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June 15, 2018

Are MarsBlades Worth It?

Are MarsBlades worth the investment? And what are you really getting out of them?

You can consider this part MarsBlades review. And part Magic Mechanics Deep Dive.

Why Would Anyone Want MarsBlades?

The mechanics of skating and the mechanics of rollerblading are different. Unlike what typical Power Skating Instructors suggest, rollerblading does not ruin on your on-ice stride mechanics. But they do ruin your inefficient Power Skating stride. So I understand the Power Skating Instructors’ concern.

Rollerblading does not ruin your Magic Mechanics stride. Rollerblades are excellent to work on your Downhill Skating.

People always ask me about off-ice training for on-ice performance.

As many of you know, I built the Downhill Skating System by reverse engineering the movements of elite NHL skaters, then teaching them to myself and to the players I work with. As a kinesiologist and pro hockey player, it is interesting to see that the movements I discovered were not the ones being taught. I realized that this is our advantage.

Naturally, I developed a set of building block mechanics and put it together in a system. It’s called the Downhill Skating System because the secret sauce is that instead of using muscle tension to move, Downhill Skaters shift their center of mass and use the rocker of their edge to move. The result is that players skate way faster with way less effort. This frees up neural resources to process the rest of the game.

The Gap Between On-Ice And Off-Ice

On the ice, you can practice 100% of the Magic Mechanics.

On rollerblades, you can practice about 60% of the Magic Mechanics.

On Marsblades, you can practice about 80% of the Magic Mechanics.

The Physics Of The Gap

Skating on ice has 4 physical characteristics: Low friction, a concave blade with two edges, a top layer that can be removed predictably with a blade, and that blade has a rocker known as a radius.

Rollerblades simulate the low friction with wheels. The friction of the ground simulates the edges. But the top layer of the ground can’t be removed predictably. Your slides have an element of unpredictability except on a perfect surface. So slides, and stops shouldn’t be attempted. And there is no blade rocker.

Marsblades have the same characteristics as rollerblades, except they have a blade rocker.

The Mechanical Implementation

The main difference between the MarsBlades and rollerblades is the rocker. You might be curious why this makes a 20% difference.

Most people immediately feel a difference when they cruise in a MarsBlade. And they LIKE it. It FEELS better.

If you consider the idea of the MarsBlade, the wheels don’t move differently on the ground than normal rollerblade wheels. But the way your body relates to the wheels changes. I can’t explain what happens differently with the physics because I can’t wrap my head around it. But I can explain the FEEL of the effect. And that’s what matters.

Here are a few ways that it FEELS different – and the effect it has on my movements:

  • When doing an edge rollover, a mechanic I call the Scooter, my shin angle is more aggressive with the MarsBlade than with a Rollerblade. I’m able to transition from one “edge” to the other smoothly. With rollerblades, if the shin angle is aggressive, you are likely to skid out the wheels. And it’s harder to rollover from one edge to the other.
  • When doing a 10&2, I place pressure on the heel, and I end up going faster while maintaining control – like skating. When placing heel pressure on rollerblades, they usually skid out.
  • When doing “Gaudreau Turns”, I get a more aggressive shin angle again without the blades sliding out. With blades, if you turn too tight, they wheels skid out.
  • When doing Corkscrews, I can actually cut the MarsBlade in an arc. Just like the ice. On rollerblades, the arc isn’t as tight.
  • When doing crossovers and “MacKinnon shuffles”, I can land on the heel and feel the rocker. Just like the ice. With rollerblades, you feel a “clunk-clunk”. With the MarsBlades you feel the rocker.

The 20% gap between rollerblades and MarsBlades comes from the feeling of the rocker, the ease of rolling the edge over, and the tightness of the turn. The 20% between the MarsBlades comes from the tightness of the turn (you can still get tighter on the ice – especially with Downhill Skating) and not being able to shave the top layer off the ice – you can’t do punch turns, edge slides, or stops.

Is it worth it?

If I was limited in my ice time, I would definitely get MarsBlades to train my skating. I would justify the investment because others are spending money on ice time – you invest in a blade that gives you ice-likeness.

