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July 4, 2018

How To Smash Your Performance Ceiling In Hockey

Imagine that you have a different view of skating. Now you see movements of elite NHL skaters and have names for those mechanics. You identify them and you know the advantage they provide.

This view of skating changes your performance ceiling. When I slammed up against my performance ceiling, I blamed myself for:

  • Not working hard enough
  • Not being talented enough
  • Just not having it

Once I started to see the Mechanics of the Elite Skaters and their advantage – I couldn’t unsee them. You’ll experience this too. It’s surreal to see something no one else sees.

Back to the mechanics and their advantage. What is it?

Mechanical Advantage = Force Output/Force Input

In other words: Your mechanical advantage is the amount of speed you generate relative to the amount of force you create with your muscles.

Magic Mechanics = Skating Speed/Force by muscles

While most strength coaches are improving their athletes force by muscles, who is improving their mechanical advantage?

Many top performing players are at a plateau in performance because they’ve maximized their force by muscles (what trainers call strength and power) – but haven’t maximized their mechanical advantage. I call this the Strength Problem.

Mechanical advantage is the answer to smashing your performance ceiling.

When both your mechanical advantage and your off-ice strength and conditioning attributes are maximized – then you’ve reached your potential. But most players do not even come close to maximizing their mechanical advantage. They’re stuck maximizing their off-ice attributes. And don’t even look at improve their mechanical advantage.

But what about Power Skating?

Power skating coaches hold players back. Their techniques “look right”. But many work directly against creating a mechanical advantage. Arm swing. Push with your legs. Knee bend. When taken out of context, as Power Skating Coaches do, these reduce your Mechanical Advantage.

When I imagine how Power Skating Techniques were “invented”, I imagine a committee of dull looking people sitting in a room, brainstorming: how can we make each skater look and skate exactly the opposite of every great NHLer? You’ll begin to wonder if this is true when you start seeing what’s down the Downhill Skating rabbit hole. What you’ll learn will astound you.

The first step of the Downhill Skating System is to change what you see.

I want you to see what I see. To look at McDavid, and know exactly what is happening with each movement. To watch Barzal, and see every edge. To truly understand Dahlin.

The second step is to change what you do. I’d love to see you skating Downhill. Because it’s more fun. It’s more effortless. And you have more control – of everything.

Soon, like me, you’ll see players working too hard. Pushing too much. Way below their potential.

The key is to improve your Mechanical Advantage.

When you work to change your mechanical advantage instead of the amount of muscle force you produce (remember that muscle force is still important), a couple things happen:

  • You get more work done with the same amount of effort
  • You get the same amount of work done with less effort

This means that you “Have an extra gear.” Ever see McDavid turn it on at the end of a game? That’s what I mean.

When you get the same amount of work done with less effort, you are efficient because you conserve energy. You conserve muscular energy. And you conserve mental energy.

The mental energy comes from not having to actively contract muscles. Your brain exerts mental energy every time you contract your muscles. Downhill Skating and the Mechanical Advantage it provides moves you towards more passive contractions and less active contractions.

When you conserve mental energy, you have more of it to scan your environment and make decisions. If that sounds like hockey sense, that’s because it is.

There’s a mathematical equation that represents your performance ceiling. I believe that most players are nowhere near their potential. And if players are open to this new way of seeing, thinking, and…skating…imagine the jump they’ll have on their competition.

If you’d like to improve your mechanical advantage with the Magic Mechanics of Downhill Skating, you might want to take the Downhill Skating Style Quiz. Downhill Skating Style Quiz to see where your biggest opportunity is. And if you’d like to learn about the Downhill Skating System, you can do that here.

Thanks for reading today.


June 18, 2018

Edge Mechanics with Corson and Karlsson

Edge Mechanics with Corson and Karlsson

In this video, Jason Yee compares the young stud, Corson Searles, to NHL star Eric Karlsson.

He identifies the edge mechanics that separate the two players and how Corson can better learn to utilize his edges.

