News & Updates
December 15, 2015
We’ve all witnessed the fluidity, freaky speed, and graceful stride belonging to Mr. Jack Eichel. Is this preternatural skill? Could be. And can we stop drooling over it? I can’t. And players everywhere always ask me: how can I skate like Jack Eichel.
So then, here’s an even better question: can it be taught? Can everyday players learn to skate like Jack Eichel?
We can probably agree that many coaches are dogmatic. By this, I mean that they cling to one particular set of ideas pertaining to what is right and wrong. When presented with evidence that disconfirms their particular ideology, they enter into an interesting psychological state known as cognitive dissonance.
Isn’t it also true that most players, parents and fans are also this way? That is why I have started adding disclaimers in my articles forewarning readers of the dissonance they are about to experience through reading my uncommon (yet usually effective) perspective.
I’ll pause here for the people who are growing bored with my psychology babble to tell you that the magic trick you’re looking for is “weight shifts”. Ok get lost. Thanks for reading up until now. If you haven’t liked the article up until this point, you definitely won’t like the rest.
Ok, now back to the full explanation on how to skate like Jack Eichel:
Jack Eichel skates a bit weird, right? He seems to shuffle from side to side while gaining speed effortlessly. So wouldn’t it make sense that the advice to needed to skate like Jack Eichel is also a bit weird. You bet!
Here it is… (again)
What was our first question? Can Jack Eichel’s skating principles/style be taught?
Let’s first see if you can identify what I mean by weight shifts. See if you can catch them here.
When Jack Eichel skates, he has figured out how to use gravity and momentum to his advantage. He leverages these laws with his body mechanics of shifting his weight.
Hmm, who else preaches weight shifts/transfers?
Mr. Darryl Belfry.
,Can you catch where Darryl coaches weight shifts?
No? How about here?
Hmm, it sounds like weight shifts/transfers can be taught, doesn’t it? Now, let’s talk about how and what to teach.
Example from Speed Skating
So let’s again look to speed skaters to see a clear example of the principles of gravity and momentum at play in a skating stride. Notice two things, 1) the circular motion of this skater’s right foot and 2) the diagonal pushing pattern.
Circular right foot: push out and back
Circular right foot: pushes out and more back
Circular right foot: gets to full extension
Circular right foot: Continues circle, now coming in and forward
Circular right foot: Continues circle, in and moving forward
Circular right foot: planting on inside edge
You can see this live here:
Circular leg motion:
Rather than a diagonal and linear movement straight out and straight back in, the leg travels in a circular motion out, then out and back, then up and in, then forward and in, then back out, then out and back. This uses momentum and smooth biomechanics of the leg so there’s never an acceleration or deceleration of the leg, it’s always moving, like in a running stride.
The only way you can maintain this circular stepping is with diagonal pushes. Rather than skating in a straight line, you’ll notice that the speed skater here pushes their body in a slightly lateral direction on each push. This again keeps momentum up, and mimics the falling mechanics of a good runner.
You’ll see here that the skater pushes diagonally and shifts laterally to make his next step.
Momentum from his right leg push is propelling him laterally to his left.
The skater is about to plant on the outside edge. Yes, I said outside edge.
Oh, and there he goes. Planting on the outside edge. You can see that he has shifted laterally, and is planted on the outside edge.
He continues using his momentum, “falling” with the energy of the stride”
Now to correct the fall, he transfers to his inside edge and begins pushing WITH the momentum.
Back to Hockey
MMMM’kay. So that was a speed skating example. Of course, in hockey you rarely take more than 4-5 linear strides at a time in a game setting. Most of the time it is between 1-2 linear strides. So just how important is this? I dunno…? Fairly important. Watch Jack Eichel start behind an opposing player in a race for the puck…like WAYYY back, and pass him in ONE STRIDE! I’ve started the video at 1:30, and the ONE SINGLE STRIDE where he absolutely gasses his opponent, EFFORTLESSLY happens at 1:31. You may want to rewind and stop and go a bit to catch the diagonal movement, circular leg motion, and the stepping on the outside edge. It is that step that generates all the acceleration to beat his opponent.
Same clip, but here he is again:
Now there are also situations in which you simply can’t take full strides as a hockey player. What does Eichel do?
He still uses both principles. He’ll use a circular leg motion and a diagonal push. His push is almost imperceptible, but because he leverages the power of momentum and gravity, he’s able to INCREASE his speed.
Same clip again, but abbreviated strides. You’ll see the similarities between the above full strides and the abbreviated strides after watching a couple of times.
Here again, at 3:56 he’ll use extremely abbreviated steps. But the weight shift and diagonal circular steps are still detectable.
Hmmmmmmmmmm. What does that look like to you? Who has taught us that before? Oh, how about Belfry????
Check out Belfry teaching this subtle, yet dangerous manoeuvre to Tavares at 0:54.
What to do now?
Ok, so now you should probably go to you local power skating coach and ask them to teach you this stuff right?
Show them this article, and watch their face drop. Then they might tell you something like Jack Eichel’s stick is too long or something. They might even tell you they can improve Mr. Eichel’s skating because he’s skating all wrong, and I’m all wrong. Maybe I am? Who knows. But this is a tell for cognitive dissonance, which you should at least be aware of.
[Note I love Coach Prusso’s stuff, I just don’t agree with him about the stick thing, which is something I saw he wrote an article on while researching this article]
What to actually do now…
At this point, I wish I could point you to a resource that explains how to skate like Eichel from start to finish. It doesn’t seem to be out there. Maybe I will create it one day. But until now, I’d suggest studying these videos, getting video of yourself skating, and comparing the two. I honestly doubt that any power skating coaches teach this stuff other than Belfry. If they do, it’s a mystery to me, and I’m fairly well researched when it comes to this stuff. (Please tell me if there is someone who does teach this stuff).
In writing this article, I was heavily consulted by a former professional figure skater who mentioned that this type of thinking is rare even in figure skating. Like in hockey, the understanding of how to skate is linear and simple. Simple rules like: don’t swing your arms side to side, have full extension, bend your knees.
The fact that simple and moderately useless rules exist to teach players nowadays is only of benefit to players like Eichel who somehow inherited his glorious stride…and YOU, who is willing to research how and what to do to develop yours.
I know I have presented more than enough contrarian evidence to invoke significant anger in many of you, and you won’t even know why. I am fine with that. If you’d like some more evidence (I know you don’t actually) of the circular motion and diagonal stepping, you can see it here, here, here, here, and here. But for those who are interested in an uncommon (and more effective) approach to skating, please let me know how this goes for you.
If you think this video was over the top, you should see this one.
July 7, 2015
- Hill sprints
- Lifting Weights
- Olympic Lifting
- AMRAP Powercleans (or equally ridiculous physical challenge)
- Agility Ladders
But if we’re serious about getting you a faster step, faster, then we need to RESPECT THE PROGRESSIONS FOR SKATING SPEED DEVELOPMENT. Respecting the progressions will speed your development more than going for “quick wins”, “doing more”, and “doing what everyone else is doing”.
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
May 12, 2014
Updated to reflect some new knowledge and perspectives that I’ve come across regarding the term “fast feet” or “quick feet”.
- Updated to make things simpler to understand
- Clarify the difference between what we see on the ice and how we train to make that happen.
- Better understand why blade contact time is important.