News & Updates
January 28, 2018
Darryl Belfry is the leading skill coach in hockey right now.
Listening to an interview with Belfry, he remarked that the top 6 players on NHL teams are something called “Feel Based Learners”. This means that they would ask how a movement should feel. The bottom 6 asked to be told what to do visually.
So it made sense to research this idea. Then to develop guidelines for players to follow.
At Train 2.0, we call this style of learning the Feel Your Body Learning System.
We turned up a couple interesting concepts that support the Feel Your Body Learning System.
Idea #1: Conscious vs Unconscious Learning – How it relates to feel-based learning
The research says that unconscious learning is better than conscious learning for three reasons:
- Unconscious learning leads to better performance under pressure
- Unconscious learning leads to better performance over time
- Unconscious learning leads to improvements in related tasks
(Note: When I say conscious vs unconscious learning, I’m actually talking about extrinsic vs intrinsic motor learning – that’s what it is called in the literature. I am simplying for clarity)
When a player learns through feel, they MUST learn unconsciously. When they get the Magic Mechanics correct, they immediately FEEL it. And they cannot unfeel it. I’ve tried using words to explain the “feeling” – but until you can get an athlete to actually use the Magic Mechanics they just won’t understand.
Since the “feeling” doesn’t seem to be something a player can think their way towards, I’d suggest that it is an unconscious learning.
Idea #2: Learn The Way Your Perform
(Specificity of learning hypothesis)
Success in hockey relies on a player using the correct body movements. We call these the Magic Mechanics.
When a player uses the Magic Mechanics they are more balance, in control, and effortless. This provides them with the ability to pick up more information with their eyes. And it also provides them with more options to use.
When a player is playing, they do not have time to internalize verbal commands. They have to “think with their body”. Hockey players have two main sources of data: visual and kinaesthetic. Visual data is used to make decisions. Kinaesthetic data is used to monitor body position – so for skill execution.
When a player uses verbal data to determine their movements (skills) – they may be able to make adjustments in a controlled practice setting. But they cannot use that data in a game setting. It’s like a pilot who only wants to use their windows to get around, but it’s foggy. It’s smart to use the flight instruments because you don’t have any other sources of information about where the plane is. But the pilot still wants to look out the window.
When a player uses kinaesthetic (feel based) data to determine their movements – they always have their preferred data source on hand. Like a pilot who loves using their instruments to fly the plane. Even when it’s foggy, the pilot can land the plane no problem.
Players who Feel Their Body Learning learn the way they perform. So this leads them to have stable performance in both games and skill development sessions. And they always have their preferred data source on hand – their FEELING.
Idea #3: Drone Coach Resistance
Players who use Feel Your Body Learning naturally have a special gift. The gift is that when they Feel Their Body doing the Magic Mechanics – it feels SO GOOD they never want to do anything ever again. Take for example shooting. Great shooters with the Magic Mechanics often do the opposite of what many coaches teach. The coach might seek to “coach” the players by giving them helpful advice. But this helpful advice is the exact opposite of what the coach should be saying.
Luckily for the player who Feels Their Body Learning, they’ve felt the Magic Mechanics of the shot. And they can never unfeeling that feeling. And it feels so good that nothing else feels natural.
So they nod politely and accept the coaches advice. But shortly after, they go back to shooting the way they always did. Because it felt right.
How To Use The Feel Your Body Learning System
Step 1: Choose a simple movement you want to learn. Let’s say a slapshot.
Step 2: Take a slap shot. Pay attention to how it feels. Where did you feel tension? Where did you feel free? Where did you feel blocked? Where did you feel powerful?
Step 3: Take another slapshot. But this time, completely differently. Ask yourself the same questions about tension, freedom, blockages, and power.
Step 4: Take another slap shot. Again different. Ask yourself the questions again.
Step 5: Now start optimizing. Don’t think about how to shoot. Forget everything you’ve been told. Just shoot. And FEEL it. Really FEEL it.
Step 6: Feel your body learning automatically. Keep asking yourself the questions: freedom, tension, blockages, power. Don’t think about how your body “should” move. Observe it as it moves.
Step 7: Treat each shot as an experiment. How good can you make each shot feel?
Step 8: Once your shot is feeling really good, repeat again and again. Make sure each shot feels great!
Step 9: When it feels right, stop shooting for the day. That’s probably what your body can learn today. Now give it a rest to incorporate all the changes it made.
The Straight Path and the Perfect Skill System
The key to Feel Your Body Learning is to experiment with many different styles of moving. Often players heard some Drone Advice and can’t get it out of their head. And they don’t even think about it anymore. It’s so ingrained. And they don’t realize how badly it is holding them back.
