Blogging the News

Entries Tagged as 'Sports Psychology'

Youth Coaches Must Not “Lose the Room”

December 15th, 2014 Written by | Comments Off on Youth Coaches Must Not “Lose the Room”

With over fifty games remaining and a .500 record through the first thirty, the Ottawa Senators elected to fire Head Coach Paul MacLean on the first day of December, the only NHL coach thus far to be relieved of their duties. The media suggests he lost the room.

Blame it on the Canadian hockey market or MacLean’s farewell address; this coaching change speaks volumes about the psychology of a dressing room, it’s why we can’t stop talking about it; MacLean’s fallout in Ottawa sheds light upon the dynamic of the working relationships between a coach, its players, and the team collectively.

Back to the NHL preseason; analysts agreed the Senators roster was that of a non-playoff team, perhaps a bubble-team, exactly where they currently stand, just 3 points shy of a playoff spot. Leading the hockey world to wonder, well, what did you expect?

The players expected what they got last year out of MacLean, a players-coach, as they say. But, MacLean’s inability to stay optimistic in post-game interviews may have drained any confidence the Senators had left, and surely ticked-off management.

“All I know is I’m scared to death no matter who we’re playing,” MacLean said before Saturday’s game when TSN’s Chris Cuthbert asked if he’d be more worried facing a hot or cold Sidney Crosby. “Whether it’s Sidney Crosby or John Tavares or the Sedins, I go day-by-day and I’m just scared to death every day of who we’re playing.

Never afraid to stir-up controversy however MacLean doesn’t mince words. He also doesn’t wear an ear piece during games, doesn’t believe in the whole advanced-stats malarkey, and yet, he has won at every level; Senators management grew tired of MacLean’s antics when the wins became scarce.

But, old-school vs. a new-aged hockey philosophy, the players could care less, MacLean’s personality-change is what evidentially cost him his job, and consequently led to his “losing of the room.” “You’re dammed if you hold the players accountable and you’re dammed when you are too loose” said NHL Network analyst Jamie McClellan; however the latter brashness of acting high-handed with the team was seemingly too much to withstand for the promising young Senators.

Relationships are organic, they need work, and can grow. We the media label situations as abysmal–the coach lost the room, it’s done; perhaps there’s no time to mend relationships in the NHL.

However there is time in youth sports, and maybe there is no better place to mend a relationship then the one between a novice coach and a young player. Inexperience at the helm can cripple a pretender to believing they’re contenders, and when momentum shifts south it’s easy to lose control. Be a leader, keep learning, and better your young team, youth hockey coaches must not lose the room, it’s too soon!

If this editorial contributes to the notion that it’s all on the coach, and NHL players must be coddled, then here is a former coach who gets right to the point of the debate.

New York Rangers Head Coach John Tortorella on management using coaches as scapegoats “Its crap! It’s another situation of just saying, alright boys you’re okay, you’re off the hook, comeback next year, its bull shit.”

Tags: Sports Psychology

Does Film Analysis Work For Youth Hockey?

October 15th, 2014 Written by | Comments Off on Does Film Analysis Work For Youth Hockey?

You’ve heard it before, the responses often short, from winners and losers in post-game interviews, coaches do not hold immediate answers. Hockey is simple; it’s a game of mistakes. Nothing represents the final on-ice product more accurately than the game-film.

Continue reading for game footage access.

Professional coaches, videographers and trainers will exhaust all their resources to dissect what’s dubbed “the tale of the tape.” While game-film analysis and its usefulness are obvious in many sports, a finer, more instructional approach to serve youth hockey players is quite foreign for novice coaches. The challenge however is no deterrent for Junior Freeport Arrows head coach Chris Hogan.

“I think it can be useful, and it can also be overkill,” said Hogan, who believes sports psychology plays a crucial role in the amount of video content he is willing to expose to his team. At this point in Freeport’s young season, Hogan is more focused on raising players’ confidence. He explained that a happy medium between game-film exposure and a players’ unique belief in their own skill set is important.

Hogan is striving for the approach, of less thinking on the ice, translating into natural on-ice poise for his group.

“I can sit there with the boys, critique every little thing and for me it’s wasteful, I need the boys to not think as much, play high-paced and have more killer instinct in their game,” Hogan said.

In his ninth year with Freeport the bench boss, who has a reputation for an intense, passionate coaching style, has retained the position with great success. State and national championship banners hang from the Freeport bubble-like facility where junior players are molded into hopeful collegiate ice hockey players.

Hogan has used video on-and-off in his time as head coach and believes all players do have the ability to benefit from the tape in some way. “I think if used correctly this will be a great advantage for my team and the correct coaching process.” Hogan expressed his desire for less full-game video sessions, as he would prefer shorter, packaged content.

“Maybe four to six shifts, some of what you liked, and areas where we need improvement” which he believes will stop boredom, preventing players from sitting through hours of video.

The Product

The 18-and-under Freeport Arrows took to the ice last Saturday for an exhibition contest with the junior Bronxville Hawks. As a former Arrow under Hogan and part-time youth coach, with some novice video camera experience, Hogan agreed to let me work with his team as a videographer.

So, we inevitability discussed the product, the game video, during a two hour phone call. Making a quicker first pass, immediate foot movement on puck retrieval-plays, and the most basic “shoot the puck” frustrations of the Bronxville game were among the focal points.

One short video clip attached to this post is a simple three-on-two that deserves a more favorable outcome. “Just shoot the puck”, every coach, player or fan has admittedly used the common phrase, with frustration and wonderment, as a team’s collective stickhandle skills and passing quickly becomes their kryptonite on the scoreboard.

This week Coach Hogan and I will meet to discuss the short four-minute package I compiled, hopefully our discussion points align. Hogan is exited for the opportunity, “This will only help in providing more discrete, concrete feedback for the guys.” Hogan believes time-management; clip quality over quantity and the proper instructional methods will be instrumental in easing his players into this process.

Here is the game-film shortly packaged:


Tags: Off-Ice · On Ice · Sports Psychology