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Coaching Minor Hockey Parents Youth Hockey

How I Applied Lessons from Belfry Hockey

Darryl Belfry Hockey Book

I loved Darryl Belfry’s book Belfry Hockey, but I don’t believe I was Darryl Belfry’s target audience, because I am neither a hockey coach nor a skills instructor.  As I mentioned in my first post, I’m just a hockey dad. I do not profess to be a hockey expert, but I do have a deep passion for helping my two kids who currently play 14U AA youth hockey. Thus, as a parent, what did I hope to learn from Darryl Belfry’s book Belfry Hockey? And how could I help apply these lessons?

My goals when reading Belfry Hockey:

  1. An understanding of which skills are important for my kids to develop (i.e. “Skills That Separate”)
  2. See which skills aren’t getting developed with their current coaches
  3. Figure out my options on how they can fill in the skills gap

One of Darryl’s key training objectives is to help a player learn a skill they can use “tomorrow”. Therefore, given Covid’s impact on our season, I took on the challenge of applying these insights immediately with my kids. Here are the takeaways from Belfry Hockey that I have recently tried to implement with my kids.

Teaching my son the concept of Platform Skills vs. Placeholder Skills

Is the skill you’re using a placeholder skill or a platform skill? There’s a big difference between the two.

Page 122 – Chapter 11: Skill Continuum

My son is both a late birthday and not an early-developer like several of his teammates. Therefore, there are times when he has seen less ice time due to his physical development. At the same time, Belfry perfectly describes some of the placeholder skills that my kids have seen from teammates in peewee and bantam hockey who would be considered the top players on their teams getting those additional minutes.  

Examples of placeholder skills:

  1. Slap shots off the rush
  2. Using straight-line speed to rush by defensemen along the boards
  3. Banging in rebounds in front of the net

Explaining to a 13-year old that he is building better skills so that two or three years from now he will have more translatable skills to the next level is not simple to understand. But having a framework of “platform vs. placeholder skills” is a simple concept to continually reference until his physical development catches up to his peers.

Tracking High-Frequency Events and Success Rates Using Video

When you’re working with video, you have to be very careful that every player in a game is a like a fingerprint. What we want to see is the detail inside of each fingerprint

Page 162 – Chapter 13 – Video-to-Game Transfer

I record almost every game that my kids play. I use two GoPros to video the game from behind the nets and some rinks also have LiveBarn to provide a third angle. As a result, I have a pretty good asset to begin my analysis with. I used to just look at the quality of each shift individually, but thanks to Darryl Belfry I track the game in a whole new way.

Since reading the book, I have created a spreadsheet to do the following:

  1. Track event frequency and success rates
  2. Edit clips together from 3-4 games by event/game situation so my player can see all the same event-types in a single video (typically 60 – 90 seconds of clips).

Here is a partial summary of an “instance list” from a recent weekend of games for my daughter (who plays defense):

Transfer Tracking: Problem Solving Frequency and Success Rates

Our standard is we want to try and get as many high-frequency elements as possible to be an 8 out of 10 success rate

Page 155 – Chapter 10: Triple Helix: Awareness

Using the metrics from the games, my daughter and I were able to watch each clip and the specific situational context for success & failure. As a result, we were able to see certain patterns emerge that could immediately be worked on, here are a couple of examples:

  1. Trouble when playing the off wing

One pattern we identified right away was that she wasn’t recognizing the handedness of the puck carrier which caused her to attack from a poor angle.  This insight was helped by remembering an article about the 88 Summit with Patrick Kane from a couple of years ago.

2. Linear entry vs. change in angle when carrying the puck in across the blue line.

We are now working on way to cross the blue line to get into the “hot zone” with time and space.

Creating Multiple Options for Specific Situations

We want to make sure as part of the Category 1 skills that once the player has established body position and encounters contact, he’s able to use the contact as an asset – an accelerant or an ability to create separation

Page 145 – Chapter 11: Skill Continuum

With my son, one area we have spent a lot of time working on is in the corner or along the wall in the offensive zone.  We have been focused on adding multiple options for him to have in his toolkit for these situations, specifically:

a. The Kane Push:

b. Reverse Hits

c. Skating through the hands:

d. Using the trap door:

e. The Chuck:

We shall see if he is able to apply any of these new skills into a game situation, but at least I know he has them as potential tools in his toolkit.

