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December 5, 2016

How To Be Intense In Hockey – The NHL Intensity Formula

 

How To Be Intense In Hockey – The NHL Intensity Formula

If you’re a player who wants to be “more intense”, learn to “compete” and improve your “battle” then this video is for you. For years, you’ve probably heard coaches say these words to you “intensity”, “compete”, and “battle”. It might sound silly, but one problem players face is that they don’t have a clear idea of what those words mean. They understand the CONCEPT, but they don’t understand HOW TO DO IT. And it’s a challenge for ice hockey coaches too. Because it is not an easy thing to explain.

This video will visually show you the difference between an elite midget player and an NHL player. You’ll see that NHLers are intense all the time – or they’re out of a job. It’s just a habit for them. This habit is developed naturally in some players. Others must learn the habit. And yes, you CAN learn this habit. Like any skill it takes practice, feedback, and expert instruction – just like Train 2.0’s Accelerated Learning Framework.

Comment Guidelines: I appreciate and reward those who have honest, respectful, and genuine questions/comments. If you’ve done your research and disagree with what I have to say, I’d love to hear from you. If you make a comment without doing your research or do so disrespectfully, prepare to have your comment deleted, or to be called out for not doing your research. This is a place to help hockey players get better. So please do your part by respecting the guidelines.

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– Jason

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May 17, 2016

Lies Your Off-Ice Trainer is Telling You

I have a Bachelors Degree in Kinesiology. I began training at a young age, believing it would help my hockey career. I also started coaching at a young age, believing I was helping.

I’m starting to think I was wrong. Very wrong.

The best player I ever played with (now in the NHL) was very lazy in the gym. So lazy, I think he skipped many workouts. I was not lazy. I trained religiously. I write blog articles. He scores goals in the NHL. So who should you imitate?

I hear parents tell their kids now that all the gains are made in the gym. That they need to be doing functional training in the gym at a young age to off-set their single-sport participation. I might have even told the parents this.

I don’t think that I agree with that. At least not anymore.

I think that success in hockey is set pretty early on. There are two factors that I believe contribute most to hockey success. I have no way of proving this, but nobody else has evidence to disprove me, or prove anything else. It’s very confusing, so I’m not even sure why I’m writing this. Mostly to think out loud.

The two factors are: 1) self-image 2) mindset

You might think these are the same things. They’re both “mental” “intangibles”.

Mindset can be measured. Dweck’s research is pretty clear on this. Players who have a mastery mindset, instead of a fixed mindset will be more resilient in the face of adversity and challenges. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you should probably educate yourself on this.

Self-Image ties into Mindset. But it is different.

Self-image is how you view yourself as a player, and how you view your own ability to face challenges. Some players develop a fragile self-image. Others develop a robust one. Some players develop a self-image of a scorer early on. Others develop the self-image of a grinder early on. Coaches often influence it. Coaches often fuck it up and pigeon hole a player for their entire career. I think this is shitty and should not happen.

Once a player has settled on their self-image, it is a struggle to get them to adopt a new one. The setting of the self-image often happens early. If their self-image happens to contain a fixed mindset, the player is likely to be screwed when adversity inevitably hits.

There are many benefits to strength and conditioning. A properly run program will safeguard against injuries. A properly run program may prevent imbalances and postural issues from developing. A properly run program may even improve performance on the ice. In my experience, only the top 1-2% of strength and conditioning coaches are actually capable of creating a “properly run program”. In my experience, most players can’t afford to train with the top 1-2% of coaches. Or, the top 1-2% of trainers are naturally only available to the top 1-2% of players. Maybe the top 4-5%. But who knows for sure.

Most players would benefit more by taking a gymnastics class, or reducing their time using technology. I spend about 85% of my time as a strength and conditioning coach correcting imbalances that occur because athletes are no longer well rounded. They don’t have the ability to quickly learn new physical skills anymore. They often have screwed up posture. When we get the odd athlete with good posture, who can learn skills quickly, we praise them for being a super athlete, these days. They’re the exception to the rule. Not long ago, the sucky athletes were the exception to the rule. It’s all backward these days.

Maybe strength and conditioning is a necessity for todays athlete. My business model depends on that assumption. But top performers are not made in the gym. Not in hockey. At best, they are maintained in the gym. At best, they’re prevented from falling apart in the gym.

I can make you faster. Way faster. I can make you stronger in the gym. Way stronger. I may be able to affect your mindset a bit.

But I can’t make you think the game. I can’t do much to change your self-image. You and your coach have more control over that than me, as your S&C coach.

This summer, we changed everything. Well not everything, but a lot.

We shifted our focus to teamwork, accountability, and mindset. We are playing more soccer. We derive lessons for hockey from soccer. We are playing more tennis. We derive lessons for hockey from that too. We have more group competitions. We emphasize consistency. It’s pretty different.

We still lift. We still train. We still pay attention to the details of that program. Ask our players, and they’ll tell you how hard they work, and the attention to detail placed on everything we do. But I think that that portion of the summer (training & lifting) has been relegated in importance to a more appropriate priority level. We focus more on other stuff. Stuff that makes a bigger difference. It’s more fun that way.

-Jason

P.S. If you liked this article because it was different than most Drone Coach advice, and you’d like to get to work on becoming a Hockey Wizard, then click here to check out the benefits of becoming a Train 2.0 Member.

April 19, 2016

How to Train Skills & Habits in Hockey

The funny thing about animals, is that we often treat them the same way we treat humans. We personify them by giving them human names, attributing their behaviour to human-like desires, and giving them human emotions.

We all know people who have ill-behaved pets. Those humans make the assumption that their pet understands their language and emotions. Their pets don’t understand language or emotions. Pets may recognize language and emotions but they don’t understand them. Pets understand cues and reinforcement.