To see uninterrupted highlights of Patrick Kane: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNlSryNpWUg

Patrick Kane’s Goal Scoring Formula: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUIMqe5Ipuc&t=42s

To see Corson’s Hockey Journey: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNdhvyNlEe_q4jaIsXBZb1w
To see Corson’s Instagram: @corsonsearles

To see how I record these videos: https://ift.tt/1zAb4CX
The mic I use: https://ift.tt/2IxbMwM

To read more detailed info: train2point0.com/blog
Follow us on Instagram: @train2point0
Join the convo on Twitter: @train2point0

– Jason

PS. If you want to do a live training with Train 2.0. you can click this link here to get FREE access

June 18, 2018

1on1 Camp with Pavel Barber

1on1 Camp with Pavel Barber

A few weekends back, Jason and Pavel took to the ice to run there high-level 1on1 skills camp, (Barber: forwards Jason: Defense). The video we shot (above) is a “Day in the life” during our 3-day 1on1 camp. We shared information and looked to innovate together. Collaboration and competition together. Catch a little lifestyle. Catch some tidbits. And hopefully you enjoy the music.

Listen to the Train 2.0 Show Podcast: anchor.fm/train2point0show

Check out Train 2.0: www.train2point0.com
Watch awesome slow-motion clips: @train2point0 on Instagram
Follow me on Twitter to learn when we release new articles
Start using TrainAI (and other messenger bots we created for you): m.me/train2point0

– Jason

PS. If you want to do a live training with Train 2.0. you can click this link here to get FREE access

June 18, 2018

The Next Skating Paradigm: Mathew Barzal

The Next Skating Paradigm Mathew Barzal

Barzal turned the league on its head – as a rookie! And he doesn’t do it with pushes or powerful strides…no. It’s with his mastery of the arc. Of getting edges into the ice and using the rocker of the blade plus his mass displacement to skate faster with less effort.

In this video, Jason gives you an introduction into the game-changing skating technique that only a few elite NHL players use – The Downhill Skating System!

Listen to the Train 2.0 Show Podcast: anchor.fm/train2point0show

Check out Train 2.0: www.train2point0.com
Watch awesome slow-motion clips: @train2point0 on Instagram
Follow me on Twitter to learn when we release new articles
Start using TrainAI (and other messenger bots we created for you): m.me/train2point0

– Jason

PS. If you want to do a live training with Train 2.0. you can click this link here to get FREE access

June 15, 2018

Are MarsBlades Worth It?

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

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

Why Would Anyone Want MarsBlades?

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

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

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

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

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

The Gap Between On-Ice And Off-Ice

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

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

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

The Physics Of The Gap

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

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

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

The Mechanical Implementation

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is it worth it?

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

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

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

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

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

If you’d like to see the off-ice MarsBlade drills for the Downhill Skating System, click HERE.. You might want to take the Downhill Skating Style Quiz that we created to see your biggest opportunity to learn Downhill Skating.

Thanks for reading today,


June 15, 2018

Your Coach’s Cognitive Bias For Skating

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cognitive Biases

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

The Halo Effect

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

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

Visual Persuasion

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taking Advantage Of This Bias

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

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

Thanks for reading today.


June 5, 2018

How To Skate Faster: 3 Skating Hacks To Instantly Boost Your Speed

how to skate faster

How to Skate Faster

You’re probably a bit like me and you want to know how to skate faster. And even though we’re willing to do the research, put in the work and improve our game – wouldn’t it be nice to get some hacks that work instantly?

One reason that players take too long to improve their speed is that there is a disconnect between common skating advice and what the top skaters do. That gap is your hidden advantage. (Don’t tell anyone!)

As a professional hockey player and kinesiologist, I found 5 ways to instantly boost your speed. A few are uncommon – but the fun part is that they work. Ready?

1. Don’t Bend Your Knees…

Sidney Crosby Hip Hinge for Stability and Power in hockey

Bending your knees is hard. It usually involves a lot of tension.

What we found was that the best players don’t bend their knees. They bend their ankles. This naturally forces knee bend. The advantage is that when you let your ankles bend, they rest on the tongue of your skates. So there’s no effort required!