As I used to write in my Grade 5 book reviews, I really liked Belfry Hockey and I recommend it to all my hockey friends and coaches. I plan to write one more post about Belfry Hockey so that a few more concepts are brought to life via visuals and video that are a little hard to digest from just reading the book.

Categories
Coaching Parents Youth Hockey

How to Develop a Great Hockey Player: Quality Coaching

In this fourth post about how to develop a great hockey player, the focus is on quality coaching.  Let me be clear that I am not talking about what makes a great coach. What I am talking about is a coach who makes a great player. These are not necessarily the same thing. For example, a coach who only plays his best players at 12 years old in order to win games and championships at the expense of all the development of half the team is not necessarily a great coach, but if your kids is the one getting lots of ice time and feedback, then that coach could indeed be accelerating the development of that individual player.  I hope to write another post about what makes a great coach at a later date.

Time & Effort: 

First and foremost a coach who cares by putting the work to help at both the team and individual level is the table stakes for developing into great player.

Technical Expertise:

Striking the balance between leaning how to play team hockey and individual skills development. Specifically, the basics like skating, shooting, puckhandling but also position-specific tools to be great at their position (both on offense and defense – unless you are a goalie). Examples would be on-ice positioning, decision making, finding time and space, creativity and using deception.

Feedback: 

A quality coach gives feedback that is actionable to the player. They personalize the communication so the individual can understand how to change their behavior in a way that is specific to them. Darryl Belfry wrote an excellent chapter on how to give feedback in his new book Belfry Hockey.

Motivation:

While the old-school hockey way has been motivation by intimidation, times have changed. And each individual player is different. But finding a coach who can get the most out of a player by figuring which buttons to push to help make them a great player is obviously a critical attribute.

Enables Grit:

I will talk about this more in my next post, but teaching a player how to be resilient during the ups and down of a season.  Helping teach a player the tools to handle failure and overcome obstacles is one of the key life lessons that hockey is supposed to teach youth athletes.

Encourages two-way communication:

Every hockey coach is different and each has their own philosophies on how they want their players to play the game. As your player moves from coach to coach they will bring their past experience and habits/methods from their past coaches with them. The ability for a great player to discuss and debate with a coach the “why” and the “how” a certain situation should be played is a critical problem solving skill great players should possess.

My favorite book on a great coach who developed great players is “Thank You Coach” by former CFL player Angus Reid who had a long football career despite being highly undersized to play the center position. The book is dedicated to a coach who taught him what he needed to be a successful player despite “having no business playing professional football for 13 years”.

This post is the fourth in a series on How to Develop a Great Hockey Player (Intro).

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Coaching hockey Parents Podcast Women's Hockey Youth Hockey

#1 – The Hockey Think Tank Podcast

Top 10 Podcasts for Girl Hockey Players (and their Parents)

When the The Minor Hockey podcast was cancelled by TSN Radio a couple of years ago I was very disappointed and was searching high and low for another youth hockey podcast. Almost immediately I stumbled upon The Hockey Think Tank’s fifth episode with Kendall Coyne Schofield (before she appeared in the 2019 All Star Game). Since then I have been one of their biggest fans and making sure my kids listen to their podcast in the car when we are driving to the rink. Topher Scott and Jeff Lovechio are former players who both now coach youth hockey. They are both positive, likeable, sincere & knowledgeable and their guests are spectacular. 

Girls Hockey Talk

When they do have a female hockey player on the show there is always a nugget or two I get from the episode specific to the girl’s game. Alyssa Gagliardi was a guest who provided good insight on her hockey journey starting with boys hockey all the way to the U.S. Olympic team.  This past summer, in collaboration with the PWHPA HTT had a series of shows and online programming specific go the women’s game. Interviews included Hockey Hall of Famer Jayna Hefford and University of Minnesota-Duluth women’s head coach Maura Crowell.