Some may say that humans are different. The Moist Robot Hypothesis disagrees.

When you break down the world to into cues and reinforcement – you may first discover yourself feeling a little uneasy. Then, many of the mysteries of the world, while still mysterious, become mysteries that are solvable using c(l)ues. (See what I did there?)

For example, if we know that humans react to cues and reinforcement, the mystery is in figuring out what cues to give, and how to reinforce behaviours.

Most humans reinforce the wrong behaviours in the wrong way. For example, my new dog gets very excited after a walk. We put her in her kennel to calm down. Except, when she’s in the kennel she starts whining. Many people would take the dog out of the kennel to reduce the whining. However, that legitimately makes the problem worse. Because the dog gets the outcome she wants, and she gets it by whining: we let her out of the kennel. If we let her out of the kennel, we would accidentally reinforce whining. Most people don’t look past the immediate reduction in whining to what type of behaviour pattern this sets up. Neither do most coaches.

You might see now that it is difficult to respect the laws that govern our behaviour. The logic is non-intuitive to most people.

Remember discussing how to make hockey players more aggressive on the ice? One coach suggested boxing as a solution.

While boxing may have some sort of carryover effects – like increased confidence, decreased fear of confrontation, etc., it doesn’t do anything to help a player recognize cues. Nor does it do anything to reinforce a player’s appropriate aggressive behaviour in a game situation.

I find there are coaches who coach with using a stream of consciousness style. Whatever pops into their head (frustration, anger, happiness) just comes spewing out to the player. Regardless if the emotion reinforces the right thing or not, they spew it out. They do not tactically decide what emotions to let out in order to properly reinforce behaviour.

There are other coaches, the top ones, who tactically determine which behaviours to reinforce. They see a situation and provide a calculated response. Those coaches are few and far between. Most of the coaches who do this well are not conscious of it. I really appreciate them.

Then there are quite a few coaches who think they know what I’m talking about, but don’t. They usually reinforce the wrong stuff, the wrong way. I’d say that 90-95% of coaches are like this. So, there’s a good chance that if you are a coach reading this, you’re one of the coaches who think they know but don’t. Sorry for being blunt, but that’s just the way the statistics line up. But maybe you’re the 5-10%. We can’t rule that out.  (On that note, I usually assume that I’m one of the idiots, and see what I can learn. But that’s just me.)

Anyway, by this point, you might be buying what I’m saying about proper cueing, and proper reinforcement. If you haven’t bought yet, you will buy it soon.

Let’s take it to the next level. Let’s talk about Flow State.

We all know that the Flow state is the psychological state of peak performance. It is also known as being “in the zone”, or “dialled in”, or whatever you want to call it.

Funnily enough, the research for Flow State lines up with the research for cues and reinforcement (operant conditioning). For example, we know that if you want to get in a peak psychological state of Flow, you need three things:

  • The challenge must be hard enough so that it’s challenging, but not too hard that is causes anxiety. Proper challenge to skill balance.
  • There must be clear goals.
  • You must have immediate feedback in your task.

Hmm. What does that sound like?

It sounds like operant conditioning doesn’t it? Let’s see how they match up.

  • The fastest mode of behaviour shaping is with positive reinforcement. In order to properly do positive reinforcement, you must have a clear target behaviour. Sounds like clear goals are needed for both, doesn’t it? Flow Theory and Operant Conditioning in synch? Check.
  • For operant conditioning to work well, the skill to be shaped is a skill that the performer can complete. But the performer is not completing consistently yet. This sounds like finding an appropriate challenge to skill balance like in flow theory, right? Flow Theory and Operant Conditioning in synch? Check Two.
  • Positive reinforcement requires that a reward stimulus be presented shortly after the target behaviour has occurred. Flow Theory predicts that you need immediate feedback to get into Flow. Flow Theory and Operant Conditioning in synch? Check Three.

It looks like the ideas of operant conditioning matches up with research in Flow Theory. Could it be that both theories describe the same thing? An optimal learning structure? And when we have an optimal learning structure, don’t we get Accelerated Learning?

Now here’s a problem for you. I think I’ve come up with a solution for it. I will share in a later post. But meditate on this:

How do you get a player to have an optimal learning structure in a game situation? There are a number of problems. Negative feedback is often immediate in the form of a mistake. Positive feedback is only sometimes obvious. Sometimes it isn’t. Mostly, eedback from a coach occurs on the bench after the shift is over. There is a time gap between skill execution and feedback. In this situation, if a player is unclear on what behaviours deserve positive reinforcement, what happens? Is there any learning at all? Moreover, what if a player is unclear on their objectives for every shift?

Here’s a second problem:

How do you get a player to have an optimal learning structure in a practice situation? There are way more players than coaches. The coach has limited attentional resources – so they can only pay attention to about 7 things at a time. Meanwhile they are supposed to monitor the drill, individual players, and themselves. How do players get immediate feedback? They might get it some of the time, but not all the time. How do players have challenges matched for their skill level? There’s too many players on the ice for the coach to give individual goals to each one. And finally, are the goals for each player always clearly identified? No, because the coach doesn’t have enough time. A player could get 1on1 coaching, but then you lose the interactivity component of the practice.

You might see how these are common problems for hockey coaches. You might also see that it is very far from the optimal learning structure. Can you solve this problem using what we know from Flow Theory and Operant Conditioning? I think I might have come up with one solution. Check it out here.

P.S. If you liked this article because it was different than most Drone Coach advice, and you’d like to get to work on becoming a Hockey Wizard, then click here to check out the benefits of becoming a Train 2.0 Member.

