Spring is right around the corner. For many serious young hockey players (and their parents!) that often means tryouts, showcases, and prospect camps—which can impact both hockey and educational goals. Unfortunately for not only players but also coaches and scouts, the structure of such events can be less than optimal.
Last spring I spent a week in Moscow with some junior and professional coaches and scouts from Canada, the US, Slovakia, Sweden, Poland and Russia. We were gathered together at a prospect camp—not unlike the hundreds (maybe thousands?) held in North America every year. This one consisted of about 80-90 players of various nationalities who were thrown together into teams to play eight ‘games’ over a four day period.
The challenge for the junior, college and pro coaches and scouts who were each looking for unique potential within that diverse player set was to try to assess talent / potential during approximately 12 hours of minimally structured game time. And the obvious challenge for each player was to try to be seen as one with talent / potential. Anyone who’s ever been on either side of that equation knows how difficult those challenges actually are under those circumstances.
Snapshots vs movies.
When players are competing with their own linemates and teammates to ‘get noticed’, each shift of what is normally a complex team game is essentially reduced to 12 one-man shows. Naturally for the players, the desire to stand out inevitably produces some shining individual moments, but it also produces some less than stellar hockey plays, ineffective decision-making, and outright showboating. And unfortunately for some players, a simple head cold or minor injury incurred at the time of a camp can of course result in a sub-optimal performance.
Because the coaches / scouts in these situations have, in most cases, pretty much zero prior knowledge about the vast majority of the players they might be observing, the situation results in them naturally gravitating towards players who might do a few things that are positively noticeable. But that’s a pretty thin set of datapoints on which to make an assessment.
For many hockey players, a tryout or showcase is essentially a snapshot taken from a long, long movie. It can’t tell enough of the story to be meaningful.
Being known vs being noticed.
What ‘getting noticed’ in those circumstances cannot reveal is a player’s innate mindset, their level of commitment to fitness and learning the game, their personal development, physical growth, their ability to play creatively within a system, their willingness to accept a specific role within a greater whole, or their interpersonal or leadership skills. What ‘getting noticed’ cannot reveal about a player is any meaningful sense of character, because only time and circumstances reveal the truth about people.
So while it’s just not possible for scouts or coaches to repeatedly see and get to know every player they might want to personally, we believe that technology can help.
PowerPlayer gathers meaningful data and feedback relating to a player’s skill development, personal traits and tendencies, physical characteristics, and educational accomplishments, over time. And because that data and feedback is provided by numerous coaches who have actually known and worked with those individuals in real circumstances, it offers a level of insight into players that does not exist for all but a select few.
So whether you’re a player, a parent, a coach or a scout, next time you’re participating in an open tryout or showcase, imagine how much more effective and efficient the experience would be if player assessments made were supported by significant insight and historical background knowledge provided by many coaches over time.
In short, we want to help more kids be known, so that when they get the chance to be noticed there’s more there than meets the eye.
In case you haven’t noticed, we love feedback. So we asked a whole bunch of hockey parents — our users (parents of hockey players whose coaches use PowerPlayer) and non-users (hockey parents in general) — for their thoughts about feedback, as it pertains to them and their young athletes.Read Post
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
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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
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Apparently Jamie Benn was in a bit of a slump.Read Post
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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
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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
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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
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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
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