Must-Listen for Parents

One of the best parts of the Hockey Think Tank are the discussions about what a successful hockey journey looks like for most kids from youth all the way to the pros. It usually isn’t a straight line.  So many of the guests discuss the struggles they faced and the grit they had to have to make it.  Most parents can relate to not having an ‘early-bloomer’ player and how to navigate the bumpy road by focusing on player development versus wins.  Guests like Patrick O’Sullivan and Martin St Louis discuss being youth hockey coaches and what really matters in player development from 8-18 years of age – which is different from what most coaches practice and preach.

Recently, The Hockey Think Tank published their Parent Survival Guide. It is an excellent resource for hockey parents who want the straight goods about navigating the complex world to from youth to junior to college hockey. While it primarily focuses on the path that boys take, many of the principles apply to women’s hockey (without the extra step of junior hockey between high school and college).

If you are going to listen to only one podcast as a youth hockey player or parent, The Hockey Think Tank is the one we would recommend.

This post is part of a series of blogs on the Top 10 Podcasts for Girl Hockey Players (and their Parents). You can read the background on this list from the start of this series.

Previous Podcasts on the Top 10 List:

#10 – Hockey Training: Become a Better Hockey Player Podcast

#9 – From the Point Women’s Hockey Podcast

#8 – The Lyndsey Fry Hockey Audio Experience

#7 – Let’s Go! Hockey Podcast

#6 – Over the Goal Line: A CUWIH Podcast

#5 – The Curious Competitor with Connor Carrick

#4 – Glass and Out Podcast by The Coaches Site

#3 – Grassroots: The Minor Hockey Show

#2 – RUSH Hockey Talk

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Coaching hockey Parents Podcast Women's Hockey

#2 – RUSH Hockey Talk podcast

Top 10 Podcasts for Girl Hockey Players (and their Parents)

Kelly Katorji is one of, if not ‘the’ most networked and knowledgeable people in women’s hockey. He has literally watched thousands of young girls develop in to college, pro and Olympic hockey players over his many years. With his RUSH Hockey Talk podcast he speaks to coaches, players and on everything related to the women’s game and pursuing a college hockey path. Topics include navigating the NCAA recruiting rules, how coaches evaluate players and comparing Ivy League schools to scholarship schools. If Kelly would consistently release new episodes on a weekly basis, RUSH Hockey Talk would probably be number one on this list! (Hint, hint).

RUSH Hockey runs some of the biggest girls hockey showcases like the Beantown Classic and the RUSH College Showcase. You can also frequently listen to Kelly on SiriusXM’s NHL channel with Steve Kouleas as they discuss all things youth hockey.

This post is part of a series of blogs on the Top 10 Podcasts for Girl Hockey Players (and their Parents). You can read the background on this list from the start of this series.

Previous Podcasts on the Top 10 List:

#10 – Hockey Training: Become a Better Hockey Player Podcast

#9 – From the Point Women’s Hockey Podcast

#8 – The Lyndsey Fry Hockey Audio Experience

#7 – Let’s Go! Hockey Podcast

#6 – Over the Goal Line: A CUWIH Podcast

#5 – The Curious Competitor with Connor Carrick

#4 – Glass and Out Podcast by The Coaches Site

#3 – Grassroots: The Minor Hockey Show

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Coaching hockey Parents Podcast

#3 – Grassroots: The Minor Hockey Show podcast

Top 10 Podcasts for Girl Hockey Players (and their Parents)

Richard Bercuson has been a hockey coach and teacher for decades and really knows more than just about anyone about youth hockey development. This podcast is the reboot of the TSN 1200 show mentioned in my post introducing this Top 10 Podcast list.  Unlike other hockey-related podcasts whose guests are from pro or college teams, most of the Grassroots coaches are longtime Canadian youth hockey coaches. Gregg Kennedy, Richard’s co-host from their previous radio show, re-appears in several episodes to discuss the specifics about on-ice youth hockey development. Recently the show has had a greater focus on the women’s game with guests like University of Toronto women’s coach Vicky Sunohara and longtime female hockey leader, Fran Rider.

