Tips for Lengthening Your Hockey Stride

Image result for long hockey stride skating

In the quest for more speed, a factor some players may overlook is getting optimal Length and Extension from each stride.

What I commonly see amateur players doing – and this extends to myself – is churning their legs faster and/or harder in an attempt to generate more speed.

A player is after Economy, meaning maximum efficiency and power with minimum effort. This is the premise of Power Skating, which is taught by experienced coaches across the globe.

An amateur or even professional Hockey Player’s stride can shorten over time, if the Player becomes de-conditioned or fatigued. The Player ends up working twice as hard for half of the result, as outer ends of the stride (lower back/lower legs) are forced to take on an undue burden. This leads to a loss of speed and eventually injury, if steps aren’t taken to correct the problem.

This article is a quick guide on How to Lengthen Your Hockey Stride. A longer stride is something most players should strive for, as it will ultimately give skaters a major competitive advantage within the game.

Off-Ice

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I’m a very common example of why a player’s stride might shorten over time:

I drive from North Carolina to Pennsylvania and back multiple times per year. As much as I like seeing my family and going to Sheetz, the 12+ hour drive from Wilmington, NC to my mother’s house is grueling. I would honestly rather run for 12 hours than sit for the same length of time, as prolonged sitting really messes up an athlete’s body. This concept is well-covered here by performance coach Kelly Starrett.

Back in late 2013/early 2014, I began to notice a sharp decline in my athleticism. This was because I was forced to sit for 4-6 hours every day for five months in my firefighter/EMT classes.  I remember going into the courses as an athletic specimen and completing them as a physical train wreck.

At the time, I was far less educated on what was happening with my body, but in retrospect, here are the hormonal/physiological pitfalls I hit, which took me from moving like a tiger to moving like a geriatric:

  • I fell into a negative Nitrogen Balance, meaning my body was Catabolizing my muscle mass. This was because I didn’t have the opportunity to eat frequently, as my instructors would often power through the courses for 4 or more hours at a time without a real meal break.
  • The Stress from the courses was overwhelming. I am in the part of the population that starves themselves (rather than overeats) when under duress, and this greatly contributed to a major loss of Gains.
  • I made the stress situation worse by coping with crazy amounts of Caffeine, which crushed my metabolism and further promoted the release of stress hormones (notably Cortisol) and promoted muscle-wasting.

If you would like to really get into nutrition/supplementation, e-mail me RebootHockeyHelp@gmx.com, and I’ll blister you with information. Just understand that I, like lots of working adults, fell into a Catabolic trap. In short, if you want to continue to Play Hockey and move well as you age, it’s crucial that you maintain a positive Nitrogen Balance and mitigate the effects of Cortisol.

From an orthopedic/muscular standpoint, here’s what happened:

  • I was forced to sit for hours on end, which deactivated/inhibited my Abdominals/Glutes and further shortened my Hip Flexors. Hockey itself tends to shorten the Hip Flexors, and this condition tends to artificially shorten the Hamstrings. If your Glutes aren’t firing properly, you know which body part picks up the slack? Your Lower Back, which isn’t equipped to handle the dynamic movements of Hockey by itself.

Here’s a visual of what happens as one’s Hip Flexors shorten due to excessive sitting:

Pulled Hamstrings treatment Bellevue, NE

 

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Pelvis falls into Anterior Pelvic Tilt, Hip Flexors become short/tight/prone to strains, Hamstrings artificially lose length, Abs/Glutes go to sleep, Lower Back muscles take on way too much of the mechanical burden.

The average person might not notice this dysfunction, but this combination is both devastating and highly-apparent to a Hockey Player. Again, the average amateur Hockey Player already has relatively-short Hip Flexors/APT, and chronic sitting only worsens the condition. Fortunately, this problem is correctable.

Cues/Drills

Your Glutes are often “sleeping giants”, and they don’t tend to fire unless the intensity is really high (i.e. Sprinting). Even then, they tend to go back to sleep if you aren’t going all-out every day.

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The Cue that works best for me to re-activate my Glutes and take some of the strain off my Hip Flexors is “tap down on your sit-bones.” Nerds will refer to the sit-bones as the ischial tuberosity.

Lots and lots of people, including elite Hockey Players, don’t use their Glutes properly during Hinge/Lunge/Squat movement patterns. People like this are often said to be Quadriceps-Dominant or Slow-Twitch Dominant. I am very quadriceps-dominant, and my tendency in Squats/Skating is to make my Quads to most of the work. As you try to optimize your skating or squatting, this overuse of the Quads – and the underdevelopment of the Posterior Chain – becomes a major limiting factor.

So, it’s important to get the Glutes, especially, firing and uninhibited while minimizing the contribution of the already-overused Hip Flexors and Quadriceps. To limit the use of my gargantuan Quads and fried Hip Flexors, this is my favorite drill:

Pistol Squat Progression

The key is to not get competitive with yourself, and to focus on using your Glutes to do the bulk of the work. I’ll often start with a higher box that only forces me to lower myself 4-8 inches. I get the most value from 6-8 reps x 4-5 sets, beyond which point I will A) add weight, and then B) lower the box/platform.

Keep your Hip Flexors out of the equation, and try to think of this as more of a physical therapy or rehab drill. This will be tough for some of you gym-rats who routinely squat six plates or more, but the goal here is to correct this dysfunction before it gets worse, and to lengthen your Hockey Stride. Don’t get caught up making this an ego drill.

A lot of coaches love Bridging and Barbell Hip Thrusts as Glute Activation Drills, but to be honest, I don’t get as much value from them as some do. I do recommend you read up on the subject, and try them yourself. The go-to for all things Glutes is definitely Bret Contreras, AKA The Glute Guy.

Once your Glutes are firing well, the next step is to focus on lengthening the stride and incorporating this additional power into the movement.

One of my favorite strength-training drills to combat shortened Hip Flexors, tax the Glutes, and work on adding length back into your Hamstrings is the Foot-Elevated Lunge:

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There are numerous ways to do this drill: forward lunge onto box, reverse lunge, with Dumbbells, Barbell, Goblet-style, etc. My suggestion is to play around a bit and find the variation that works best for you, as long as you are accomplishing the following:

  • Primary goal is to add missing length to your Hockey Stride. I would keep the weight relatively-light and try to add depth and distance to the lunge. You will be working some relatively-small muscles near your pelvis as well as trying to add length/strength to one or both of your Hip Flexors. No need to put 225 on your back.
  • Since your Hip Flexors are likely trashed, I recommend a slow Eccentric of 4-5 seconds, a one-second pause at the bottom of the movement, and a powerful Concentric in which your fire the working Glute hard and allow the antagonist Hip Flexor to take some of the recoil.
  • You are training both sides (Glute/Hip Flexor) of the front leg, but you want to condition your Glute to do most of the work. The Hip Flexor serves as more of a “brake” in this movement, which will be very similar to a quality Skating Stride.
  • I like to do this drill “Goblet-style”:

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Doing a Goblet Front Lunge 1) takes my sizable ego out of the movement and forces me to focus on form, 2) encourages an upright spine, 3) encourages me to move forward/down rather than forward/forward.

Quad-dominant types and fellow Hockey Players will want to lean forward as they descend into a lunge or squat, bringing their heels off the ground and excessively driving the knees forward. While this is fine to a degree, the focus is on lengthening/strengthening the Posterior Chain (back part of the leg), and that includes the muscles near the calf (including the Anterior Tibialis/Dorsiflexion muscles) as well as those near the Achilles Tendon.

I recommend you keep your weight back a bit on your front leg and keep your heel locked down. This will work the musculature around the hip, and not continue to overtax the Quads/Knees/Lower Back.

Lastly, do some work on your Abdominals. If your Hip Flexors/Lower Back are shot and Sit-Ups are out of the question, I recommend you start with Stability Ball Diver Crunches:

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These will take a ton of strain off the Lower Back/Hip Flexors while allowing you to work the Abdominals. I recommend you accelerate through the Concentric (without bouncing) and return the start position under control. I generally do sets of 20-30 reps, adding weight after I clear 30. To make the movement more challenging, keep your arms straighter and bring them further behind your head (but don’t tear your Rotator Cuff overloading beyond a stable Range of Motion). Crunch up toward the ceiling, not forward.

On-Ice

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On-Ice (or on Inline Skates), the goal is simple: reinforce the proper (longer) movement pattern. Focus on striding during games and build length into your stride rather than continuing to dart around with a choppier stride.

Carl Hagelin, seen above, is known as one of the fastest skaters in the NHL. He also has a noticeably-long stride, on display here.

While Carl has tremendous efficiency/recovery, what jumps out to me is the way he lunges with every stride. I think a common mistake among amateur players is that they are overly-strong through a shorter Range of Motion (maybe through the mid-top of the Quads) and don’t stay low enough to the ice through the duration of the shift or game.

Training the smaller muscles high around the Pelvis, Glute-Ham fold, Ileus, etc. for both endurance and power will help keep you low as fatigue sets in. Strength Training and Corrective Exercise is a good foundation for this, but ultimately you will need to reinforce this longer movement pattern while you’re skating.

A great skating drill is the Drag Touch by Laura Stamm. This really hard-wires the proper movement pattern. Here is a video from Laura on the Forward Stride, if you’re more visually-inclined.

Dynamic Strength through the small muscles of the lower core, Hip Flexors, and Pelvis will enable the player to maximize knee bend and Quadriceps power. While a common cue from Hockey Coaches is to bend the knees more to get low, the Player needs to have adequate stabilizing strength through the muscles near the Pelvis and high leg. The drills at the top of the section will help develop those muscles.

Start slow. Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast. Practice long, smooth lunges on-ice or on Inline Skates, using a drill such as Ms. Stamm’s Drag Touch. Focus on extending the back leg maximally and generating power through a snap of the ankles and flick of the toes.

A few other players, in fact two of my favorites, who really maximized the length of their stride (and thus their power/efficiency) are Sergei Fedorov and Marian Gaborik.

Marian created tons and tons of breakaways for himself by pulling away from opponents with long, powerful strides. This is a great shot of Marian scoring in-stride on a breakaway:

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There isn’t a defender in-frame because Marian pulled away from everyone. Look at how low he is compared to the net. His skating stride sits at 90 degrees.

Equally fast was Sergei Fedorov, who is best appreciated on film. Here’s an hour of Sergei Fedorov highlights, during which he uses his incredibly-long stride to power around opponents and create space for himself:

Here’s Fedorov vs. Pavel Bure in Fastest Skater competition. Notice how wide of a base both players take even while decelerating, a sign of great core/upper leg strength:

And thanks to Getty Images for this great shot:

Image result for sergei fedorov fastest skater

You can see that Fedorov is churning forward, rather than driving his weight down and into the ice as in a Squat. I think a misconception among a lot of amateur players is that skating is like running or like squatting, and thus you see many amateurs working twice as hard for half of the result.

Getting more length, and eventually more power, out of every stride is the most-efficient way to improve speed.

Additional Resources and Final Thoughts

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This is a great, very technical article by Kevin Neeld that covers some topics I glossed over:

http://www.kevinneeld.com/a-3-step-approach-to-improving-stride-length/

I think between Kevin’s article and mine, there is plenty of information to get an amateur player started on adding length to her or his stride.

As always, questions can be directed to RebootHockeyHelp@gmx.com, and it’s always appreciated when you Like Us on Facebook.

Thanks for Reading,

Jack

 

 

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Reboot Hockey Redefined

It’s early February 2017, and I am at work on the Second Edition of the Reboot Hockey Training Manual. The First Edition remains a high-value gem, and is available for sale here.

In deciding how I’m going re-write the Second Edition and add more value for Reboot readers, I noticed that the articles I wrote for the blog gradually got away from being cost-effective ways to modify equipment and Hockey Theory, and became more about reviewing new equipment just for the sake of doing so.

While I think my Honest Hockey Reviews possess a certain amount of character that you won’t find elsewhere, I also believe I’ve gotten away from original Reboot concept – modifying existing Hockey Equipment for maximum on-ice effect – and fallen into the trap of writing just to increase readership.

To wit: one of my main goals in launching Reboot Hockey was just to find a pair of skates that fit. Over time, my orthopedic issues have gradually gotten worse while Hockey Skates have gotten stiffer and stiffer, and it’s been a battle to find a pair of skates that 1) I could wear without debilitating pain that 2) allowed me to skate to my ability.

In late 2015, I had the CCM Jetspeed skates on my feet, and you know what? They fit fine. Very well, in fact. They needed some minor skate-punching, but otherwise they were everything I had been seeking in a skate. So rather than do the smart thing and just drop the $800 on the pair I demoed, the little voice in the back of my head whispered, “the Makos might be better,” and “wait for the Super Tacks”.