As soon as you move away from bending your knees and towards letting your ankles go soft, you reduce the amount of effort required to stay low. And when you’re lower, you get a longer stride. And when you get a longer stride: you skate faster! Hack #1 of how to skate faster…check!

2. Don’t Swing Your Arms Forward…

Swing your arms side to side. Your arms swing is NOT meant to propel you forward. Your arm swing is actually meant to offset your lower body movement.

As you know, ice is slippery. So we don’t actually push straight back when we skate. Rather, we push to the side. So to offset our sideways leg pushes, we need to swing our arms side to side.

Strange as it sounds, swinging your arms side to side will immediately give you a boost in speed. Second how to skate faster hack…check!

3. Don’t Push With Your Legs…

Skating seems like running. Except on slippery ice.

But skating is more like skiing. Each stride is like an arc cut into the ice instead of a push and step.

The way that you skate on an arc is by twisting your hips. We call this the hip engine.

Most skaters hold their hips square. As if they are stuck facing forward. But top skaters like McDavid and MacKinnon twist their pelvis when they stride. This allows you to extend into a longer stride with more power.

What Is Next?

There are a lot of great articles on how to improve your skating speed. You’ve probably heard some of the common explanations. And if you’re wanting a little extra juice, you might want to try these hacks out.

Skater like McDavid, MacKinnon, and Barzal are not made of “Magic Mystery Dust.” The same laws of physics that apply to us apply to them. But they’ve learned to leverage physics and their biomechanics better than anyone else. As a professional hockey player and kinesiologist, I uncovered some of these uncommon mechanics and began teaching them to players. It’s something we call the Downhill Skating System. If you’d like to learn more about it, you might want to check out:

Thanks for reading today!


June 5, 2018

How To Improve Skating Speed – Weight Shifts vs Mass Placement

The secret to improving skating speed without skating harder lies in the difference between weight shifts and mass placement.

We can probably agree that words are used to make concepts clear. Sometimes I use a simpler, but less accurate word to make a concept clear. When I say accurate, I refer to the definition that is accepted in scientific literature.

For example, the words significant carries significant meaning in scientific literature. It indicates statistical significance. You can’t throw that word around scientific literature lightly. But the word significant has a different meaning in the non-scientific literature community. Even though it is “less accurate” – it illustrates a point. So it is useful.

I aim to use words as tools to help people. There are two enemies to this:

  1. Word-Thinking
  2. Word Guardians

Word thinking is when someone uses word definitions, labels, and analogies to create the illusion of rational thinking. For example…

how to improve skating speed

Here you see the commenter is right about almost everything. But because we don’t use the same word as him, he assumes that there is a lack of understanding on our part. This is word-thinking.

Word Guardians are like Word-Thinkers – but since they know what a word means and you don’t, they assume they are superior to you. You see Word Guardians doing two things to ensure their superiority:

  1. Use the precise scientific term that no one else knows
  2. Use invented terms that no one else knows

As a Word Guardian, when you use a word that no one else knows, it is convenient because no one can prove you wrong. Since they don’t know what to disagree with precisely. Word Guardian victims usually end up assuming that the Word Guardian is right.

I admit to being a Word Guardian and Word Thinker at times. Truth be told, it’s really great to have a better scientific vocabulary than other people. If you say things with enough certainty, people just believe whatever you say. It works particularly well with family members, friends and spouses.

One major flaw in Word Guardian word-thinking is the lack of falsifiability. If no one understands what you’re saying, you can’t be proven wrong. And if you can’t be proven wrong, you can’t use feedback to learn. That’s why in a hockey context, I aim to be clear with my words.

I promise that the point is coming.

Today, we discuss the difference between Mass Placement and Weight Shifts.

I might use the term weight shifts differently, the same, or similar to other coaches. But I’m going to differentiate between the two and provide my rationale for tilting them the way I do.

Weight Shifts

Weight implies that gravity is acting on a body. You can tell weight based on ground reaction force. When I refer to weight shifts, I refer to the weight shifting from one foot to another.

Mass Placement

Mass implies matter. A “body” in space. And mass doesn’t necessarily have to relate to gravity or to the ground.

