Anticipation is building as a new hockey season approaches. Maybe it’s the comfort of old gloves holding the promise of a new stick that does it? Maybe it’s the idea that a new season offers an opportunity to build on time-tested knowledge by applying new thinking? Not sure what does it for you, but basically, if you love hockey, this is a great time of year.
At PowerPlayer, we’re looking forward to the opportunity to build on 2017-18 — our first full season offering a digital feedback platform for youth hockey. As PowerPlayer data piled up for young athletes (and their parents) from Anchorage to Montreal, New York to Newfoundland, we spoke with coaches, administrators, players, and parents about their experiences with the platform.
So what have we learned from our rookie year?
1. Kids love to compete. And they love feedback.
Virtually every coach we spoke with told us the same thing: as soon as their players found out they were going to be ‘measured’ via PowerPlayer, their compete level went up. And that’s 100% what we hoped would happen.
We set out to motivate kids to try a little bit harder all the time by helping coaches bring the spirit of personal competition not just to games, but to non-game aspects of hockey like practice habits, fitness levels, and intangibles like listening and communication skills. And because PowerPlayer covers so many on-ice, off-ice, and intangible aspects of hockey, the data is showing that it’s almost impossible for any one player to lead a team or group in all categories.
For example, a team’s fittest player may not be its highest scoring skater or possess their team’s highest intangibles ratings. A team’s strongest puck skills player may need to focus on their fitness in order to improve their overall score. Through PowerPlayer, players are seeing for themselves that being a ‘good’ hockey player requires not only a multi-dimensional hockey skill set, but also a host of additional attributes that contribute to being a well-rounded athlete. And they’re learning that things they can control, such as effort in practice, really do matter and are noticed by coaches.
2. Parents love to know how their kids are doing.
For the parents we’ve spoken with, even minimal PowerPlayer data is delivering more feedback than they’ve ever received about their child as a hockey player.
Seeing instructional and encouraging comments and ratings from coaches — along with trending metrics that show their child’s actual capabilities relative to their anonymous peers — is proving to be a great way for parents to understand their child’s progress. PowerPlayer data gives parents a way to talk with their kids about their hockey lives in a more informed way, and numerous coaches have told us that they feel having parents fully informed at all times builds greater trust and strengthens relationships.
3. Coaches are really good at providing constructive feedback.
Coaches are using PowerPlayer in a variety of ways, tailoring usage to their personal coaching styles and to the ages and skill levels of the players they’re working with. And while we’re seeing coaches provide lots of periodic metrics relating to skating, fitness, and puck skills, and ratings for practice and game play, we’re definitely seeing that the majority of coaches are running with PowerPlayer’s video and comments functionality in a big way. Invariably, coaches tell us that being able to quickly communicate with their players (as individuals, as a team, or as part of a unique group such as a powerplay or penalty killing unit) through ratings, comments, and video is what makes PowerPlayer so valuable. They love having comparable data to help them understand how best to work with individual players and back up coaching decisions, and they recognize the value and time savings in communicating rich, meaningful information with parents without scheduling one-on-one meetings.
4. Coaches are looking for ways to improve.
We’ve loved connecting with coaches who are eager to find new ways to reach and teach their players. It’s always exciting for us when we talk with people who immediately understand the potential in providing continuous feedback to the kids they work with. If, like so many of them, you’ve ever tried to fill out 17 checkbox sheets at the end of a season, or tried to collect data on players using a clipboard, you’ll understand the essence of PowerPlayer. And events we’ve been part of, such as The Coaches Site Hockey Coaches Conference and the Roger Neilson Coaches Clinic, show that interest in continuous learning and development at the youth hockey coaching level is strong. We see that drive to learn and apply new thinking to teaching as good news for kids, for parents, and ultimately for the game.
5. Feedback really is fuel.
We’re working hard to make PowerPlayer everything it can be, and the feedback we’ve received from coaches, administrators, players, and parents who’ve experienced the platform has been as energizing as it has been helpful.
So yeah, as we head into 2018-19, we’re feeling that sense of pre-season optimism and excitement that we all love so much. If you’re feeling it too, and want to add the power of feedback to your club or team, just let us know.
I recently posted an article to a Facebook group in which the author explores the highly divisive topic of ice time, arguing both for and against the idea that ‘shortening the bench’ is a net positive for young hockey players. As you might have guessed, the post generated a lot of comments.Read Post
In youth hockey, where development is (or should be) the focus, wins and losses only tell part of the story.Read Post
We’re excited about our numbers to date, because we know we can build on them. After all, that’s what long-term development is all about.Read Post
I want to do everything I can to get the kids I work with to the next level — whatever that means to them individually — and to give them every advantage possible.Read Post
If you’re coaching youth team sports, you’re coaching other people’s kids — which means you’re coaching parents too. In any successful relationship, communication is essential. The challenge in coaching, of course, is time.Read Post
As a player, I would have loved to get this kind of feedback. I always wanted to be first, to be the best. But how could I know what my coach was thinking about me? Not every player is ready to ask their coach questions — some people are just shy — and I’m talking about players from minor hockey all the way to pro.Read Post
I flipped on the NHL Network the other day. While I usually don’t pay too much attention to the panel discussion stuff they broadcast ahead of games, this time something got my attention.