April 19, 2016

The Weirdest Perspective On Hockey You’ve Come Across

Not long ago, I talked about treating your players like dogs. There was a funny part and an interesting part to this little piece. The funny part is that treating your players like dogs (properly) works. The interesting part, is that not many people understood it.
One reason that few understood this article is because most people don’t understand the Moist Robot Hypothesis.
Scott Adams thinks that humans are like Moist Robots. The Moist Robot has a set of instructions (a program), and it responds to commands based on their programming.
Now, Scott Adams is a “trained hypnotist” and a cartoonist. He often suggests that his readers should “not take advice from a cartoonist”. He might be right. But we might be able to take advice from a Ph.D in psychology: Robert Cialdini. Cialdini suggests that there is a “click, whirr” response in the brain. Where a request framed in a certain way leads to a pre-programmed response. He found that persuasion professionals (salespeople, dealmakers) are adept at invoking this “click, whirr” response to get more “yeses”. Cialdini’s work shows that we might have less free will than we think. From the flower-giving Hare Krishna devotees, to establishing rapport, we can influence behaviour of another, without them knowing, based on what actions we take.
On top of this, in “The Power of Habit”, Charless Duhigg suggests over 40% of our actions are habits – automatic reactions to external events (cues).
Work by Kahneman and Tversky also shows that humans are known as “cognitive misers”. This means that we don’t engage in effortful thinking all the time. In fact, our brains prefer the simple shortcut/approximation most of the time. Effortful thinking has a huge energy cost. So our brain systematically takes mental shortcuts to save energy and processing power. As a result, humans often have predictable (programmed) reactions to certain problems. These mental shortcuts/programs lead to faster processing, but can also sometimes lead to systematic errors in judgment. We call these programmed reactions biases.
You might be getting a little freaked out now that the data seems to confirm this Moist Robot Hypothesis. And that might be helpful.
You see, when you accept that we are indeed Moist Robots, you start looking at your learning and development in a different way.
I used to think that if I “worked harder” I would automatically get better. But then I realized two things: 1) My environment matters a lot 2) How I’m programmed to react to my environment matters even more.
Here’s an example:
As a young player, I was extremely determined to succeed. I would listen to any advice that coaches offered me. I remember that one time, a well meaning coach told me I should take a slapshot with a straight left arm (I’m right handed). While it’s generally true that you make contact with the puck with a straight arm, your wind up should usually be with a bent arm. But I didn’t know this. Neither did this well meaning coach. But since I was so determined to get a harder shot, I practiced this (faulty) technique again and again and again and again.
Eventually, I figured it out and stopped taking slapshots like that. But the amount of years where I had a crappy shot was…a lot. My shot is still the weakest part of my game.
Why did this happen?
1) The advice the coach gave me was shitty. Environment.
2) I was programmed to be coachable rather than trust my instincts.
Fixing the first part is easy. Well maybe not that easy for some coaches. But it should be the easier part: get better information.
The second part is challenge. How do you hack into a player’s program and figure out how they respond to certain inputs?
Remember that in my example, I wanted to listen to a volunteer minor hockey coach more than I trusted my own body feel. Most people do. For me, I derived more pleasure from being coachable than from trusting myself while ignoring a coach. Ignoring a coach was painful to me. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this setup so long as your coach gives you better information than your body does. In my case, I was unlucky and my coach didn’t.
One way to adjust the programming in a player’s mind is to show them what to pay attention to. Particularly, what things they should associate pleasure to and what things they should associate pain with.
Even famed life coach Tony Robbins jumps in on the Moist Robot hypothesis. He says that everything we do comes down to the pleasure-pain principle. You do something to get more pleasure or to avoid pain. Often, problems occur in our lives are when we misacossiate pleasure and pain to the wrong things. For example, someone who is overweight associates more pleasure to food than to being skinny. Or the pain of eating healthy is larger than the pain of being skinny. Either way, their pain-pleasure principle is all out of whack. They need to mentally associate pain and pleasure to the right things in the right way in to get what they actually want. He calls this alignment of the pain-pleasure principle with your goals Neuro Associative Conditioning.
The other day, a mom told me that her son’s coach recommended boxing lessons. The coach felt the player wasn’t aggressive enough on the ice and that boxing would solve this. While this seems to make sense, it often doesn’t work that well. By the same logic, I should tell my athletes to play poker to learn to be more deceptive on the ice. I’ve seen the boxing thing happen, and it rarely works for players that don’t have the correct programming for aggression.
The problem is not that the player doesn’t know how to hit a punching back or throw a left hook. The problem is that the player does not recognize the cues for initiating aggression. It might also be true that the player is scared. This means that he associates more pain to initiating aggression than to not initiating aggression. Think about this for a second.
To train someone to be aggressive you cannot teach someone boxing and expect them to become aggressive on the ice. I believe that they need to be taught the cues to demonstrating aggression, and then associate more pleasure to initiating it. Then they need to be rewarded for this. This isn’t a simple or quick process, but it can be done.
So how do you go through this process?
Another Moist Robot supporter, Karen Pryor, wrote an entire book on this type of thing….for animals.
Pryor notes that it is often easier and more obvious to correct (negatively reinforce) bad behaviour than to creatively reinforce a positive behaviour. However, she also notes that positive reinforcement leads to faster adoption of behaviours. Positive reinforcement is different than a reward. Positive reinforcement is INSTANTANEOUS and leads to a neural connection between behaviour and reward. In other words – pleasure. You might see how this ties into the Pain-Pleasure principle. A reward comes later. There is a time gap between behaviour and reward. As a result, there is no neural connection. That is one reason why money (year end bonuses) is not as motivating as people think.
Putting all of this together, can you figure out how you might shape aggressive behaviour in a hockey player? How about other behaviour? (I keep intermixing behaviour and skill. They are the same thing).
Next article we discuss this question a bit more.
-Jason
If you’re finding this topic bizarre, you may enjoy the rest of the series.

