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Hockey New Year Resolutions

Posted by Kevin - Filed under: Comments & Thoughts
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The new year is a time commonly associated with new resolutions.  A new year brings a fresh mental start.  In the first HockeyShare Blog Post of 2011, I’d like to solicit interaction from the community and find out what your Hockey New Year Resolutions are!

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Circle Pass Pivot Drill – Video

Posted by Kevin - Filed under: Instructional Video
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The Circle Pass Pivot Drill is along the same lines as  the Figure 8 Passing Drill in terms of skill focus.  It’s a great drill to develop individual skill in agility, body control, passing/receiving, and controlling the puck at awkward body angles.

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Crossovers – In Depth [Video]

The hockey crossover is an essential part of any hockey player’s skating arsenal. In this video, we break down the crossover into easy teaching points and give ideas on how to coach your players into using better technique.

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Simple Penalty Kill Forecheck

Posted by Kevin - Filed under: Hockey Systems
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Killing off a penalty can be one of the most critical turning points of a game.  Your team finally ices the puck, and you get a fresh set of legs on the ice to go pressure the opposing team while they’re setting up their breakout….now what?  If you’re dealing with older players, it is important your players know their responsibilities and the lanes they’re defending.

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Bench Management – Lineup Card [Download]

Posted by Kevin - Filed under: Resources
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Managing the bench during game situations can be difficult at best.  Players get hurt, equipment fails, penalties are called – you name it, it changes your game plan.  Good coaches are able to react and make decisions quickly.  One of the tools I’ve found most useful over the years has been the lineup card.  This allows me to quickly glance down and know my first choice for most situations.  It is also extremely useful if you’re in a game where line match-ups are important.  I’ve provided a PDF download of the template I use for my lineup cards.  It includes 4 offensive and defensive lines, 2 goaltenders, 2 power play units, 2 penalty kill units, two groups for end of the game play (pulling goalie, or defending a one-goal lead), and areas for notes and diagrams.  I hope you find this useful in your coaching!

» Download the HockeyShare Lineup Card (PDF)


Learn from the Pros – Week 2

Posted by Kevin - Filed under: Learn from the Pros
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This week’s Learn from the Pros video clip features a goal from Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin from brother Henrik Sedin on April 15th vs. the LA Kings.

[0:02] The play begins by Daniel Sedin (#22) carrying the puck out of the zone on the far wall with King’s forward Justin Williams (#14) defending.  Sedin realizes he is going to be angled off, so he escapes and buys time with the puck, moving it to his brother Henrik Sedin (#33) in the middle of the ice. This simple escape move has changed the rush for the Canucks from a 1 on 3 rush to a 3 on 3 rush.

[0:03] This is where the entire play is made.  Daniel Sedin (#22) keeps his feed moving after he has passed the puck.  Williams then turns back and fails to finish his check, leaving him one-step behind Daniel Sedin in a foot-race up ice.

[0:05] Henrik Sedin looks up and exploits the large gap given by the Kings defensemen by first moving inside the attacking zone, then creates a bigger gap (as big as the “Stanley Cup Playoffs” logo in the ice!) by bringing the puck back out away from the defenders. This allows Daniel Sedin to get involved with the play now that he has beat Williams back up ice.

[0:06] Henrik Sedin quickly slows up and lays a beautiful pass out to his brother Daniel in prime scoring area.  It should be noted that the Kings weakside defenseman (#6 – Sean O’Donnell) is in relatively good position covering Vancouver’s weak-side forward (#14 – Alex Burrows), however Vancouver has turned this rush into a 4 on 3 with a trailer jumping in on the play – this gives Vancouver lots of options and is very difficult to defend with Daniel Sedin having gotten in front of Justin Williams.

[0:08] Instead of simply shooting the puck, Daniel Sedin changes the puck location to the inside, forcing Kings goalie (#32 – Jonathan Quick) to shift his weight and square-up to the puck.  Sedin finishes with an amazing backhander top-shelf high glove-side. There is a great replay at the [0:54] mark as well.


Tryout Overview [Part 2]

Posted by Kevin - Filed under: Comments & Thoughts
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So, now you have taken the time to properly plan out your tryout sessions, and now find yourself with an evaluation sheet in hand. Many coaches get overwhelmed during this process – after all, there is a lot to watch. Assuming you’re breaking your tryout into three distinct drill categories – skill, competitive, scrimmage – we will take a look at what skills and subtleties to watch for in each of these three areas.

