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. They both demanded the steady acquisition of knowledge and proficiency, personal growth through success and failure, and progressive development in order to attain the next level.
But only one of them was measured and tracked in any meaningful way.
As a kid, I never thought twice about that. Sports were sports and school was school, and school was naturally the more serious pursuit. It wasn’t until I began coaching high school football that I began to understand how my own experiences in sports had shaped me, and how the experiences of the kids I was working with might be helping to shape them.
Coaching requires connection.
My best coaches — like my best teachers — were the ones who actually got to know me. One in particular was not only a great technical instructor, but a guy who somehow knew how to get the best out of me. As a CJFL quarterback in the late 70s / early 80s, my basic stats were tracked (By hand! On paper!), so he knew, for example, that my success rate throwing from a seven step drop was not as high as it was throwing on the run after play action. He knew my in-game instincts so well that he basically let me run the offense he’d designed around my teammates and me. And he knew my demeanor well enough to know how to alleviate tension or get me headed in the right direction with just a few words. We did pretty well together. (Thanks Vince!)
As a coach myself I tried to emulate his ways. I kept stats on my players as best I could (By hand! On paper!) and tried to design an offense to fit their strengths and tendencies. We too did pretty well together and I enjoyed the experience, but after a few years I moved on from coaching to focus on my business and family.
Fast forward to my own kids growing up with sports and, oh yeah… school. Despite advances in technology, their report cards were still printed on paper, but at least my wife and I got some feedback on their progress as students. We got practically zero feedback on their progress as athletes.
When our son climbed into the back seat after virtually every hockey practice we’d ask him the same questions: “How was practice?” And “What did Coach Bob / John / Steve say to you today?” And every time he’d answer the same way: “Good.” And “Nothing.” Apparently, over the course of years, no coach ever said a word to him! Sure, we might have received one or two rudimentary checkbox skill evaluations (usually from camps), and might have had two or three brief coach meetings here or there, but what did we really know about his athletic journey? And what did he know?
When as a 15-year-old he began to get approached by junior hockey coaches who’d maybe seen him play a couple of times, and who, in an effort to quickly understand him at least a little as person and as an athlete, asked basic questions about the kinds of things I felt should have been measured and tracked as he developed, the concept for PowerPlayer was born.
My partners and I have all been involved in sports our whole lives: youth, high school, junior and college hockey, baseball, football, basketball and lacrosse. A couple of us have actually been paid to play and coach. We have kids involved in sports. And we all think the same way.
PowerPlayer makes it possible to do for our kids what we all wish had been done for us: to collect a substantial body of knowledge related to athletic development — physical attributes, proficiency and knowledge levels, personal intangibles, game play tendencies, etc. — that has value to everyone in the sports ecosystem.
So what do we know?
We know that sports are steeped in tradition, but we also know that the world is changing. We know that technology is impacting virtually every facet of life, from banking to travel to fitness. Our kids’ report cards and test scores are accessible online, and we get regular email or web-based communication from their teachers.
We know there are forward-thinking hockey organizations that have already gathered more than 28,000 PowerPlayer data points on their players. We know there are coaches who are excited about using that data to better understand and teach to the strengths and weaknesses of players and teams, and we know they see value in creating better communication with players and parents. We know there are young athletes and parents who are excited about acquiring a credible body of personal athletic development knowledge that until now has been unattainable. And we know there are scouts and recruiters who are anxious to see the rich, deep insight that PowerPlayer data might reveal.
We know the game is on. Wanna play?
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
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
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? At PowerPlayer, we’re looking forward to the opportunity to build on what we learned in 2017-18 — our first full season offering a digital feedback platform for youth hockey.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