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January 28, 2018

Why Are The Hidden Traps Of Hockey Skill Development Holding Most Players Back

An interesting feature of hockey is something called “luck”. Players are considered lucky if they inherit something called “natural talent.”

The biggest “hidden trap” is when the players who don’t think they have enough “natural talent” attempt to change their odds of making the NHL through something called coaching.

The hidden trap is: What coaches say is different than what NHL players do.

So when players listen to their coaches – they don’t get NHL results.

Then what explains NHL players?

Right now, only players who are Drone Coach Resistant make the NHL.

What special quality makes them Drone Coach Resistant? Something we call “Feel Your Body Learning”. It is a preference to learn by feeling a movement. Players who use “Feel Your Body Learning” trust their body to figure out the best mechanics for the task.

Basically, when a player feels themselves doing a movement with the Magic Mechanics – it FEELS SO GOOD that they never want to do anything else. Once it is felt – it cannot be unfelt. And so Drone Coaches can’t coach it out of them.

They are Drone Coach Resistant.

It is interesting when Hockey Wizards repeat the Drone Advice they receive – but DO THE OPPOSITE.

An example of this is “leaning on your stick”.

Leaning on your stick is a bad cue. It teaches an emphasis on bottom hand pressure. When 90% of players hear this advice, they use bottom hand pressure. Then they get off balance. Then they can’t shoot hard in challenging situations. This sucks for them.

Instead, correct cueing for a wrist shot involves top hand pull, hip twist, and knee cave. Then the bottom hand pressure comes naturally.

Isn’t that interesting?

The 10% who are great shooters (top hand pull, hip twist, knee cave) lean into a shot a bit more with the bottom hand. Then they agree that the cue works. So now they repeat it to others. But that cue didn’t explain their shot. Their other mechanics did.

But then the other 90% lose out on a great shot.

I have a great friend who is a GREAT shooter. He has one of the hardest shots I’ve ever seen. He tells me to “just lean on your stick”.

(It didn’t help.)

Once I set up my “Perfect Skill System” and compared my shot to Patrik Laine’s – I made a couple of tweaks that made an immediate improvement. I dropped my back knee more and I pull my top hand at a different angle.

BAM – I never shot SO HARD IN MY LIFE.

So my friend with a great shot gave me the wrong advice. Advice he did not follow in the first place.

It’s backwards. But that’s the way it is.

Starting today, you approach skill development with more clarity than ever because you’re aware of Hidden Traps.

What coaches say and what great players do is often different.

Advice that great players give is usually repeated Drone Advice.

And players who want to WIN more need to become Drone Coach Resistant. Not by telling their coaches to f&^* off. Not by ignoring their coaches. Not by hiring new coaches.

But by:

  • Using the Feel Your Body Learning System
  • Studying NHL players directly and learning their Magic Mechanics – using the Perfect Skill System
  • Getting the RIGHT CUES to improve their skills.


With your new perspective, you have an advantage over 90% of players. You now have a mental framework to evaluate coaching advice and to only use the advice that works. The advice that you invest time, money, and energy into.

Some of you may want to take action on this new perspective. So I’ve created a few resources for you.

If you’d like to learn more about the Feel Your Body Learning System you can click here.

If you’d like to learn more about the Perfect Skill System, you can learn more by clicking here.

If you’d like like to access Train 2.0’s simple, trusted and measurable cues you can learn more by clicking here.

I wish you the best of luck in avoiding the Hidden Traps and taking the straight path to your success.



July 13, 2015

Quick Wins or Big Wins – A New Way of Looking at Your Development

Are you looking for big wins or quick wins? By wins, I mean improvements, or results due to a course of action. What do I mean by big or quick? I always talk about getting better at a faster rate than the next guy. So you might think I’m a proponent of “quick” wins. But I’m not. I think that massive improvement comes from string upon string of Big Wins, not short-lived quick wins.
I was introduced to this concept by Ramit Sethi of “I Will Teach You to Be Rich”. On his blog about personal finance, he encourages people to focus on Big Wins like:
  • Getting started saving, even if it’s a very small amount
  • Improve your credit score
  • Automating your finances
  • Choosing boring, time tested, low cost index funds
On the other hand, many other personal finance “gurus” recommend things like reducing your spending on lattes and making restrictive budgets. Ramit contends that these actions might be quick wins, but don’t actually contribute to much – and they’re hard to do. Improving your credit score (big win) can save you thousands over your lifetime and is easy to do – meanwhile tracking every penny you spend in a restrictive budget is mentally demanding and won’t last long.
This is similar to taking an 80/20 approach to getting results: find the most important things to do that give you the biggest results – focus your effort and attention there.
Coaches, parents, and players, with the best intentions of improving as fast as they can, make short sighted decisions –  quick wins. Examples of quick wins include:
  • Playing a short bench early in the season as a coach
  • Starting plyometric and olympic lifting before an athlete has basic movement skills mastered
  • Getting the best latest piece of equipment or gimmick rather than working on the foundations of skill
  • Early specialization in sports
It seems that the tendency to choose quick wins occurs because they seem sexier (no one thinks the basics are sexy) and because they often give the appearance of immediate results (and people just aren’t patient enough to wait for results to materialize in their own time).
On the other hand, big wins:
  • Do not always provide immediate improvements, but always lead to massive improvement on a slightly longer timeline. Overall, they lead to a faster improvement if you choose to look at a larger time scale.
  • Focus on the most important variables that contribute to disproportionate results. In the end, focusing on more attention on less variables leads to a larger and faster improvement.