When I refer to mass placement, I refer to how the center of mass is placed in space. This is often relative to contact point of the skates on the ice.

Who Can Shift Weight And Mass Placement?

You can shift weight without displacing your center of mass. You can displace your center of mass without shifting your weight. And you can displace your center of mass while shifting your weight.

Most players can shift weight without displacing their mass. This is the first key to Downhill Skating. Being able to weight from foot to foot while skating.

how to improve skating speed - weight shift

Some players can shift their weight and displace their mass. This is a more advanced skill because it is hard to maintain control. The first weight and mass shift aren’t hard. But maintaining balance for the second, third, and fourth shift is hard. This is what we talked about in the article called “Elite Shooting is Elite Skating”.

This first clip with Dahlin shows weight shifts and mass displacement.

Fewer players can displace their mass without shifting their weight. Particularly going from the inside to the outside edge. This is the Downhill Part of Downhill Skating. This is the part we call the Edge Rollover.

This clip isolates the trickiest part of Dahlin’s skating: the mass displacement without weight shift. You only see the weight shift at the end.

The Problem With Standard Edge Drills

If you watch elite skaters like McDavid or Dahlin, they blend all three patterns into all their movements. Weight shift with no mass displacement. Mass displacement with no weight shift. And weight shift with mass displacement. Sometimes within the blink of an eye.

Most skating drills stick to one mode at a time. They aren’t dynamic enough to mimic the in-game demands. It’s all well and good if a drill looks pretty – but how is it used in the context of teaching players to feel comfortable with these modes of movement on the ice?

What Is The Secret?

When players should be shifting weight and displacing their mass – they push.

When players should be displacing their mass relative to their skate’s point of contact – they only shift their weight.

If you get these things right, you’ve learned the secret.

If you’d like to go down that rabbit hole, I created a video course called the Downhill Skating System. You might want to take the Downhill Skating Style Quiz that we created to see your biggest opportunity to learn Downhill Skating.

Thanks for reading today!



June 5, 2018

How to Improve Your Skating – What Is Beyond Power Skating?

Players who want to improve their skating usually try power skating or off-ice training. Unfortunately, both of these have upper limits. Sadly, players who pursue either of these methods will never reach their potential because they ignore the principles of Downhill Skating.

Downhill Skating uses mass displacement, the rocker of the skate blade, and the body’s inner spring to skate effortlessly – as if you’re skating downhill.

While you can get faster with power skating and off-ice training, you’ll never catch the Downhill Skaters. You cannot power your way to Downhill Skating. You can only learn the principles of Downhill Skating.

When you’ve learned those principles, power and strength can give you a boost. But in most cases, strength training or power skating before you learn the principles of Downhill Skating is like strapping a Ferrari engine onto a golf cart.

A horse will never beat a modern car in a race. Better breeding doesn’t work. Better food doesn’t work either. The reason: Mechanical Advantage.

For the same reason, you cannot beat a Downhill Skater with more force or more power. McDavid and Dahlin both placed dead middle of their NHL combine testing. But both are elite skaters.

We started by researching the movements of top NHLers in game situations.  Using my background as a kinesiologist and pro hockey player, we were able to isolate about 35 key mechanics that elite NHL players use consistently. What was surprising was that these mechanics were not taught in a systematic way with typical skating instruction.

Before I explain how we teach the system from mechanic to game implementation, let’s examine how most skating is taught.

  1. Power Skating
  2. Drills
  3. Apparatus Instructors

Power Skating

Let me start by saying that I’m not against Power Skating. There are many aspects of power skating that are good. And every power skating instructor is different. Here I provide a critique based on my limited experience with Power Skating.

Power skating instructors usually teach based on what they can see and what looks rights.

This is entirely reasonable. But has some problems.

First, teaching based on what looks right ignores how the player feels. The Downhill Skating System uses the Feel Your Body Learning System, and our “Source Code Drills” are designed to force feel.

Second, what looks right isn’t always what is applied in game. Forward arm swing, deep knee bend, “joint stacking”, and plant under the center of gravity all “look good” – but we don’t see that in a game.


Drills are great! Except for one problem. Without instruction, each player will complete the drill a different way.

