Creating your Champs App athletic profile typically takes about 20 – 40 minutes depending on how much content you want to include in your profile. You can always come back to add more details, especially when you have new games scheduled or videos you want to add.
STEP 1 MAKE SURE YOU ADD 3 IMAGES
1) Profile image – a good headshot which shows your full face (no helmet!) 2) Hero image – a traditional hockey pose like a 3-point stance or taking a shot 3) Cover photo – pick a cool photo like an action shot, something which shows your personality or a great team picture.
STEP 2 COMPLETE YOUR PERSONAL PROFILE SECTIONS
1) Personal – Basic personal information 2) Student – Your school level, grades and expected graduation 3) Athletic – Auto-populates based on your Team details below 4) Additional Information – Interesting info about yourself
STEP 3 ADD YOUR TEAMS
1) List of all the teams and coaches you have played for
2) Include your level, jersey number and additional information
STEP 4 ADD YOUR INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
Put in your player or goalies stats for each season
STEP 5 VIDEO GALLERY. COACHES LOVE TO SEE YOU PLAY!
Add links to YouTube videos of your games, highlights and other helpful footage of you demonstrating your skills
STEP 6 SCHEDULE
Put in past and future games so coaches know who, where and when you are playing. Coaches will be notified of upcoming games each week, so it is important that you keep you schedule up-to-date if you want them to know that you are playing this weekend.
STEP 7 ADD SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS
At the top of your profile you can add links to your Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Snap and Facebook accounts.
Most users tell us it takes between 15 and 30 minutes to complete the basics of their profile. You can then come back and add more video and details whenever you like.
3. WHAT DO I NEED TO CREATE A PLAYER PROFILE?
Three images (profile picture, action shot and a cover photo)
Personal profile information (personal, academic and academic information
Add your team information (current and past)
Videos with highlights and games showing off your talents
Schedule – add recent and future games and events to let coaches know where to find you play
4. WHAT DO I DO NEXT
You can connect with players and coaches by sending them a link to your profile by email. Or you can also invite other coaches and players to connect by visiting their Champs App profile and tapping the “Connect” button. Here is the current list of NCAA Coaches with Champs App profiles.
A couple of weeks ago I attended my first USA Hockey National Championship. I was in both Dallas for the Girls Tier I round robin games and New Jersey for several Youth 15O games. Here are a few things I learned while I was there – mostly from my time in Dallas.
1. Accurate Seedings
For Girls Tier 1, 23 of the 24 Top 8 seeds qualified for the quarterfinals from 14U, 16U and 19U. Which shows how accurate and reliable the rankings that are used to decide the both the at-large invitations and seedings are. However, once in the playoff round, the lower ranked teams had a reasonable chance to win, with many of the higher seeds losing to lower seeds. On the Youth side, only 24 of the 32 teams made it to the quarters.
2. Scouts Everywhere
In both locations, I saw coaches scouting players at every round robin game. On the youth side, there were junior and college coaches in every corner and in the stands. For the girls,nearly every DI college and many DIII coaches were along the glass and in specially designated areas to watch all the 16U games and many 14U and 19U games.
While Nationals, clearly isn’t the only opportunity to be seen, it certainly helps. It is a big deal. So I now understand why making Nationals from highly-competitive districts is so important to winning their district if they won’t be one of the 3 at-large invitation teams.
I also saw several DIII coaches talking to eligible players who hadn’t committed yet after games.
3. Many Scouts Left After the Preliminary Divisional Games
I flew back to New Jersey from Dallas at the end of the round-robin play, and saw many coaches checking out of our hotel or pulling their carry-on bags on that Saturday. Clearly they were heading home after 3 days of non-stop games. Based on my previous conversations with coaches, if they are efficient in their scouting, they will have seen enough of all the players they were watching.
4. Networking Galore
I happened to be staying in a hotel where many other NCAA coaches were staying. I was able to view first-hand lots of talks happening between team coaches and college coaches in both the arena and the hotel lobby/bars. Once again, reinforcing the importance of being at Nationals for the recruiting process. I know of at least one eligible player who was contacted after Nationals based on their appearance at Nationals.
5. USA Hockey Scouts in Attendance
It was nice to see at least two USA Hockey representatives watching games and players. I am assuming it was in anticipation of the upcoming USA Hockey District camps taking in place in May and June to select player for the 15’s, 16/17s and 18’s Camps. This gives USA Hockey a bigger body of work to judge players rather and greater level of consistency across districts rather than just relying on the coaches who may only attend one or two District camps.