So I did. I waited for a few months before I bought the Easton Mako II skates on closeout, and I couldn’t make them fit. So I went several more months without skates that fit/performed, then I bought the Super Tacks shortly after they came out. While the Super Tacks certainly perform, I’ve had to re-work my skating stride from scratch to accommodate them. And they still hurt while I wear them.

Acknowledging that I’ve learned a book’s worth about modern skate-fitting, the lessons learned were expensive in terms of actual cash, and more importantly Time. Time is invaluable, and as a Hockey Player that’s a lesson you’re not cognizant of until you’re closer to the end than the beginning. The amount of Time I lost fiddling around and waiting for the next, best thing is Time that would have been better spent just playing the game in skates that worked well.

In the course of the Super Tacks review, I also had to admit that I haven’t used a ton of Bauer skates in the recent past. I did a lot of research on the Bauer Supreme 1S and the Vapor 1X (as well as the now-released Nexus 1N), and started to wonder if I should start saving up for a high-end Bauer boot, as if that would finally solve my skate-fitting problems and make me a more-objective reviewer for Reboot.

Point being, I’ve thrown thousands of dollars at this particular problem over the past several years – and I was nearly prepared to throw more – while I’ve gotten further away from what I initially wanted. Yes, it would be cool if Reboot Hockey became an outrageous success, and it’s very gratifying to help fellow players with their Hockey-related problems, but what I really want – what gets me out of bed in the morning – is being the absolute best Hockey Player that I can be. Demoing, modifying, and reviewing equipment is just a means to that end.

And in the course of doing all of this, I’ve gotten away from what I really believe, which is that a commitment to conditioning, eating right, and improving athleticism will make up for deficient equipment in most cases.

So, I’m writing this piece to re-define what Reboot Hockey is all about moving forward.

First, I want you to reject the idea that the newest stick or pair of skates is going to dramatically improve your game. Do yourself a solid and check out this picture of San Jose Sharks Center and future Hall-of-Famer Joe Thornton:

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Jumbo led his squad to the 2016 Stanley Cup Final in eight-year old skates – my cherished CCM U+ Pros -and a two-piece blade/shaft. It looks like Jumbo grabbed someone’s broken RibCor out of a trash can, shaved the end, and stuffed a 2007 blade into it. And at Age 37, Joe Thornton is still one of the dominant Centermen in the NHL.

Joe Thornton is Hockey. I would much rather that Reboot Hockey Readers take the same stance at Joe Thornton – who obviously puts a premium on familiarity at the expense of technological advancement – which is that the equipment is secondary. Jumbo literally has his choice of anything on the market, and he chooses to use a freaking two-piece stick. And using a two-piece stick and eight-year old skates, he finished fourth – 4th! – in the National Hockey League in scoring in 2015-16, en route to coming within two games of winning the Stanley Cup.

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Speaking of which, there’s also 37-year old Pittsburgh Penguins winger Chris Kunitz, he of three Stanley Cup Rings. In the above photo, he’s making the defensive play of the 2016 Cup Final, back-checking like a maniac and diving to rob Joel Ward (rocking the U+ Pros) of a clear-cut breakaway.

Chris Kunitz hasn’t had the behemoth statistical career that Joe Thornton has, but he’s been a rock and a warrior. I don’t think an NHL player wins one Stanley Cup by circumstance, let alone three, and I bet Jumbo would trade his 1400 regular-season points for a single Stanley Cup victory.

As he’s aged, Kunitz has had to make the adjustment from being Sid Crosby’s primary winger to being more of a depth winger. To start 2017, he found himself on the team’s 4th line, and you haven’t heard a whisper of a complaint from him. Chris Kunitz just goes out and plays, and finds ways to be effective in whatever role he’s placed in, whether it’s a depth-scoring role or winging the Best Player in Hockey.

A beat report in Pittsburgh asked Kunitz if he’s had to adjust his game as he gets older and the game quickens. This was his reply:

You’re not going to reinvent yourself,” he told me. “If you are, you might be getting away from the things that got you here.”

A problem that I’ve encountered as a Hockey Player is that I’ve tried fixing things that aren’t broken. I’ve got that Sid Crosby problem where I’m always picking at my own game and trying to do everything better, sometimes doing things differently just for the sake of doing so.

For example, at some point around 2011 I started getting chapped over the fact that my Slapshot has always been pretty mediocre. So I tuned down the flex on my sticks a little bit, went with a closed-face Blade Pattern, and took dozens upon dozens of Slapshots. Today, I have a really good Slapshot. And you know what? I almost never, ever use it in games. In the process, I got away from refining the things that I successfully did very well, such as my Alex Kovalev-style wrister.

The current trend in equipment has been for lower Stick Flexes in the interest of maximizing Shot Release and Energy Loading. But you know what you trade when you drop down to a whippier stick? Accuracy, for one thing. And if you subscribe to the same methodology as everyone else, or try to be too perfect at everything, you make yourself a more-common player. Sometimes, the trends and changes in equipment can get you away from what made you successful in the first place. This is a lesson most players won’t learn until they’ve invested significant time in the game. 

Chris Kunitz doesn’t have this problem. He’s known exactly who is as a Hockey Player for years and years. He initiates contact, as hard as he can. He’s probably scored the same way hundreds upon hundreds of times. He’s not fancy, but he’s extremely polished and professional.

Like Joe Thornton, Chris Kunitz is Hockey. If you look at a picture of Kunitz from 2007, you can see that his equipment – aside from those sick black Eagle gloves – has barely changed. One doesn’t get the sense that Chris Kunitz spends a lot of time or energy agonizing over which equipment to use in trying to refine his game. He gets the equipment right the first time, then he just goes out there and works on his game. The equipment is just window-dressing.

The game constantly evolves, and I’m proof that the temptation to acquiesce to the newest technology exists. But I’m urging you not to let equipment become a crutch for the perceived deficiencies in your game.

I could even argue that the latest equipment being pumped out at the Retail level is hindering players as much as helping them, but I’ll save that rant for the Second Edition of the Training Manual.

When Mark and I began Reboot Hockey, I think we both believed that eventually some of the equipment manufacturers would donate some gear to us for demo and review. Years and dozens of Honest Hockey Reviews later, that has not proven to be the case. I’ve paid out of pocket for pretty much everything I’ve tried, and again while this has been educational, it’s been expensive and not necessarily conducive to improving my game.

So for 2017, the focus from Reboot Hockey is going to be on helping players get the most out of they have on-hand, rather than reviewing new and different equipment just for the sake of doing so. Not to keep shilling for the Training Manual, but most of the information I’ve taken off the blog and reconstituted into the book has been on Lacing Methods, Profiling, Selecting a Stick Flex, Shooting and Scoring Techniques, Ways to Improve Body Composition, etc. I really believe that I put the most-effective, valuable stuff – the information that is going to make you a Better Hockey Player – into the Training Manual, and that new equipment purchases are like dessert for otherwise-dedicated players.

Equipment Purchases/Reviews are fun, and a nice way to celebrate the game. Walking out of a pro shop with a brand new twig or pair of gloves puts a smile on any Hockey Player’s face. But going to a Hockey Shop and throwing money at an on-ice problem is the laziest, and often least-effective, path to improvement. If you want to be a Better Hockey Player, you’ve got to put the work in, and that extends to taking care of your body and understanding the game from a mental perspective. Those are going to be primary focuses in the Second Edition of the Training Manual.

I understand that many readers check out Reboot Hockey for the equipment reviews. I have the stats from the blog right in front of me, and the majority of new visitors are looking for product information on the latest releases from Bauer and CCM. And when I pick up a new stick or a new pair of shin-guards (both of which I presently need), I’ll likely throw up an Honest Hockey Review. But I’m making a conscious effort to get away from buying new equipment just to review it for Reboot.

I do think that equipment can be a limiting factor in some circumstances. If you’re working on your stick-handling every night and the blade rattles, then the equipment is an issue. If you have 20+ years in the game, using a stick such as Bauer Supreme One.4 will probably hinder your game. But I also think too many people – and I’m guilty of this myself – focus too much on the brand of the gear or spend too-valuable Time micro-analyzing the differences between a 2015 RibCor and a 2016 Reckoner. That’s no longer going to be the focus of Reboot Hockey.

If you have a specific technical issue within your game – maybe you have a hard time getting your shot off the ice, or struggle with your backhand – I’m happy to take ultra-specific, hockey-related questions at RebootHockeyHelp@gmx.com. If you’re having a problem with how a certain piece of your gear fits, I recommend you get in contact with Mark or me either via the e-mail posted above or via our Facebook page. One or both of us will come up with creative solutions that will help your gear fit so that you can focus on just playing the game.

If you have a number of general questions about how to gear-up so you can go out and just enjoy the game, I recommend you put $11 in my pocket and pick up a copy of the Training Manual. There is years worth of trial-and-error information that I wish I had on-hand as a high-school or even college player. As a bonus, people who purchase the 1st Edition get the free upgrade to the Second Edition, upon release.

I hope you as a reader appreciate this new direction, even if you’re a reader who came specifically for the equipment reviews. But in outlining the Second Edition of the Training Manual, it was important for me to re-examine what Reboot Hockey was all about, in the interest of producing the best content possible.

Thank you for reading, and for your continued support of Reboot Hockey,

Jack and Mark

Honest Hockey Review: CCM Super Tacks Hockey Skates

Image result for ccm super tacks skates

By Jack, Reboot Hockey

Based on reader feedback, a review many people have been waiting for is the Honest Hockey Review on CCM’s current top-of-the-line skate, the CCM Super Tacks.

This is the retail skate that I’ve been waiting for. With the release of the Super Tacks, CCM has produced a comparable to the VH Hockey Skate. While the VH Skates are full custom, the Super Tacks offers a more-than-viable alternative for players seeking elite fit and performance, but needing wheels on a quicker time-table.

I purchased the Super Tacks hoping to finally solve the skate-fitting issues that have plagued me for the last five years. Ironically enough, while the fit wasn’t quite perfect, the skate’s performance is so exceptional that I couldn’t bear to part with them. I’ll discuss all of this at length in the following sections.

Below is my Honest Hockey Review of the CCM Super Tacks, completing a “trilogy” of sorts along with the CCM Jetspeed and Easton Mako 2. This is one of my longer reviews, as I had plenty to write about the Super Tacks, so bring a sandwich and a Gatorade.

As usual, I appreciate constructive feedback and always accept compliments. But I really hate internet trolls. If you write something dumb or fit for a message board, you’ll be mocked and then blocked. Thanks in advance.

About (Briefly)

I’m Jack. I’m the co-owner and operator of Reboot Hockey. I’ve played hockey since 1990, and still play every chance that I get. I lift weights like it’s my job. I’m a former Strength Coach and author of the top-selling Reboot Hockey Off-Ice Training Manual. I grew up in western Pennsylvania watching Mario Lemieux, and my Pittsburgh Penguins are your Defending Stanley Cup Champs.

At gunpoint, I prefer light-eyed blondes who work out, especially if they also play hockey. I eat healthy unless there’s pizza and I’ll sleep a lion-like 10-12 hours if afforded the opportunity. I have a really good sense of humor and my teammates love me, but if you’re rude or a clown I’ll play very elaborate pranks on you.

This review is 30th I’ve done for this blog, and the Super Tacks are the 24th pair of skates I’ve used since early 2012. I write reviews with Reboot Hockey readers in mind, and the review format evolves based on what I think will be most helpful to fellow players and Hockey Parents. Questions can be directed to RebootHockeyHelp@gmx.com.

Executive Summary

The Super Tacks differentiates itself from most other pro-quality retail skates by being a Monocoque boot. This means that the boot is single-piece construction, and the holder is not attached to a boot by an outsole, providing unparalleled fit and foot-feel. A Monocoque boot is going to remove almost all of the negative space in a skate, conforming to the foot like gift-wrap, and combined with CCM’s reconfigured “Attackframe 2” is going to lead to the most-direct energy transfer possible.

In English, this means more power in every stride. While the Super Tacks might not position the player for lightning-fast takeoffs like the Jetspeed, the boot rewards stronger players who really bore into the ice with high-economy and output.

Monocoque technology – CCM labels the Super Tacks as “Monoframe” – is currently only seen at the retail level on the now-discontinued Easton Mako line and the custom-built VH Hockey Skates (interviewed here by Reboot). Monocoque boots are expensive to produce, but the player certainly gets what he or she pays for in terms of feel and responsiveness.

The Super Tacks is an almost-complete re-design of the Tacks skate released in 2014. As I understand it, the Ultra Tacks skate from the 2016 line was intended to be CCM’s top-level skate for the year, but CCM was able to complete the Super Tacks in time for the skate to join the 2016 lineup. Buyers for 2016 are in for a thrill, as in my view the Super Tacks is a remarkable upgrade on the Ultra Tacks, so much so that they almost entirely-different skates.

