What follows is an article that appeared in Monday’s National Post, along with my underlined comments. Basically the entire story purports to be a scientific analysis of a slapshot, but what it does is mangle the science, which is only at a high school level, beyond belief. The reporter and/or the good Dr. need a refresher course. And most certainly so does the editor. It is a classic case of BS and pseudo science.
As a clinician and a professor of biomechanics who has worked with golfers and baseball players, Dr. Kevin Robinson was eager to apply science to a growing hockey legend. And that interest only grew after watching Shea Weber step into his first few slap shots after a recent practice.
It is a shot that ripped through an Olympic hockey net this year, leaving behind what one news agency described as “scorch marks” on the mesh. It moves with the ferocity that has reportedly broken bones in no fewer than four teammates while elevating Weber, a first-year captain of the Nashville Predators, into an object of childhood wonder.
“With that guy on skates,” Robinson said, “I was a dwarf.”
Robinson, who teaches at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., analyzed Weber’s shot last month with help from a digital camera and a computer program. He asked the 6-foot-4, 234-pound defenceman to take about a dozen shots in open ice, and asked the same of Predators teammates Jordin Tootoo and Cody Franson for the sake of comparison.
After taking the top of each player’s backswing as a starting point, Robinson assessed the speed with which each player met the puck. Weber and Tootoo had similar mechanics in their shots, with their sticks perpendicular and their left arms parallel to the ice at the top of the top of their swing, and each took about 0.2 seconds to get down to the puck.
“One of them is 5-foot-8, and the other one’s 6-foot-4,” Robinson said. “One of them is swinging a bigger stick, so the angular velocity is much faster.” (This is wrong, wrong, wrong! Having a bigger stick or a taller person swinging the stick does NOT mean you increase the angular velocity! It is the speed of the stick blade that is important. And that is a determined by the combination of the length of the stick AND the angular velocity. And almost always, a smaller more compact, muscular person is able to have a faster angular velocity. BUT because a compact individual has a small radius he usually has a lower speed of blade. That gives the advantage to the tall muscular players who can rotate quickly AND have a long radius. The exception probably was Bobby Hull. He was able to offset his smaller radius with his incredible angular velocity, which is exactly opposite of what this guy says.)
Angular velocity is a measure of speed, (NO, NO NO!!!!! Example. A stick that is 60 feet long can have a very small angular velocity, but a blade speed that is very very fast and have more energy and travel faster than a stick that is 2 inches long with an angular velocity 10 X as high). of which Weber showed in abundance. Robinson recorded the 25-year-old with a speed of 715 degrees per second — which suggests that, if his torso was able to spin like a top, Weber could rip through two full rotations of his shot in about a second.
Tootoo was clocked in at 668 degrees per second with Franson in third, at 405. (This is all irrelevant. Spin is not the crucial part of this. It is SPIN+ LENGTH OF RADIUS)
“What that speaks to is the tremendous amount of core strength, the strength of his abdominals, the muscles that stabilize his trunk,” Robinson said. “That’s the only way you can pull that off.”
Weber, the son of a mill worker in the British Columbia interior, began to find fame with his shot during the NHL all-star weekend last year. He fired a shot that hit 103.4 mph during the skills competition, finishing second only to the Boston Bruins’ 6-foot-9 defenceman, Zdeno Chara (105.4 mph).
It was at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver where Weber’s ability began acquiring some of its mythical proportions. He sent a shot screaming in from the point in the second period of Canada’s qualification game against Germany, opening a hole in the back of the net and forcing officials to consult video review to confirm what they had missed.
Canada won in a romp, and Canadian fans found their new favourite weapon.
“I’d never seen anything like that happen on a stage like the Olympics,” Weber said with a chuckle. “It’s pretty neat to have kids come up to you when you go home and bring that up.”
It was at home, in Sicamous, B.C., where Weber first developed his shot. He always loved to shoot the puck, and spent countless summer hours hammering shots into a second-hand net off a sheet of plywood laid on the grass outside his home.
“I would wreck my sticks before anything else,” Weber said. “And Dad wasn’t too happy about that. Just try to put an extra bit of tape on it after that.”
He said he usually goes through at least one composite stick a game with the Predators, even though he estimates he really only gets an opportunity to unleash the full fury of his shot once every three or four games.
“It might come a bit in spurts,” he said. “It might go in back-to-back games, where you get an opportunity to really blast it, and then you’d go a few games where you don’t really even get a chance to shoot anything.”
Weber had never put much thought into the physics of his shot, focusing instead on the mechanics of his delivery. (SAME THING!!!! Mechanics and physics are the same!!!!!!).He used to position his hand closer to the blade when he was younger, but moved it higher as he grew older and stronger, to the point where it is now mostly muscle memory. (What does that mean? Buy placing his hand higher he creates a more baseball like swing AND he increased the radius of the stick arc, so the angular velocity is actually probably lower, but the blade speed higher)
He takes at least 100 shots a week in practice.
“The biggest thing for me is weight transfer,” Weber said. “Obviously, it’s got to be in sequence with everything else: from the weight transfer to how you’re distributing your power from your back foot to your front foot and, obviously, leaning on your stick to get the stick to torque (NO. You get the stick to bend, by hitting the ice just behind the puck. The flex in the stick then acts like a spring, stopring the downward force. There is no torque involved is this part of the process) and whip (NO. A whip is a wave travelling down a highly flexible medium, like a rope or string. There is no wave in a hockey stick).”
He has taken 50 shots through Nashville’s first 15 games this season, second to Atlanta’s Dustin Byfuglien (66) for most by a defenceman in the league. Weber has two goals and five assists, but struggled to regain his dominant form while defence partner Ryan Suter was sidelined for nine games with a lower body injury.
Being known for his shot can also work against Weber, when teams scheme to pin someone higher on the point when the Predators have the man advantage. That forces him off a shooting lane and into passing mode, where he has to defer to an open teammate.
And he has to be mindful of those teammates in practice, when he consciously dials down the force of his point shots, conceding he has “had some unfortunate luck over the past few years with hitting guys on our team.”
“He’s using what God gave him, his height and his strength,” Robinson said. “That’s what separates him there.”
That core strength comes from the abdominal muscles, which can be strengthened with a diet of crunches and work with a medicine ball. Muscles in the hindquarters also help to stabilize the pelvis, which — in baseball and golf, as well as in hockey — should move first in the series of movements leading up contact.
“If those are in sync,” Robinson said, “then what you have is a really efficient delivery of force.”
Add New Comment