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February 9, 2018

How To Skate Like McDavid – How Can He Get Faster?

If you read my previous post on How to Skate Like McDavid, I talked about one specific mechanic: The Tipped Hip.

In this breakdown, I talk about why the tipped hip is an important mechanic in the greater context of the Downhill Skating System. Specifically how the tipped hip generates “lean” so McDavid can skate downhill. And how McDavid could generate even more lean to skate even faster.

Let’s take a look at a quick comparison:

You might notice in both pictures, the athlete is going downhill. (But only one works with Darryl Belfry.)

But let’s break down the mechanics involved.

In the Downhill Skating System as with the Downhill Skiing System that I recently pioneered, you’ll notice the following similarities:

  • No pushing
  • Gliding on edges
  • Leaning with body to generate changes in velocity
  • Tipped Hips

Notice how McDavid is able to hold his gliding edge with his body lean in these pictures.

Let’s compare McDavid’s lean to Duchene’s lean. I looked carefully for the same drill and movement so that we’d get an accurate control.

You might notice that McDavid has more lean than Duchene. If you watch the clips of McDavid going through the Power Edge Pro, you might see that he is noticeably quicker than Duchene. Every time Duchene orients his center of mass over his skates and pushes with his legs, you might notice that he slows down.


In the above photos, notice how McDavid starts with a more aggressive lean. Then maintains his lean. You can see where his center of mass is situated compared to his legs – and compare it to Duchene. McDavid maintains his lean, while Duchene straightens up.

Then, just for interest, I put a time stamp of the gap between when McDavid released his shot, and 0.83s later when Duchene released his.

In this particular frame, you can see Duchene’s center of mass orient over his legs as he pushes with his left leg. Meanwhile, McDavid shifts his weight from foot to foot keeping his center of mass to the inside of his turn.

This is where the tipped hip is helpful.

While on one leg, McDavid can more easily orient his center of mass in the direction he wants to lean – and thus generate velocity in that direction.

So now, let’s talk about lean, fall, and center of mass.

The best way to understand this is to compare it with turning a bicycle.

You lean your body in the direction you want to go. As you can see, your center of mass orients towards the direction of the fall. You generate velocity in that direction. Same as skiing.

Back to McDavid:

What limits most players is how hard they can push into the ice. Their speed relies on their ability to generate force in the direction they want to go. But McDavid doesn’t even try to push where he wants to go. Instead, he leans where he wants to go. Like he’s riding a bike. And that’s how he’s skating downhill.

So how would we make McDavid faster?

Let’s agree for a moment that McDavid has mastered the footwork and center of mass orientation necessary for maximum speed. What then, would hold him back?

The answer is eccentric and isometric loading. To add more speed to McDavid, you would improve his ability to handle heavy loads under eccentric and isometric loads. That’s so his body can get in even more aggressive leans in more situations.

But let’s say that you are not McDavid – and you want to skate faster in all situations on the ice. What would you do?

Developing the ability to load eccentrically and isometrically will help. But not to the same degree as learning the mechanics of leaning downhill to generate velocity. You’ll know you’ve got it when you don’t have to “push” with your legs – and your velocity comes from twisting, tipping, and leaning. Then you’ve got it.

By this point, you might be wondering if I recommend the Power Edge Pro as a training system. Sure. It’s a good system. Let’s also examine another system that focuses on lean, footwork – and not pushing: 

Here I point out that the system is irrelevant. But the mechanics are very relevant. In Boris’ system (Boris taught Auston Matthews since age 6 or something), his focus on edgework allows players to be comfortable leaning in more directions more aggressively. The footwork makes it easy for players to orient their feet at points of traction to provide lean.

It seems like both the Power Edge Pro and Boris are able to teach the mechanics of Downhill Skating. And the mechanics always win.

The main mechanical principle that you want to understand from this post is lean.

  • The more you lean, the faster you’ll go
  • The more you lean, the more you can glide on your edges instead of stopping your momentum
  • You want to use foot positioning, comfort on your edges, body orientation and tipped hips to generate your lean
  • If you don’t lean, you need to push to generate force. If you need to push, you’re toast.

Study NHLers center of mass relative to their feet – ask yourself what mechanics can help you achieve that. And if you’d like help answer that, you can check out the Downhill Skating System where we explain exactly how to master those mechanics.


January 28, 2018

How to Skate Like McDavid – Part 3 (Ankle Flexibility Secret)

How to Skate Like McDavid – Part 3 (Ankle Flexibility Secret)

how to skate like mcdavid - mcdavid skating technique

If you want to learn how skate like McDavid, you need to understand the mechanics behind his stride. We say this often, but these NHL stars are NOT fleshy bags of magic (Thanks to Scott Adams for that term). There are mechanical principles behind their magic. That’s why we call them the Magic Mechanics.

