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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

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]

March 10, 2018

How to Skate Faster (In A Game)

Many ask how to skate faster. This is a good question since speed kills.

Many players, parents, and coaches are led astray with this line of questioning. They ask: how can I skate faster. But they are not specific enough. Because the top players know how to skate fast in a game.

Darryl Belfry popularized the two most important principles in this area:

  • Speed behind the puck
  • (Linear) Crossovers (What I call Transition Tricks)

The fastest skaters in a game are those that have more speed…

  • Relative to their opponents
  • At the right time

As a “really fast” player – I can attest to this. At my peak, I could squat 5 plates, clean 295, and outsprint anyone on my team. But if you saw me in my college game, my speed was neutralized. I didn’t have the mechanics to generate and maintain speed in Transition Tricks (like crossovers, shuffles, soft hips, half-corkscrews, etc.) And thus, I was only fast in a straight line. And the ONLY TIME this was helpful was in a race to a loose puck.

As Belfry states, getting loose pucks is not a translatable skill. Why? Because as you move up in levels, the occurrence of loose pucks dries up. Since the opportunities to win loose pucks dries up – so does your ability to exploit those opportunities.

When you watch end to end rushes that result in goals, you notice that there are 0-1 straight ahead strides. Yes, you read that right. Zero to one. But don’t take my word for it…

Detractors might point out rushes like this one:

But that relates to the pattern of speed behind the puck. As Robby Glantz and Lars Hepso indicate with Barzal, he skates low and slow. So he’s gathering his speed with shuffle steps and crossovers while the defender is flat-footed – or has their momentum going the other way. When Barzal gets the puck, he has more speed than the defenders due to his pattern and transition mechanics.

You see a similar pattern with Bure.

And with McDavid. Notice that he reaches his peak speed when he does a crossover. I pause the GIF there for a second to show you.

If you watch other NHLers enter the zone, they usually hit the tripod position, start stickhandling, and look for a pass or shot. Just an example.

 

If you watch Bure, McDavid, or Barzal, they maintain their speed with their footwork. They use what I call the “MacKinnon Shuffle”, Crossovers, Hip Scissors.

What to do:

I have a hypothesis that mastering the 5 Transition Tricks to generate and maintain speed while changing direction also translates to straight ahead speed. And since 95% of the game is Transition Tricks, it makes sense to focus on mastering the Transition Tricks. It’s a question of where to focus your limited resources of TENERGY (Time + Energy).

At first, I didn’t recommend the Power Edge Pro. But, it obviously helps players learn the Magic Mechanics of the Transition Tricks. It doesn’t FORCE the Transition Tricks – but it helps encourage them. So it’s a good system, but not a foolproof system. My reasoning is that if it was foolproof, we’d see more players with the same Mechanics as McDavid coming from that cohort. Don’t be fooled by late adopters of the system who were already good before testing it out.

After studying the system, I’ve incorporated elements of it into the Downhill Skating System. They key I’ve found is to use the obstacles to force a pattern – but then encourage the Magic Mechanics through verbal and visual feedback.

The Transition Tricks includes 5 Mechanics:

  1. The Hip Scissor
  2. The Soft Hip
  3. The Crossover/Shuffle
  4. The Anchor/Gaudreau Stride
  5. The Half Stride/Corkscrew

 

If you’d like to learn the exact drills we use to teach players these mechanics step-by-step, you can see that in the Downhill Skating System here.

Hockey is a complex sport. Our goal is to take the complex and make it simple for players. I don’t present this work as a finished product. Please let me know what questions, feedback or suggestions you have. Your feedback helps us to refine our thesis and make the instructions better. Email me at [email protected].com