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.



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