While the Monocoque boot/Monoframe is the main performance feature, the Super Tacks includes all of the bells-and-whistles one would expect on a pro-level skate: CCM’s SB Black steel (oxidized to retain edges longer), the SpeedBlade 4.0 holder, the skater’s choice among CCM’s Custom Support footbeds, anti-abrasion pads at the ankle, and an exceptional moisture-wicking system. CCM’s Tri-Tech pro-molded skate tongue conforms to the skater’s foot in tandem with the boot, further optimizing fit.

The Super Tacks is CCM’s top skate for 2016 and early 2017, and is the only skate of it’s kind on the retail market. This is a serious skate for dedicated, experienced players.

First Impression

I bought the skates on Black Friday 2016. Here’s my pair, upgraded with waxed yellow laces, right after the purchase:

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Shortly after their release, I tried on a pair of Ultra Tacks in my size, and they felt almost indistinguishable from a high-end Bauer Supreme skate. The reason I’ve never purchased or reviewed a Supreme model is that those skates just do not fit my feet well.

As you can see from the chart below, the Supreme line offers an Anatomical Fit with moderate/moderate-high volume:

Image result for bauer supreme skates fit

You might notice that the Supreme wraps around the ankle bones in a “cross-shaped” fashion. While many players love this fit, it’s always been painfully-uncomfortable for me. As soon as I had the Ultra Tacks on my foot, this was the fit I visualized.

However, I eventually got my feet into a pair of Super Tacks, and I was stunned by how differently the skates fit out of the box. Much like the Easton Mako skates, the Super Tacks sucks your foot into the boot like a vacuum. The Super Tacks made (and still makes) an audible noise when I pulled them onto my feet for the first time, even before they were baked.

As with most skates, the Super Tacks killed my feet out of the box. In all honestly, at the $900 retail price-tag, I was expecting better out-of-the box fit, but after a longish bake (just under 10 minutes) the skates predictably felt much better. As they cooled, the pain from my trouble spots began to return, and I took them off for an adjustment while they were still slightly-warm. As I did, I was struck by how quickly the skates took the very unique shape of my feet.

(Note: these notes might read in a contradictory way, so I’ll re-phrase. The Ultra Tacks/Supreme Anatomical Fit is for “most” players, but I’m not one of them. This fit really hurts my feet. But the Super Tacks, despite having these Fit Dimensions near the ankle, rapidly takes the shape of the forefoot and the top of the foot in a remarkable way. I was wowed by the Super Tacks’ fit in one sense, but had to account for the fact that my foot profile isn’t a great match for this skate. If you have a really High or Low Arch, you might have a similar experience.)

Notice the extra room I’ve made for myself along the instep of the skate, as well as the pronounced heel pocket and my very narrow ankle:

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My First Impression, and my advice, is this: if the Super Tacks are comfortable while you wear them unbaked in the store, they are going to fit tremendously after baking. While some of the performance features between the Super Tacks and the Ultra Tacks are similar, the fit/wrap difference between the Super Tacks’ Monoframe and the Ultra Tacks’ AttackFrame cannot be understated.

Having said that, if you do not have the foot for a Tacks/Supreme model – which I do not – the skates are not going to completely change to accommodate your Foot Profile. While the Super Tacks will take up the architecture of your foot, if you have a particularly high or low Foot Profile (and the corresponding bones), there is a good chance they will be painful to wear. Furthermore, the extremely-stiff quarter package of the Super Tacks is not meant to be punched out, as I’ll detail below.

If you ordinarily require punching on your skates, the Super Tacks are going to present a challenge. I decided that the juice was worth the squeeze and ultimately decided to keep my Super Tacks, but this is something you need to consider carefully before you blow $900 or more on a purchase.

On the ice, I noticed the same immediate benefit that I noticed with the Easton Mako 2s, which was that an appropriately-stiff skate threw my hockey-playing mechanics back into their correct alignment. As noted elsewhere, my fitting problems had forced me to continue using Reebok 11K/20K models, and at my size/experience level I was blowing through a pair of those fairly quickly. Having a properly-stiff skate to contract against allowed me to handle the puck and shoot with much-more precision.

Lace bite was no issue whatsoever, despite the fact that I typically lace my skates extremely-tight and use waxed laces. There’s a mark on the tongue of the skates that shows where I’m being particularly hard on the boot, but I didn’t feel at all while skating.

The skates, as advertised, were unbelievably stiff. To give myself a little bit more maneuverability, I dropped the 2nd eyelet, as I tend to do during a skate’s break-in process. As with the CCM Jetspeed, I immediately noticed and liked the added height from the SpeedBlade 4.0 package. I think experienced players can reap a lot of benefit from the holder/steel with added height.

The skates became too painful to wear after about 20 minutes of use, and unfortunately that’s my typical experience with hockey skates. I took the skates off, and marked the trouble areas for punching.

Second Impression

I took the skates back to Pure Hockey for additional punching work, and the store employee I’d been working with did his best to alleviate discomfort. However, the Super Tacks is an extra-stiff composite, and the boot is not meant to be punched. For the most part, cranking down with a skate-punch on the Super Tacks only serves to crack or weaken the composite quarter-package, not work out trouble spots for a skater.

My main skate-fitting issue is a series of calcium deposits on the inside of each foot. Science nerds can look at this picture of the human foot, and understand that I have a trio of small bone spurs that run across my navicular bone. Inside of an ultra-stiff composite boot, these bone spurs become extremely-painful when I put my body weight onto them, especially when executing movements such as the Mohawk or even a routine forward start. I’m a Hockey Player, and I can take a fair amount of pain, so when I say that these bone spurs are an issue, I mean it.

A player can attack this particular problem in one of two ways: the player can wear a less-stiff/more-comfortable boot (as I’ve done with my Reebok 11Ks and CCM U+ Pro Reloaded skates) and endure a drop in performance/responsiveness, or the player can purchase a narrower/stiffer boot and get aggressive with the skate-punch. After years of having softer skates limit my performance, I chose to focus on finding a skate that my feet can tolerate while maximizing my performance.

The more I used the Super Tacks, the more I found this to be the case. The level of discomfort gradually dropped to “tolerable”, and I was able to reap the unique performance benefits of the skate. I’ll explain which adjustments I had to make below.

My hope had been that the quarter on the Super Tacks would be both ultra-supportive and ultra-malleable. Maybe it sounds like I want too much from a skate, but if I’m investing a Grand into a pair of skates, I think it’s fair to have high expectations. The Super Tacks are certainly responsive, but not as malleable as I’d hoped to see in a one-piece boot.

This line of thought isn’t meant to sound like a burial of the Super Tacks. In fact, I loved most of what the Super Tacks brought to the table: as advertised, the Super Tacks provides a glove-like fit around most of the foot, and the player gets exceptional feel for the ice through the one-piece boot. The SB Black/SpeedBlade 4.0 remains a tremendous Lower Package (phrasing), and the performance benefits in going from a shorter holder such as an E-Pro to the SpeedBlade 4.0 were noticeable. The skates held my body weight with no problem through aggressive stops and turns, and really brought to light how little support I was getting from my 11K/U+Pro skates by comparison.

But all of the performance features were moot if I couldn’t find a way to make the Super Tacks fit my feet. After 4-5 trips to Pure Hockey for additional punching attempts, I took the skates to my specialist, Andy Scoggins of ProSharp in Raleigh, NC, for his opinion.

Intermission

Andy, who shakes his head every time he sees me walk in with a new pair of skates, sighed when I put the Super Tacks on his shop counter. He took one look at the work done to the quarter of the Super Tacks and noted that punching this type of boot only cracks the composite. If you can visualize trying to “punch-out” the windshield of your car, you get an idea of the effect this creates. An aggressive punch can easily ruin a pair of skates like the Super Tacks.

Here’s a comical picture of where I indicated “painful spots” on my Super Tacks. Notice the Jack-Crease already developing right under the 3rd eyelet:

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In this picture of the skate’s collar/neck, you can see what my feet were doing to the boot after only a few uses on-ice. The bone spurs on my feet were already warping the ultra-stiff eyelet rows of the Super Tacks:

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You’ll also notice that I swapped out waxed laces for unwaxed, which I haven’t done in forever. This might seem purely cosmetic, but it’s actually an important point:

Like a lot of veteran players, I usually wear my skates uncomfortably-tight and really crank down on the laces when tying them. But with the composites currently being put into skates, this method is not only unnecessary but counterproductive.

Modern composite skates, at least the pro-level ones, are like cars with an automatic transmission. Whereas older-style skates are more like manual transmissions – meaning that the player has to take a lot of responsibility over the fitting and lacing, in effect creating their own “skate-frame” to optimize power – modern pro-level composite skates completely take care of issues like lateral stability, and come with their own respective skate-frames.

In this case, CCM has taken care of as much of the engineering as possible so that that player doesn’t have to focus on the equipment, and can instead focus on improving and playing. The CCM Monoframe is unique on the retail market, and the Tacks frame is just about the stiffest retail frame available. It is meant to hold some very large, powerful players in place through cornering and turns.

The point in all of this is don’t over-tighten the laces. My recommendation is “comfortably snug”. It may help some players to do a second skate-bake to really capture the shape of the foot, but wrenching down on the laces is probably only going to damage the eyelet cuff and cause you unnecessary discomfort.

Anyway, Andy basically refused to work on my skates, as he correctly felt that heating and punching the composite would only serve to ruin the skates. Andy recently partnered with a gentleman who is on CCM’s advisory committee, and this gentlemen asked Andy to tell me the same thing that I’ve now heard a dozen times:

“With your feet, you are a perfect candidate for VH Skates.”

I don’t disagree, at all. While I think 95% of the hockey-playing population can find a suitable retail model, I think there is a small percentage of players who both need a full-custom skate and can justify the purchase cost. I happen to be in that group.

I was resigned to taking the Super Tacks back to Pure Hockey and returning them within the 30-day purchase window for a refund. But then something strange happened: I was standing around Andy’s shop in my Super Tacks, and suddenly they hurt less. The discomfort waned enough that I could stand in them without sharp pain.

I took the skates onto the ice at the Raleigh Iceplex for 20 minutes, and the discomfort was noticeable but tolerable. I have no idea what changed, as I’d only been able to skate on the Super Tacks in short bursts, but suddenly I could put them through a legitimate workout.  While making the Super Tacks fit was the equivalent of hitting a square peg through a round hole, their performance was so exceptional that I decided to keep hammering away.

Performance

As noted above, the Super Tacks are a one-of-a-kind skate, and possess a wealth of other performance features that most skates do not.

First, the Super Tacks available at the retail level is the same skate worn by NHL players. While most professional players use a product that bears only passing resemblance to its retail counterpart, the pros apparently use the same Super Tacks skate that’s available in retail stores.

Without blistering you with science and statistics, you simply cannot get this level of Foot Wrap from another retail skate. Removing the outsole from the bottom of the boot provides a complete, 360-degree wrap that a player cannot get from a boot with an outsole. The quarter and the Tri-Tech tongue work in concert with the appropriate CCM Arch Support to provide the most-seamless wrap available at the retail level.

The Super Tacks comes with a Lower package of the SpeedBlade 4.0 holder and the SB Black steel. SB Black undergoes an oxidation process allowing it to retain a skate-sharpening longer, and the black coating allows players to easily spot nicks-and-burrs. CCM now uses SB Black on many of their higher-end retail models, and it says a lot about the steel that CCM opted to package it with the flagship Super Tacks.

The now-standard SpeedBlade 4.0 holder is 3 millimeters higher than the previous generation E-Pro, allowing for sharper turning and greater angling without “bottoming out”:

attackangleThe front and rear posts of the SpeedBlade 4.0 holder are symmetrical, meaning that the posts are the same height. By contrast, Easton’s CXN Holder and various Graf Holders (including the Cobra NT 3000 Holders) have added height on the rear post, which pitches a player more-aggressively on her or his toes. All of the current Bauer and CCM retail models, including the Super Tacks, come from the factory with level posts and a Neutral Pitch. Interested players can read more about Pitch and Profiling in the Reboot Hockey Training Manual.

The Super Tacks comes factory-profiled with a 10′ radius. Bauer and CCM tend to send their skates from the factory at moderate profiles ranging between 9′ (greater agility/lesser speed) and 11′ (greater speed/lesser agility), and will often change factory-profiles from year-to-year. I think a 10′ radius is probably a good profile for many amateur players to use while they cultivate personal preferences, offering the best blend of acceleration and maneuverability.

I found myself occasionally catching an edge while I used the Super Tacks, but I attribute this to the fact that I generally use profiles of 9′ or less. But in all honesty, going up in profile length is probably a good thing for me and other players using shorter profiles. The game has become much more North-South than East-West, and for many players a longer profile is going to be beneficial.