P.S. If you liked this article because it was different than most Drone Coach advice, and you’d like to get to work on becoming a Hockey Wizard, then click here to check out the benefits of becoming a Train 2.0 Member.
March 1, 2016

How Deceptive Players use Rhythm to Make More Space – A Basketball Perspective

We often hear things like, “You can’t teach skill like that”. Often, coaches do not even try to teach “ethereal” and “natural” skill. Maybe because most coaches cannot define what they are supposed to teach. It is too complex.

If you are like me, you believe that anything can be taught. You believe that given the right toolkit, most people can do extraordinary things.

So one day, I was watching Stephen Curry. I noticed an incredible coordination between hands and feet. I also noticed his deceptive moves. I wanted to know how he did what he did – because I believe that in some way it translates to hockey. I wanted to learn more…

Enter Aaron Chew, M.Sc., Co-Founder of Saltus Athletic Academy, Strength Coach and Basketball Coaching Expert.


 

Like many other young Canadians, I grew up playing a lot of street hockey. My friends and I would bring our Canadian Tire sticks (with some very illegal curves) to school and store them in the cloak room, and walk across to the local tennis court where we’d play for hours. We’d then skate to the local corner store to buy slurpees, freezies, and 5-cent candies to refuel (I heard these are 10-cents now, which is outrageous).

Being a Vancouverite hockey fan during the 1994 Stanley Cup run, I grew up idolizing Pavel Bure…the Russian Rocket. Now, I could lie and say I was immediately attracted to him because of his hockey ability, but when you’re ten years old, a cool nickname was a good enough reason to like any superstar (Felix “The Cat” Potvin was my favourite goalie growing up…go figure).

Unfortunately, trying to emulate Pavel on the street became the pinnacle of my hockey career, and I never played anything organized. Something about paying thousands of dollars per season in fees and equipment probably didn’t sit well with my immigrant family.

The Value of Cross Training

Leaving my dreams of making “the show” behind, I turned myself into a pretty good basketball player, and eventually became the starting point guard, team captain, and MVP for my varsity high school team. I then coached basketball for a number of years before becoming a strength & conditioning coach. Over the years, I’ve worked at several colleges, provincial and national organizations, and started a training business in order to help young athletes like yourselves perform better.

Looking back and knowing what I know now, those years of playing street hockey were probably some of the most valuable years in terms of my development as a basketball player. More and more literature is emerging that suggests early sport diversity is far superior than early specialization at developing well-rounded athletes, even if the different sports initially bear little resemblance to each other.

My hope for this article is to open your mind about innovative ways to cross-train for hockey and suggest how playing basketball can make you a smooth and skilled hockey player.

Read More

February 8, 2016

How to Get a Stronger Core without Situps – & How Slippery Players are Slippery

How To Get A Stronger Core Without Doing Situps – And How Slippery Players Are Slippery from Jason Yee on Vimeo.

P.S. If you liked this article because it was different than most Drone Coach advice, and you’d like to get to work on becoming a Hockey Wizard, then click here to check out the benefits of becoming a Train 2.0 Member.

December 10, 2015

[Video] The Skill that Makes Deceptive Players

One thing elite players do to be deceptive

I’ve spoken poorly about goalies, tried to give advice to them, and shared some embarrassing stories. That said, I have a large amount of respect for them and what they do. Unbeknownst to most of my audience (slightly on purpose), I do actually know a fair amount about goalie mechanics, purely out of some weirdo interest I have. I somehow always end up beside them in the dressing room (maybe because I’m about as weird as them)…and I love it because I usually pick their brain on goalie-ing techniques, learning techniques and strategies. What strikes me is that they usually have a much stronger grasp of skill development and learning philosophy than the average player.

For this reason, in my first year with the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds, I asked my goalie for some feedback. I think I just said to him, “give me some feedback” to see what he would come up with.

He told me, “You are very predictable.”

So I asked, “What does that mean? How can I change that?”

He replied, “I don’t really know, but you’re really predictable with the puck.”

Not really the super detailed and technical feedback I was hoping for. But helpful nonetheless – at least it gave me a place to start.

So I started noticing which players were more deceptive and harder for me to check. Then I observed what they did differently. You might imagine that there is probably traits that they exhibit that predictable players don’t, and you’d be right? After a while, I noticed one subtle thing that they did: they moved the puck first.

I will pause here to tell you that if you are already very deceptive and skilled, you will probably only be mildly intrigued by this article, primarily through a sense of validation. Otherwise, it won’t be useful to you. But if you are moderately skilled and you find yourself having a hard time creating time and space for yourself, this article might have some good information for you to apply immediately.

So let’s say you’re playing as predictable you…you start at the goal line and skate down the ice towards the right boards and the far blueline. Then you want to change direction to where the far blueline and left boards connect.

As predictable you, you would turn and shift your whole body to change direction.

As deceptive you, you move the puck with a roll of your wrist, and then your stick, arm, shoulder, chest, hips, legs, and feet would follow the puck in that order.

As predictable you, the defenseman (who is an expert body language reader) easily picks up on your intended movement because your entire body is SCREAMING “I’M GONNA GO THAT WAY!!”

As deceptive you, the defenseman (who is told not to look at the puck) starts to read your movement a split second later because the only body signal you give that you’re planning on changing direction is a quick and subtle flick of the wrist. This split second of difference makes players who routinely change direction by moving puck first more deceptive.