I recommend that you ONLY get the chassis. The Verbero boot is very uncomfortable. When I first put it on, I was pretty sure someone designed it for maximum discomfort. I’ve never felt anything like it. Luckily, my feet seem to fit into most things, so after a few blades, they started feeling better. Everyone who tries my MarsBlades complain about the boot. And my friends and clients who have slightly different feet find them unbearable.

If you’re an occasional blader and you don’t intend to make a big push in your skating development, the MarsBlades are probably not worth the investment. I didn’t use them for the longest time. I still did all my drills in them. Just less well, with less speed, and less smoothly.

You can practice about 60% of the Magic Mechanics of the Downhill Skating System with rollerblades. About 80% with the MarsBlades.

As the off-season is taking off, many people ask if you can learn the Downhill Skating System over the summer – even without ice. So I recorded all the on-ice drills of the Downhill Skating System on my MarsBlades for you to see. Like I said, you can do them on rollerblades – but about 20% less good. Considering the compounding effect of 20% per training session, is it worth it to you?

If you’d like to see the off-ice MarsBlade drills for the Downhill Skating System, click HERE.. 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,

-Jason

June 15, 2018

Your Coach’s Cognitive Bias For Skating

I believe that coaches have a cognitive bias for skating. The smart parents and players exploit this.

I separate this blog into my experience, cognitive psychology, and mind reading. I let you know when I do because each has different levels of reliability.

In my experience, the only two things that matter are skating and points. You can get to a level when one runs out. And then you usually stay there.

For example, I am considered a strong skater. In midget and junior b, I was a very offensive defenseman and had lots of points. In Junior A my points, I fought my way into the lineup as a shutdown defenseman. I allowed myself to be pigeonholed there. My points started decreasing. But since my skating still looked strong, I was given the chance at the CIS level. A level normally reserved for Major Junior players. Despite my poor point production (we had lot’s of team success, setting a record in the league for goals against and my plus-minus was through the roof) I was afforded the chance at a higher level. I attribute that to my skating.

But then the points ran dry because I repeated the same pattern. I allowed myself to be pigeonholed in a role that I was comfortable with. Again, highest plus-minus on the team, but not enough points to get a contract in the pro league I wanted.

The opposite is often true. Players might still get points – but when their skating runs out, they stop moving up.

Cognitive Biases

The reason I focus in on skating is that my shot wasn’t particularly good, nor was my stickhandling. Stickhandling doesn’t seem to have the same effect on coaches that skating does. Neither does the shot (unless the shot goes in – so that implies points). Here, I discuss why that might be using the framework of cognitive biases and persuasion.

The Halo Effect

When you have one attractive attribute, we have a tendency to rate that person’s attributes in every other area to be higher as well. Good looking people enjoy these advantages. They are rated higher in intelligence, effectiveness, etc. than others of lesser attractiveness. (On another note, most NHLers are pretty good looking, no? Hmmm…)

A player with one attractive attribute might cause coaches to evaluate their other attributes to be higher.

Visual Persuasion

The most effective form of persuasion is visual persuasion. This explains the power behind images, visual graphs, and data visualization.

Skating is the most visual element of a player’s game. It is SEEN most easily by coaches. But also fans, parents, other players. It is risky for a coach to pick someone who LOOKS sloppy. Regardless of point production.

Putting this together: A player’s skating is the most VISIBLE element of their play. Stickhandling doesn’t show up in a game unless the player is a good enough skater to actually use their hands. And shots happen infrequently. So if skating is the most visual element, and it looks really good – it might trigger the halo effect for coaches.

 

Magic Mechanics Explanation – Why The Halo Effect Usually Works To Predict Success

Remember when I said that I am a strong skater? I was. I literally had my teammates tell me that they loved to watch me do open hip pivots when retrieving the puck.

The only problem was that I was a “strong skater” by typical Power Skating Standards. I possessed about zero of the Magic Mechanics for lateral movement and deception.

In Daniel Kahneman’s book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, he notes that heuristics (mental shortcuts) are used by experts for making quick decisions. Through repetition, you notice a pattern, then create a mental rule. You follow that rule to make decisions. It’s not always 100% correct – but it often is.

So the Halo Effect with skating might be a smart heuristic for coaches: If they’re seeing Magic Mechanic skating – not Power Skating.