Apparently Jamie Benn was in a bit of a slump.Read Post
I love the drills and metrics for sure, and so do the kids, but seriously, the most useful thing for me personally is the ability to coach from home.Read Post
Ever notice how people just seem to operate at higher levels when they perceive the thing they’re doing to be ‘fun’? That applies to sports, study, and whatever it is most of us do at our day jobs.Read Post
Kids who are positively reinforced by the people who surround them tend to be more confident, happy, and energetic, and are much more likely to succeed than those who may have similar skill sets, but who are less emotionally secure.Read Post
“You can’t do player development without coach development. And that’s why it’s so important that you’re all here.” Dave Starman / NCAA Scout, Montreal Canadiens.Read Post
For the organizations and coaches who are adopting our platform, positivity isn’t some new age ‘everyone gets a trophy because kids want to be coddled’ concept. It’s a teaching and coaching technique rooted in science.Read Post
Strong personal intangibles and team chemistry have a multiplier effect on talent. Poor personal intangibles and team chemistry have a diminishing effect.Read Post
Because positivity is contagious, it generates a galvanizing force that supercharges skill sets and work ethics. That force is called confidence.Read Post
When we share feedback through PowerPlayer we know we’re sharing the beginning of a conversation that might never take place otherwise. How cool is that?Read Post
For young athletes—and by ‘young’ I mean anyone who is not an adult—the answer to ‘Which wolf wins?’ could easily be ‘The one their coach feeds.’Read Post
Today more than ever, one of the biggest decisions a coach can make is how they choose to communicate with their players.Read Post
For millions of kids, parents and coaches, the season is winding down. And all over the hockey world, the thought of a standard one-on-one, end of season coach/player/parent meeting is a stress-inducing prospect for many on both sides of the table.Read Post
I think we need parents to be part of the teams we’re coaching. If parents understand what I’m seeing in their child and can help me motivate them or address something that needs to be addressed, that’s hugely beneficial to their child, to me, and to the team.Read Post
Consisting of three parts, the formula involves providing feedback to young athletes at every stage of the development process as a way to help build their confidence.Read Post
“When you throw the ball, three things can happen and two of them are bad. But you’ve still got to throw the ball.”Read Post
“We’re seeing huge improvements in our kids now and we’re excited to roll PowerPlayer out to more and more of our players in a big way in 2018.”Read Post
“PowerPlayer really helps bring clarity to coaching, and I’m a big believer in communicating with players.”Read Post
“We wouldn’t accept a teacher telling us that our child had failed a grade at the end of the year without any warning or aid in helping them succeed, so why would we allow our players to go through a season without continuous feedback?”Read Post
We’ve shared PowerPlayer with countless coaches, hockey directors, and parents, and we’re working with organizations from Anchorage to Philadelphia, from Syracuse to Sweden. No one has told us they think providing meaningful feedback to kids and their parents is a bad idea.Read Post
“The coach-player-parent dynamic is critical. Always tell players what you see and what to work on, because feedback is critical.” Ray Ferraro / Coaches Site Conference 2017Read Post
Team success largely depends on mutual respect, common purpose and uncommon selflessness. In other words, team success depends on intangibles.Read Post
Before your accountant became a professional accountant, before your dentist became a professional dentist, and before the leading scorer in the NHL became a professional hockey player, they were kids.Read Post
Anyone who’s ever been part of a team—either as a player or as a coach—where things have just clicked, or conversely, have never clicked at all no matter what you did, has been subject to the power of group dynamics.Read Post
For many hockey players, a tryout or showcase camp is essentially a snapshot taken from a long, long movie. It can’t tell enough of the story to be meaningful.Read Post
For coaches, a big part of the challenge is communicating in a meaningful way with kids and parents on a regular basis. We’ve adopted PowerPlayer as an organization because it provides opportunities for coaches to share comments, thoughts, video clips, ratings and real metrics with the players and their parents more frequently.Read Post
Even though I grew up in Buffalo, where winter totally rules, my sport growing up was baseball. Sure I watched the Sabres as a casual fan, but my knowledge of hockey was limited to hating Brett Hull. Google it!Read Post
If you’ve read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, or maybe even if you haven’t, you might be familiar with the 10,000 hour concept, which postulates that it takes that minimum number of hours of ‘deliberate practice’ to become ‘expert’ at something. Like chess, piano, ballet. Or hockey.Read Post
Growing up with a father who’s been a highly respected member of the Rochester NY-area hockey community for more than 40 years, Chris Collins has led a hockey life.Read Post
A while back, I connected with a friend who’d spent part of his summer sitting in a hockey rink watching his 10 year-old run through some drills. And he was frustrated. Not because of what was happening on the ice during the camp, but because of what wasn’t happening.Read Post
For millions of kids (and their parents), September means two things: back to school and back to the rink.Read Post
We sat down with coach and skating / skills instructor Stan Kondrotas to get his impressions of PowerPlayer following his first season as a ‘power user.’Read Post
We just spent a couple of weekends at The Coaches Site / TeamSnap 2016 Hockey Coaches Conferences. As sponsors, we were there to introduce PowerPlayer to the coaches in attendance, but we also learned a thing or two about the state of hockey.Read Post
In 2015, a nine-year-old BC kid quit his team with two games left in the season. Seems he’d had enough of sitting on the bench game after game, crying while he watched his teammates play. Why was he denied the opportunity to play?Read Post
Essentially, our current youth hockey measurement system prioritizes games, where effort can produce wins, and virtually ignores practices, where effort can produce winners.Read Post
I grew up with sports. And, oh yeah, of course… school! One of those things was arguably more fun than the other, and the rewards they offered differed, but for any real chance of success, both required not just attention but commitment.Read Post