Of course, the deceptive version of you will need to improve their stickhandling precision to be able to carry out this change. But that’s why you’re here isn’t it? To get better? I thought so.

Here is a video showing some changes a player made over the course of about 5 minutes by starting to change the habit of moving puck first to change direction. You’ll first notice that the puck is flicked into open space with a roll of a wrist, and then his body catches up. You’ll also notice that at first he seems to be working very hard to change direction. You’ll then notice that in the second clip his change of direction becomes more effortless as he becomes more comfortable with the skill. Effortless grace is another trait of deceptive players.

Before you watch and try this drill, let me tell you that we preceded it with about 50 minutes of changing this player’s habit from being an arm-based stickhandler to using his top wrist to stickhandle. But more on that coming later….

 

Watch for this trait of moving the puck first in the skilled and deceptive players on your team. Then go ahead and practice this in practice. Soon it will become automatic.

-Jason

P.S. If you liked this article because it was different than most Drone Coach advice, and you’d like to get to work on becoming a Hockey Wizard, then click here to check out the benefits of becoming a Train 2.0 Member.

November 30, 2015

Reality Distortion Field – More Coach Hypnosis (for Parents too!)

Like many of you, I have been entertained by the reaction of the hockey world to what I have to say about coach hypnosis, selling yourself, and how to get more ice time. I find it very amusing that so many people are so resistant to the ideas, even though it isn’t very surprising. Based on the reaction to my previous articles, most of you (60%) will find my contrarian opinion intellectually entertaining, and about 5% of your will find this article truly helpful. Another 35% of you will find this article offensive and you will barely be able to articulate why you are angry at it. If you don’t like those percentages, I’d suggest you stop reading.

In my past articles, I have not downplayed the importance of skill development or improving yourself. In fact, I am a skill and development coach myself, concerned with producing explosive improvements in physical, skill, and tactical ability. But when my tactically physically, and skillfully advanced players are not getting recognized for their improvements, I asked ‘why’. It became apparent that the way they dealt with their coach left their playing time up to the whims of the coach on that day. As a player who mostly enjoyed ample amounts of ice time throughout my career, I was not prepared for situations where I wasn’t given what I wanted. I learned afterwards that you can actively manage your coach to get more of what you want, and less randomness.

I have provided strategies for managing your coach with things like: asking the right questions, establishing a good relationship, and getting into their heads.

Here is yet another…eye contact.

Before you go and roll your eyes (haha) at me…actually go ahead and roll your eyes (keep them warm).

The number one thing I hate as a coach is when players do not look at me when I’m talking. It isn’t an ego thing, it’s just a frustration thing. “I’m talking, why aren’t you listening?” is what is going on in my head when I see you not looking at me.

The interesting thing is that if you go to any major junior or Junior A practice, you will see all the players giving their coach good eye contact when the coach is talking. Presumably all the players with poor eye contact didn’t make it that level or learned to give good eye contact before they made it there.

So we know that eye contact is a trait of higher level players. Can you super charge your eye contact with coaches to improve your relationship with them?

Check out this quote from Donald Trump’s “The Art of the Deal” on the toughest teacher in his school:

What I did, basically, was to convey that I respected his authority, but that he didn’t intimidate me. It was a delicate balance. Like so many strong guys, Dobias had a tendency to go for the jugular if he smelled weakness. On the other hand, if he sensed strength but you didn’t try to undermine him, he treated you like a man. From the time I figured that out – and it was more an instinct than a conscious thought – we got along great.

What is going on here? Donald massaged his teacher’s ego, while demonstrating strength. This is a tough thing for you to do as a young hockey player, but there is one way to do that…without saying anything at all: become a master of eye contact.

I once had a coach who said he could tell if players were ready by looking at their “eyeballs”. Likewise, I can tell when a player is confident by looking at their “eyeballs” – or at least I assume that I can tell when a player is confident, which is just as valid if I’m going to make a decision based on that fact. When I think a player is confident, I am more likely to play them. Simple as that. My coach who studied “eyeballs” said the same thing. So now does it make sense for you to work on your eye contact? What if you could convey even more confidence by tweaking and improving your eye contact? What would that do for your ice time? What would that do over the long run for your career?

Here is an article on learning to generate eye contact so strong and powerful that it is deemed the Reality Distortion Field.

Image from Huffington Post

Master of the Reality Distortion Field: Steve Jobs- Image from Huffington Post

Central to the article is: #1 awareness of eye contact and #2 practicing it.

For parents too:

I do not purposefully play favourites. I am not purposefully vindictive to players because their parents were douchebags to me. But I’ll also tell you that this equation does NOT play in my head: that parent let me know they’re pissed off at me=I’m going to play their kid more.

I am more apt to pay attention to and help their kid develop if they were pleasant, calm and demonstrated confidence to me. Shifty, nervous parents make me shifty and nervous. Unless demonstrated otherwise, I’ll assume that their kids are the same way. Not because I’m shallow, but because that’s the cognitive bias that affects me. My guess is that even though no other coach will tell you this, they share this bias too…they just might not admit it. So for parents, it is to manage your demeanour with coaches to portray calmness and confidence. A good way to make to do this is mastering eye contact.

So if you imagine that mastering eye contact can improve how your coach perceives and likes you, you might consider it a soft skill to work on. Remember that you can’t realistically practice hockey 9 hours a day, and you’re going to spend at least some time interacting with people in your day, so you may as well use that time to upgrade your eye contact, and improve how your coach views you, to get more ice time, and to play more hockey!

Read this article. Study it. Apply the key takeaways. These 5-10 minutes might make a big difference in how your coach perceives you. And we know from self-fulfilling prophecies that getting a perceived edge can lead to a real edge.

-Jason

If you want more uncommon advice, check out my free tools.