This is the first post in a series about how to create hockey highlight videos to help with your player’s recruiting process.
In my experience, while an online hockey profile from Champs App is like a resume in the recruiting process, videos are similar to taking an aptitude test for a job. Rarely will your profile and video get you an offer (now that Covid restrictions have gone away), but it can certainly move you up a team’s priority list. Posting and updating game-related videos to your Champs App profile throughout the season can also keep you top-of-mind for coaches as they track your progress over several months.
How to edit your video in a way that coaches want to watch them?
Where should you publish your videos?
Anyone can create these videos, it doesn’t need to be a parent. If your player has a computer or iPad, they could do it themselves if they have the inclination. In addition, while expensive, there are third-party service providers who can perform some if not all of the editing on your behalf for a fee. Thanks to AI, the costs for these services have been coming down in recent years. However, these posts will focus on how to do it all yourself. All you will need are some basic computer skills and the most important ingredient – your time.
Note: During my research into this series on creating hockey player videos for recruiting, I learned that some hockey programs use InStat for video tracking and analytics. As a result, all the teams using InStat share their videos with other teams/schools and therefore the video clips of player shifts are available to college coaches to review. While it is a another option for how coaches can watch your player videos, I would still recommend creating your own videos so that you are sure the “right” types of videos are available to the teams & coaches of interest.
One of my biggest frustrations over the last 18 months or so has been about providing feedback to players. Across many different playing environments I have been consistently disappointed in the lack of sophistication and priority on giving insightful, actionable feedback to players. This post discusses the good and bad of hockey coach feedback to players.
Here is what I’ve seen what most coaches are good at:
1. In-game feedback
For the most part, coaches have no problem talking to players after a shift and have a conversation about what just happened. Some coaches are more positive and constructive than others (e.g. “What did you see?” rather than “Here is what you did wrong…”). I doubt there are many coaches who last a reasonable amount of time without providing this basic level of constructive player feedback.
2. Overall team style of play / team concepts
I won’t say systems – because some youth coaches do play systems and others have a type of hockey they want to play which focuses more on skills rather than set plays and rules. In general, coaches know how to set theses expectations and work on the in practice. Thus it can be pretty easy to give this kind of feedback either on the bench or in the locker room.
However, here’s what coaches generally aren’t good at:
A. Having position-specific, age and level appropriate development framework
What are the prioritized skills and attributes a player should be competent in? What are their biggest strengths that they can leverage? What areas do they need to level up so that they can minimize those attributes being exposed. For example, skating, puck handling, shot strength and accuracy. From what I’ve seen, it is usually one-off feedback with the player having to work on it with by themselves or with their own skills development coach.
Having a coach show personalized clips to an individual player is very rare. Many coaches do not have the time or resources to provide player-specific reviews. However, it can be a shared responsibility between player, coach and parent to clip together game footage and to discuss together.
B. In-season feedback
Providing individual report cards or interim check-ins throughout the season on what strengths and development opportunities like skills and/or concepts for a player. For example, Darryl Belfry likes to look at players over a 3 or 4 game segment and track with video and basic stats (e.g. how many puck touches turn into a positive or negative play) and then discuss them with a player. Some coaches give mid-year reviews for their players and in my experience it looks like a bullet list of 3 or items for the player to work on. However, the onus is then on the player to figure out how to get better at those items on their own.
C. Holistic, high level feedback
This is a tough one.
Being candid with a player about where they are with their game at the moment can be a very tough conversation regardless of the players abilities. All players are an unfinished product. And in youth hockey they are still a long way from their peak potential – so providing the appropriate context and perspective is not always easy.
Why don’t all coaches provide holistic feedback? Some…
Just aren’t good coaches (or at least not as good as they think they are)
Don’t have a long-term development framework for players at each level
Don’t know how to provide feedback effectively
Don’t invest the time in the process (don’t have time)
It is not a priority for them
Don’t have an incentive to put in the time
Don’t have a framework
Fear of parent/player reaction
Unfortunately, I have seen the above at almost every level, but most disappointing has been seeing it at the highest levels of hockey. For example, in a rare instance of this being done well…one player who was in consideration for a national team, received lots of feedback and what the coaches wanted to them do this season. However, what was more common are the many examples where other players attending national camps received little to no meaningful feedback, even when requested. It seems that unless a coach or organization has a vested, long-term interest in a player or team, they will not put in the time or effort that most players need.