So you need to really do different things and test how they feel to break the Drone Coach spell. We call these movement experiments.
Another way is to use the Straight Path and Perfect Skill System. With this system, you compare your movement with NHLers visually. You might rightly point out that this stops becoming a Feel Your Body Learning System if you’re looking at visual information. But the key is that the visual information is used to give you hints on your next movement experiment. Instead of testing 12 really different and weird hand positions, you test the hand position that you see Ovechkin using. Then you test the one that Kessel uses. Then you test the one Matthews uses. Your NHL inspired movement experiments are more likely to generate the right FEELING faster than if you tried 12 random movement experiments.
Use the steps of the Feel Your Body Learning System to become a feel-based learner. On the way, you can become a more consistent performer under pressure. Meanwhile, you become Drone Coach Resistant.
November 30, 2015
Like many of you, I have been entertained by the reaction of the hockey world to what I have to say about coach hypnosis, selling yourself, and how to get more ice time. I find it very amusing that so many people are so resistant to the ideas, even though it isn’t very surprising. Based on the reaction to my previous articles, most of you (60%) will find my contrarian opinion intellectually entertaining, and about 5% of your will find this article truly helpful. Another 35% of you will find this article offensive and you will barely be able to articulate why you are angry at it. If you don’t like those percentages, I’d suggest you stop reading.
In my past articles, I have not downplayed the importance of skill development or improving yourself. In fact, I am a skill and development coach myself, concerned with producing explosive improvements in physical, skill, and tactical ability. But when my tactically physically, and skillfully advanced players are not getting recognized for their improvements, I asked ‘why’. It became apparent that the way they dealt with their coach left their playing time up to the whims of the coach on that day. As a player who mostly enjoyed ample amounts of ice time throughout my career, I was not prepared for situations where I wasn’t given what I wanted. I learned afterwards that you can actively manage your coach to get more of what you want, and less randomness.
Here is yet another…eye contact.
Before you go and roll your eyes (haha) at me…actually go ahead and roll your eyes (keep them warm).
The number one thing I hate as a coach is when players do not look at me when I’m talking. It isn’t an ego thing, it’s just a frustration thing. “I’m talking, why aren’t you listening?” is what is going on in my head when I see you not looking at me.
The interesting thing is that if you go to any major junior or Junior A practice, you will see all the players giving their coach good eye contact when the coach is talking. Presumably all the players with poor eye contact didn’t make it that level or learned to give good eye contact before they made it there.
So we know that eye contact is a trait of higher level players. Can you super charge your eye contact with coaches to improve your relationship with them?
Check out this quote from Donald Trump’s “The Art of the Deal” on the toughest teacher in his school:
What I did, basically, was to convey that I respected his authority, but that he didn’t intimidate me. It was a delicate balance. Like so many strong guys, Dobias had a tendency to go for the jugular if he smelled weakness. On the other hand, if he sensed strength but you didn’t try to undermine him, he treated you like a man. From the time I figured that out – and it was more an instinct than a conscious thought – we got along great.
What is going on here? Donald massaged his teacher’s ego, while demonstrating strength. This is a tough thing for you to do as a young hockey player, but there is one way to do that…without saying anything at all: become a master of eye contact.
I once had a coach who said he could tell if players were ready by looking at their “eyeballs”. Likewise, I can tell when a player is confident by looking at their “eyeballs” – or at least I assume that I can tell when a player is confident, which is just as valid if I’m going to make a decision based on that fact. When I think a player is confident, I am more likely to play them. Simple as that. My coach who studied “eyeballs” said the same thing. So now does it make sense for you to work on your eye contact? What if you could convey even more confidence by tweaking and improving your eye contact? What would that do for your ice time? What would that do over the long run for your career?
Central to the article is: #1 awareness of eye contact and #2 practicing it.
For parents too:
I do not purposefully play favourites. I am not purposefully vindictive to players because their parents were douchebags to me. But I’ll also tell you that this equation does NOT play in my head: that parent let me know they’re pissed off at me=I’m going to play their kid more.
I am more apt to pay attention to and help their kid develop if they were pleasant, calm and demonstrated confidence to me. Shifty, nervous parents make me shifty and nervous. Unless demonstrated otherwise, I’ll assume that their kids are the same way. Not because I’m shallow, but because that’s the cognitive bias that affects me. My guess is that even though no other coach will tell you this, they share this bias too…they just might not admit it. So for parents, it is to manage your demeanour with coaches to portray calmness and confidence. A good way to make to do this is mastering eye contact.