The original Tacks was denoted as “XX-Stiff”, while the Jetspeed is “X-Stiff” and the 50K is “Regular Stiff”, as per CCM’s 2015 Frame/Stiffness Chart:

ccmframechart

I’ve used the Jetspeed, and I would agree that it’s quite a bit less stiff than the Super Tacks, which feels indestructible. This is a consideration, and not necessarily a negative against the Jetspeed. In fact, it was a lot easier for me to punch some extra room into the Jetspeed and allow myself to skate comfortably. Stiffer does not always equate better.

It’s worth writing that the difference in Frame and Stiffness between the Jetspeed and the Super Tacks noticeably altered my skating mechanics. As I wrote in the Jetspeed review, I was getting great forward flex and heel-lock with the Jetspeed. This allowed me to really lengthen my stride, and as promised by CCM maximized my acceleration.

On the other hand, the Super Tacks holds you remarkably-well in any position. While the 50K is currently marketed as the agility boot, I was wowed by how strongly the Super Tacks let me feel all four of my skate-edges at all times.

As an example, my weakest movement in skating is a backwards crossover to my backhand side. This is the position in which I am mostly likely to be exposed, execute poorly, or bottom-out. If you can picture a left-handed skater crossing-over backwards to come from the right boards to the left side of the ice, you can visualize the movement.

As an offensive-minded center, am I going to be executing this movement very often in a game situation? No. But I can’t stand sucking at anything hockey-related. I picture Scott Niedermeyer effortlessly back-peddling to halt an odd-man break, and immediately feel shame over how substandard my backwards crossover to my off-side is.

One thing I noticed and loved about the Super Tacks was how well it held me in this position, which for me is very unnatural. A lot of skates will feel great when you’re executing basic movements like your forward stride, but a better test of a skate’s usefulness is how well it holds you in the awkward positions you find yourself in during a game. The Super Tacks gets very high marks in this regard.

The combination of the boot’s stiffness and the lack of an outsole also led to maximum power with every stride. For a change, I felt if I pushed harder into the ice, I got a reciprocal uptick in power. If you have a more-powerful or higher-effort stride – if you’re like me and more of a “Crosby” than a “Niedermeyer” – the Super Tacks comes highly, highly recommended.  You simply cannot wear this boot out.

This performance upgrade, rather than ideal fit, was why I opted to keep my Super Tacks. If I can go onto the ice and perform to my capabilities, I’m OK with my feet hurting some while I play for a few hours afterward. But this is a very individualized decision, and lighter/newer players are probably not going to be able to reap the benefits of the skate.

My summary view is that the Super Tacks’ fit is very personalized but not perfect. But I don’t believe experienced players will find a skate that can outperform the Super Tacks, including top-end Bauer models.

Basis of Comparison

I may start removing this section from the Honest Hockey Reviews, because most Reboot Hockey readers can plainly see through the depth of the analysis that I’m qualified to review pro-quality skates such as the Super Tacks.

Unfortunately, there are always a few trolls who e-mail me or sass me in the comments section, and I usually try to preempt them with a deluge of insight and clever insults. But that’s usually not on-the-nose enough for your garden-variety internet troll.

Anyway, here’s some of the gear I’ve kept. Notice all the CCM:

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And here’s me in Beer League. I’m the one heel-dragging and spraying ice in the white 11Ks, not the one about to fall over:

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My go-to skate for the past few years has been the Reebok 11K, and the 11K is a skate that professionals have used in the NHL. But Hockey is evolving at a breakneck pace. Every year, players are getting faster, largely due to the improvements in equipment and training.

As much as I’ve used and appreciate the Reebok 11K, I’ve gone through a pair every 6-9 months. The traditional frame in older Reebok skates feels great to me, but I cook them in a relatively-short period of time. And I hate to say it, but the game has become so competitive at all levels that players need to be aware of how equipment is helping or hindering them, if a player really wants to excel.

I also kid about how fat and lazy I’ve become, but I’ve demolished $400-$600 performance tier skates such as the Reebok 48K, Bauer Nexus 600, and Graf 535. I didn’t even review these skates because I ruined all of them within a month or less, either warping the boot badly or even torquing the holder. And I always have to give respect to the 11Ks, but even they aren’t really built for the pace at which the game is often played in 2016 2017.

At my experience level, it’s apparent that I probably should be using current pro-quality retail skates. An aging tiger is still a tiger, it seems.

Within the last year, I’ve also demoed and reviewed the Super Tacks along with the Mako 2s and the Jetspeed. I think those are the two most-comparable skates to the Super Tacks, maybe excluding the Bauer Supreme 1S or Supreme S190/MX3.

I’m sure it would be helpful to readers if I would cave and review some Bauer skates, but I’ve skated CCM/RBK since I was 8 or so. I think plenty of players continue to skate Bauer, and there are many people better-qualified to write a 1X or an MX3 skate review than me.

Having said that, I do keep up with what Bauer does from an R&D perspective, and I always check out the new Bauer skates when they come out. Bauer does not currently offer a Monocoque boot, but the closest Bauer comparison by construction and price-point would be the Bauer Supreme 1S. I write a bit more about the 1S and other comparable skates to the Super Tacks in the section “Which to Buy?”, seen below.

Durability

The Super Tacks is built like a tank, and as noted above, the retail version has identical specs to the professional version. This skate is built with withstand professional-level wear-and-tear. The removal of the outsole only makes the boot more durable in my view, as a detached outsole is probably the most-common break in a skate after broken blades and blown eyelets/rivets.

Personal Biases

I’ve purchased and reviewed yet another CCM skate, while I haven’t purchased a Bauer skate since I picked up a pair of Nexus 600s on closeout two years ago. Dedicated readers will notice that there is not a review of a Bauer skate in my archives. My bias in skates skews heavily in favor of CCM and away from Bauer, despite the fact the CCM served up several generations of lower-quality skates in recent memory.

I’ve written an entire piece on my “Anti-Bauer Bias”, which I may publish on the blog or save for the second edition of the Training Manual. But the two basic points I make in that article are:

  1. Plenty of players, both professional and otherwise, continue to use Bauer skates. Reboot Partner Mark, to cite one player, has used Bauer skates his entire life, and if he had time to write, he could give great insight on the generational changes in the Bauer line of skates. Bauer has a great following, and I think Bauer products get more than adequate coverage and exposure.
  2. Meanwhile, CCM basically lost an entire generation of players to Bauer, which they are finally starting to win back with the releases of the Jetspeed and Super Tacks lines. But I wasn’t one of those who jumped ship. I’ve almost always worn CCM skates, and only rarely worn Bauer skates. I think this knee-caps my Bauer expertise, even if I understand how skates are constructed and can grasp engineering and performance differences between various skates.

For example, I always have to triple-check myself when I’m looking at a Bauer Vapor X60 – a skate still worn in the NHL by players like Erik Karlsson – and the Bauer Vapor X:60, which is an entry-level skate. I can do a Bauer review if a product is a direct comparable – having reviewed the Jetspeed, I’d feel OK about reviewing the Vapor 1X or the APX2 – but I can’t bring the same insight and perspective to the line as a whole.

However, when I’m watching an adult-league game, I can eyeball from the bleachers if a player is wearing CCM Vector 8.0s or Vector 10.0s or even a Vector ZG 130, and I can talk intelligently about the differences between those skates. I can explain why I wasn’t wild about the 2012 CL/U+ line as well as why I disagreed with the choices made on the CCM RBZ. I can watch a Penguins game and notice that Sid Crosby continues to use the E-Pro holder on his 50Ks, and note that Carl Hagelin continues to rock white 20Ks with TUUK holders.

My niche in skates is CCM. As I’ve written before, the numbers scream that Bauer has a great product line. But some people like Coke better than Pepsi, and some people like Ford rather than Chevy. I happen to like CCM skates more than Bauer.

Which to Buy?

Having noted my bias toward CCM skates, my advice is that you check out skates from all product lines within your budget. Read about, and more importantly, try on skates like the Bauer Supreme 1S or the Bauer Nexus 1N if you’re willing to spend top-dollar on skates. There are a ton of great, insightful reviews on almost all of Bauer’s products available on the web.

These pictures are from Bauer skates, but I think all purchasers should take them into consideration:

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I wish this info-graphic had been available years ago. The skate companies – rightly or wrongly – have tended to market their skates based on a player’s skating-style or type, rather than her or his Foot Profile.

While the Frame of a skate certainly has a bearing on a player’s mechanics and performance, my view is that the profile of a player’s foot is more important.

My recommendation is that you start your search for skates with Foot Profile. You might not be after pure acceleration, but if you’re flat-footed and need optimal heel-lock, you can probably spare yourself a lot of aggravation by focusing on a Jetspeed or Vapor skate.

There will be other considerations – for example, a player with a mid-profile foot might find the higher-end Super Tacks or Ultra Tacks skates too stiff – but I think focusing on Foot Profile and being sized properly is a bigger consideration than Frame or Style of Play. Just my two cents.

Here are some things you consider if you’re looking at purchasing the Super Tacks versus direct competitors:

Super Tacks vs. VH Hockey Skates

If you have time to wait and discretionary income, I strongly suggest you investigate VH hockey skates. I am 100% sold on their process and their approach. Going with a full-custom skate ultimately saves a dedicated player a ton of time and likely a lot of money. If you’re considering the Super Tacks, you’re already willing to pay the cost of a custom skate, so it’s probably worth a phone call or e-mail to VH to help you decide if custom skates are right for you.

It’s worth repeating that, if you live in the United States, a VH full-custom skate is probably going to cost you less out-the-door than a top-end retail skate with MAP pricing. MAP (Minimum Advertised Price) on the Super Tacks is $899 USD, while my order from VH was set to come in at about $690 shipped due to the exchange rate. Something to consider.

Reboot Readers should be aware that True Temper purchased VH in November 2016, and I have no idea what that will do to VH from a production standpoint. I hope that VH continues to produce full-custom skates, and my suspicion is that True and VH will collaborate on a retail skate or line of skates. Time will tell.

But if you’re like me and can’t deal with the requisite 4-6 weeks for VH skates to be completed, I truly believe the Super Tacks is the best alternative to a true custom skate. The Super Tacks doesn’t provide full-custom fit, but it’s the next best thing.

Super Tacks vs. Jetspeed vs. RibCor 50K

This updated graphic from CCM should help you discern the fitting differences between Super Tacks, Jetspeed, and RibCore 50K skates:

Image result for ccm super tacks skates performance

If you’ve narrowed your purchasing decision down to a top-level CCM skate, here are my thoughts:

My experience was that the Jetspeed provided better forward flex and heel-lock while the Super Tacks, being an even-stiffer boot and lacking an outsole, allows for better edge control and holds even better through turns. If I had to assign grades, let’s say the Super Tacks gets an A+ for power/control and an A- for pure acceleration, and vice-versa with the Jetspeed.

Assuming you have a proper fit, you can’t go wrong either way. If I was a winger and needed to put an absolute premium on acceleration, I’d go Jetspeed. If I was more of an in-zone player or a center and did more lateral movement, I’d probably go Super Tacks. But my view is that they are both tremendous skates, and quantum leaps over what CCM did with the Crazy Light and RBZ lines.

I would recommend that you make your purchasing decision based on which skate better suits your foot profile, yet predictably I’m doing the opposite of what I’m suggesting. The Jetspeed is a better overall fit for me based on Foot Profile and skating mechanics, but the performance benefits of the Super Tacks – namely the amount of sheer power I can churn from every stride – are too strong for me to forgo.

I haven’t worn the 50K, but I’ve used the 48K, and my last three four pairs of skates have been Reebok/RibCor models. I think the Reebok/RibCor line provides the most-traditional feel and fit, but also the lowest grade performance among the current CCM offerings. I wore Reebok 11K/20Ks because I couldn’t find another skate that fit me, but I broke each of them down quickly and the fit – especially the heel-lock – was really sloppy.

Having said that, I did use Reebok 11K/20K/RibCor skates for four years, and NHL players like Sid Crosby – I’m told he’s pretty decent – use RibCOR models. Carl Hagelin, perhaps the fastest skater in hockey, uses white 20Ks. So a player can certainly skate fast/well in RibCor skates. A lot just depends on the shape of your foot and your skating-style.

Super Tacks vs. Ultra Tacks

Straight from CCM’s 2016 product catalog:

skatesultratacks

My view is that if you are debating Super Tacks versus Ultra Tacks, you’re weighing the benefits of the Monocoque boot, plain and simple. Holder/steel, moisture-wicking system, and fit dimensions are identical between the two. But the Monoframe molded around my entire foot in a way that’s difficult to describe. The Ultra Tacks fit, to me, like a high-end Bauer Supreme.

If you have a textbook Supreme/Tacks foot, the energy-transfer benefit you get upgrading to the Super Tacks might not be worth the $200 retail price difference. If you have unusual fitting issues, or if you understand and value what a Monocoque boot can potentially do for your skating, I assure you that the Super Tacks meets performance expectations and justifies the price difference.

