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.
May 17, 2016
I have a Bachelors Degree in Kinesiology. I began training at a young age, believing it would help my hockey career. I also started coaching at a young age, believing I was helping.
I’m starting to think I was wrong. Very wrong.
The best player I ever played with (now in the NHL) was very lazy in the gym. So lazy, I think he skipped many workouts. I was not lazy. I trained religiously. I write blog articles. He scores goals in the NHL. So who should you imitate?
I hear parents tell their kids now that all the gains are made in the gym. That they need to be doing functional training in the gym at a young age to off-set their single-sport participation. I might have even told the parents this.
I don’t think that I agree with that. At least not anymore.
I think that success in hockey is set pretty early on. There are two factors that I believe contribute most to hockey success. I have no way of proving this, but nobody else has evidence to disprove me, or prove anything else. It’s very confusing, so I’m not even sure why I’m writing this. Mostly to think out loud.
The two factors are: 1) self-image 2) mindset
You might think these are the same things. They’re both “mental” “intangibles”.
Mindset can be measured. Dweck’s research is pretty clear on this. Players who have a mastery mindset, instead of a fixed mindset will be more resilient in the face of adversity and challenges. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you should probably educate yourself on this.
Self-Image ties into Mindset. But it is different.
Self-image is how you view yourself as a player, and how you view your own ability to face challenges. Some players develop a fragile self-image. Others develop a robust one. Some players develop a self-image of a scorer early on. Others develop the self-image of a grinder early on. Coaches often influence it. Coaches often fuck it up and pigeon hole a player for their entire career. I think this is shitty and should not happen.
Once a player has settled on their self-image, it is a struggle to get them to adopt a new one. The setting of the self-image often happens early. If their self-image happens to contain a fixed mindset, the player is likely to be screwed when adversity inevitably hits.
There are many benefits to strength and conditioning. A properly run program will safeguard against injuries. A properly run program may prevent imbalances and postural issues from developing. A properly run program may even improve performance on the ice. In my experience, only the top 1-2% of strength and conditioning coaches are actually capable of creating a “properly run program”. In my experience, most players can’t afford to train with the top 1-2% of coaches. Or, the top 1-2% of trainers are naturally only available to the top 1-2% of players. Maybe the top 4-5%. But who knows for sure.
Most players would benefit more by taking a gymnastics class, or reducing their time using technology. I spend about 85% of my time as a strength and conditioning coach correcting imbalances that occur because athletes are no longer well rounded. They don’t have the ability to quickly learn new physical skills anymore. They often have screwed up posture. When we get the odd athlete with good posture, who can learn skills quickly, we praise them for being a super athlete, these days. They’re the exception to the rule. Not long ago, the sucky athletes were the exception to the rule. It’s all backward these days.
Maybe strength and conditioning is a necessity for todays athlete. My business model depends on that assumption. But top performers are not made in the gym. Not in hockey. At best, they are maintained in the gym. At best, they’re prevented from falling apart in the gym.
I can make you faster. Way faster. I can make you stronger in the gym. Way stronger. I may be able to affect your mindset a bit.
But I can’t make you think the game. I can’t do much to change your self-image. You and your coach have more control over that than me, as your S&C coach.
This summer, we changed everything. Well not everything, but a lot.
We shifted our focus to teamwork, accountability, and mindset. We are playing more soccer. We derive lessons for hockey from soccer. We are playing more tennis. We derive lessons for hockey from that too. We have more group competitions. We emphasize consistency. It’s pretty different.
We still lift. We still train. We still pay attention to the details of that program. Ask our players, and they’ll tell you how hard they work, and the attention to detail placed on everything we do. But I think that that portion of the summer (training & lifting) has been relegated in importance to a more appropriate priority level. We focus more on other stuff. Stuff that makes a bigger difference. It’s more fun that way.
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.
April 19, 2016
November 19, 2015
Woah, woah, woah. You’re telling me that I’m training harder than I need to? Who is this guy? Everyone is telling me to train more…
I’ve already told you that you should sell yourself to get ahead in hockey career, not bend your knees as much, swing your arms side to side, and use psychological tricks to get your coach to invest in you. I think I’ve firmly established that I’m not afraid to offer an unconventional perspective. I don’t aim to be different just to be different – as Tim Ferriss says, just because wearing underpants on top of your jeans is unconventional, doesn’t mean it is useful. The different perspectives I offer may just give you an advantage over the other players who are competing against you for your spot.
