The EHS Philosophy

The EHS Logo.

Why the gun sight and cross hairs. Actually the logo is all in good fun with no disrespect intended to our goaltender brethren and as a matter of fact, it is all about showing them respect. Goaltenders today are trained as never before. NHL statics demonstrate that top Goal Tenders save percentage (Thomas from Boston) is .938  with averages being slightly over .900. Scoring is not guaranteed by any means. This means on average, shooters only score 1 goal on 10 shots or 10%.

However, when we compare the top shooters in the NHL that played more that 40 games during the 2011 season, this number ranges considerably with Sergei Kostitsyn from Nashville playing 77 games and having a shot/goal percentage of 24.7 making him the league leader scoring 23 goals on 93 shots. In contrast, Mario Bliznak from Vancouver played 4 games got one goal and one shot making him 100% (talking about making the most on one’s opportunity). Sydney Crosby shot % was 19.9% over 41 games played getting 32 goals on 161 shots. The top scorer in the NHL for the 2011 season was Daniel Sedin with 41 goals on 266 shots with a 15.4% and 82 games played.

When we look at earnings:

  • Mario Bliznak – $550,000
  • Sergei Kostitsyn – $550,000
  • Syndey Crosby – $9,000,000
  • Daniel Sedin – $6,100,000

Apparently, it is all about sustaining scoring over a long period of time and over several years repeating the same or improving on one’s statistics.

Getting back to the logo. Why the sniper scope look you ask? According to Wikipedia; “The term sniper was first attested in 1824 in the sense of the word “sharpshooter”.[2] The verb “to snipe” originated in the 1770s among soldiers in British India where a hunter skilled enough to kill the elusive snipe was dubbed a “sniper”.[2]

In the modern military, a sniper is a specialized marksman who is trained to hit a target under adverse conditions much like a shooter in hockey.  When a sniper takes a shot, there are countless variables to consider before squeezing the trigger; wind speed, wind direction, range, target movement, mirage, light source, temperature, barometric pressure, and that’s only the beginning. The work that goes into getting a good position to take a shot is immense. Sound familiar? In addition to being an elite marksman, military snipers are also trained in reconnaissance and observation.  Does this apply to the elite goal scorer in hockey in any way? Most definitely.

The philosophy behind the logo is plain and simple: Appreciate that countless hours of practice goes into being a elite shooter and that it is indeed a specialized craft that requires much practice and dedication. Not only is one required to just hone their craft of being extremely accurate, one must train physically to generate the extreme  puck velocity necessary to over come a goaltender’s reactive skills. Cognitive skills or, the mental side of training, practice, observation and execution must be practiced as well.

When all things are combined, the military approach, or “martial” approach has been around for literally thousands of years and are better known as the “Martial Arts”. According the Wikipedia: “Martial arts are extensive systems of codified practices and traditions of combat, practiced for a variety of reasons, including self-defense, competition, physical health and fitness, as well as mental and spiritual development.”

I was fortunate to be introduced to the martial arts at the age of 12 years old when I took a judo class. My teacher was an exceptional woman who taught me some of the basic principles of humility in the face of both success and failure; it was where I learned to bow to my opponent even after I was pinned helplessly to a mat or thrown effortlessly to the floor. Bowing was the act of showing respect to my opponent for exposing my weaknesses.

For those of you that have read my other web site which has been in operation since 1996, the martial arts have been the primary foundation of the principles of my teachings. Over the years I have been fortunate enough to train under several truly amazing and inspirational masters in several martial art styles. Of the many lessons that they have taught me, several of the most important fundamental that I learned were; to never underestimate the importance of small details, another was that the mind has incredible potential and that in order to master both, one must practice diligently and with discipline!

As a very competitive coach, I always looked for ways to gain an advantage over my opposition. Hockey is truly a game of strategy and tactics and overlooking even the smallest details could result in either winning or losing. As a result, I was inspired to dig deeper into the competitive spirit of hockey. Some of the best books on strategy come from eastern philosophy: “The book of Five Rings” by Miyamoto Musashi  and the “Art of War” by Sun Tzu. Another book that provided some helpful insights was “Thunder in the Sky” and ancient Chinese text translated by Thomas Cleary.

Such an event played itself out during by 1998-1999 year of coaching the North Delta Bantam AAA team. I used to make a point of going out to the local sports stores and measuring blades of hockey sticks to see which ones were illegal, noting their brand and style. Playing a pivotal game against North Vancouver, we were down by one goal going into the third period. Looking down at my list of sticks, I noted that one player on the opposition had an illegal blade. Informing the referee of this fact, we were thus awarded a power play resulting in a quick goal and due to momentum shift, scored another one at even strength to go on to win the game. We never looked back, won the Provincial Championship and went on to win the Gold medal at the Western Canadians.