With Magic Mechanics Skating, your movement allows you to be deceptive, but also hard to knock off the puck, with a great shot, and good hands. It even indicates a level of mental presence. Because it all blends together. And the base is skating. Specifically,

Typical Power Skating is invented from…I’m not sure what. And it works so against the physics and the natural mechanics of the body that it “looks right” – but doesn’t form the base of your movement. This was me to a tee. I took all the power skating camps, and most coaches thought I “looked good” at skating. But my Power Skating held my hands, lateral movement, and shooting back.

So the Halo Effect usually works when smooth skating is Magic Mechanics skating. Not when it’s Power Skating. Because even though it looks right, the Power Skater won’t be able to sustain their point production. Because the rest of their skills are not up to standard.

Taking Advantage Of This Bias

As a coach, it’s advantageous to differentiate between the two. You can avoid false positives if you identify Magic Mechanics skating vs Power Skating players.

Players and parents can take advantage of the Halo Effect by working on their skating so that it looks right. They can take advantage of the asymmetric payoff if they work on their Downhill Skating because it has downstream effects on other skills as well as the bias of the coach.

Thanks for reading today.

-Jason

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

May 29, 2018

Going Deeper Into Dahlin

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?

In this video, I broke down his edge rollover. I talk about that in this article. But that’s not all.

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)
S
ince 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 as                                                                                                                         

 Fx (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.

-Jason

 

May 26, 2018

The Physics of Downhill Skating

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:

  • Crossover
  • 10&2
  • Crossover
  • Shuffle Step
  • Stride
  • Shuffle Step
  • Corkscrew
  • Anchor
  • Soft Hip
  • Hip Scissor
  • Corkscrew

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!

-Jason

 

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  

March 14, 2018

How to Skate Smoothly (The Rollover)

One skill that is valuable is called Pattern Recognition,

For example, chess players can memorize all the pieces on a chess board better than anyone else – but the chess board needs to be laid out in a game-like manner. If the chess pieces are laid out at random (non-game scenarios), their memorization is just as good as everyone else’s.

This is an example of how experts look like they have super-powers. But they just have better pattern recognition.

One thing that fans of Train 2.0 say is that once they see the Magic Mechanics – they can’t unsee them. And once felt – they cannot be unfelt. They start seeing the game from a whole new perspective. And they start playing that way too.

Today I engineer a similar “see and don’t unsee” moment for you. One that unlocks a pattern that is rarely talked about – but executed regularly by the Wizards. This is your advantage.

It’s called: The Rollover.

The Rollover is when you roll from your inside edge to your outside edge without taking your foot off the ground (or vice versa). “Choppy players” lift their foot up to transition from one edge to the other. “Smooth” players are adept at rolling over the edge.

You see the Rollover pattern with speed skaters here.

And you see it with Dahlin’s stride here.

And with Kucherov’s shootout goal here.

And Kuznetsov’s breakaway goal here.

And Crosby’s deke here.

This pattern allows Skating Wizards to change direction without tension generated from the large muscles of the hip. The small muscles of the feet and lower leg change the angle of the blade, and the rest of the leg follows along.

The Magic Mechanics hypothesis is that you want to move with the least amount of tension in your muscles because it improves efficiency, but also frees up neural resources to process your environment. The Rollover Pattern satisfies these characteristics.

Since you change direction without much tension, the “smoothness” of your skating improvements immediately. One thing to note is that many players lack the ankle mobility to get into these positions. I talk about that here.

I just shot some videos of the Dahlin Stride, Crosby’s Hip Scissor to Tripod, and the Extended Anchor. I did an in-depth breakdown for Members and these videos are being added to the Downhill Skating System.

Here’s the Dahlin Stride.

Here’s Crosby’s Hip Scissor to Tripod.

Here’s the Extended Anchor.

If you’d like to see the full breakdown, you can join the membership here, or get access to the Downhill Skating System.

Please send me an email with your thoughts, feedback, or suggestions on this article. Your feedback is helpful and appreciated: [email protected]

February 2, 2018

How to Skate Like McDavid – Kinesiologist Breakdown

McDavid’s mechanics are fascinating. Mostly because they go against common Power Skating Principles. When players ask how to skate like McDavid – they don’t realize that their Power Skating is actually holding them back from achieving it. I talk about these contradictions in this presentation.