As a parent or a youth player, it is important to be realistic on the types of feedback to expect from your team coach based on the level of play and the club/program you signed up for. In most situations, you will likely have to go beyond the basic feedback practices of your coach and find ways to supplement them with other experts you trust.
(Note to my kids current coaches: I am not referring to you – this post was mostly written over the past summer and incorporates conversations I’ve had with parents from all over the country).
As the new hockey season begins, many girls and their parents will begin the process of looking at hockey academies for next fall. We went through this process last year with the schools most folks would consider the top three girls hockey academies in the U.S. Here are some of the key learnings from our experience and how our daughter made her decision on which one was right for her.
This post is less about the specific hockey academy my daughter chose to attend this year, and more about the various factors that went into her decision that anyone considering going to a female hockey academy should consider.
In addition, this isn’t meant as a critique of any program – each program has their pros and cons – which is why none of the programs are specifically mentioned. And while there were significant differences in the “candidate experience” for how my daughter was treated by each school during the process, that topic won’t be covered here.
Context: Factors schools look at to be interested in your player
Just like in the work world, recruiting is a two-way street. One of the first items to consider is how good is your player? Being a very good player is a necessary but not sufficient requirement for admission and selection. In addition schools also look at the following:
Grades and academic recommendations
Year/grade of entry into the program
Personality fit with the program
Long term player goals
The application process and essay questions helps schools with assessing many of these factors.
Each player’s journey is unique
Each application is unique because there are a number of attributes that are distinct for the school and the student-athlete. As an example, my daughter was already a sophomore when applying to these schools, and therefore the number of openings for a player who would only attend 2 (or possibly 3) years at the school did indeed impact her consideration. Specifically, the number of spots open for her position (defense) and her age varied by program, since the school needs to have the right balance of ages across both the 16U and 19Uteams. They can’t have 10 D with the same graduation year.
Priorities for Parents & Players:
Here are the 8 factors that we considered for evaluating the three hockey academies (in priority order):
Location (distance from home and amenities)
All the school players get great exposure to college coaches. And while many players play college hockey, not all of them play DI – so it is no guarantee that getting into a hockey academy will mean a DI scholarship or playing in the Ivy League.
Breaking Down the Eight Factors in Evaluating Hockey Academies
The most important factor was clearly player development. Where did we think our daughter would be the best she could be? And since coaches and skill development are critical to her success, over the two or three years should would be attending, we did back-channel references on all the coaches she would likely be interacting with from current parents and alumni players from each program.
A few questions that you should ask the coaches:
a) Will there be a coach who knows how to coach my player’s specific position? This is even more important for goaltenders.
b) What is the coach’s philosophy about ice time during the season and playoffs? How do you trade off winning vs development?
c) If the player is not on the top line, will they still develop by getting game ice time and receiving productive feedback from the coaching staff (not just being criticized for errors)?
There were indeed significant differences for these answers across programs.
Getting a solid education while playing hockey is obviously quite important. And while all the hockey academies send players to top schools, it seemed that some were better than others at actually preparing students for the next level in their education. I have no doubt most girls will rise to the occasion when they get to college, but we definitely saw big variation in our perception on how well our daughter would be prepared for university level courses.
Note: If academics were the #1 priority for a player, they should probably consider a New England prep school.
3. Team Culture
At most of the hockey academies, players come from all over the country and were typically the best players on their team prior to arrival. As a result, their attitude towards their teammates and the camaraderie seemed to differ across schools. Some were more humble and accessible, while at others, a sense of superiority, entitlement and cliques were more obvious. If you are going to spend 24 hours a day with your teammates, you will want to make sure you really like spending time with them.
4. Hockey Facilities
Candidly, some of the hockey and training infrastructure available at one of the schools is significantly better than the others. Having 24 hour access to ice time is definitely an advantage for some academies. As well, off-ice training facilities and rehab resources can make a difference. The key is knowing what some of the trade-offs are between programs and which are “must-haves” vs. “nice-to-haves”. It is similar to women’s college teams, some have pro-level facilities, while other top name programs aren’t as lavish, but still consistently are Top 10 teams on the ice.