Read More

January 15, 2015

Ubyssey Edition – How to Improve your stickhandling

In this “Frosted Tips” article, I had the chance to interview my teammate, Anthony Bardaro, on his tips for improving your stickhandling.

Check out this link: HERE

August 3, 2014

Hacking the 10,000 Rule

10,000 hour rule is more of a relationship than a rule. What was found by Anders Ericsson, and since exemplified in many popular books like “Outliers”, “The Talent Code”, “Bounce”, etc., is that for the most part, musicians who accumulate more deliberate practice than others tend to be better than those with less practice. The “rule” that was found, was that most “experts” have accumulated 10,000 hours of deliberate practice.

But this is a correlation, not a law. The rule is not aptly named. It should be called the 10,000 hour relationship.

In Steven Kotler’s brand new book, “The Rise of Superman”, he claims that action and adventure athletes have found a way to dramatically shorten the amount of practice necessary to reach “expert status”.

The path to mastery can be significantly shortened by accessing a specific psychological state. This psychological state is known as “flow”.

Why this information is important is because flow is accessible by pulling certain levers. Certain environmental, situational and and psychological factors can help trigger access to “flow states”. When athletes enter into a flow state, they experience optimal performance, a loss of sense of self, a loss of time, fearlessness, and the ability to generate creative and original solutions to problems.

If an athlete can more often enter flow states, they can progress their skill level and effectiveness at a much faster rate. In a day and age where everyone is maxing out their schedules with practice time, how you are using your practice time is what will set you apart. Can you Get Better Faster? Can you make your development non-linear – can you get multiple levels of output for singular inputs?

It is my guess that athletes who can easily enter into flow states are probable the best athletes on your team. It is important to note, that most coaches, parents and most aspects of society DO NOT promote flow states in athletes. So athletes who defy these forces in some way are the ones who mysteriously beat the 10,000 hour rule and rise above everyone else. Action and adventure athletes are able to beat those forces because what they do DEMANDS that they are in flow…or else they die! What, in our day and age, specifically precludes athletes from getting into flow? Here are a few common ones:

  • The distracted present. In order to be in flow, you need to be 100% involved in the moment. You actually experience a narrowing of attention, but only on the relevant stimuli. So if you’re trying to score a goal, the only thing going through your head is locating where some mesh is and how you’re going to get the puck there. If you face any distractions, like what the coach might think or what your parents will say if you miss. What specifically precludes athletes from getting into flow in their day to day life is the myriad of distractions that surround us. So if they are always answering every single thing on their phone, it is hard for them to get into flow. In our workouts and training, we do our best to remove any and all distractions to counter this.
  • Too many practices and games. If every little thing is structured in a child’s life, and they have no novelty or autonomy. Adding play has the benefit of releasing neurotransmitters that encourage athletes to enter into flow. We add unstructured free time and also provide our athletes with the autonomy to generate their own games and rules.
  • Parents and coaches. When coaches and parents give too much (even well-intentioned) feedback, athletes need to think too much. Thinking prevents the flow state, because the flow state has no conscious thought. I see this all the time with our athletes: if I go overboard giving feedback cues, athletes think too much and then crumble. We use a technique known as bandwidth feedback to ensure that our athletes get the correct amount of feedback to improve their performance, but not so much that they can’t get into flow states.

You might be wondering what specific levers we need to pull to get athletes into flow states. The first thing is to not pull the levers that keep you out of flow states! If you want to learn more about getting into flow states, I suggest reading “Flow” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, or “The Rise of Superman” by Steven Kotler. Also, stay tuned for more articles on flow.

As a bit of a teaser, the things that get you into flow are:

  • Clear goals
  • Direct and immediate feedback
  • Correct Skill/Challenge Ratio

So to summarize, let’s look at how our knowledge of talent development has progressed over time:

  • Early (1.0): We thought that talent was innate, something that you were born with or not
  • Recently (2.0): Talent can be grown…with 10,000 hours of deliberate, structured, systematic practice (If you thought this, then good on you, you’re still a part of the new wave movement way of thinking about talent development)
  • Latest (3.0 – Cutting edge of the new wave): Talent can be grown, at an exponentially accelerating rate, as an athlete develops their ability to enter into flow states. Athletes who spend more time in flow can accelerate their performance beyond those who don’t spend as much time in flow.

Hopefully this article has enticed you to spend time thinking about flow states and maybe get into some heavier reading. Good luck flowing!