Some will use the correct mechanics. Some won’t. Without feedback, some players will improve. And others don’t.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not a big fan of the “get better by lottery” approach to skill development. So while drills help some players, they don’t help all players.

Apparatus Instructors

Apparently, Darryl Belfry doesn’t like “Apparatus Instructors”. I admit to taking shots at “them” too. Darryl’s reason is a good one:

I’ve never seen an apparatus give detailed technical feedback. -Darryl Belfry

That’s probably a fair assessment.

Similar to drills, you can throw 100,000 players through an apparatus course – and one will end up being McDavid. That’s called probability. Not skill development

The Downhill Skating System

The Downhill Skating System isn’t perfect. But it does beat Power Skating in the training to transfer dimension, and effortless component. It beats drills because it is mechanics focused instead of pattern focused. And it beats apparatus instructing because you get detailed technical feedback. Specifically, a comparison to elite NHLer movement.

We started by researching top skating NHLers. We looked at what skating patterns they used in different situations to achieve results.

We looked for patterns that appeared again and again – and that provided consistent results. Then we broke those patterns into specific mechanics. We gave those Mechanics names to make them easier to learn.

To be clear, we didn’t invent the movements. We don’t consider ourselves the only ones who can teach the movements. But we do give them names for clarity and instruction purposes. And we have tested them for in-game reliability. If our words to describe movements catch on, that’s an intended (but good for us) side effect.

How We Teach The Downhill Skating System

The end goal is to see the mechanics and patterns that we researched transfer to a game setting. Our way of getting there is straightforward and leverages the latest science in motor learning and decision making.

To understand how the Downhill Skating System Learning Engine works, it’s useful to consider how unsuccessful learning works occurs:

  1. Spray and Pray
  2. Thinking Coaching

Spray and Pray

In the spray and pray approach, coaches throw a bunch of drills and movements at players. They have different levels of in-game applicability. And the coach just hopes that some of the drills and movements show up in a game. It usually doesn’t work that way…

Thinking Coaching

In the “Thinking Coaching”, the coach tells the players about the 14 different key steps they need to master on every step. According to the “Thinking Coach”, there are 10 ways of doing quick starts. And you’ve gotta master all of them.

Hockey is the fastest game on earth. Zero (and I mean zero) in-game decisions can be made with “thinking”. All decisions need to be subconscious, automatic and instinctual. A player who has declarative knowledge of a movement (word-thinking), but not procedural (automatic – instinctual – feel based) is useless in a game.

The Downhill Skating System Learning Engine

We start by isolating the key Mechanics. We use an 80/20 approach to select the easiest to learn and highest impact mechanics. The 20% that give 80% of the results.

From there, we create a flow. A repetitive drill of the same mechanic that is linked together.

Next, we blend different mechanics together. We call this a skill blend or pattern. We use different mechanics in different orders. But we generally link mechanics together that we see in a game together. For example: Corkscrew > Hip Scissor > Anchor: As see on Dangle by Design.

We start without a puck and aim to make a 1% improvement. Then we add a puck and aim to make a 1% improvement. We never aim for perfection. We aim for progress. (Consider the impact of perfect vs progress. If we aim for perfection, the player and coach are disappointed 99% of the time. In the progress model, coach and player are positive 99% of the time. When you consider the compound effect of 1% improvements, we see great results over time).

Next up is our “Natural Instinct Training”. We call it Reactive-Option Training.

We start by giving players the option to do whatever skills they want. They don’t have to react to anything – they just get used to choosing different movement options with the mechanics they’re in the process of mastery.

Then we remove the different movement options and get players to react to another player. For example, a stick swing initiates a cutback. But the movement is pre-planned. So there’s no option. No choice. Just perception and reaction.

The last step is to add reaction and options. We use unstructured games like different versions of keep-away, British Bulldog, 1on1on1, and other small area games. In this step, even if the mechanic doesn’t show up naturally, we don’t care. We consider the player’s brain and nervous system to be self-organizing. When the mechanic is programmed in the right way, it will self-select in the right situation.

