How to Skate Like McDavid – Kinesiologist Breakdown
Updated: Jul 16, 2019
McDavid’s mechanics are fascinating. Mostly because they go against common Power Skating Principles. When players ask how to skate like McDavid – they don’t realize that their Power Skating is actually holding them back from achieving it. I talk about these contradictions in this presentation.
Many of you know that I am a professional hockey player – but also a kinesiologist.
Like you, I saw McDavid’s Fastest Skater Competition in the 2018 All-Stars Competition – and marveled at his crossovers. You are probably aware of the research done indicating that McDavid crosses over more than most players in the NHL. The study suggests that this is linked to his success off the rush.
I’m often asked if, “All I need to do is crossover more?”
The answer is “Yes.” Sorta.
What if McDavid had mechanics that made crossovers easier?
Remember when you had to find a landline to make a phone call? Well, now it’s much easier to make calls because you’ve got your iPhone. So you probably find yourself talking on the phone more than you used to – because it’s easier to.
Imagine if McDavid’s mechanics made it easier to crossover. Then he might crossover more. And that’s what we see.
I suggest one simple mechanic McDavid uses that makes it easier to crossover. I call it the “Tipped Hip”.
The tipped hip is when the hips (pelvis) are tipped at an angle.
The tipped hip mechanic combines two important forces: First, the body produces force best in the “saggital” plane. Or straight down and back.
The muscle responsible for this is the gluteus maximus. It is the most powerful muscle in the body. And it combines two important skating movements: hip extension and external rotation.
The second force at play is “horizontal force vectors.” To visualize this, imagine that as you skate, you push the ice into the boards.
When you combine the fact that the body produces force down and back and you need to generate horizontal force vectors you have a puzzle. Let’s call it the Power Skating Problem.
Track coaches know that the more vertical forces (up and down) put into the ground, that faster a runner will go. You can actually predict running speed by measuring vertical displacement. This is because you bounce off the ground to generate speed. (We call this “bounce” the stretch-shortening cycle)
In hockey, you do not bounce off the ground. So vertical forces and vertical forces (pushing down into the ice) are not an efficient way of getting around
The Power Skating Problem is that you keep the hips level – but need to generate horizontal force (pushing the ice into the boards). To do that, you need to abduct the leg. As shown in the diagram above. When you use abduction you use smaller muscles. So you can’t generate as much power.
With the tipped hips, you see how the line of force changes. Now when the hips are tipped, you can generate horizontal force (pushing the ice into the boards).
You see that here:
And even here:
McDavid’s mechanics solve the Power Skating Problem by aligning the hips (pelvis) with the correct line of force production (horizontal – pushing ice into the boards).
They also make it easier for him to crossover.
Can you see how McDavid is able to get more range from his foot that is crossing under? That’s not due to magic. It’s due to mechanics. And likely the tilt of the hips. (I say “likely” because I don’t have x-ray vision)
You may notice a similar tilt here on a straight stride.
So if we want to increase the number of crossovers players do, we may want to use mechanics that make it easier. McDavid uses a tipped hip mechanic to make it easier and to get more range. Players who use this mechanic find immediate increases in speed and power. Not because of magic. But because of mechanics.
[End Of Mechanics Discussion]
Now I’d like to talk about something called “sequencing”.
I call this “automatic learning”. Where you create drills that force the correct mechanics to occur. You start with a basic skill – and then add one new skill layer at a time. Before long, a player is performing with completely different mechanics. If I’ve done my job as a coach right, the player doesn’t even know that they learned anything. It all occurred so smoothly and easily for them. And the learning is unconscious. That’s the best kind.
Many of you will find enjoy the biomechanical perspective of this post and then aim to implement what you learned. This is smart. I urge you to use sequencing to deploy this new learning. Otherwise, it will end up being a hot mess on the ice. Yuck.
If you know exactly how to sequence this new learning, then do not read on. You’re good.
If you’d like to learn the expert sequence for learning this mechanic, you might want to check out the Downhill Skating System – How to Skate Like McDavid course. It could save you hours and hours of time. And it provides you with proven method for making this change.
Let me know what you think about Tipped Hip. Do you think it’s legit? Or have I been hit in the head too many times? Send me an email and let me know.