So if you imagine that mastering eye contact can improve how your coach perceives and likes you, you might consider it a soft skill to work on. Remember that you can’t realistically practice hockey 9 hours a day, and you’re going to spend at least some time interacting with people in your day, so you may as well use that time to upgrade your eye contact, and improve how your coach views you, to get more ice time, and to play more hockey!
Read this article. Study it. Apply the key takeaways. These 5-10 minutes might make a big difference in how your coach perceives you. And we know from self-fulfilling prophecies that getting a perceived edge can lead to a real edge.
If you want more uncommon advice, check out my free tools.
July 13, 2015
- 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
- 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
- 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.
June 26, 2015
I’ve poured all my knowledge into a simple, 8-week, online, video training system, which I’m pleased to announce is online now!
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
June 3, 2015
- “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.
May 8, 2015
Yesterday, I volunteered at my old high school to instruct some PE classes. Then I went to the gym and instructed our elite hockey players.
In both situations, I found myself explaining the same thing: cardio and interval training does not improve strength & power.
I found this odd. In my mind, it is ridiculously obvious that fatiguing your body is not the best way to increase speed and power. But obviously there is a disconnect between what I think is obvious, and what a younger generation thinks is obvious. This post is to address that disconnect:
In my mind, I have constructed a logic chain on how to develop strength and power that looks something like this:
- Teach athletes to move with proper movement patterns. These proper movement patterns should:
- Use the muscles as they are designed to be used: Hips – Movement, Core Musculature – Stability
- Teach the athlete to be able to handle more load with proper movement patterns
- Teach athletes to move loads at higher speed, maintaining correct movement patterns
- Develop an athlete’s capacity to handle high loads, at high speed, while under fatigue
I find that athletes and parents associate fatigue, intensity and volume with workout value. Here’s the thing: anybody who can yell at athletes is capable of making people fatigued and sweaty. And yes, there is a chance that said person is going to develop the strength and power of their athlete. If they are really lucky, they’ll inherit an athlete with great movement mechanics and great work capacity, and that athlete will respond to that training, and will then go on to do well in fitness testing…thus “proving” the efficacy of the fatiguing, high intensity workout. The huge problem with this (and I know, because I’ve previously been the coach to prescribe high-intensity, fatiguing workout after high-intensity, fatiguing workout), is that the players who don’t move well and are not able to adapt to the increased workload, well, they get left behind. They just “aren’t working as hard as those other guys”.
If we go back and look at point #1 (Teach athletes to move with proper movement patterns), there is a new challenge for coaches with today’s athletes. I have noticed that there are less and less multi-sport, natural athletes. As a result, I’m inheriting athletes who might be excellent hockey players, but lack BASIC HUMAN MOVEMENT. The main problems I see with young hockey players is that their hips are so tight, that they have to use their knees and spine to generate their movement. Of course, the hips are capable of generating much more power than both the knee joint and the spinal muscles combined, so players with tight hips are leaving a lot of strength and power generation on the table if they are not correctly moving their hips. And simply put, we cannot train the athletes to properly move their hips if they do not have the mobility to do so.
Someone might tell me that by doing squats, deadlifts and lunges you can fix this problem. I’d agree, but only if the athletes are doing squats, deadlifts and lunges like they are meant to be performed by the body. Again, the tight hips often prevent squats, deadlifts and lunges from being performed properly, so the body learns and reinforces sloppy movement mechanics. Under fatigue, this problem gets even worse because the body is already not using its most effective and efficient muscles, so now those muscles start failing and recruiting even less effective and efficient muscles.
For me, I cannot, in any sort of good faith condone or prescribe consistent workouts that do not first address movement quality. I believe it would be negligent of me to do so. Of course, I believe that athletes should still be placed in challenging and fatiguing situations to prepare them for camps. But this type of work should be done with conscious attention towards minimizing risk, and it does not need to be done all the time. Furthermore, I of course believe in developing a high aerobic and anaerobic capacity in our athletes, but there are more effective ways of improving that specific capacity than running them into the ground every day.
Measurement and Value
Like I mentioned, fatigue is often associated with the value of a workout. Let’s please change that.
I can understand that void of any other metric, valuing a workout by the amount of fatigue it generates is a very reasonable thing to do. And I can also imagine that if a trainer is not actually wanting to put a lot of thought into how their workouts make on ice contributions, then they’ll want you to think that fatigue is a useful value measuring stick.