 

November 24, 2015

How to Make NHL Players – Analysis of Darryl Belfry & his methods

Have you heard of Patrick Kane?

How about Sidney Crosby?

John Tavares?

Matt Duchene?

These guys all have one thing in common (besides being ridiculously skilled and playing in “the show”) and if you don’t know what it is, it might surprise you.

That one thing that they have in common is a single coach. Not a team coach, but a developmental coach.

When the best in the world all go to see one guy to get better…I pay attention. You might want to too.

I’ve written about how when the whole world is improving…in order to achieve anything, you have to get better, faster. Therefore, going to see your standard coach with standard ideas just won’t cut it if you are truly chasing success. You need to go to the best so that you can improve at the fastest rate possible.

I don’t know of anyone who has a more precise system for building success into hockey players than Darryl Belfry. Obviously it is innovative in the realm of hockey, but the sad part is that it just stands out SO MUCH because almost everyone else is just so bad. May I illustrate for a second how I perceive most coaches to design their systems and decide what to teach players? First, let me be clear that I do not consider this model to necessarily represent truth. Instead, I present it purely for your entertainment. I also don’t believe that ALL other coaches coach in this way. But I do find it interesting hearing stories from players that seem to confirm this model. Anyway, let’s take a look at the proposed model and have fun with it.

Most Coaches

On the surface, this may look like an alright system for coaching, right? You’re educating yourself with your experience, and the experience of NHL teams and coaches, and the collective “wisdom” of the past. However, there are two major flaws with this model (if you subscribe to it). One is that assumptions handed down from NHL teams, coaches, your experience, and collective history may be false. And if they were, how would you know? The second flaw is that the model leads to confirmation bias rather than an effective understanding of the relationship between coachables and results. You’ll notice that whether there is a good or bad result from the coaching, it leads right back into coaching the same stuff. The only difference is in how you explain the results TO YOURSELF and to others.

To summarize: acceptable way of generating assumptions, no way to test assumptions = confirmation bias.

If this model were real, it would likely result in inconsistent results and no valid way of understanding them. The understanding that you would tell yourself would be that either your beliefs about your assumptions are correct, or that the players aren’t doing a good enough job.

Now, let’s look at the Belfry Model. I don’t know for sure if this is Belfry’s model, in fact, I know he has much more complex models that he uses for his developmental purposes. But again, for the purpose of our entertainment, let’s pretend that this is a simplification of his meta model.

Belfry Model

You might look at this and not be overly impressed. You might say, “well that just sounds like a simplified version of the scientific method”. You would be right. You could replace “assumptions” with “hypotheses” and more or less get a version of the scientific method. I suggest that this model can more strongly unearth “truthful” relationships. This is because there is a bit of a feedback loop that can be used to tighten the understanding of the relationships between cause and effect. You’ll remember that there is no such feedback loop in the Conventional Mental model most coaches use.

I’m not suggesting that coaches use one mental model or the other. There exists the possibility of a blend between a “Belfry Model” and a “Conventional Model”. I do however think that because Belfry’s approach stands out as unique and innovative, it is a tell that most coaches do not follow his approach. This is what I like about Belfry: he seems to more accurately represent reality (the relationship between cause and effect) with his coaching than other coaches who might be adopting faulty assumptions without examining them.

The more accurate representation of reality allows him to make bigger changes with his players because he is affecting real variables with his players rather than non-essential variables that have perceived importance. When you can make real changes to real variables, versus illusory changes to non-essential variables, you can stand out in your field.

What are some tells that Belfry makes real changes to real variables? Just take a look at a few of his game translation videos – where he has a player practice a specific skill and then shows that exact skill happening in a game (an NHL game to boot). There is an almost 100% congruence between his drill and a game situation. It’s freaky.

On the other hand, you get coaches preaching advice like “bend your knees more”, “swing your arms forward while skating” and all sorts of other nonsense. The only reason no one stands up and screams BULL$*&% (I do) is because it is commonly accepted/how it has always been done (tenet of Conventional Model). If someone were to truly look at the evidence (Belfry explicitly states that he uses evidence-based research procedures in his coaching development) and then continually adjust their assumptions, this type of useless advice would disappear.

So if these models are true (I don’t know for sure they are), then we would predict that coaches who follow a Belfry Model of player development would see greater improvements in their players and teams through a better understanding of the mechanism between coachable and result. If MY assumptions are correct, and you adopt tenets of the Belfry Model – namely validating your assumptions  – then you will see improved results that are more explainable. Of course, I have no clue if these assumptions are true, I merely present it for your reading enjoyment and further thoughts.

Is there any other coaches we should be paying attention to who have a Belfry-like model of player development? Maybe in other sports? (Jamie Cevallos for Baseball? Charlie Francis for Track? Marcelo Garcia MMA?) Please let me know!

-Jason

[Update] I’m trying out the Belfry approach to hockey and life. It’s working pretty well so far. More data to come.

I’ve written plenty of other articles. You should read them because people seem to like them.

P.S. If you liked this article because it was different than most Drone Coach advice, and you’d like to get to work on becoming a Hockey Wizard, then click here to check out the benefits of becoming a Train 2.0 Member.

 

 

November 23, 2015

“Help! I’m benched and it sucks!!” – 5 Steps (Including coach ‘hypnosis’)

Being benched is the worst part about sports, isn’t it?

You feel helpless, out of control, upset.

You sit on the bench, by yourself, and try to stay positive. Your coach hasn’t called your name in ages, and you wonder if he’ll ever call your name. You start getting cold and down on yourself. You start doubting your ability to play the game…you are not having fun…you’re anxious…you’re starting to shiver.

It isn’t fair, you don’t understand why it’s happening, and you’re mad.

