What Is Hockey's "Master Algorithm"?
Updated: Jul 16, 2019
I found hockey's "Master Algorithm" and I want to share it with you.
But first, let me tell you all my failures along the way to finding it.
Failure #1: The Master Algorithm Is Books
I love my mom and dad. But they didn't know anything about hockey. My dad is a very hard working man, but never played a lick of hockey in his life. He did the best he could and researched as much as he could to help me. I'm forever appreciative.
As a crazy hockey nut, I borrowed his books and started researching them myself.
I followed the programs. I did the workouts. I ate the foods. But it wasn't the master algorithm. I reached a level where my nutrition, strength, and cardio didn't carry me further.
To be clear, I was able to make it to the top Junior 'A' league in Canada with this approach. But suddenly my strength, speed, and raw desire didn't cut it anymore. There were smarter, more skilled players who could outplay me.
Failure #2: The Master Algorithm Is Darryl Belfry
When I realized that I hit my performance ceiling, I started searching for a way around it. I came across this guy, Darryl Belfry. His videos blew my mind and I started worshipping him as my new hockey god.
His ideas helped me immensely. I tried reaching out to him for coaching, but to be honest it was way out of my price range at the time because I was playing junior and college hockey. I sent him several emails aiming to offer value to him. Sometimes he responded and wanted to chat. Other times my emails were ignored. I understand because he's a busy guy and is doing great work.
Ultimately my failure here was that I didn't push hard enough to work with him. So I was left interpreting his incomplete work instead of getting to see everything he's put together. But his bread crumbs were more substantial than any other coach's loaves. And it really helped me think about the game differently.
I also want to acknowledge how he had to work to be scientific and evidence based, in a hockey world that borders on magical thinking. This leads me to my third failure...
Failure #3: Science Is The Master Algorithm
I took exactly what he said, and then went to my local midget team, and then arranged volunteers to track the advanced stats of each player. I then wrote this 19 page paper on the experience for my thesis.
This led me to something I called AI Coach. The idea was to take a richer data set of hockey analytics, and then eventually apply machine learning to determine what variables might have disproportionate influence on performance.
Aside from a half-baked business plan, and some embarrassing asks for investment, AI Coach was doomed to fail from the beginning. The main issue is that hockey is essentially a random sport. This means that advanced stats (the very kind I was measuring) do not predict results. In effect, I was fooled by randomness. Any patterns I thought I saw were illusions.
Failure #3.5 The Facts Are The Master Algorithm
Along with my shoddy understanding of statistics and probability came my shoddy understanding of science in general.
The main error I made was that I thought of science as a set of facts backed by research. Since I went to the esteemed place of science, known as UBC, I therefore understood science....RIGHT? And no one else understood it as well as me...RIGHT? ....except I was wrong.
When I realized that the movement research I was doing began contradicting the "facts"...I realized that I had a poor understanding of what actually science is.
Science, it turns out, is not a set of hard facts. It's a method of inquiry. A discipline. That is iterative and is designed to bring you closer to truth over time. So the facts change as our understanding changes. As we test new approaches. Think of flat earth vs round earth. You get the idea.
The Master Algorithm
Learning this, I had to figure out how to put this together for hockey and for movement.
If you look at most exercise "science" fields, you see the same things:
Physiotherapy is a set of facts called "Best Practices" that all "science-based" therapists must follow to not lose their licenses
Strength & Conditioning is a set of facts called "Best Practices" that all "science-based" practitioners must follow in order to not look like idiots
Coaching and skill development is a murky set of facts called "Common Hockey Knowledge" that you're shamed for ignoring because it "worked for Sidney Crosby"
It's ironic because these fields of exercise "science" don't understand the actual process of science.
And that's where many players get led astray.
When I started following the Scientific Method (The Master Algorithm) I started to see amazing results. For myself. For my clients. For my business.
The Method looks like this:
Test your guess
Examine the results
Use the feedback from your results to inform your next guess of what will work.
To sound smart, we call guesses "hypotheses". And in a sport like hockey, we test our guesses through how the movement, mechanic, or pattern FEELS.
The nice thing about the Scientific Method...otherwise known as the Master Algorithm...is that it's a process that builds upon itself. So after you've gone through the cycle a few times, your knowledge grows. The more times you go through the cycle, the more your knowledge grows.
Here's where things really started picking up for me, the players I work with, and for Train 2.0: When we started the Master Algorithm and aimed it at a question.
We aim our Master Algorithm at something to tackle, and then we tackle it. Uncovering the formulas for success along the way.
Each finding builds upon another so that the Algorithm picks up momentum. The more your do this the faster you go.
It's very fun. It's like having a powerful microscope to examine different parts of the game. Everything is a challenge to be unlocked.
I come across many different attitudes towards hockey. The worst are when people feel stuck. I know because I was there too. It felt like I had more potential, but I came up against an invisible ceiling. I couldn't get past it.
I distinctly remember lying in bed for a pre-game nap in junior hockey. It killed me that I could IMAGINE dangling everyone that game - but that I didn't know HOW to dangle everyone that game. It really hurt. Even thinking about it now sucks.
I compare that to how I feel today. How our players are tackling challenges in their own games. And the difference is huge.
The hockey world would have you believe that books, gurus, and facts will help you. And they will. But that's not where your true potential lies.
Your true potential lies in the method of discovery known as the Master Algorithm. Others call it the scientific METHOD.
Use it and your life will be changed.
Then, when you've begun using it, and you've experienced the results, you'll want to find out what we've learned after over 10 years of this. If that's you, then you might want to sign up for a free webinar where we talk the lessons learned, hidden truths, and the art of Downhill Skating: HERE.
Thanks for reading.