One other note: the toe-box on the Super Tacks is different than the Ultra Tacks due to the one-piece construction on the former. Here’s a pic of the unique toe-box on the Super Tacks:

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Notice how the toe-box attaches at the side rather than being glued/stitched into the outsole. I doubt this impacts performance in any way, but I thought it was cool.

Super Tacks vs. Bauer Supreme 1S

SUPREME 1S Skate

First, you’re splitting hairs talking about an $899 versus a $949 price-point. Both are outrageous. This is a mortgage and a car payment for a lot of buyers, and at these price-points, the skates are to be considered a multiyear investment for many players.

I haven’t skated the Supreme 1S, nor the MX3, nor the Total One, because I hated how those boots fit my feet. And out of the box, the Super Tacks has the same basic “anatomical” or “contoured” shape as a Bauer Supreme skate.

I worked to make the Super Tacks fit because of the way the skate performs. I have a “Jetspeed/Vapor” foot profile but I’m a “Tacks/Supreme” skater, and I decided to accept discomfort in exchange for increased performance. But I did this only for the Super Tacks because of the Monoframe, which Supreme skates obviously lack, and my comfort with CCM.

Compared directly to the 1S, personally I dislike the idea of the Lightspeed Edge holder because I’ve seen blades fly out of the skates of NHL players at inopportune times. I don’t like how TUUK holders/LS steel have felt since ever.

But there are things I prefer about Bauer and the 1S. I think the Bauer Speed Plate is a better footbed – ditto for the discontinued Graf Sidas 3D insoles – than the Custom Support footbeds that come with high-end CCM skates. I think the adjustable tendon guard and the tongue-stiffeners are cool features on the Supreme 1S that the Super Tacks lack. The Supreme 1S has Curv Composite Ankle Support, which improves wrap (and I love wrap). Hell, I think the classically-black Supreme 1S is flat-out better-looking than the Super Tacks.

But the Super Tacks is almost symbiotic in how rapidly it clings to and picks up the shape of your foot. This separates it from every other retail skate as far as I’m concerned.

You can read all about the Bauer Supreme 1S here. But putting all of this aside, we are really talking about an individual’s preference for Bauer vs. CCM, a topic which we could beat into the ground.

If you’re a Bauer skater, I’m going to have a hard time talking you into CCM skates, and vice-versa. So if you skate the Supreme 1S and love it, please comment below to help other readers, but don’t dump on CCM or the Super Tacks because you had a bad experience with the U+06 seven years ago.

Conclusions

I’ve been searching high-and-low for a retail skate that I could use while I waited for VH to complete my skates, knowing that correcting the anticipated fitting problems on the skates could take several back-and-forth mailings with VH. I suppose I could’ve purchased the Jetspeed skates in Fall 2015, ordered VH skates, and been done with it, but my commitment to Reboot Hockey and curiosity made me wait for the Super Tacks. I wanted to see if CCM’s Monocoque retail-release could compete with a full-custom boot.

The Super Tacks offers a fit that you won’t see elsewhere in the retail market. But it’s not a custom skate. Having stated the obvious, it’s also my view that no skate – custom or otherwise – is going to be able to outperform the Super Tacks. You may be able to find a better fit going full-custom, but you will be hard-pressed to find this level of performance.

For the moment, the Super Tacks is the engineering pinnacle of the mass market. I would recommend the Super Tacks to the following players:

  • I think the Super Tacks is a monster comparable to anything within the current Bauer Supreme line, including the 1S. It might be a tough sell to get a dedicated Bauer Supreme skater to switch to a CCM skate, but the Super Tacks is a true competitor to the Supreme 1S. If you have a classic “Supreme” foot – not too wide, not too narrow, not too shallow, not too deep – the Super Tacks will likely provide the best fit and performance you’ve experienced in a skate.
  • Elite or experienced players who can appreciate the advantages of a Monocoque boot. As advertised, the Super Tacks gives a player phenomenal control over her or his edges, and incredible feel for the ice. The removal of the outsole lets an experienced player really use the entirety of her or his blades, maximizing the power in each stride. If you have a Laura Stamm-inspired power-skating stride, this skate will dovetail nicely with your natural mechanics.
  • Players that CCM may have inadvertently chased away over the last 5-15 years. CCM may have a had a lull for a few years, but the company is now back in full lockstep with Bauer. I’m not going to open up a Jetspeed-versus-Vapor 1X argument, but I believe the Super Tacks is every bit the skate that the Supreme 1S is. If you switched from CCM to Bauer (or Easton or Graf) a number of years ago, the Super Tacks is a great reason to reconsider CCM.

I would not recommend the Super Tacks to the following people:

  • Inexperienced players. Giving this skate to a new player is like giving a Shelby Cobra to a new driver. It’s simply too much skate for a rookie.
  • Lighter and younger players. The Super Tacks is professional-grade stiff. I’m 210 pounds and a maniac in the weight room, and I still found this skate to be a beast. If the boot is too stiff to move in, a player won’t be able to appreciate the fit and performance features. I wouldn’t recommend the skate to any player who isn’t almost-fully grown, and even then I don’t think it’s the best skate for most 16-18 year olds. This is a skate for players who can or will play College or Junior.
  • Players looking for or needing a custom skate. This skate wraps the foot like no other on the retail market, but it’s not fair to compare it to a custom skate. The sturdiness of the quarter package – a primary performance feature – also prevents the skate from being punched or stretched traditionally. The boot will contour around most of your foot like a liquid, but if it kills your foot in the pro-shop, there’s only a limited number of adjustments an equipment manager or shop employee can make.

If you’re an experienced player looking for a new top-flight pair of skates with the very-latest tech, and money is no object, the Super Tacks comes highly recommended.

Thanks for reading, and for your continued support of Reboot Hockey.

Jack

Honest Hockey Review: Easton Mako II Hockey Skates

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A question that plagues people in all walks of life is “What If?”

In December 2013, I was desperate to find skates that would fit my feet properly. At that point, I had been through a frustrating number of CCM and Graf models, and it had been over a year since I owned a pair of skates that let me to play to my potential.

The original Easton Mako had come out earlier in the year, and the various aspects of the skate – particularly the Monocoque/single-piece construction and the malleability of the quarter package – seemed tailor-made for someone with my fitting problems. I went back to the same store from which I purchased Graf 535s a few months prior, and I got my feet into a pair of the 1st-generation Easton Mako skates.

The thing is, you can’t appreciate any skate – let alone one as cutting-edge as the Easton Mako – wearing it unbaked in the store. Here were the only things I could take away from the fitting:

  1. In a D (standard) width, the skates hurt so badly I could barely stand, and
  2. In a EE (Wide) width, the skates didn’t hurt and wrapped my foot well

At the time, I was much less-experienced in skate-fitting, and of the belief that I needed a volume (deep/wide) boot to accommodate the bone spurs on my feet. After much research, I narrowed my choices to two models: the Graf 709 Textalite, which I ultimately purchased, and the original Easton Mako in an EE Width.

I dodged a minor bullet in not purchasing the Makos, as I would have purchased a skate that was not only too wide, but also too long, for $400 more than I paid for the Graf 709s. I’m not going to name the retailer who did not one but two apathetic skate-fittings, but it’s safe to say that a certain small-chain store in Southern Pittsburgh cared more about my credit card number than how well a given pair of skates worked for me.

But this chapter in my skate-fitting saga left a major “What If?” that I was unable to answer, until recently. I was able to finally pick up a pair of the re-conceptualized Mako II at a price I could justify, and I’m very happy that I did.

While the Mako IIs and I have irreconcilable differences, I got to experience the “Science of Skating” concept firsthand and see what all of the brouhaha was about. Below is my Honest Hockey Review of the Easton Mako II. As always, I appreciate smart feedback and commentary.

Executive Summary

The Mako II is a superb upgrade on the original Mako, surpassing it in every facet of looks and performance. I’ll go into detail below explaining the differences between both the Mako II and its predecessor, as well as the Mako II versus other skates available in late 2016.

Sadly, the Mako II will be remembered as both the apex and the final entry in the Easton Hockey line of skates, as Easton Hockey was purchased by Bauer’s parent company, the Performance Sports Group (PSG), in January 2016.

The Mako II, along with most other Easton Hockey products, have been closed out as of November 2016. The Mako II originally retailed for $799 USD, and as I write this a number of units remain available in atypical sizes at clearance rates of around $400-$500 USD.

First Impression

Image result for easton mako ii skates

My Mako IIs arrived in glorious resplendence, gorgeous and eager to undo all of the visual damage done by the original Mako. Describing how sharp and unique the Mako IIs look in person tests my descriptive powers.

Now that the Mako I is well-behind us, I think we can all admit that the parking-cone orange graphics on the Mako I were unfortunate, to say the least:

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Perhaps the fact that I’ve spent 25 years hating the Philadelphia Flyers with every fiber of my being explains my disdain for the Mako I’s graphics, and you may or may not feel the same way. But all of us can agree that the Mako I’s color scheme was a … bold choice, to say the least.

Meanwhile, the mostly-black, nightmarish color scheme on the Mako II is eye-popping when you hold it on your hand, nicely accentuated by the plush, white pro-style skate tongue. You’ll have to take me at my word that the black scheme really commands attention in-person. I baked them at the local rink, and while I was there more than one guy commented on how cool the skates looked.

Here’s a shot of the pair I purchased, complete with a Jack-Crease (TM) on the inside of the left skate:

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Warm, the Mako IIs feel incredible, with the comfort and weightlessness of a running shoe. They fit unlike any hockey skate that I’ve ever worn. I waited the requisite 24 hours for the bake to set in, and I took the skates out to an afternoon stick-and-puck.

I was expecting the worst, as I’ve heard and read repeatedly that the unique, aggressive pitch of the CXN holder takes some getting used to. However, the adjustment to the CXN holder/steel wasn’t bad for me, as I usually skate on a forward pitch/9′ radius.

Hilariously enough, I’ve been trying to “make” the Mako II for years by using my heat gun to force skates wrap my foot more anatomically, and I independently came to the same conclusion as Easton that a shorter radius and an aggressive forward pitch might maximize athleticism. I grew up playing every sport under the sun, so I wasn’t constricted to certain hockey dogmas, such as the recent trend for blade profiles to be longer. I’ve just always wanted skates that allowed me to play to my natural strengths, which include my Spider-like agility.

I almost have to discount my on-ice First Impression entirely, because the calcium deposits on my arches dug into the Mako IIs so badly that I could barely stand, let alone reap the benefits of the Mako IIs. It’s obviously a closely-cropped skate with a narrow fit, and while that suits my foot well (I measure a ‘C’ width/AA heel in CCM), the quarter was absolutely unforgiving on my bone spurs. It would take some work with the heat gun to get the Mako IIs usable.

Second Impression

Wanting to spend more time using them in non-game action (more on that in a bit), I took the Mako IIs out for a Sunday public skate. I continued to apply local heat to the rough spots on my arches, and while the skates were warm they felt “OK” – meaning the pain level was tolerable  – on my arches/bone spurs.

The crying shame is that the Mako IIs otherwise felt marvelous. They wrapped most of my foot in the anatomical way I’ve been seeking for years. I was getting great Heel Lock. I wasn’t experiencing any discomfort at the high ankle, the site of the notorious “Mako bumps” associated with the original Mako. But the Mako IIs were literally making the insides of my feet bleed, despite dedicated work with a heat gun. I removed the post-Mako picture of my feet because it’s gruesome, but suffice to say this was a major problem.

If you scroll up or down, you’ll notice that there’s a prominent “V” along the side of the Mako, right above the heel. This “V” is reinforced to support the feet, which would be a big selling-point if one didn’t have bulging bone spurs right underneath.

But this is my unique problem, and not something most players will have to deal with. As noted above, I got tremendous Heel Lock from the Mako IIs, and the reinforcement no doubt allows the quarter to be extremely-supportive despite it’s pliable construction. But the reinforcement sits right over top of my spurs, and caused very problematic blistering.

Nonetheless, I wasn’t prepared to punt on these skates without a fight. Tip-toeing like an exotic dancer in eight-inch high-heels, I stepped onto the ice for Sunday Public Skate and did my best to give the Mako IIs a legitimate evaluation.

Performance

I’m very glad that I toughed it out, because once I got into a groove, I really saw what Dave Cruikshank and Easton meant by “Natural Movement Equals Speed”.

The combination of the great Heel Lock, the exceptional Foot Wrap, and the Mako’s asymmetrical quarter allows for razor-sharp turning. The inside of the quarter is slightly taller (5 mm) than the outside of the quarter, which lets an experienced skater really lean into turns. Here’s a look a graphic from Easton explaining the benefits of an asymmetrical collar (image courtesy Ice Warehouse):

Image result for Mako II asymmetrical quarter

Notice that the skate is taller on the inside than the outside. This provides greater support to the inside edge while allowing greater ankle mobility on the other skate.