Your family is upset and they don’t know what to do. You all complain about how bad and dumb and unfair your coach is.

Let me tell you that all of this is true. Your coach probably is an idiot…a real buffoon. You probably do deserve more ice time and he probably isn’t recognizing your talents.

Let me tell you something else: there is a way to get off the bench. There is a way to get the ice time and recognition you deserve.

But let me tell you something else. The way there is uncommon. The way there is by doing things you won’t want to do, but that will work. The way there isn’t some quick trick, but a diligent and disciplined approach.

At this point, I want all the players and parents who want a “quick fix”, a magic word, or a magic phrase to stop reading this article. This article will not give you what you want. You can stop reading now.

I’d also like all the players and parents who blame others for their failures to stop reading this article. I thank you for coming this far, but I don’t want to waste any more of your time because this article simply isn’t for you.

The rest of this article will outline exactly how to get yourself un-benched. The reason it isn’t for everyone is because the approach takes patience, discipline, and the balls to do uncommon things. But using principles of hypnosis, persuasion, & psychology, we can get you off the bench.

Imagine this: it’s 3 weeks from now, and you’re a trusted player on your team. You wait expectantly for your name to be called as you stand confidently on the bench. Your posture is upright, proud, strong and your coach taps you on the shoulder pad and calls your name. You’re sweating, and warm, and in the game! After the game, you feel great about yourself and your effort because you know that you contributed to the win that day.

You can experience this. You have before and you can again. This can be yours. Maybe not in 3 weeks, but I can guarantee more success from following these steps than if you keep doing what you’re doing.

But again, this road isn’t easy. It is uncommon. And this is why if you follow the steps, you can get exactly what you want – because most people are not willing to follow these steps. Most people are doing what you’re doing right now – complaining and blaming.

Before you decide that you just want to read this article, think to yourself “hmm, that’s interesting” and then go back to hoping that your coach is about to change his mind by himself…just ask yourself if you want your circumstances to dictate your career, or if you’re going to create the circumstances of your career. Once you have decided, read on.

Here it is, the process for getting off the bench and into the game:

1) Change your attitude

2) Get in your coach’s skin

3) Get in synch with your coach

4) Make changes & make a difference

5) Get un-benched – play a regular shift

1) Change your Attitude

The easy and common thing to do is to complain and blame your coaches. This is the easy thing to do.

Top performers don’t do this. They take responsibility for how they created the scenario they are in and they seek to understand it. Then they seek to fix it.

Life is going to happen to you whether you like it or not. Good things might happen to you and bad things might happen to you. Top performers have a belief and an attitude that every scenario that they are in is an opportunity for them to learn and grow. Benchwarmers believe that there is nothing they can do. What do you believe?

If you believe that there is nothing you can do, then you will resort to complaining and blaming. When you resort to that, two destructive things happen: 1) your action is in the form of complaining – therefore, your action is redirected from finding a solution to complaining about your situation and 2) your coach picks up on your attitude subconsciously and will subtly resent your attitude towards him.

By changing your attitude to that of a top performer who takes responsibility for being a benchwarmer, you are empowered to take action and your coach will notice your newfound optimism and confidence. We’ll talk a bit more about how this will work out for you next…

2) Get in your coach’s skin

This is not something you’re going to want to do. This is also not something 99/100 players want to do. If you’re willing to do this, you can put yourself ahead of the other 98 players who are unwilling to do this.

If that math isn’t compelling, because I told you that this step will make you uncomfortable, then, again…this is another sign that this article isn’t for you. Thank you for reading up until now, but this article is just a waste of your time.

For this step, the idea is to truly understand your coach. You need to understand your coach and figure out how he sees you and sees his players. This might be uncomfortable, but it is necessary to put yourself in your coaches skin as you examine your teammates and yourself to understand your next steps. You should not be overly negative in your appraisal of yourself, or overly positive.

As a player, we are often carried away with what is important to us. We want the coach to see things our way. The unfortunate thing is that the coach is also thinking that. If you make steps to bridge the gap, you can more easily influence his perspective. To start, here are the things I’d like you to think about:

  • -How does your coach view you as a player? What role does he think you can fulfill?
  • -How does your coach perceive your skill sets? What skills does your coach think that you possess? What skills does your coach think are your weakness?
  • -What problems does your coach face? What parts of the team need improvement right now? What roles are being unfulfilled?
  • -What does your coach think that you think about him? If you were to evaluate how you behave towards your coach, how do you think he would feel about you?

Now that you have honestly asked yourself these questions, you need to…

3) Get in synch with your coach

Now that you have considered your coach’s point of view, you want to synchronize yourself with the coach. To do that, we need to understand a few things. Like I said, the coach is concerned about what is important to him. If you genuinely went through the process of understanding what they want, you can communicate to him, play and develop in a way that will solve his problems.

Remember that we agreed early on that your coach is probably a bumbling buffoon, right? So do you really expect him to see your point of view? No, of course not. If he saw your point of view, you wouldn’t be on the bench, right?

The nice thing about bumbling buffoons is that they can easily be influenced to do what you want. You just need to know what things to do – what buttons to press.

That first button is to know what your coach’s problems are and solve them for him. If he is missing someone with a great shot on the power play, and you have a great shot…make sure to demonstrate that. If you know you have a great stick defensively, make sure to show that when you get a chance. By showing more aspects of your skill set that solve a coach’s problems, you make yourself a more valuable player.

