June 1, 2018

How Elite Shooting Is Elite Skating

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:

  1. Awareness of real world mechanics (usually in the form of physics, biomechanics)
  2. 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
  • Then:
    • 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!

-Jason

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