If you can picture a player turning sharply to her or his left, the Mako II allows a player to get more weight over the outside edge of the left skate while providing greater support on the inside edge of the right skate. This allows a player to get lower, balance better, and ultimately turn more-crisply.

Many skates, notably the CCM Crazy Light and including my dutiful 11Ks, have caused me major discomfort at the high-ankle because the top edges of the boot cut into my ankles, simultaneously limiting my mobility and making me bleed my own blood. There are numerous pics of this in the Training Manual as well as in the Honest Hockey Crazy Light review. Nothing of this nature to report on the Mako IIs, which I attribute to both the asymmetrical quarter as well as the anti-abrasion pads Easton placed at the top of the boot cuff.

A common criticism of the original Mako skates was that the skate collar was very abrasive. The Mako II addresses this criticism with extra padding at the collar of the skate. Most of the high-end skate models are now including this type of anti-abrasion padding. I’ve seen it on the Bauer Supreme 1S/Vapor 1X as well as both the CCM Jetspeed and the Super Tacks.

Image result for easton mako II skates ankle pads

Something else I noticed was that my body “settled back” into the boot, particularly on turns. The only comparison I can make is going from a front-wheel drive car to a rear-wheel drive car. My weight was pretty evenly distributed across the skate – with maybe a slight bias to the rear of the skate – allowing me to generate better power and a complete extension of the leg. Again, the term that comes to mind is “natural movement”.

I was able to reverse direction sharply with a non-existent turning radius. While it took a little getting used to, I was the belle of the ball at this Sunday Public Skate, impressing enough Hockey Moms and high-schoolers to slake my ego’s thirst for the day.

The Mako II – be it the frame or the suppleness of the boot – also placed my body into an optimal mechanical position, forcing me to drive from the heel and finish through the ball of my foot.

Once I got used to it, I really loved what the Mako II was doing for my skating, because it was forcing me to use the ball of my foot and heel as tent-pole components of my stride in a way that skates such as my 11Ks had not.

The Extendon Guard comes as advertised. I was getting better toe-snap/stride length with no discomfort. I was again limited by how badly my feet were killing me, but mechanically the Mako IIs skated perfectly. I actually liked the relatively-soft quarter, and certainly don’t see it as a detriment to reactivity in a way that some others might.

Here’s a glance at the Extendon Guard concept:

Image result for Mako II skates turning

Lastly, I’m glad I waited and got the Mako IIs rather than the Mako M8. While the primary difference between the two is a full composite boot-form on the Mako II versus a glass composite boot-form on the M8, I don’t think an even-softer quarter would have been to my benefit. My take is that if you’re an experienced player or over 200 lbs., shell out the extra for the Mako II if you’re debating between the two.

Performance Features Summary

  • Monocoque (single-piece) Construction: the boot is extremely reactive to heat in all but one flipping spot, and the CXN Holder is attached directly to the bottom of the boot, allowing for better Foot Feel and Energy Transfer. These are two Performance Features that I put a premium on, and the main reasons I keyed in on the Mako II rather than the Bauer Vapor 1X, original CCM Tacks, etc. It’s very easy to give yourself additional Heel Lock or work out most trouble-spots along the quarter. As promised, the Mako II delivers exceptional Foot Feel, and can give a precise skater great control over her or his edges.
  • Extendon Guard: Easton triggered a trend in which skate companies are now going to play around with the stiffness of the tendon guard on particular skates. The Easton Extendon Guard allows maximum Ankle Extension, which is going to help player optimize the power of their stride.
  • Asymmetrical Patterns: in tandem with the single-piece construction/lack of outsole, the Asymmetrical Pattern of the skate collar absolutely helps a player transition and turn directions more sharply. A great concept that works in actuality.  I expect to see Bauer and CCM experiment with the height of the skate collar in the near future.

In short, full marks to Easton and Dave Cruikshank for being so innovative. It’s a damn shame that Easton Hockey closed it’s doors, because the Mako II is a masterpiece of ingenuity and applied science. Easton was really on the cusp of something special.

My lone criticism, of course, is the hard plastic reinforcement across the back and lower-half of the quarter, which by itself prevented me from getting years of joy and use from the Mako II. Alas.

After public skate, I took off the Mako IIs, the insides of my feet bleeding like (insert borderline-offensive crucifixion joke), and I was ready to go home … when my adult-league team, the Misfits, showed up in typical style with six flipping skaters.

Not wanting to leave the boys in a lurch, I went out there, hobbled, and played a mostly-useless game. I can’t comment on how the Mako IIs could have helped or hurt my performance, because the arch/bone-spur issue was so significant that I couldn’t really contribute. But I was encouraged enough by how my skating mechanics had self-corrected at Public Skate that I wanted to take the Mako IIs to a professional to see if I could have them usable.

Intermission

I took the skates to my equipment guru in Raleigh, Andy Scoggins of ProSharp. Andy has done a number of unusual modifications for me over the years, and he can’t come any more highly recommended. If you are anywhere in North Carolina (or even the Southeastern United States), it’s well worth a trip to his shop if your skates need work.

Again, my feet measure a ‘C’ Width on both Bauer and CCM Brannock tools. I have a narrow foot full of bony protrusions, and the Mako is a narrow skate line with a very malleable quarter. It should have been a match made in Heaven.

However, the spots where my biggest bone spurs are located sit right where the footbed meets the bottom of the quarter. This part of the skate was not meant to be heat-molded:

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Andy did his very best to give me a little breathing room, and I did a re-bake on the skates. My feet were so sore from the Sunday double-session that it hurt to stand in the Mako IIs, let alone skate in them, so I decided to give my feet a full week to heal and let the bake set in before giving the Mako IIs another try.

In the mean time, I skated another mostly-useless game for the Misfits in my 11Ks. Going back to the 11Ks after the Makos really accentuated how mediocre the 11Ks fit my feet and how badly I had broken down the quarter. It’s not as noticeable in slower skates or at Stick-and-Puck sessions, but the fit of the 11Ks was so sloppy that I lost speed pretty much every time I changed direction. In a game situation, this is obviously the last thing a player wants.

The 11Ks/Reebok/RibCore skates have been good soldiers, but after four pairs and three years of use, I couldn’t grade the fit (and thus performance) out at anything higher than a C+. They’ve been serviceable. But I am damn tired of my skates limiting my performance, and the Mako IIs dictated the possibility of a skate that could finally maximize my skating rather than hinder it.

Whether I kept the Mako IIs or not, using them taught me two very valuable lessons:

  1. A natural-fitting (but appropriately stiff) skate reinforces proper skating mechanics the same way a wooden stick reinforces proper shooting and puck-handling mechanics. The Mako IIs were worth what I paid for them because they put my body back into proper skating position.
  2. The Mako IIs also spot-lighted how mediocre my 11Ks fit by comparison. My skating has been up-and-down for four years, which coincidentally was when I swapped my original U+ Pros for the garbage U+10. Skates can and do limit a player’s performance, especially players like me who work to stay in shape. Even if the Mako IIs don’t fit my feet, they still come recommended for other players because they can and do provide a tremendous, pro-level fit and performance.

Durability

I’m not grading the Mako IIs in Durability, as I only used them about 5-6 total hours. Having said that, a major concern that kept me from buying them at full retail was how well they would hold up under my bullish 210-lb. frame. In the limited time I used them, I skated the Mako IIs hard, and they showed no indication of flimsiness.

Basis of Comparison

As noted above, I’ve now skated my fourth pair of Reebok 11Ks into the ground, and generally I use higher-end CCM/Reebok skates. I tried, reviewed, and really liked the CCM Jetspeed skates, and the only reason I didn’t just sink $800 USD into those was that I wanted to see the Mako IIs and the CCM Super Tacks. One down, one to go.

 (UPDATE 12/31/2016: I purchased the Super Tacks, and by the time you read this, the Honest Hockey Review should be posted on the blog. I’ll link to it after it’s published.)

The Mako II was the first Easton skate I’ve ever used, and the only one I’ve ever really wanted to try. The Mako line comes on the heels of the very-underwhelming Stealth RS line. The next player I meet who raves about any skate from the Stealth line will be the first, as most of the players I meet who have used a Stealth skate have tried to resell them within weeks of purchase.

I’ve also written the best $11 e-book on skate-fitting that money can buy, so I’m your man when it comes to this sort of thing.

Personal Biases

No biases here, other than some sentimentality toward Easton. I’m really disappointed they’re no longer producing hockey gear, because Easton has been an industry titan for the length of my playing career. It’s my sincere hope that someone will buy Easton Hockey back from PSG in the future and re-open the operation.

(UPDATE: mercifully, a line of Easton Hockey Sticks will be released for 2016. The line is called the Synergy GX line, and it celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Synergy. You can read about line here. Just ignore the fact that the cash is adding to Bauer’s big-stack.)

I’m biased against the Mako I because it’s a hideous shade of orange, but no such biases persist with the Mako II, a black beauty if ever one existed.

Conclusions

So your question might be, “how could anyone, even someone as insightful as Jack, accurately review the Mako IIs if he only skated them a few times, and they killed his feet anyway?”

People sometimes ask me how long I’ve been playing. I think about it for a second and then shrug and say something like, “24, 25 years.” And their mouths fall agape. But then you do the math: started in the very early 1990s, it’s almost 2017…do you need a calculator? The years really fly by.

My point, Junior, is that I was skating before the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were a thing, and I’ve seen generational changes in how equipment us constructed. I know how skates are “supposed” to fit, just like I know how sticks are “supposed” to shoot. This allows me to review a piece of equipment with plenty of historical context, not to mention that certain j’ai ne ce quois that makes my bosses cringe and women throw drinks at me.

Besides, as both a very-active player and the Author of the award-winning Reboot Hockey Off-Ice Training Manual – plenty of copies still available, folks! -my finger is firmly on the pulse of modern Hockey-Skate Fitting and Performance.

I would recommend the Easton Mako II to any experienced player, anywhere, with the following caveats:

  • The Mako line runs narrow. If your forefoot is even normally-wide, you may be more comfortable in a EE Width. If you’re considering purchasing a closeout pair of Mako IIs online, do yourself a favor and get measured by a quality hockey shop with enough professionalism to give a damn.
  • I do not recommend the Mako line for newer players, simply because the skates are so different from anything else on the market. Plus, God forbid a new player fall in love with the Mako IIs – obviously no longer in production – and then fail to re-acclimate to a Bauer or CCM model.
  • The Mako II is a relatively-soft quarter. If you block a lot of shots, it’s probably not the best pick.
  • If you skate on a longer profile (10-11′ or more) or on a neutral pitch, the Mako II is going to present challenges. The CXN holder is pitched forward, and while you could level off the steel, it’s going to feel very unnatural to someone who has skated on a TUUK or an E-Pro holder for years.

I would definitely recommend the Mako II to the following people:

  • Good all-around athletes who feel constricted by traditional Bauer/CCM offerings. What I liked best about the Mako IIs was how effortlessly I could change direction. They reminded me of more of snug baseball cleats than hockey skates. Most of the Bauer/CCM offerings for 2016-17 are going to be pretty restrictive at the ankle, which is the opposite of what a skater wants.  The Mako II is a stunning alternative, offering agility and suppleness not unlike a figure skate.
  • Anyone who wants to work on her or his skating mechanics. The Mako II really reinforced good mechanics for me. I was achieving great balance, leg extension, push/return, and body lean while using them, and that carried over when I went back to my 11Ks.
  • Skaters with narrow feet, or skaters who have a hard time finding skates with good Foot Wrap. The Mako wrapped my feet perfectly. If I could take the wrap of the Mako II and combine it with the quarter of the CCM Crazy Light, I might finally have a skate that fit, and I could quit writing skate reviews and leave you people in peace. Regrettably, that doesn’t seem to be in the cards, so let’s all make the best of it.

This isn’t a typical graded Honest Hockey Review, because I couldn’t wear the skates without pain. But I toyed around with them enough to assess the pros and cons, and in my view the Mako II is a fantastic overall skate … if you can get your foot into it comfortably.

The Easton Mako II comes very highly recommended, if you can find a pair to fit your feet. As always, Like Reboot Hockey on Facebook, and thanks for reading.

Jack

Honest Hockey Review: Bauer Re-AKT Hockey Helmet

Below is my Honest Hockey Review of the Bauer Re-AKT Hockey Helmet. As always, feel free to provide courteous feedback. For more on 2016 Helmets and Equipment, check out the Reboot Hockey Off-Ice Training Manual.

Synopsis

The Bauer Re-AKT was Bauer’s top of the line helmet for 2014-15, having since been superseded by the Bauer Re-AKT 100. The Re-AKT is the second helmet in Bauer’s line for 2016, and currently has a suggested retail value of $199.99 USD.

