The Extra 2%
We have all heard of the baseball book & movie Moneyball and recently another book has been written that is called, The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First.” In fact – I wrote an Amazon Best Seller on this very subject Extraordinarii: Elite Executive Skills. If you haven’t read them, these three books look at exploiting inefficiencies in the baseball market that allowed teams to compete against their bigger budget competition. Why is this important for hockey players you might ask? Well, I’ve always felt that no matter how good you are, and especially if you are not the next Sydney Crosby in waiting, then you need to find a way to improve your overall skill set in a way that helps to separate you from the rest of the field.
While this might not sound like revolutionary advice, the fact is we all hear similar advice from coaches, scouts and advisors in every rink across North America. You aren’t Big / Fast / Strong / Tall / Skilled / Insert-Deficiency-Here / ENOUGH to be a regular or to be an elite player on our team! They tell you that you need to focus on weight training, power skating and / or whatever professional summer training program that the pro’s use!
Sadly, everyone has a personal trainer, power skating instructor, boot camp task master during the summer. In fact, that has become the norm. If everyone is doing it, you need to do this JUST TO KEEP UP!
This brings us back to Moneyball and the Extra 2%. In addition to keeping up with the ‘Joneses’ I believe that you need to find minor edges to exploit if you want to be good enough to make the team or take that next step to become a star or elite level player. Especially if you are not the #1 draft pick or highly touted prospect!
Personally, I was not the fastest, most skilled or best conditioned athlete but I managed to make the most out of the tools I did possess. The fact was I developed specific skills that lent themselves well to earning ice-time and producing goals.
I spent hundreds of hours working on my back hand, which is a vastly under-developed shot today for most players. By adding 20-30 minutes to my daily training regime, I was able to have an effective offensive weapon that few possessed and which goaltenders weren’t prepared for.
This is today’s ‘TIP’ if you want to find and ADD that extra 2% to your game!!
I also spent an extra part of my daily regime working on my face-off skills. As a professional in Europe, I rarely lost a face-off. I have this conversation with almost every forward prospect I speak to, if you can become an elite face-off man, you put yourself in a position to earn valuable ice-time every game. If you are the best face-off man on the team, you will not only be on the ice for penalty kill face-offs in your own zone, but when there is a key offensive or defensive face-off with 20 seconds left to play in the game.
Mad Face-off Skillz = Ice-Time!
This ‘extra 2%’ could be the difference between you being on the bench watching and you being on the ice at a critical juncture as a difference maker.
I rarely make promises in this business as there are just way to many variables that end up being out of your control but I can guarantee if you can dedicate 20 minutes a day to practicing face-offs, you will quickly become not only the best player on your team but one of the top men on the ‘Draw’ in your junior or midget/bantam league. Why? It’s very simple; most coaches do not have time to practice this skill during valuable and expensive ice-time. At most, the average player will get a few minutes per week dedicated to this specific skill. But when you can drop 200 pucks in 15 minutes and repeat that set of skills development over the course of a summer off-season, you can add a ridiculous amount of ‘draws’ to your skill repertoire.
Quick math for you…. 200/Day x 7 Days = 1,400 (April-August 22 weeks) 22 x 1,400 = 30,800 practice face-offs more than anyone else on your team.
This is a skill that relies heavily on hand-eye co-ordination, muscle memory and above all else repetition, repetition, repetition. Once you master the core skills, then you can move on to learning body positioning and other more advanced aspects of the ability. FYI, you can put these 15 minutes in by yourself each day, you just need the pucks and some open space! If you have someone to help you, all the better, you can do twice as much volume in the same amount of time!
Overall, by adding 15 minutes to your skills development a day, you can improve your ability by more than that ‘extra 2%’ that allows you to compete and grow beyond the average player at your current level.
I will try to go over a few more skills you can add to your program in future articles!