It’s all about development

What I love about the show is the continuous reinforcement of the message that youth hockey is entirely about player development and not winning except at the very highest levels.  Nearly every episode looks at different ways to change the mindset of these game-result oriented coaches and parents. Ideas like coach mentoring, equal ice time for players, positive & productive coach-player relationships and effective practice planning are themes that are repeatedly discussed. The show has really helped me provide a framework to assess how my kids are developing and the role their coaches play in enhancing or impeding their development.  

This post is part of a series of blogs on the Top 10 Podcasts for Girl Hockey Players (and their Parents). You can read the background on this list from the start of this series.

Previous Podcasts on the Top 10 List:

#10 – Hockey Training: Become a Better Hockey Player Podcast

#9 – From the Point Women’s Hockey Podcast

#8 – The Lyndsey Fry Hockey Audio Experience

#7 – Let’s Go! Hockey Podcast

#6 – Over the Goal Line: A CUWIH Podcast

#5 – The Curious Competitor with Connor Carrick

#4 – Glass and Out Podcast by The Coaches Site

Categories
Coaching hockey Parents Podcast

#4 – Glass and Out Podcast by The Coaches Site

Top 10 Podcasts for Girl Hockey Players (and their Parents)

The Coaches Site is an incredible resource for hockey coaches, but can also be helpful to parents. In Aaron Wilbur‘s podcast series Glass and Out, he interviews many of the top NHL, college and junior coaches from North America and Europe. What makes this podcast so helpful is not specifically the women’s hockey content, but the general hockey development information. Specifically, how to help your hockey player become the best they can be, regardless of gender. In every episode there is a nugget on how coaches are trying to develop and motivate players at all levels of hockey.  Hearing the strategies and complexity involved in planning and executing on improving player performance is powerful. Understanding how coaches think from the other side of the bench can help a young player or parent appreciate their role even more.

An episode that stands out is the conversation with Hall of Famer Cammi Granato about her hockey journey and how much the women’s game has changed over the past 20+ years.

While separate from the podcast, The Coaches Site subscription website is chock full of information for hockey players at any level. As the parent of a defenseman, there are several TCS videos from which I have shown my daughter. Without the help of her team coaches she has been working to incorporate these teachings into her game.

This post is part of a series of blogs on the Top 10 Podcasts for Girl Hockey Players (and their Parents). You can read the background on this list from the start of this series.

Previous Podcasts on the Top 10 List:

#10 – Hockey Training: Become a Better Hockey Player Podcast

#9 – From the Point Women’s Hockey Podcast

#8 – The Lyndsey Fry Hockey Audio Experience

#7 – Let’s Go! Hockey Podcast

#6 – Over the Goal Line: A CUWIH Podcast

#5 – The Curious Competitor with Connor Carrick

Categories
Coaching hockey Parents Podcast

#7 – Let’s Go! Hockey Podcast

Top 10 Podcasts for Girl Hockey Players and their Parents

Let's Go Hockey Podcast
Let’s Go Hockey Podcast

Coach Pete Kamman and Coach Danny Heath have some excellent guests from all over the hockey world. The show has a strong focus on hockey development and gleaning insights from each interview. At the end of each episode they share their 3 Stars – key takeaways from their guest. Let’s Go provides parents, players and coaches positive guidance and motivation for their hockey journey. Past female guests include Lyndsey Fry and Gold Medal goalie Maddie Roonie. Hopefully, they will continue to add more guests to talk about women’s hockey. My favorite episode so far (although not specific to girl’s/women’s) hockey was with Marty Pavelich, 4-time Stanley Cup winner from the late 40’ and early 50’s, telling some amazing stories. Worth subscribing to this podcast.  LET’S Gooooooo!

This post is part of a series of blogs on the Top 10 Podcasts for Girl Hockey Players (and their Parents). You can read the background on this list from the start of this series.

Previous Podcasts on the Top 10 List:

#10 – Hockey Training: Become a Better Hockey Player Podcast

#9 – From the Point Women’s Hockey Podcast

#8 – The Lyndsey Fry Hockey Audio Experience