The most-prominent features of the Re-AKT includes VERTEX foam protection (lighter/more protective than the IMS liner), an impact-management system, an Occipital lock (3.0) adjustment to lock the back of the head into place, standard tools-free adjustment, memory foam in the temples, and an anti-microbial agent applied to the liner.

The Re-AKT is available in eight color options, and is clearly distinguished from the 2016 Re-AKT 100 by being single-colored rather than two-tone. It features a much-more classic look than the Bauer IMS 11.0, which is a re-conceptualized version of the Cascade M11 helmet.

As you will read below, the original Re-AKT is a massive upgrade on mid-level Bauer helmets such as the 4500/5100, my preferred 5500 or even later-edition helmets such as the 9900. It compares to the CCM Resistance in terms of quality and price.

Basis of Comparison

I’m using a number of helmets for my Basis of Comparison: my dutiful Bauer 5500, the Reebok 11K, and the CCM Vector 10. While I do not have other elite-level Retail options on hand, I think I’ve used enough mid/upper-level helmets in the recent past to objectively review the Re-AKT.

Fit

IMG_3709 IMG_3710

Like many higher-end Bauer/CCM helmets, the Re-AKT is adjustable at two points: the standard temple adjustment allows the helmet to be sized front-to-back, while the Occipital Lock 3.0 allows the helmet to fit securely around the back of the player’s head.

The Occiptial Lock 3.0 is a lever on the back of the helmet that tightens or loosens the fit very easily. The use of O-Locks is becoming an industry standard among upper-level helmets, and as time passes I imagine O-Lock devices will become standard on all Hockey Helmets.

The Re-AKT features a standard sizing adjustment, cleverly hidden in the helmet’s crown:

IMG_3711

The liner uses the aforementioned Vertex Foam as well as “Free-Floating Suspend-Tech utilizing PORON® XRD™ technology”. It should go without saying (but won’t!) that it fits much-more comfortably than a mid-level helmet such as the 5500 and significantly better than an entry-level helmet such as the Bauer 2100.

The Re-AKT does not feature the GIRO-inspired fit system of the Easton E700, but compares favorably to any helmet currently available on the Retail market – including the CCM Resistance and the Re-AKT 100, which uses Bauer’s patented CURV technology in the construction.

HH Score: 9.5

Looks

bauer-re-akt-hockey-helmet-42

 

The Re-AKT comes in eight different non-Pro Stock shell options, which should be more than enough to satisfy the average customer. It does not do Shell/Insert color-combos like the Reebok 11K did (and CCM FitLite presumably will), nor does it come in two-tones like the Re-AKT 100, but this shouldn’t be your primary concern when picking out a helmet.

The Re-AKT looks much more like a Bauer 4500/5500/7500 than a Cascade/IMS helmet, and in my opinion is more streamlined than the Bauer 9900. The new locations for the tools-free adjustment are well-placed, and the helmet has a good, classic look to it.

Here are a few shots of the Re-AKT next to one of my 5500s. The Re-AKT is on the left with the cage. Try not to judge the miles on the 5500:

IMG_3723 IMG_3724 IMG_3726 IMG_3727(MERICA)

As you can see, long-time Bauer helmet users should be very pleased with the look of the original Re-AKT.

HH Score: 9.0

Performance

If you are picking out a Hockey Helmet for yourself or someone else, a main performance feature to look for regardless of price-point is an Occipital Lock. I’ve found that an O-Lock on both the Re-AKT and my 11K improves fit tremendously, especially compared to something less advanced such as a Bauer 5500. A snug lid is going to be a major asset in injury prevention.

Aside from an O-Lock – and I found the lock on the Re-AKT to work just as well as the Micro-Dial lock on my 11K – I have to take the manufacturers at their word that the science is cutting edge. When CCM enlists the University of Ottawa to help make the Resistance all-but-bulletproof, I have to believe that’s not fabricated marketing. The same obviously holds true for Bauer.

The Re-AKT has temple adjustments just like the 5500/7500, with the adjustment lock cleverly hidden on the crown of the helmet. I missed it the first time I used the Re-AKT, and was wondering why I wasn’t getting a great fit with just the O-Lock. Quick, find the writer who’s obviously been to the Quiet Room one too many times in his career.

The Re-AKT offers “Rotational Force Management”, which as an Emergency Care provider I know accounts for a higher percentage of head injuries than direct blows. This is the sort of tech that’s obviously not woven into helmets further down the pricing hierarchy.

As I’ve written before, I didn’t start banging my head off cars in the rink parking lot to test it’s durability, but I do get into the corners during games and receive a fair amount of jostling. Once I had both the temples and the O-Lock properly adjusted, the Re-AKT provided worry-free protection.

HH Score: 9.5

Value

With Helmets, Value is in the eye of the purchaser.

I have a friend who prioritizes his brain health much more appropriately than I do. He not only purchased the IMS 11.0 shortly after it’s release, but eagerly awaited the release of the CCM Resistance (as well as the Re-AKT and Re-AKT 100, presumably). Smarter people than me don’t even want to play around with the potential for concussions.

Then there’s me, owner of no less than 10 confirmed concussions, who continues to revert to the 15-year old tech seen in the Bauer 5000/5500 despite evidence to the contrary demanding that I upgrade.

To cite one example, I took a concussion from some tool in adult league on the weekend of my oldest friend’s wedding that potentially could have been stemmed by an elite-level helmet such as the Re-AKT. I spent her wedding muttering to myself like Rain Man and fighting the urge to throw up every 20 minutes, to say nothing of additional long-term neurological damage that a helmet like the Re-AKT might have  helped prevent.

While I recognize that it’s smart business to upgrade my chosen helmet, the old-timer in me is screaming “Mark Messier played 25 damn years in the NHL in a Mylec ball-hockey shell! Bobby Orr didn’t even wear a helmet! Keep your head up and maybe you wouldn’t get your bell rung!”

The thinker in me fully understands the value of an elite-level helmet such as the Re-AKT, but both the economist in me and my male-driven ego think I’m just fine with one of my 5500s or even my Reebok 11K. So once more, Value is in the eye of purchaser.

The original Re-AKT retained it’s $199.99 price-point even after the release of the Re-AKT 100. For the technology invested, the Re-AKT is reasonably-priced compared to other front-line helmets such as the CCM Resistance and the Re-AKT 100.

HH Score: 8.0

Personal Biases

I have absolutely no Personal Biases toward or against Bauer or the Re-AKT. As noted, my helmet-of-choice since I got to College has been the Bauer 5000/5500, but I also enjoy and use a number of CCM/Reebok helmets. If I were in the market for a new helmet and had discretionary income, I would absolutely consider the original Re-AKT.

Final Thoughts

The Re-AKT remains a major market option among elite-level helmets, and a high-value alternative to the $229 Resistance or $269 Re-AKT 100. If you opt to invest in the Re-AKT, you are very likely to get what you pay for, which is a top-level Hockey Helmet with outstanding protection.

HH Overall Score: 9.0

Thanks for reading. Like Reboot Hockey on Facebook.

Jack

 

Honest Hockey Review: Sher-Wood T90/T100 2nd Gen Hockey Stick

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(UPDATE 4/26/2016: the Sher-Wood T100 and T90 2nd Gen are covered along with many of the other sticks for 2016 in the Reboot Hockey Off-Ice Training Manual. The Manual is available for purchase at this link. Thanks.)

In my opinion, the most underrated Hockey Sticks on the Retail market continue to be Sher-Wood Hockey Sticks, and I continue to be one of their bigger customers/advocates. Sher-Wood composite sticks are currently available in two skews: the Rekker low-kick line, and the True Touch (TT) mid-kick line.

I’ve found most Sher-Wood sticks across multiple price-points to be very high-value purchases, and when I needed a twig on short notice, I didn’t hesitate to pick up Sher-Wood’s re-conceptualized performance stick for 2016, the T90 2nd Gen.

This Honest Hockey Review is a bit of a two-in-one, as I am reviewing both the Sher-Wood T90 2nd Gen and the Sher-Wood T100 2nd Gen. I broke the T90 2nd Gen two days after I purchased it, which in my experience was very unusual for a Sher-Wood stick.

I got to deal with Sher-Wood’s Warranty Department for the first time, as I 1) generally buy Pro Stock sticks and 2) have never previously broken a Retail Sher-Wood within the 30-Day Warranty window. I was very pleased with not only the ease and speed of Sher-Wood’s Warranty process, but also the fact that Sher-Wood upgraded me to a T100 2nd Gen for my trouble.

Below is my Honest Hockey review of both the Sher-Wood T90 2nd Gen and the Sher-Wood T100 2nd Gen. Constructive comments are always welcome.

Basis of Comparison

Kindly refer to this photo:

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The T100 2nd Gen, which arrived as a replacement for my broken T90 2nd Gen, is the two-tone black beauty situated in the middle. From left to right, those are three original T100s (black/red), a T100 Pro Stock, a T90 Pro Stock, an EK9 Rekker, a bunch of Nexon N8s, a 9950 Iron-Carbon, a few 7000 Feather-Lites, a 5030, and the broken T90 2nd Gen.

That collection is just what I currently have on hand, and it’s fair to say I am an authority on Sher-Wood Hockey Sticks. If you want to talk Sher-Wood, I’m your guy.

Almost every Sher-Wood I use is a 95 or 105 Flex PP77 (Coffey), cut to an identical length. My backup Blade Pattern in Sher-Wood is actually the PP09 (Ryan I) AKA the Kova-Launcher.

First Impression – T90 2nd Gen

Both in the store and at the rink, the T90 2nd Gen felt indistinguishable from one of my Retail T100s. I repeatedly switched the two off between hands, trying to find the slightest difference in Balance or Weight, and I could not.

On the ice, the T90 2nd Gen played identically to one of my original T100 Retail sticks, with the difference being the fresh pop on the brand-new T90. I was impressing the hell out of the retirees and high-school kids who joined me at a Noon Pick-Up Hockey session, as I was picking corners with authority.

I was so pleased with the purchase that I planned to circle back to the Total Hockey that I purchased the stick from and pair it with another, as the T90 2nd Gen for some reason had been discounted to about $100 (?!!?).

Second Impression – T90 2nd Gen

The next day, I again attended the Noon Pick-Up session at a local rink. The T90 2nd Gen continued to handle/shoot very well. I got into a short-side pick-up game with a handful of guys, and while I was making a routine shot-pass, the blade of the T90 2nd Gen flew off the end of the shaft:

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This is the first time that I’ve ever seen this happen on a Sher-Wood composite. I’ve worn the blades and the sticks down heavily from thorough use, but I’ve never seen one break in-half in this way. I estimate I’ve used about two dozen Sher-Wood composites at various price-points since 2011.

To their credit, Sher-Wood was terrific in replacing the stick. I did not need to mail the broken stick back to Sher-Wood, and the process was zero hassle. The company requires you to fill out a relatively-short Warranty form, snap a few pics of the broken stick and the receipt, and inside of a week they have a new stick delivered to your door. Beautiful.

Sher-Wood was out of T90 2nd Gens in PP77 95 Flex Left, so I was upgraded to a T100 2nd Gen, free of charge. Thanks again, Sher-Wood.

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First Impression – T100 2nd Gen

After cutting it down to my standard length, I took out the T100 2nd Gen along with one of my original T100s and my Pro Stock T90, with the full intention of rotating the three:

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From left to right: 2013 Sher-Wood T90 Pro Stock, 2014 Sher-wood T100 Retail, 2016 T100 2nd Gen Retail.

I’ve used the original T100 enough to write a thesis on it, and my T90 Pro Stock probably remains the best stick I have on hand. The Retail T100 is a beaut, but the Puck Feel on my T90 Pro Stock (the one with the candy-cane tape-job) is just outstanding. I save the T90 Pro Stock for special occasions at this point.

Again, my plan was to rotate the three sticks. But after 30 seconds with the T100 2nd Gen, I couldn’t put it down.

My First Impression of the T90 2nd Gen was that it felt and played identically to my original T100s, and I was very pleased with it. But the T100 2nd Gen was a marked upgrade on both the original T100 and the T90 2nd Gen, and I adore both of those sticks.

In fact, my 1st Gen T100 even felt a bit sluggish after I switched back from the T100 2nd Gen. Puck Feel, Responsiveness, Pop, and Weight were all noticeably superior on the T100 2nd Gen, even accounting for the wear I had on my original T100.

I’ve never used a Sher-Wood T120, but my suspicion is that the T100 2nd Gen and the T120 play very similarly.

Eventually, I put the T100 2nd Gen down, for fear of some wayward clown at Stick-and-Puck cracking it. But my initial impression of the T100 2nd Gen was that it was all-around better than both my original and the T90 2nd Gen, both of which I think are great.

The Sher-wood T100 2nd Gen: Better Than Great.

Second Impression – T100 2nd Gen

The T100 2nd Gen continues to be the finest stick I’ve used in recent memory. Using the T100 2nd Gen after using one of my original T100 reminds me of upgrading from standard to high-definition television. It’s like having a 6th gear added to an already-fast vehicle. Amazing.