First, let’s discuss why you are NOT likely to start working LESS HARD.
Even if I provide examples of results, research, logic, anecdotes, and persuasive arguments, most players are still likely to keep training harder and harder. Even though it is disappointing to me that players are consistently leaving results on the table, it is exciting for players who are willing to try something different. Imagine how freeing it is to know that you don’t have to “out work” those competing for your spot! Imagine if you could simply work AS hard and do something different to get better results than them.
But again, most players won’t do something different. Here’s why:
1) Everyone else is doing it. 9/10 trainers, 9/10 players, 9/10 teams are doing things “the way it has always been done”. So not matter who you are, you’re likely to get caught up in what everyone else is doing at some point. It is difficult as a single player to overcome this inertia of bag skates, exhaustive circuits, and regular puke worthy intervals.
2) Complexity. Even though there is tons of information out there to guide you…it is difficult to sort through. It is even harder to implement because very few people are telling you an exact step by step plan, WITHOUT being overly restrictive.
My goal is to give you such simple and clear information that you can’t help but implement it. I want to give you tiny habits you can start implementing without much effort or without the risk of being socially ridiculed. I also want to make the guidelines as practical as possible for the busy athlete who has lot’s on his or her plate.
So here are two things you can to get in Better Condition while working just as hard – but by being smarter. They are based on scientific principles which explain exactly how your body responds to exercise and makes changes to improve your “conditioning”. But they are principles that most trainers seem to ignore. And it could be costing you.
Let’s talk about those reasons.
Your body has these little energy power houses called “mitochondria” that convert carbohydrates and fats into fuel when combined with oxygen. When you have more mitochondria, you can convert more fuel into energy for your muscles “aerobically” (meaning with oxygen). The more energy you can create aerobically, the less you need to create anaerobically (without oxygen). Sort of like if you have a choice between regular gas and nitrous in your car. It is more efficient if you can run your regular gas and require turning on your nitrous boosters less. How this is similar to the body is that the less anaerobic energy you need to create, the less acidity (commonly referred to as lactic acid) you will create. So the more mitochondria you have, the less acidity you create when you exercise. Said another way, the more you have mitochondria, the more you can use regular gas instead of your nitrous (anaerobic) boosters.
One common issue that athletes encounter is coaches then think that working the athlete as hard as they can will get them in better condition. The problem with this assertion is that acidity (from anaerobic/nitrous boosters) kills off mitochondria! Uh oh…
So if you work too hard, too often, you offset the supposed benefits you are supposed to be reaping – building mitochondria to improve your conditioning. “Feeling the burn” is not as beneficial as people think it is.
There is a better way to improve your conditioning without so much fatigue. And because of the above principle, it works even better!
Here it is: Full intensity sprints for 10-20s, with long, long, long rest intervals.
You see, the signal for your body to grow mitochondria comes from hypoxia, or a lack of oxygen in your system. When you send your body a sharp signal of lack of oxygen, it responds by creating more mitochondria. When you do a fresh, full intensity sprint, you send your body into hypoxia…sharply. When you do intervals or work to the point of your muscles burning, you are limited in your ability to do intense exercise, and therefore get your body hypoxic! So the key to intervals is to do them at such a high intensity that it sends a big signal to your mitochondria to multiply – by getting hypoxic.
To make a meaningful adjustment in your training, try this:
1) Do a warm up.
2) Then choose a work interval between 10s and 20s.
3) Then you will do a work interval for your chosen time
4) Then rest for at least 2 minutes. AT LEAST! You may rest longer if you wish.
5) Do another work interval.
6) Repeat until you don’t feel like “fresh” anymore.
Add this workout to your week only 1 time. Is this the perfect program? No. Is this a complete program? No. Could you do more? Yes. Is this the time intervals optimal? Probably, but I’m not sure.
Why am I giving you these ambiguous answers?
I promise it isn’t because I’m trying to be difficult. It is because I want you to actually make a change. It is easier for you to make one simple and small adjustment than to drastically change your workout. And I promise that by adding this to your training week just once, it will make a difference in your conditioning.
Here’s another way to improve your conditioning effortlessly: Improve your breathing technique.