Often overlooked in hockey: ankle mobility. One way that McDavid is able to put freakish force into the ice is with uncommon ankle mobility. In this video we see evidence of this with his off-ice training. And we examine the biomechanics behind why it matters.

Ankle mobility often holds players back from being able to put force into the ice. Not downward force into the ice. But laterally. Skaters like McDavid allow their ankles to “go soft” – which means that the ankle relaxes and the skate is allowed to tip over. This lets the edge dig into the ice.

Most skaters have rigid ankles. They look at “ankle skaters” and sneer – but their own rigidity is holding them back. When you have soft ankles, you reduce the tension of the muscles around your ankle joints and flow like water on the ice.

The effect is like a cart on a rail. From that place of stability, stars like McDavid are able to generate a ton of speed and agility while maintaining balance and control.

If you’d like to learn more about how to skate like McDavid, you can learn more here because he’s a fast skater.

– Jason

June 26, 2015

My Secrets of Explosive Skating Speed – In a Video Training System ONLINE NOW!

I’ve poured all my knowledge into a simple, 8-week, online, video training system, which I’m pleased to announce is online now!

You can access it right here !

Upgrade your off-ice training to develop Explosive Skating Speed that will take your game To The Next Level…

Would a faster first step, acceleration and top speed help your game? Of course it will! But how are you going to do that?

“I train with a trainer”

“I already have a workout plan”

“I do sprints and plyometrics”

Of course you do. You’re dedicated to improving your game and that’s why you’re here: to see if I can win your trust and actually make you faster.

I’m not going to tell you to: Train more, Lift more, Sprint more, or do more drills. Not because those things aren’t important, but because the secret to speed is hidden in the TECHNIQUE used by the fastest skaters. That is the resource that you’re missing, and that’s why you’re here.

If the following describes you, then this program won’t help, Sorry.

  • You do not pay attention to detail with your off-ice development
  • You are not motivated to improve your game

But if some of these other things describe you, then reading on could turboboost your training:

  • You work really hard in your training sessions, but you aren’t improving as fast as you think you should
  • You’ve been told that you have a weak core
  • You’re just starting to train off-ice for hockey
  • You suspect that by improving your technique, your workouts would make a bigger difference on the ice
  • You appreciate attention to detail
  • You are highly motivated to improve yourself

So, more is more? No. Not when you have faulty technique.

Speed starts with technique. We all know how important technique is for your golf swing. Would you do bench press to improve your golf swing if you had horrible swing technique? Of course not! You’d see a pro to fix your technique first, and then add strength and power through other exercises. So why would you do MORE and WORK HARDER to improve your skating speed, when you could improve your technique first.

Think Different. Everyone else is skating more, doing many drills. No one is working on the basics of technique. If you’re happy with the same results that everyone else is getting, then do the same things they’re doing. If you’re ready to stand out, then you need to find another way.

Skating is a skill that requires technique first. Once you have the foundation of excellent technique then different exercises and drills can help your skating speed. But if you don’t have good technique, it’s like building a house on a shaky foundation.

I share the secrets of developing effective skating technique in just 10-15 minutes of exercises per day. THIS CAN BE EASILY ADDED TO OR BLENDED WITH YOUR WORKOUT, or done throughout the day: it’s up to you!

If you’re tired of working so hard to only get small improvements, its time to work smarter. Working hard AND working smart is the turboboost you need to stay ahead of your competition. I’ll teach you how to work smart with this 8 Week Skating Speed Development Program, so that your hard work goes further.

Jason Yee , Train 2.0

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June 3, 2015

Blog Article: Everything Popular is Wrong – Skating Technique and Knee Bend

Here is yet another reference to a Tim Ferriss Concept, this one from the Four Hour Body. I continue to learn things with regards to hockey development, or my life…and I can hear one of his sayings resonating in my head from a book I read 4 years ago. “Everything popular is wrong” was ringing in my head as I realized that one of the most common skating technique cues was something that was really messing me up. Here we go…
“Bend Your Knees”
Ya, I’ll go ahead and tackle this one. I’ve taken a shot at the forward arm swing, and now I’m gonna tell you that knee bend doesn’t matter. Well actually, I’ll tell you that knee bend does matter…but more is not better.
If you go back and look at old games, you’ll very rarely see players with a deep knee bend. They may look hunched over, but that is due to hip flexion. Hip flexion is the angle between your upper leg and your torso. If you look at clips of speed skaters, you also rarely see a deep knee bend, but rather a deep level of hip flexion to allow their torso to come forward.
We got mixed up, somewhere…
The same well known power skating school that I beat up upon (but honourably leave unnamed) preaches the idea of at least a 90 degree knee bend and an upper body angle of 50 degrees. Why? I have no clue. It seems like they arbitrarily thought that both of those angles were ideal. Or maybe they did some research. Who knows, but both cues have trickled down, and many power skating coaches now use those cues.