My number one complaint concerning both the Rekker and True Touch lines is that my preferred Blade Pattern/Flex – PP77/95 Flex/Grip – remains a chore to find at the Retail level. None of the major online equipment wholesalers currently have the T90 or T100 2nd Gen available for purchase in PP77/95 Flex/Left, even if I wanted to buy more. This has been an issue since the 2015 EK40 Rekker line was released.

Balance

As noted above, the T90 2nd Gen feels indistinguishable from my Retail T100s, which is to say it among the best-balanced sticks available on the Retail market. As noted repeatedly, I put more of a premium on Passing/Puckhandling/Touch, and I believe that Sher-Wood composites offer the best, most-traditional Puck Feel available.

The T100 2nd Gen made my T100s feel slightly-sluggish by comparison, and that’s a statement I would have considered blasphemous prior to reviewing the T100 2nd Gen. But in switching back and forth between the two, the T100 2nd Gen handled noticeably crisper, even accounting for the wear on my original T100s. I can’t imagine a Hockey Stick handling better.

HH Score: T90 2nd Gen – 9.0

T100 2nd Gen – 10.0

Durability

I’m convinced the break on the T90 2nd was a freak thing. I’ve used 20-25 Sher-Wood composites in the last several years, and I’ve never broken one in that way.

What tends to happen is that the sticks gradually lose pop. I picked up four Retail T100s in August 2014, and 18 months later I continue to use three of them. I’m on the ice an average of 3-5 times per week, so these sticks receive a heavy amount of use. The fact that I can continue to use them in game action speaks volumes about their durability.

But if I go at full bore, I “cook” a Sher-Wood composite pretty quickly. 95 Flex is a bit light for me, so even if I am conscientious about rotating the sticks, the sticks lose power pretty quickly. I’ve found I can get about 4-6 months out of a Sher-Wood composite before the wear leads to major inconsistency in my ability to shoot. All things considered, I have to say that’s pretty exceptional.

Sher-Wood composites are probably not the absolute best shooters available, but the Puck Feel/Touch remains strong after months and months of use.

HH Score – T90 2nd Gen/T100 2nd Gen: 9.0.

Looks

See the photos above. The T90 line is decked out in the Black/White scheme seen on the original Rekker line, while the T100 line is marked up in a savage Black/Red.

Once more, the T90 2nd Gen looks Fantastic, and the T100 2nd Gen looks Better Than Fantastic. When the Rekker line debuted in Black/White, in my review of the Rekker EK9 I referred to the look of the line as “all business”, which holds true on the two-tone Black/White T90. But both the T100 and the T100 2nd Gen look menacing in the Black/Red scheme.

HH Score – T90 2nd Gen: 9.0.

T100 2nd Gen: 10.0.

Performance

I am sounding very repetitive at this point. The 2016 T90 2nd Gen/2014 T100 play very, very well. I could use those sticks for the rest of my Hockey-Playing life and feel great about it.

The 2016 T100 2nd Gen plays like those sticks on speed. It’s noticeably lighter – the T100 2nd Gen is listed at 430 grams compared to the 454-gram T90 2nd Gen – but even dismissing the weight difference, the crispness of the shooting action and the effortless handling of the puck is almost artistic. The T100 2nd Gen is a clear upgrade in all respects over the T90 2nd Gen/original T100.

HH Score: T90 2nd Gen – 9.0

T100 2nd Gen – 10.0

Personal Biases

I almost titled this article, How I Fell in Love with Sher-Wood Hockey Sticks”. I’ll enter a purchase saying I’m going to try a True stick or a Bauer stick, but the fact of the matter is that I am very comfortable with Sher-Wood sticks. Until Sher-Wood gives me a reason to really consider a switch – for example, if PP77 remains harder to find than a Willy Wonka Golden Ticket – I’ll be a dedicated Sher-Wood customer.

As Reboot Hockey readers know, I periodically review other Hockey Sticks in the interest of objectivity. But I always circle back to Sher-Wood because I believe they deliver the best product at the best price.

Lastly, as noted above I tend to purchase Pro Stock sticks, for reasons discussed in the article “Pro Stock vs. Retail: Which to Buy?” I think because Pro Stock sticks tend to greatly outperform Retail sticks, and because I can typically purchase Pro Stock sticks at a significantly-lower cost, it has maybe compromised my ability to fairly evaluate a Retail Hockey Stick. Compared to most Pro Stock sticks, a lot of Retail sticks seem expensive and sometimes underwhelming. Just sharing in the interest of full disclosure.

Value

Anyone who knows me or has read anything I’ve written knows at least one thing about me: I am extremely value-conscious. Value is the factor that will determine your purchase, and what really separates the T90 2nd Gen and the T100 2nd Gen.

The T100 2nd Gen is a tremendous, tremendous stick, but at their current suggested Retail price-points of $179 and $139, I think the T90 2nd Gen is actually an equal or better value.

Compared to what is currently being asked on the Retail market for a CCM Ultra Tacks ($269.99) or a Bauer Supreme 1S ($279.99), I think the T100 2nd Gen is priced very reasonably. I’ve never used a Supreme 1S, but there is no way you or anyone else will ever convince my wallet that the Supreme 1S or the CCM Ultra Tacks outperforms the T100 2nd Gen by a margin of $90-$100.

You may have more disposable income, or go through sticks at a less-rapid rate than me. But at a Retail price of $179, the T100 2nd Gen would be a rare treat for me, rather than a stick I would routinely purchase.

For some bizarre/fortuitous reason, the T90 2nd Gen I purchased had been discounted by about 25%. The T100 2nd Gen is a masterpiece, but the T90 2nd Gen is no slouch. As written above, I’ve happily used a pack of Retail T100s for the past year-and-a-half, and the T90 2nd Gen plays identically to those. The T90 2nd Gen is a steal at anything close to $100, and very competitively-priced at $139.

I’ve written before that I prefer Pro Stock sticks because of the disparity in Value between Pro Stock and Retail. But I paid a little under $100 for my Retail T90 2nd Gen, and with the Warranty protection (combined with Sher-Wood’s efficiency/speed in replacing the broken stick), I have to consider that a very high-value purchase.

Don’t let my new-found obsession with the T100 2nd Gen mislead you: the T90 2nd Gen is a great Hockey Stick. You can probably pick one or two up for around $100 a pop and be ecstatic with them.

HH Score – T90 2nd Gen: 9.5. T100 2nd Gen: 8.0.

Final Thoughts

Like every other sector of Hockey Equipment, the number of choices – particularly on the Retail market – is narrowing. As I write this, your current major options are one of the CCM or Bauer skews, the upstart STX and True Hockey stick lines, the in-limbo Easton Hockey line, Warrior, and of course Sher-Wood.

If you are not beholden to one of the other lines, Sher-Wood Hockey Sticks come highly recommended at most price-points. Sher-Wood sticks continue to have a distinct feel, and perform in a fundamentally-different way, than most of the sticks available on the market. If you are someone who regularly shells out $270 for a stick, you may be thrilled with how the T90 2nd Gen performs at half the price. The T100 2nd Gen is a beaut, and I feel strongly that it compares favorably to anything available on the Retail market.

HH Overall Scores

Sher-Wood T90 2nd Gen: 9.1

Sher-Wood T100 2nd Gen: 9.4

Thanks for reading. If you enjoy Honest Hockey Reviews or want to learn more about equipment, check out the Reboot Hockey Off-Ice Training Manual and Like Reboot Hockey on Facebook.

Jack

Now Available: the Reboot Hockey Off-Ice Training Manual

 

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Hey gang,

After much work, the Reboot Hockey Off-Ice Training Manual is now available for purchase.

This is my first attempt at self-publishing, so go easy on me.

For the initial run, I am asking $11 for a digital copy. After payment, I will e-mail you a copy of the book as a PDF. You will also receive a password which will unlock the file. You can then save and print the Manual as you wish. In the coming days, I will automate this process so that you can download the book immediately.

The Manual checks in right now at 241 pages, and believe it or not, this is a very condensed edition of the book. The Manual will only get longer as new information and products become available. Your purchase of the Manual entitles you to all future editions, even if I later opt to increase the price of the Manual.

If you want to purchase the book with no additional soft-selling, here are the purchase links:


Buy Now Button

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=72VQZMPZCVF8A

If you need a little persuading, here are some of the topics that the Manual covers:

  • Choosing an Ideal Hockey Stick, Version 2.0
  • How to Optimize Your Hockey Skates
  • 2016 Hockey Skate Buyer’s Guide
  • Diet, Supplement, and Training Recommendations
  • Considerations for Flat Feet
  • Technical Points on Hockey Skating

As a bonus, I am also including full Diet and Training Programs, upon request and after a liability waiver is completed. If I was including nothing more with the book, I think a personalized Diet/Training Program completed after consultation via e-mail makes the book a high-value purchase, but I’ve included plenty with the purchase.

I’ve created an e-mail specifically for those who purchase the Manual: RebootHockeyHelp@gmx.com. If you have any questions about the content within the book, or would like my help in designing a Diet/Training programs specifically suited to you, I am at your service. I will answer questions and help with Program Design as quickly and thoroughly as sales dictate and time permits.

But let’s assume you have your Diet and Training in order, and only care about the Hockey-specific content. Here is an overview of the content provided in the 1st edition of the Reboot Hockey Off-Ice Training Manual:

Choosing an Ideal Hockey Stick, Version 2.0 is a re-written guide to selecting the Hockey Stick that will help you get the most from your game. Almost anything and everything you could possibly want to know about Hockey Sticks – History, Marketing, Performance, Pricing, Technical Detail – is included within the section.

Choosing an Ideal Hockey Stick, Version 2.0 covers all the Retail Blade Patterns available as of April 2016, and can greatly help in future purchasing decisions. This section will help readers of all experience levels better understand the core principles of shooting and stick-handling, and in turn guide them toward the equipment products that will maximize their play.

The current version of Choosing an Ideal Hockey Stick checks in at 78 pages, and I will continually update the section as new products and information become available.

The 55-page section on How to Optimize Your Hockey Skates will help you get the most from your current pair of skates, and help you build some preferences for when you decide to purchase your next pair.

To that end, at the request of my editors I’ve included a 2016 Hockey Skate Buyer’s Guide, which I believe will help you make a strong purchasing decision. This section contains the most-current information available as of April 14, 2016, the first day I made the Manual available. I will also update this section as new products are released so that Reboot Hockey readers have the most up-to-date information at their disposal.

Between those three sections, I can guarantee that I will save you $11 when you opt to purchase your next stick or pair of skates. As someone who’s been through dozens of Hockey Sticks and 20 pairs of Hockey Skates in recent memory, I implore you to learn from my purchasing mistakes, almost all of which I’ve detailed within the Manual.

If that’s not enough, I’ve included sections on the Anatomy of a Hockey Skate and Technical Points on Hockey Skating that can benefit players of all experience levels. If you are new to the game and looking for an in-depth explanation on the way Hockey Skates are constructed, I believe this will suit you well. If you are an experienced player looking to learn more about the game, I believe I’ve included enough insight within these sections that they will still prove valuable to your continued development.

My Diet and Training Recommendations are exhaustive and exhausting. My education and passion is Exercise and Health Science, so if you have any interest in either topic, I assure you that the Manual will give you your money’s worth. But if for some reason you find the Manual light on Diet/Training information, a few e-mail exchanges with me will fix that in a hurry.

If you purchase the book, read it, and find that it’s not what you were looking for, again e-mail me (RebootHockeyHelp@gmx.com) to help me understand ways in which I can improve the book for future editions. Right now, I am offering a conditional full refund for people who purchase the book and don’t find it helpful, with the condition being that they help me improve future editions of the book with constructive, courteous feedback.

Because this is the first edition and because I’m only promoting the book via the blog and the Reboot Hockey Facebook page at the moment, I am not going to go overboard on a Jordan Belfort-level hard-sell. Reboot Hockey readers know the quality and type of content Mark and I produce, and you’re going to have to trust that I wrote the hell out of this thing. Again, if you buy it and hate it, I’ll probably give you a full refund as long as you aren’t a huge jerk to me.

The people who have supported Reboot Hockey have by far and large been considerate and shown great passion for the game. In response, I have tried to cram as much value as absolutely possible into the first edition of the Manual, and I am sincere in my offer to provide as much support to purchasers as I can.

I will continue to provide plenty of free content via the Reboot Hockey blog in the form of Honest Hockey Reviews and interviews with equipment manufacturers. But in order for me to continue devoting time to creating free content, I have to charge something for some of my lengthier content. I believe I have kept the price for the Manual reasonable, and I hope that after reading you find the Manual to be a great investment.

Thanks again for supporting Reboot Hockey, and best wishes in your continued progress as a Hockey Player.

Jack