Skill Drills: In order to properly run skill drills, you need a good comprehension of the talent level you’re working with. At the younger and/or lower caliber levels, your skills should focus on the basics: forward skating, backward skating, cross overs, stopping, basic puck handling, basic shooting, and basic passing. The older and/or higher caliber the group, the more you should implement drills to force the performance of skills at a higher pace. Evaluators should watch for notable aspects (both good and bad) of each player’s ability in the following categories: skating, shooting, passing, puck handling. Each of these skills should be broken down into the appropriate drills for the level. For example, to work on cross-overs (skating), you could break it down as follows:

Beginner Groups: Basic cross-overs around the circles – watch for basic technique and balance

Intermediate Groups: Cross-overs around the tops & bottoms of the circles only (not all the way around) – watch for basic technique, balance, speed, and ability to transition between cross-over directions.

Advanced Groups: Have players skate down the ice performing one cross-over to the right, then one cross-over to the left (repeat the length of the ice) – watch for technique, speed, transition between directions, ability to maintain balance/strong body position, and generation of power with each push.

The most important skill to watch for during these drills is skating. If a player can skate well, the rest of the game gets a lot easier. Skating affects every aspect of the game – from a foot race to a loose puck, to maintaining balance in front of an opposing team’s net. Players who skate efficiently are often times easier to work with when it comes time for positioning. While evaluating skating abilities, be sure to include drills that force players to change directions and move laterally. It doesn’t do any good to be the fastest skater from end-to-end if you aren’t able to turn or change directions while maintaining your momentum.

Competitive Drills: During competitive drills is where you look for your work-horses. Small area games and in-tight competitive drills often expose strengths and weaknesses quicker than any other types of drills since the players have no place to hide or blend in. One of my favorite drills to run during tryouts is the Corner Battles drill. This simple one-on-one drill shows me right away who is willing to mix it up in the corners. I also recommend running 1 on 1 drills to allow you to isolate both forwards and defensemen. The 1 on 1 Full Ice drill is one of the oldest, most basic 1 on 1 drills there is – but it works great. You get to see how the defensemen handle the puck, shoot, set their gap, and handle the rush. You also get to see if your forwards are willing to get in front of the net, have the necessary speed, have creativity, and the desire to fight through a check. Coaches shouldn’t be afraid to adjust the lines to get a desired matchup on rushes or battle drills. It’s a tryout, and you’re looking to see the level each player can compete at.

Scrimmage Time: This is an evaluator’s time to see if the notes on a player thus far transfer into game-scenarios. It’s also the time to find out which players have the much-coveted “hockey sense.” Hockey sense is (simply put) the ability to see the ice, properly anticipate plays, and react accordingly. This portion of the tryouts often makes decisions for coaches even more difficult. Many times, you can run into a player who has a great core set of skills, but isn’t able to translate them into game scenarios. You may also run into the opposite – a player with a weak core set of skills, but seems to get the job done consistently. Which player you give preference to when choosing your team is your own personal decision. In my opinion, I would rather take a player who can perform during a game with a weaker core set of skills than one who has good skills but no game-time performance – with one HUGE caveat: the player MUST have a strong skating ability.

A couple final thoughts on the tryout process…

If you have multiple people evaluating, don’t be surprised if you have differing opinions on players. Different people look for different things while they’re evaluating. I always recommend having neutral hockey-knowledgable evaluators assist in picking your team. By neutral, I simply mean they do not have a child on the ice being evaluated, and have not coached the majority of the players in the past. Ideally, you get someone who has no connection with any of the players on the ice. This removes a level of emotion from decisions.

Finally, accept the fact that you most likely will not please everybody. Don’t give in to threats of “if my kid doesn’t make the top team, we’re taking him/her somewhere else.” To those situations, my typical response is “do what you have to do.” While it may come off as terse, I firmly believe coaches need to evaluate as fairly and impartially as possible. Coaches will often be put in tough personal and political situations during tryouts. Personally, I’ve had to cut board member’s players, cut friend’s players, and have had people stop talking to me because of my decisions. Make your decisions with integrity and stick to your guns.

Good luck to all the players and coaches going through the tryout process!


Learn from the Pros – Week 1

Posted by Kevin - Filed under: Learn from the Pros
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I’ve decided to start a new weekly section called “Learn from the Pros” which will feature plays from professional hockey.  The idea is to take small pieces of the game and break them down so they can be used as learning tools for coaches and players.  This week, we’ll look at two goals – the first from Andrew Ladd against the St. Louis Blues, and the second from Justin Williams against the Anaheim Ducks.

Each teaching keypoint will also include the time on the YouTube video to pause the clip so you’ve got a freeze-frame of the the play developing.  So, for example, if the intended freeze-frame is at the 8 second mark, it will be denoted before the breakdown in the following format:  [0:08].  To scroll to that portion of the video, simply drag the scrubber on the timeline to the desired time sequence.  Note: the times are not always exact, as sometimes you’ll get slightly different frames when you “scrub” to the time you want.  Use the time-markers as approximate spots where you can start-and-stop the video to get a quality freeze-frame.