All Reactive-Option training is designed to be “Feel Based” instead of “Think Based”. Coaches shouldn’t even mention mechanics. Instead, allow a player to trust their natural instinct and feel. All encouragement is towards getting a player to trust their body and “let go” of the need for conscious control. That mindset is what will bring forth the fastest learning and quickest self-organization.

If you’d like to learn more about the Downhill Skating System, you might want to check out:

If you’d like help implementing the system, I created a video course called the Downhill Skating System. You might want to take the Downhill Skating Style Quiz that we created to see your biggest opportunity to learn Downhill Skating.

Thanks for reading today!


June 4, 2018

How to know if you want it bad enough to make the NHL – And what to do about it

Today we learn how to measure the common illusions known as “discipline” and “motivation”.

If you’re skeptical of this statement because discipline and motivation being illusions, let me agree with you. We can probably agree that discipline and motivation look real. What else could explain why someone would practice something for so long? Allow me to suggest another reason…


Want some proof that motivation and discipline are not real?

One morning you may wake up with this mysterious thing called “Motivation” and make big plans. Decide you want something really bad. Go out and practice really hard and long.

But when you’re tired, hungry, or stressed, that thing called motivation disappears. Motivation comes and goes. So it is something we believe in when we’re motivated. But disappears when we need it most. Don’t you aree that it’s better to call it an illusion than to rely on it?

When you realize that motivation is bullshit – you might release yourself from blame.

Now just because motivation is bullshit doesn’t mean that you are not responsible for performance. In fact, knowing that motivation and discipline are bullshit is the first step to taking FULL responsibility.

If you design a system that relies on willpower, it is a BAD system. You are responsible for this and the outcomes that you will generate.

For example, if you decide to improve your skating, but you don’t own rollerblades, the rink you skate at is 56 minutes away, the ice is horrible, and the coaches are abusive…what are the chances you will work on your skating?

How about if you have an outdoor rink in your backyard? Or maybe you have a clear space in your garage to rollerblade and you invested in a pair of Marsblades. Or maybe you have a great parking lot next door. The chances are much higher that you will work on your skating.

So here’s how you know if you want it bad enough:

When presented with a training environment, do you usually start training on it?

Here’s what I usually see…players who are obsessive about hockey will approach a training environment and start interacting with it. They see a super deker and they start stickhandling. They see a shooting pad and they start taking shots. They see a place to rollerblade and some rollerblades that are free to use and they start rollerblading.

Players who don’t want it will just stand there. Or they’ll ignore it. Or they’ll grow bored really quick.

The players who want it bad enough are obsessed.

It comes down to one thing: Training Friction.

Tap credit cards are great right? So easy to tap and pay. It removes friction. So people pay more with them.

In-App Purchases are also great right? So easy to just put your thumb down and pay for something. So people use in-app purchases lots.

One way to get in better shape isn’t to set goals, buy a gym membership, or work really hard. It’s to hire a trainer so that you’re accountable to someone 1on1. It’s to put your workout clothes right at the foot of your bed so that in the morning you can’t help but step on them. This is how to remove Training Friction.

You should spend disproportionate amounts of energy setting up your training environment so it’s easier to train than to not train.

That is the 80/20 of discipline and motivation. The hidden asymmetry.

If a kid gets dropped off at the rink with a stick and puck and there’s open ice – what do you think is gonna happen?

If a kid has a training area already set up – what do you think is gonna happen?

I routinely end up on the ice for 60-90 minutes longer than I planned. I routinely end up in the Pavel Barber Sport lab much longer than I said I would. Once I’m there I literally can’t help it. This is the benefit of setting up the right training environment.

And if you go through the trouble of setting up the right training environment, and the player just sits there, or ignores it, or stares at the ceiling – then you KNOW that this isn’t the activity. Hockey isn’t the sport. You know they don’t want it bad enough and you can cut your losses right then and there.

Convenience is king.

Taking full responsibility for performance means setting up intelligent systems and automating habits so that you generate the results you want. It is BAD system design if you ignore the idea of Training Friction.

Take full responsibility for your results by using those “motivated moments” to design and implement the lowest training friction environment.