as most of you know, hockey is considered one of the most “random” sports. This means that it is most influenced by luck. And makes it hard to predict based on data analytics.

I’d like to draw your attention to overlooked data: Players’ biomechanics.

In my career as a pro, coach, and kinesiologist, I found that there is a large gap between what is considered “Proper technique” – and what NHLers actually do.

Shooting mechanics. Skating mechanics. Stickhandling mechanics. HUGE gaps between what coaches say – and what NHLers do.

If a scout evaluates mechanics based on the common advice – they’re literally evaluating players based on illusions.

If a scout looks at NHL Mechanics clearly and identifies this in a player when no one else does – it’s my hypothesis that they could outperform other scouts. That is if they think long-term, contrarian, and have the pull in their organization to take risks.

When I analyze mechanics, I separate them into two categories: Variants and Invariants. I call the invariants “Movement Principles”. The invariants never change, no matter the situation. The variants change based on the situation to allow the player to adapt. Some coaches look at the variants and mistakenly believe that they are invariants of movement. Then they preach those variant mechanics as if they are invariant. When these ideas circulate, we evaluate players based on the wrong criteria. This is trouble for some. But an opportunity for others.

If scouts see through this illusion, I believe they can identify value where others don’t.

Here are a couple gaps I commonly see.

  1. High Heel Kick. Everyone hates the high heel kick. But it’s not a problem. Watch speed skaters. Watch McDavid. The invariants to speed that I see include line of force production, heel pressure, proper arm swing, ribcage rotation, foot placement under the body (ankle flexion), and hip tilt and twist. Look for players who keep their heel on the ice while the leg extends. Their first few strides may be directed back, and as they gain speed, it goes more to the side. The heel kick is usually situation dependant. Not a determinant of speed.

Keep those heels down Connor!

2. Straight ahead speed in general. Approximately 5% of the game includes straight ahead striding. At younger levels, this proportion is different. So a player who may struggle with straight ahead speed at younger levels, may well do fine once he gets to higher levels with less straight ahead skating. What I look for instead is crossovers, single foot pushes, shuffles, hip scissor, anchors, valgus knee alignment when deking, corkscrews. These are indicators of the Magic Mechanics. These are transition tricks that allow players to change direction quickly with the puck. If you don’t see these on a player, but you see straight ahead speed, that player is likely less valuable than you think. Look for players who can create separation while on their outside edge.

Count how many straight-ahead strides you see. Take into account that MacKinnon travels from his blueline to the other team’s goal line.

3. Knock-kneed. Everyone hates valgus knee alignment. And yes, it places players at a higher risk for knee injury. But if you watch any “skilled” and “smooth skating” player, they show valgus knee alignment all over the place. At a younger age, players look skinny and weak – but as they add size, this will look more like agility. Look for players who are knock-kneed but who control the puck well.

4. Shooting Power. Shooting power usually increases with size and strength to a point. Then the differentiator is mechanics. If you’re seeing a strong player with a good shot and a weak player with a weak but quick release, they weak player will win in the end. As they gain size and strength, their technique will beat the strong player’s. Look for quick release and smooth mechanics.

Leveraging the Social Media Strategy I mentioned in the first part, you could quickly evaluate players’ mechanics on video. Save some highlight clips from @heybarber or my Instagram @train2point0 Then compare videos you see showing up on your hashtags with these highlights. I’ve asked my followers and subscribers to use the hashtags #magicmechanics and #patternsofthepros to identify these things on Instagram. When you watch, let your experienced and intuitive hockey mind takeover. If you notice similarities, you may want to pursue further.

Patterns of the Pros

One thing we discovered while researching NHL top producers is that roughly 70% of their goals from 2-4 patterns. The other 30% are fairly random. I’ll give you some examples:

I don’t have a recommendation here. I point this out because scouts might be able to interpret this information better than me.

I didn’t analyze how Kane’s scoring patterns changed from junior to the NHL. But here are some questions you might ask:

  • Is the idea of pattern recognition important? For example, if you see a player in Junior or college generate a goal scoring formula (A pattern that they use again and again to score) does that indicate they have good pattern recognition? Is that the meta-skill?
  • Do some patterns work at all levels? If yes, and a player masters it at a young age, does that mean they will continue generating results with that pattern? McDavid’s drive wide pattern works at all levels. Crosby’s Dangle Formula works at all levels. If you identify NHL patterns in youth players, you may be able to predict their success at higher levels.

10x Your Success Rate As A Scout

We know that expertise occurs when we see data, generate hypotheses, test them, and learn from our findings. Developing “experience” takes time because we need to repeat this cycle again and again.

We can also agree that the best scouts are still not right 100% of the time. One reason might be “biases”.

One way to leverage technology is to get the crowd to curate your data. And you can do that with social media. Imagine thinking that a player is a bust, but people keep mentioning them in the scouting hashtag that you use…you might look twice. And you might pick up an opportunity that you would have overlooked otherwise based on your bias. Crowdsourcing this knowledge helps with that.

Complicated AI Algorithms often used crowdsourced information to make better decisions. You can leverate this “technology” yourself.

All this talk about transparency and crowdsourcing might be uncomfortable for some of you. You might wonder why you’d want this information to be public knowledge? Why would these kids share? Why would random people put videos online? And don’t you want to keep this info secret from your competitors?

The truth is that the internet won. This information is out there whether you use it or not. Everyone has access to the same information. But the winners accept this and leverage it. They process it better because they are ahead of the game.

You might wonder if some social media guru might be able to game the system. They probably could. But if I’m a team, and I’m deciding between a kid who has 24 followers and a kid who has 24,000 followers – ceteris paribus – I want to sell tickets. So I know who I’d choose.

You probably still need to attend games in person. But imagine if you knew, based on data gathered by the crowd, and then evaluated by you, which games to go to. Imagine if you had alerts sent to your phone anytime someone in your region popped up as a prospect. What would that do for your efficiency? What would that do for your accuracy? What would that do for your team?

It’s a new era. Those that are willing to embrace and leverage it will dominate. And I look forward to the show.

-Jason