Many of you know that I am a professional hockey player – but also a kinesiologist.

Like you, I saw McDavid’s Fastest Skater Competition in the 2018 All-Stars Competition – and marveled at his crossovers. You are probably aware of the research done indicating that McDavid crosses over more than most players in the NHL. The study suggests that this is linked to his success off the rush.

I’m often asked if, “All I need to do is crossover more?”

The answer is “Yes.” Sorta.

What if McDavid had mechanics that made crossovers easier?

Remember when you had to find a landline to make a phone call? Well, now it’s much easier to make calls because you’ve got your iPhone. So you probably find yourself talking on the phone more than you used to – because it’s easier to.

Imagine if McDavid’s mechanics made it easier to crossover. Then he might crossover more. And that’s what we see.

I suggest one simple mechanic McDavid uses that makes it easier to crossover. I call it the “Tipped Hip”.

McDAvid tipped Hip

The tipped hip is when the hips (pelvis) are tipped at an angle.

The tipped hip mechanic combines two important forces: First, the body produces force best in the “saggital” plane. Or straight down and back.

The muscle responsible for this is the gluteus maximus. It is the most powerful muscle in the body. And it combines two important skating movements: hip extension and external rotation.

The second force at play is  “horizontal force vectors.” To visualize this, imagine that as you skate, you push the ice into the boards.

When you combine the fact that the body produces force down and back and you need to generate horizontal force vectors you have a puzzle. Let’s call it the Power Skating Problem.

Track coaches know that the more vertical forces (up and down) put into the ground, that faster a runner will go. You can actually predict running speed by measuring vertical displacement. This is because you bounce off the ground to generate speed. (We call this “bounce” the stretch-shortening cycle)

In hockey, you do not bounce off the ground. So vertical forces and vertical forces (pushing down into the ice) are not an efficient way of getting around

The Power Skating Problem is that you keep the hips level – but need to generate horizontal force (pushing the ice into the boards). To do that, you need to abduct the leg. As shown in the diagram above. When you use abduction you use smaller muscles. So you can’t generate as much power.

With the tipped hips, you see how the line of force changes. Now when the hips are tipped, you can generate horizontal force (pushing the ice into the boards).

 

You see that here:

 

And here:

And even here:

McDavid’s mechanics solve the Power Skating Problem by aligning the hips (pelvis) with the correct line of force production (horizontal – pushing ice into the boards).

They also make it easier for him to crossover.

Can you see how McDavid is able to get more range from his foot that is crossing under? That’s not due to magic. It’s due to mechanics. And likely the tilt of the hips. (I say “likely” because I don’t have x-ray vision)

You may notice a similar tilt here on a straight stride.

So if we want to increase the number of crossovers players do, we may want to use mechanics that make it easier. McDavid uses a tipped hip mechanic to make it easier and to get more range. Players who use this mechanic find immediate increases in speed and power. Not because of magic. But because of mechanics.

[End Of Mechanics Discussion]

Now I’d like to talk about something called “sequencing”.

If you’re familiar with Tim Ferriss and the 4-Hour Chef, you might remember that sequencing is the layering of basic skills so that learning occurs quickly and effortlessly.

I call this “automatic learning”. Where you create drills that force the correct mechanics to occur. You start with a basic skill – and then add one new skill layer at a time. Before long, a player is performing with completely different mechanics. If I’ve done my job as a coach right, the player doesn’t even know that they learned anything. It all occurred so smoothly and easily for them. And the learning is unconscious. That’s the best kind.

Many of you will find enjoy the biomechanical perspective of this post and then aim to implement what you learned. This is smart. I urge you to use sequencing to deploy this new learning. Otherwise, it will end up being a hot mess on the ice. Yuck.

If you know exactly how to sequence this new learning, then do not read on. You’re good.

If you’d like to learn the expert sequence for learning this mechanic, you might want to check out the Downhill Skating System – How to Skate Like McDavid course.It could save you hours and hours of time. And it provides you with proven method for making this change.

Let me know what you think about Tipped Hip. Do you think it’s legit? Or have I been hit in the head too many times? Send me an email and let me know.

-Jason