You’ve probably heard the mantra.
What gets measured gets done. Sure, it’s a bit of a cliché, but that’s because it’s mostly true. It’s human nature to try hard when we know someone who can impact our objectives is watching us. And we try even harder when we know our efforts are actually being measured. So let’s talk about youth hockey.
What do we measure in youth hockey?
All coaches want their players to ‘practice like they play,’ but the simple reality is that the incentives are different. Of course players (and parents) like games. Games have intensity, competition and scores, and they deliver the only real stats tracked in youth hockey: wins, losses, goals, assists, penalty minutes, saves / save percentages, and maybe plus / minus.
Sure, players may know they’re being judged to some degree on their performance in practice, but they’re not seeing the results on any kind of stat sheet. It’s games that incentivize players by providing the metrics by which they (and others) naturally measure ‘success’.
Essentially, our current youth hockey measurement system prioritizes games, where effort can produce wins, but virtually ignores practice, where effort can produce winners.
Makes sense, right? We didn’t think so either.
Behavioral science meets hockey practice.
Behavioral scientists know that telling people they’re being measured and then periodically showing them the results of their own actions relative to themselves or others can be a motivational force.
PowerPlayer practice ratings introduce an element of competition and ‘scoring’ to practices. By letting players know that—from time to time—their coaches will be rating their effort in practices (they won’t know exactly which practices are being rated unless the coaches tell them) makes them more likely to put in a little more effort every time. After all, today might be the day! And by calculating and visualizing a ‘score’ related to practice effort that factors into a player’s overall rating as a hockey player, we’re sending a clear message that this stuff counts. Because it counts in so many ways.
Recognize effort, not just talent.
Hard work is huge in hockey—and in life. There are countless examples of hardworking teams outperforming more talented but less intense opponents on the ice. And in business. The simple act of acknowledging practice effort by putting a number to it literally shows young athletes that coaches value it. Coaches (and parents and teachers!) know that good practice habits lead to good game habits—and good life habits. We could be wrong, but we’re guessing that over six or eight or ten years, the net result of incentivizing kids to try just a little harder in practice will pay dividends for them as athletes and as people.
Because simple things like possessing a positive demeanor and strong effort level mean as much at school and the office as they do at the rink.
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
I’m really looking at PowerPlayer for communication—to get information out there to the people who need to see it. I love analytics, and I want the players and parents to know what I’m looking at, and to understand what I’m seeing.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’ (when psychologists talk about deliberate practice they mean practicing in a way that pushes your skill set as much as possible) 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
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