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  • Josh Bryan

What Ice Hockey Coaches Look For On Game Film

Another guest blog for you to read today! AJ Lee from Pro Stock Hockey has shared an article to give some insights into what Ice Hockey coaches will typically be looking for when reviewing a game. Some great focus areas that can apply to different sports too, so we hope you enjoy!

When reading through these pointers, think how easy it would be to break down and review these moments if using an analysis software like Nacsport. We already have teams like the Cardiff Devils, Sheffield Steelers and London Raiders using Nacsport and KlipDraw to analyse their videos and provide feedback within a team, so if you are involved with Ice Hockey and want to learn more or trial the tools, just let us know!

Hockey is fast. To teach the game or to implement a game plan, coaches need to slow it down.

Often, they do so with game film. Rush by rush, possession by possession, coaches can break out chunks of game play and point out what’s right or wrong, from player positioning to player technique. Then they can fix it.

But, is film study better suited to certain issues? What are coaches looking for when they go over film after a game — or even between periods?

Here is some of what coaches are looking for on and what they like to do with game film.

Tendencies: For younger players, it means helping them recognize basics: If a player turns a certain way, he’s liable to make this move; if his stick is here, take away that option. For more advanced players, it means scouting: Player A usually gets rid of the puck more quickly than player B, who is liable to try to carry it up this side of the ice. Or self-scouting: I didn’t realize I did A, B or C so much when X, Y or Z could be mixed in.

Highlights: Reinforcing the positive has benefits, of course, but we’re not talking about culling highlights for SportsCenter. This is more about taking selected moments to illustrate a point — three to five clips regarding a particular technique or strategy. If something was a focus in practice heading up to a game, showcase it in the film room. For example, if keeping the puck moving on the power play was emphasized, grab a few clips of where the passing was crisp and a few where the puck stopped. Many coaches also like to show another team — the current best pro team, a legendary squad of the past, etc. — demonstrating the teaching point. And when reinforcing the positive, it’s not always the shot that scores the goal, or the pass that sets up the shot — sometimes it’s the check that changes the possession that leads to the pass that sets up the shot.

Positional vs. tactical: Most players understand very quickly where they’re supposed to be. They don’t always understand why they’re supposed to be there. In a film session, a player can see if he’s in the right spot and, regardless of whether he’s done what was expected of him, can see why he was supposed to be there. Players can see their choices and the consequences of those choices easily in film study.

Aha” moments: Sometimes it’s hard for players to “see” the game in a larger sense. Coaches will use video to get players to understand, for example, where the puck tends to be most often during a game.

Special teams: Is there a better way to show your team which passes make a goalie move from side to side than in film study? In the film room, it’s easier to see patterns, and both the power play and the penalty kill are about recognizing and taking advantage of patterns. Hockey is most often about rapid-fire transitioning from offense to defense and back. But special teams opportunities allow an offense to dictate play like a tennis player can dictate a point with a series of ever-deeper groundstrokes — and a defense recognize and short-circuit such efforts.

The End

Remember, nobody wants to sit through “Gone With the Wind II.” Concise film sessions are more effective. A good film session should show players some of what went right and some of what went wrong. If you drag players frame-by-frame through an entire period, you’ll lose them. Six shifts are plenty — and if you can get the point across with four, so much the better. Better still, if you want to cut in a couple of scenes from “Slap Shot,” that will help, too.

Author bio: AJ Lee is Marketing Coordinator for Pro Stock Hockey, an online resource for ice hockey sticks. He was born and raised in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, and has been a huge Blackhawks fan his entire life. AJ picked up his first hockey stick at age 3, and hasn’t put it down yet.

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