Andrew Ladd – 4/7/10

[0:06] This play starts out with Kris Versteeg getting up the ice ahead of his teammates.  Instead of attempting to drive the St. Louis defenseman to get a scoring opportunity, he wisely buys time and space by stopping and using his body to protect the puck from the defending player.

[0:07] The next Blackhawk into the zone is John Madden who drives in strong-side, giving Versteeg an option to throw the puck down the wall.  After Versteeg passes to the trailer, Andrew Ladd, Madden drives to the net and is in great position to tip the puck or play a rebound.

[0:08] Now, Versteeg makes an incredible pass (not one I’d recommend many players try in anything other than pick-up hockey) to Andrew Ladd – BUT, the backchecking defenseman (Mike Weaver) for St. Louis makes two critical mistakes:  1) he fails to identify Ladd as a scoring threat 2) he turns his back on the puck in favor of looking at Byfuglien to cover.

[0:10] This creates a ton of space for Ladd to shoot.  Weaver is now forced to play the 2 on 1 rush from the weak-side post.

[0:36] Ladd releases a quick snap-shot off one foot.  The key here is the quick release, there is no big wind-up, and only a single stickhandle to release the puck. In this freeze-frame, you can clearly see he has his head up the entire way and is looking for open parts of the net to shoot at.

Justin Williams – 4/6/10

[0:06] Williams enters the zone on a 2 on 2 rush with a backchecker. Technically, LA is out-manned in this rush.  The opportunity begins by Ducks Defenseman Steve Eminger having given Williams a bit too much space as he crossed the blue line.  Eminger needed to have a tighter gap when the rush entered the zone.  Instead, he’s still about two stick-lengths away from Williams as he gains the blue line.  This allows the forwards to criss-cross and open up space.

[0:08] The Ducks backchecker, Saku Koivu, gets caught reaching for the puck.  At this point, Williams now has body position established on Eminger, and the Anze Kopitar is driving toward the net, bringing his defenseman with him.

[0:10] Eminger is forced to make a dive in desperation.  Kopitar drove the net going to the far post, bringing his defender with him, which opens up ice in front of the goaltender.

[0:34] Ducks goalie Curtis McElhinney plays the shot, but is still outside the crease, leaving Williams with room on the short-side to reach around him and stuff the puck in.

I hope you enjoy this new section. If you have plays you’d like to see broken down, find me a clip on YouTube and leave them in the comments.


Power Skating / Edgework Circuit [Video]

Posted by Kevin - Filed under: Hockey Drills,Instructional Video
Tags: , ,

After a couple of crazy weeks, we’re back with new video from M2 Hockey & HockeyShare! This week we wanted to do something a little bit different than normal.  This week’s video is a skating circuit that’s meant to be gone through in succession without rest.  As players become better skaters and get more comfortable with the drills, the tempo can be increased, and modifications can be made to the circuit.  These fundamental edgework drills are the foundation for almost every skating maneuver in hockey – so you can never get enough practice on them.  For those who don’t think power skating is important, here’s a sobering fact: NHL teams do power skating!!!  The more efficient you become on your skates, the better overall hockey player you will become.  Hope you enjoy the video!


Favorite Players

Posted by Kevin - Filed under: Comments & Thoughts
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If you’ve ever heard a coach (in any sport) tell you they don’t have favorite players, there’s a pretty good chance they’re lying to you. I believe every coach has favorite players. Why would a coach have a favorite player(s)?  The answer is easy really.  Coaches are human.  What coach wouldn’t prefer to work with players who:

1) Listen
2) Work Hard
3) Are Respectful
4) Are Well-Behaved
5) Have Good Attitudes

    Any coach would take players like these in a heart-beat. It’s not hard to see why players who don’t meet one or more of the above criteria may cause frustration for the coach.  Is it easier to be around and work with a player who gives 100% every shift, or one that goes out and skates half-speed and takes bad penalties?  Easy answer, right?

    Here is the key in dealing with your players.  All of them – favorite or not – need to be treated equally.  Rules need to be enforced the same amongst all the players from top to bottom.  This isn’t to say your approach with each player should be identical, but guidelines need to be set for behavior, and whether or not your favorite player or least favorite player violate a guideline, the punishment needs to be equal.  If the “punishment” for being late to a team function is to sit the first period of the next game, the rule needs to be enforced with each and every person.

    It’s OK to have favorites – just be aware of how you treat them, and be sure you’re holding them to the same standards you’re holding your “least favorite” player to.  If there is a big inconsistency, you’ve got a sure-fire formula for disaster within your own team.  Players will begin resenting each other, parents will turn on you, and you’ll have a lot less fun coaching.


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