It was during this time that I was actively involved in a study analyzing skating performing relative to goal scoring. This company performed over 10,000 tests world wide and the results led to some incredible insights into determining which skating skills contributed to the enhance of scoring opportunities.

It became obvious over the years that hockey, in essence was truly a game paralleling war-fare. As in warfare, there were strategies to scoring; some shots yield higher percentage goals, there are lanes of attack that create better scoring options, there are shot locations relative to goaltending hand preference that are higher percentage scoring options. Understanding scoring as in the aforementioned books on strategy requires analysis and understanding of ones opposition. To quote Sun Tzu; “Every battle is won before it is even fought!”.

The martial arts are really defined as warrior arts or “the Arts of War”. In this philosophy, there is no room for second place. However, we must realize that even the Samurai had a code of conduct: respect, honor, humility, integrity and discipline.

The philosophy of this site is to engage in the intellect and to open ones mind to endless possibilities. In part, it is also about never underestimating and disrespecting ones opponent. It is about leaving, as they say, no stone unturned, to look for even the smallest advantage so as to expose your opponent’s weakness. It is about knowledge, knowing before engaging while at the same time maintaining those principles of the warriors code; respect, honor, humility. It is about the discipline before emotion; never being distracted from ones goal. It is about understanding that success is when preparation meets opportunity.

The art of scoring is not learned overnight and as such, players that participate in this site’s developmental program will be awarded various rankings based on their skill level, goals attained, and respect from their peers and associates. In Japan, it is called Bushido or the “warriors way”. It originates from the samurai moral code and stresses frugality, loyalty, martial arts mastery, and honor unto death. While death is not an option here (on the lighter side), mastery and commitment to scoring and ones conduct and actions are.

Japanese Samurai Warrior in 1860

The following training principles are the foundation of the EHS Philosophy and are the most basic training principles of many martial art styles dating back hundreds if not thousands of years:

1. Build your foundation right the first time. Any mistakes in learning your foundation means a false start. Not only do you still have to learn all of the correct techniques, but you must still “unlearn” the incorrect ones. Pay particular attention to your grips, hand positions, upper body and shoulder position, regripping techniques and stances. One these things are learned correctly, you will never have to think of them again.
2. Be self aware! Constantly utilize your visual and kinetic senses to monitor your body’s  position and movement patterns so that you know immediately when you are correct or are making a mistake. DO NOT be content in knowing that you are performing at only 60%-70% or your capability. Every skill that you acquire must be done to the best of your ability. Quality counts, not quantity.
3. Do not allow room for unnecessary movements. If you allow sloppy techniques or wasted motions into your training practice, like it or not, these actions will become a habit.
4. Start off with basic fundamentals then progress into more complex ones. This will speed up development.
5. Avoid unnecessary training techniques, patterns and fundamentals in the chain of learning. This not only allows for a more precise technique but eliminates the possibility of having to “unlearn” these fundamentals as well as is a more efficient use of time.
6. Aim at first for smoothness or performance rather than speed. It is important to go slowly at first so that you are aware of when you are making mistake enabling you to make subtle adjustments in technique. It is far more efficient to train in an environment of awareness and instant self correction. This “rhythm” is best adapted to each particular task. Speed of executions comes with practice.
7. Have a clear understanding of the task at hand. What is expected in the way of mechanics, power and speed as well as movement and shot location necessary to capitalize on your opportunity.
8. It is important to understand how each small movement or technique is in fact an integral part of a larger more complex movement pattern. The skill that you are learning is dependent ultimately on a series or combination of actions. However, once each small movement or technique is understood and can be executed correctly, it is important to include it in a more complex series of movements so as to better simulate actual performance environments.
9. Keep practicing. Manual skills ordinarily become automatic only after many thousands of hours of practice. Remember, it is not always necessary to actually go through all the movements physically in order to practice them. Once you are familiar with how a particular technique or movement is to be done, you can review them in your minds eye, reproducing the feel of them as vividly as you can. You will find that this imaginary or “visualization” practice will help in smoothing out the roughness in your performance.
10. It is important to practice diligently. A great deal of practice is necessary for learning, but a great deal more is necessary to make it second nature so that you can never forget it. In fact it has been said that it takes over 10,000 repetitions to mast a technique. This enables you to perform any movement no matter the circumstance. However, one must remember that “practice makes permanent only perfect practice makes perfect”.
11. You must learn to relax. Tenseness makes for awkwardness and mistakes. Do not be worried if you are tense and clumsy at first. Any beginner learning something new works too hard at it. As skill develops, relaxation will come with them. This is the body’s way of being efficient. Try to aid this by intentionally trying to relax. When this happens you will find that your precision, quickness, smoothness and performance improves.  However, do not relax so much that your movements do not have snap or power. 

Ron Johnson

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