50 degree upper body angle and 90 degree knee bend? Doesn’t look like it to me.

NHL – What works? What do we see?
Let’s take a look at Toews. This guy is absolutely nowhere near the upper body angle recommended by power skating coaches. How much knee bend does he have? Not much. What he does have is hip flexion. He hinges at the hips and sticks his butt back to maintain balance.

Crosby, Ovechkin, Kane, Benn, Tavares, Datsyuk – all have different levels of knee bend depending on their bodies. But all have good hip flexion and less knee flexion than you think.

Knee Bend? Yes! 90 degrees? No! But more importantly: hips back in hip hinge.

Force Production
By having straighter knees, and more hip flexion, the body is in a more balance position. This allows the skater to generate force more quickly from their support leg with their hip. Meanwhile, a more flexed knee needs to travel back behind the body before being able to generate forward force from the hip. With a deep knee flexion, the leg can generate force, but with the knee extensors (quadriceps). The hips (glutes) are much more powerful than the quads at generating force.
Straighter knees allows the musculature of the lower leg to be recruited earlier. For example, researchers at the fine University of British Columbia found that soleus is recruited when the knee is in a bent position and that both the soleus and gastrocnemius are recruited in an extended knee position. So having the leg straighter has the lower leg in a more advantageous force producing situation. Also, with the knees straighter, the hips have to sit back to compensate, putting them in a more advantageous force production situation. When both knees are highly flexed, in order to extend the leg behind the body, the skater either knees other wordly flexible hip flexors (which, when tight impede hip extension), or they compensate by generating force laterally or not at all. Less knee flexion allows the legs to extend more directly behind the body.
When a skater has more hip flexion and less knee flexion, they can shift their balance by subtly moving their hips forward and back. When a skater has more knee flexion, they have to use larger ankle movements to shift their balance forward and back. The ankles, being further away from the centre of the body provide less leverage and are therefore not optimal for shifting body weight, but are instead useful for locomotion. So a larger knee bend shifts the responsibility of weight shifting to the ankles, which are not ideal for the task. Meanwhile, being in hip flexion allows the responsibility of weight shifts to originate closer to the body’s centre.
I had a teammate comment that he thought I got too low and got stuck on railroad tracks too often. He was right. I thought, because I had been told, that my strength as a skater came from my knee bend. But this knee bend actually made it more difficult for me to change direction.
Why we went wrong:
Very easy for someone without expertise to do, we confuse what we think we see with what is actually going on. We see deep levels of hip flexion from a speed skater, or a skater who looks strong, and we think its knee bend, because we don’t actually know very much about hip flexion of hip hinging. We describe what we know, and we know knee bend.
Making the adjustment
If you’re buying what I’m saying, experiment with skating with less knee bend. Make sure to compensate for less knee bend by sticking your bum further back. Make sure to also keep your ribcage down when you’re skating. Don’t eliminate knee bend, but play with a more extended position. Let your hip hinge dictate your knee bend. Pay attention to the ease with which you can generate force. If you find yourself in a position that’s easier to generate force, try that position out for a bit. Also, pay attention to how your stick handling and shooting improves or doesn’t with less knee bend, more hip hinge and a bit more forward torso angle.
If you know that you already have deep knee flexion, try sticking your butt further behind you and up, keeping your spine neutral. If you know that you don’t have knee flexion and your coaches are telling you to bend them more: politely nod, ignore them, practice the hip hinge, work on sticking your butt further behind you while skating.
Hip Hinge
If a skater cannot hip hinge correctly (flex the hips while maintaining neutral spine), this whole article will not help them. The skater who cannot hip hinge should first learn how to do so before attempting to improve any other aspect of their game.
  • “Bend your knees” is not an effective cue to teach an effective skating stride. It may cause a skater to emphasize knee bend over hip hinge. Hip hinge is a primary consideration for skating speed, power and balance, and knee bend is a secondary consideration.
  • Too deep of knee flexion leads to suboptimal force production angles
  • Too deep of knee flexion leads to less balance and control while skating dynamically
  • Learning to Hip Hinge is crucial for skaters
  • Applying the Hip Hinge to the skating stride will result in more speed, balance, puck control and improved shooting
  • Do not eliminate knee bend. Rather experiment with different levels to see what works for you. More knee bend is not better!

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.