What metrics actually matter? Some will say that a strength and conditioning coach should only worry about the fitness variables they can effect. So they will tell you they have improved the athlete if they improved their squat weight, their bench weight, their clean weight, their broad jump, and some measure of aerobic capacity. Others use those metrics as well, but also consider their role to be to help the athlete in their sport. They may take a bit of emphasis off of the bench, squat, clean, jump and VO2, and spend a bit more time and effort trying to translate or transfer the skills to the sport.
I fall into the second camp. But, not radically so. I believe that improvements in athletic movement principles (needed for hockey) will manifest themselves in improved lifts, jumps, sprints, and aerobic tests. Therefore, those tests may provide an indicator as a proxy for improved sport performance. The reason that I fall into the second camp is because I am in (what I think is) a fairly unique position of having almost amassed my 10,000 coaching hours (I’ve been coaching for about the last 9 years consistently) and also having amassed my 10,000 hockey playing hours, meanwhile I’ve studied Kinesiology. Because I am also continuing to play while doing all this, I’d say that I am very in touch with the process of what it takes to get better. I’ve made committed almost every mistake by enthusiastically following every person who has a claim that they can help improve my game. I have ruthlessly thrown aside any and every method that does not provide immediate and lasting results. I’m also 100% in touch with the demands of the athlete, and the psychology of the athlete. So I remember the days when I crushed a fatiguing workout, went to the farm to work and pushed a lawn mower and carried a weed whacker and didn’t have time or energy to develop my skills. I remember dropping 400lbs on my back in a back squat with incorrectly adjusted spot arms and no spotter. I remember lunging around my backyard with a friend (who never worked out with me again), for 2 hours, and then not being able to walk for a week (my mom literally carried me up and down the stairs…embarrassing for a 12 year old).
After almost 20 years of hockey, I’ve realized that the most valuable physical skills I learned were actually very different than what a strength & conditioning coach might suggest. They are:
- Not to tense up in pressure situations.
- Not to “try” too hard. Give 100% intensity instead.
- Not to tense muscles that are not immediately involved in performing the skill.
- Generate and receive contact through the core.
- Learn to generate elasticity through the core on shots and passes.
- Don’t bend your knees too much, use your hips to generate power.
- Under fatigue, stay calm, breathe deeply.
- Correct posture (shoulders, pelvic alignment, ribcage alignment) matters as much to physical performance as it does to psychological performance.
All of these things are movement quality related. They were sprinkled throughout my career, with many of them only coming into crystal clear focus very recently. Disappointing, then, that all the fatiguing workouts I did never taught me those things. Some I learned when I used to play the violin, others I learned through martial arts, golf and soccer. A few teammates have given me pointers on others. The rest I learned by researching information from the best minds in sports and strength and conditioning.
Of course, I’m now also blessed with great aerobic capacity, strength and power. While these occurred as a result of my training, I still believe that my training was NOT the most efficient way of improving all of those things. For example, I learned that I didn’t actually need to lift as much volume as I thought I did. I also wish I had adopted a different running style when I was back racing, as that would have made running so much more enjoyable. In any case, all of this was a valuable learning experience because I can now do a lot more with a lot less time and energy.
So what are we doing this summer? We are trying to boil down 20 years of my enthusiastic pursuit of excellence through training…into one summer. We are drawing the straightest line through the sand. I’m hoping it can help everyone we are training get better faster.
If you liked this article because it was different than most Drone Coach advice, and you’d like to get to work on becoming a Hockey Wizard, then click here to check out the benefits of becoming a Train 2.0 Member.
April 18, 2015
One pattern that has stood out to me recently is related to the idea of movement quality. The term gets thrown around a lot, but how exactly is “movement quality” exploited by expert performers? How can a skills coach teach better skills? How can a strength and conditioning coach have gym “movement quality” transfer to performance?
One answer is: teach the “proximal to distal gradient”
WTF is the “proximal to distal gradient”?
March 12, 2015
This article is about how I got 400% better at golf in 2 hours.
It’s also about “sequencing”, and why sequencing can hack your learning rate.
In previous articles, I’ve already outlined that the most important variable for success is your RATE of improvement, and that the best coaches give feedback on HOW, not just WHAT. Sequencing is a powerful tool to increase your RATE of your improvement, and also for coaches who are concerned with coaching the “how”.
December 30, 2014
I want to write this article for players at about the Bantam and Midget level who want to improve their defensive 1on1 play off of rushes. I have noticed that players at this level struggle with setting and reducing their gap against forwards effectively. Not being far removed from Bantam and Midget myself, I remember well the learning steps I have gone through recently, specifically watching and learning from NHL defensemen that I’ve had the opportunity to skate with.