May 30, 2018

Dahlin’s Point Play – Forward to Backward Transitions

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

  1. 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”.
  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

-Jason

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