May 28, 2014

Scott Bjufstad: Shooting

I already effused my praise for this guy in another video he did for Easton. His advice is up to date, practical and valid. This is a great video to watch for advice on shooting.

August 8, 2013

You’re Wrong. You Can Improve Hockey Sense – Here’s How

We all appreciate the idiot hockey player who has a great heart and works really hard don’t we? Like, he’ll never figure out who to pass it to, and how to not panic when he actually has tons of time, but that’s just how he is and there’s nothing we can do about that, right?


I’m revamping an article I posted in 2013, and it is one of my most popular ones. I’m going to write a more approachable introduction, and then pass it off to my more technical 2013 self to fill you in.

Here’s what you need to know. Decision-making is a skill. Ergo, hockey sense, which is the ability to make the correct decision, is also a skill. The “correct decision” can mostly be reduced down to: 1) creating time and space 2) arriving at the right place at the right time

Why is hockey sense not taught?

In hockey, dumping, chipping and chasing are all valued things by coaches. But ironically, a player who does none of those things moves up in levels. The player who makes plays, scores goals and keeps possession is the player that gets noticed and moves up.

In soccer, a player who kicks the ball away at the slightest sign of pressure is a liability on a team. A player who creates their own options then hits them is valuable. Even more valuable are the players that make themselves options (arriving at the right place at the right time).

I notice that all the players with the best hockey sense that I’ve played with played soccer growing up. Datsyuk was first noticed for his vision on the soccer pitch. The Sedins are very skilled soccer players. And Ovechkin was apparently almost a pro level player. Interesting then that these players internalized these values and developed these skills.

Now don’t get all in my grill saying “causation is not correlation”. I understand that. But it certainly seems plausible that a sport that values and coaches possession can teach decision making skills to players in a sport that doesn’t necessarily.

So I’d like to say that either you should be playing soccer in your off season training as a player, or find a coach who will teach you the same skills of 1) creating time and space 2) arriving at the right place at the right time.

HERE NOW is the 2013 article I published on “Hockey Sense” It is very technical and maybe boring, but it is thorough.

I want to present a conceptual model of what “Hockey Sense” is. Then, I’ll explore how to improve your game using the model as a basis for improvement.

Read More

July 21, 2013

Arm Swing for Hockey Players

Most people will tell you that you should swing your arms forward for maximum efficiency. This is why they are wrong. Read More

July 21, 2013

Darryl Belfry – Next Level Skills

The days of stickhandling through cones and lining pucks up in a row for skill development are over. Make sure you have a skill coach who understands the value of teaching you weight transfers, creating space, and being deceptive. See if you can catch how and why learning to transfer weight is important in the game of hockey as evidenced in this video clip.

Update: May 20th, 2015

I’ve recently been viewing “hockey development” as a sort of projection. By that, I mean something that has been thrown or launched. Imagine a baseball, a rock, a dart. Imagine that once the projectile has been launched or thrown it is very hard to influence. After the initial impulse, or launch, there is very little that can effect the trajectory of object. Sometimes wind might veer the object off its course, or slow it down, or push it forward. But wind is transient, unpredictable, and not always tangible.

Imagine now, that the hockey player is the projectile. They are launched into their hockey career with the movement experiences they have developed, a psychology they inherited from their parents and their experience, and with an orientation towards skill development. If a hockey player is unfortunate enough to inherit some crappy movement patterns early on, they are often cursed for the rest of their career…unless they have a coach skilled enough to identify and fix the problem. While most coaches are capable of identifying that there is some sort of problem, or insufficiency…they do not always know how to fix the problem. If a hockey player is fortunate enough to inherit great movement patterns, the right psychology, and a good work ethic, their career path is blessed. If that hockey player also happens to somehow develop goal scoring habits, or tactical decision making habits, along with this, they are more likely to play professionally. But the problem is that for most players, goal scoring habits, decision making habits, and perfect body mechanics happen by accident. By this, I mean that no one parent, coach or person specifically designed interventions to have a child develop these things. They occurred by chance. I consider these chance events to decide the force behind the projectile.

Now, the wind, or coaches/the developmental environment might influence the path a bit. But the wind could change at any time. What is really needed, is a hand of god, to come out of the sky, recognize the projectiles path, and adjust it appropriately. In order to recognize its path, the hand of god needs to know where the projectile came from and what forces were and are acting on it.

Most coaches are the wind. They prescribe stock drills, provide stock feedback, and have stock complaints.

Belfry, is the proverbial hand of god. He is distinctly aware of the developmental experiences that influence the projection of a hockey player’s career. He’s also able to influence and adjust how those influences effect a player’s game. I think that a coach like him is actually able to see through the malarky, the common wisdom, and identify what actually makes a difference. While every player is improving and moving forward, he actually helps players jump ahead by helping them to get better faster.

If you’re a coach, simply consider this. This is not necessarily something to be answered or explained, just something to think about.

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.