The second button to press is to communicate with your coach. You will want to go and read my article on How to Get More Ice Time like a Navy SEAL. But before you do, I’m going to give you some hints. For example, when you coach gives you a vague answer like, “You need to show more ‘compete’”, you will need to ask him, “how will you know when I have demonstrated more ‘compete’? What sort of things will you see when I am giving enough ‘compete’?” You want to get specific answer of behaviours that demonstrates compete. (You can replace ‘compete’ with any other vague word coaches use like: hard work, battle, poise, intensity, foot speed.) Remember, your coach is a buffoon. You said it, not me. They are not used to answering questions with precision and will have to work hard mentally to answer your question. Do not let them squirm away because once you have your specific behaviour that they tell you they want to see, you can demonstrate it and then hold them accountable. To make it easier on them, you could ask them “who is something, who in your mind really ‘competes’ on the ice?” This might make it easier for them to answer, and you will still have specific information to use.

If your coach tells you that you are making too many mistakes, then you need to ask “I do my best to make a mistake free game, but no one can ever be absolutely perfect. There are obviously mistakes that are ok to make in a game, and mistakes that are not ok to make in a game. Can you help me out and identify what mistakes are ok to make and which ones I should work harder to patch up?” By saying this, you make your coach acknowledge that there might actually exist two types of mistakes, and they might start looking for differences in your mistakes. It also allows you to figure out what is most important for you to figure out right now.

The third thing to do is to set up an “alliance” and a common goal. Tell your coach about a goal you have for next season. This will be uncomfortable! But if you do it and ask your coach for their help, they will be more cooperative. If they tell you that it isn’t realistic, here’s what you will tell them: “maybe it isn’t realistic, but I want to challenge myself and think big. Can we pretend that the goal is realistic and that I’m going to do everything I can to make it happen? And can you support me in this? I think it will be a great experience for both of us.” From here, you just need to keep asking your coach for feedback.

The fourth thing you can do is to go deeper into one of the questions from the Navy SEALS ice time guide, and ask them to “imagine me playing the minutes and roles that are my goal. What things will you see me doing to get into that role?” If they don’t answer or don’t want to answer, keep going! This is actually hypnosis – by getting them to imagine what it would look like if you were in that role, you’re initiating the mechanism for them to actually consider you in that role. If you habitually ask this of your coach, he will begin to subconsciously see you more and more in this role.

The fifth thing you can do is to be likeable. I didn’t say, be a suck up…I said, be likeable. How do you do that to coaches? Ask them questions and give them compliments. But you have to give specific compliments and ask specific questions. If your question starts with something like, “ya, but shouldn’t we be doing this?” or “why would I do that?”…then these are not good questions to be asking. They literally question the coach’s judgment. But if you ask questions about them, their life, their approach, you will get them to like you…for example: “Wow! I love all the flow drills we do in the first 15 minutes of practice. Where did you get them? Did you make them up yourself?” or “Where did you learn about this? I’m curious because I’d like to learn more about it too!” When complimenting your coach, you want to compliment specific things that they worked hard on. So something like, “thanks for the good practice” won’t do much other than make the coach think you’re a suck up. If instead you say “thanks for the practice today…I really liked it when we worked on that one specific forecheck drill. I think it really helped me!” you will get a more favourable response. If your coach likes you, they will be more likely to play you…simple as that.

When you are pouty and blaming your coach, you are out of synch with them. Get back in synch with them by pressing these 5 buttons and then…

4) Make Changes & Make a Difference

Now you need to take your feedback and make changes to your game. You need to think strategically about what to do and where to spend your time.

Let’s say your coach is missing a big strong power forward, and you’re short and skinny…this isn’t a role you should try to fulfill. If your coach needs better forwards to get pucks off the wall, why don’t you make this an area of focus for your game?

Or let’s say your coach told you that you need to ‘compete’ more… You will need to get video of your game and watch for the behaviours that your coach wants to see. If you can compare yourself to another player who does ‘compete’, that’s even better. Take note of the differences between how you play and how they play. Then plan to implement those new behaviours into your game. Train them in practice and visualize them.

If your coach says that you are making too many mistakes and that is why you are benched, then you need to know in what situations you are making those mistakes. You will then need to practice those situations. Sometimes there are good mistakes to make and bad mistakes to make. You need to ask your coach which ones are good mistakes and which are bad. Once you know what exactly you will get sat for, you can examine it in your video, practice it, then fix it.

Note: Video is very easy for mom and dad to get with an iPad nowadays.

If you have done all of this successfully by now, you will have established a good connection with your coach, an understand of what he wants, and you will have made changes that will lead to permanent improvements that will benefit your hockey career. Then finally you…

5) Get unbenched! And PLAY!!!

If you have followed these steps, and made the changes, I guarantee you will be rewarded with more ice time. And at the very least, you will have improved important weaknesses in your game and learned how to best deal with coaches in the future.

Even if you are already a regular playing player, you can use these steps to get even more ice time.

These steps work because they respect the psychology of your coach, and the natural process of getting more ice time. Your current approach isn’t working and won’t work so stop using it.

If you’re that 1/100 player who is reading this and who is foaming at the mouth to put these steps to use, then you should be encouraged because most other players have dropped off at this point. They’re reading this and thinking it is too hard, and would rather complain and blame their coaches than take positive action. You, the 1/100 player is about to take a big step forward by realizing that you can and will do something about your situation. You will end up being better off than any of them. And then you will one day look back on the others who complain & blame their coaches for their ice time with sympathy and understanding – but you will also smile as you understand what it takes to be a player who gets what he wants.

I want that 1/100 player who is willing to do uncomfortable and challenging things to get what they want, to go through these steps. Please comment on how they work for you and what questions or issues arise throughout the process.

-Jason

P.S. If you liked this article because it was different than most Drone Coach advice, and you’d like to get to work on becoming a Hockey Wizard, then click here to check out the benefits of becoming a Train 2.0 Member.