Karatekas, shaolin monks, Yogis, Pavel Tsatsouline, Brian MacKenzie, Wim Hof, and Jill Miller are all crazy people. They are crazy, and geniuses in their own way. And they all preach the power of the breath.
Oh blah blah Jason. Breathing = boring!
I know that’s what you’re thinking.
But what if improving your breathing could:
- Improve your conditioning without training
- Improve your mental focus
- Improve your recovery
And what if by starting something so small and simple, like purposefully focusing on your breathing, could get you all these improvements.
If you’re sitting or lying down, try something right now. Put one hand on your chest, and another on your belly. Then breath so that your top hand moves. This is called a chest breath. Then breath so that your bottom hand moves. This is called a belly breath.
Belly breathing involves your diaphragm. And your diaphragm is a special muscle. When you breathe with your diaphragm, you use about 31% more lung volume. So with each breath, you can get in more oxygen – for your mitochondria to use! Mitochondria get more oxygen, you can use your regular gas instead of your anaerobic (nitrous boosters)…thus enhancing your conditioning. Second, and this is a big one, when you don’t breathe through your diaphragm, all the blood in your body gets sent from your limbs to your core. When you do breathe through your diaphragm, blood gets send back into your working muscles in your limbs. So where do you want your blood flow going? Into your core? Or into the muscles where you need it to do your work?
So if you habitually breathe through your chest, you are cutting off a portion of your lung volume and sending blood away from your limbs and into your core. (This is the exact opposite of what you want) By simply changing your breathing habits you can increase your lung volume and make blood flow more efficient during training.
Here is one thing you can do today to make a small change: in between your shifts, drills, sets, or intervals…put your hand on your belly and focus on breathing into it.
Again, I could give you drill, upon drill, upon drill, for breathing… but I’m not going to. We know that you are more likely to make a change when it is so simple and small there is no way you can’t adopt the habit. So rather than bog you down with 12 things to do, I’m going to give you 1 single, simple thing to try.
I don’t want you to give up working hard. But I want to offer you the opportunity to try something new out that will work better. Here are two habits, that are so simple, there’s no way you can’t do them. I want you to start implementing these tiny habits that will drastically improve the efficiency of your conditioning regime. I also want you start small, so you can circumvent the inertia of the mainstream. Finally, if you start small and adopt these tiny habits, there’s a good chance that you will start making bigger and bigger changes that will make a drastic difference.
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.
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”.
October 8, 2014
Yesterday, I have no clue why, but I just went wild in the kitchen. At lunch time, I got really creative with a salad dressing, and then at dinner, I got creative again. Result: The Superfood Taco Salad. I had enough for dinner, and seconds at lunch the next day. So you could say it feeds two hockey players, or about 3-4 normal people…all in 20 minutes. Here’s what you need:
August 21, 2014
Tryout camps are a time of tumultuous emotion, upset parents, scorned players, stressed out coaches, and political agendas. When I took part in the minor hockey and junior tryout camps, I was sort of blind to all the calamity around me. When I began attending tryout camps from the perspective of strength and conditioning/skills coach, I took on a whole new perspective. I sort of took on the perspective of the anxious parent who wants his kid (in my case, athletes I train), to do well. I also took the perspective of the coach trying to sort out who was deserving of a spot and who wasn’t. This journey was further animated by the (wide) range of perspectives of every different parent.
Most parents of players who were cut, thought that their kid was not given a fair shake. I sometimes agreed, and other times disagreed. Since parents were so biased in watching their kids play, I wondered, though, exactly how much of my bias was distorting my perception of players’ performance. The next logical question was: how much of the coach’s bias distorted his views? In order to answer this, I wanted to evaluate some sort of objective data that might track a player’s performance in the tryout camp and possibly predict their future performance on the team. So that’s what I did…
August 16, 2014
Finally! A blog where the articles are written by informed authors, where the same old gibberish isn’t recycled. There are some excellent articles on this blog by some top notch authors. If you like reading some of my articles, you’ll definitely like this.
Get Sport IQ:
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.
April 10, 2014
Here’s a great idea from a well known trainer in New Jersey: The Limber 11. (Tim Ferris calls him the trainer of NFL Monsters)
I like a lot of these mobility and release exercises and definitely recommend them to hockey players. In the next few weeks, I think I’ll do my own version specifically for hockey players. In the meantime try these out to keep yourself nice and limber.