5. Boarding Facilities
Factors like room size, number of roommates, access to kitchens and food can make a difference to the player. Four people to room is different than two to a room. Meals are obviously a big deal and getting the high quality meals at the right time of day is very important. Other small amenities can matter too, for example, my daughter likes to bake – so that was one of the factors that was a positive for her in her choice.
Depending on where you live and how independent your player is, location can matter. Distance from home and the amenities surrounding the school may impact your experience. For us, we would be travelling from the west coast, so it was less important from a parent point of view since all of them were far from home.
Obviously this varies by school and your specific needs. This would include tuition, boarding, hockey and travel costs. Not just the player costs, but also the cost for the parents to travel to games and to the school. There are differences between schools, but you would need to assess the difference in value to you individually for your specific situation.
8. Recruiting Visibility
While this is very important, the reality is that all the U.S. hockey academies are highly scouted and have the top coaches watching many of their games in-person and online. If your player is good enough for their school, they will get seen. Even more importantly, your player’s coaches will have existing relationships with almost all DI and top DIII schools. This is a major asset the academies provide and will certainly give your player access that many other club programs probably don’t have.
As mentioned above, every player’s path is different, but these were the key themes and factors that drove our daughters decision. If you had a different experience, additional thoughts or questions. Feel free to reach out on social media or here to share your experience.
This year, my daughter was participating in the 16/17’s group (made up of 2005 and 2006 birth years). There was also a 15’s group (2007 players) just like last year, but in addition there was a 14’s group (2008 birth year). Each group was made up of 4 teams – typically 9 or 10 forwards, 6 D and 2 goalies.
Last year, 16 players from the 15’s groups were sent to national camp (8F, 5D, 3G); 8 players were selects for the 16/17s camp (5F, 3D, 0G) and 4 players picks to go straight to the U18s camp (2F, 2D, 0G). There are no exact numbers provided for this year other than the guidance in the USA Hockey Guidebook.
Unlike last year, the games were two 30-minute run-time periods. Last year it was only 24 minutes per period, and it really made a difference in ice time. Last year, a player would typically only get 10 or 11 shifts per game, this year it felt like it was between 15 and 20.
Quality of Play
In addition, I noticed a significantly higher level of play at the 16/17s level than last year at the 15’s age groups. This was likely due to a combination of factors. Since at this age group is a combined-age tryout, only the top half of players from each age group made the camp, therefore raising the bar on the quality of player to be selected to the camp. Also, with the players being a year or two older than the 15’s, the difference in development was pretty easy to see. I should note that several alternates from the regional tryouts were added to rosters as some of the original selections did not come – so you could see a range in talent on just about every team. Finally, unlike what I saw with the 15’s, the shift length for players at the higher level was much more reasonable. Rarely did I see 2 or 2.5 minute shifts. My general impression was that the overall level was pretty good with a few elite players, hockey in the Pacific District still has a long way to go to match the skill level I saw the previous weekend at a 3-on-3 Minnesota High School tournament.
An interesting twist in this year’s event, is that in parallel to the players camp, it was also some kind of camp/evaluation for referees. Not sure if it was USA Hockey-specific or IIHF. The good news, is that the refs took their job very seriously – and didn’t let many things go that you normally see in a summer showcase (e.g. offsides, icings etc.). Alternatively, there were several awkward moments, such as refs being out of position and running into players in the middle of plays, and being a little over-zealous with not permitting teams to make line changes before face-offs. There was one top player who got called for a penalty when the out-of-position ref caused her to lose the puck – and the player let the ref know she wasn’t pleased . I am all for better training of refs and helping them improve and certainly don’t expect perfection, but at this type of event, ref training shouldn’t be at the expense of the players who were there to try out.
I estimated there were between 20 and 25 coaches representing USA Hockey at the event – whether on-ice with the players or evaluating from their private viewing area. It seemed to be a similar mix to last year of DIII coaches, current NCAA players, Pacific district coaches and other USA Hockey representatives. From a parents perspective, it would be nice to know what some of the evaluation criteria are for each position. However, from all the experienced eyes on the players over the course of the four days, I am trusting that their selection process is reasonably objective and can truly figure out who the top players were to move on to the national camps.
A nice improvement from last year, was the fact that USA Hockey clearly declared the dates in which the results would be published, May 25th. So there was no ambiguity and confusion about what the expectations are for the outcome of the selection camp. Even better, it is less than 2 weeks from the event, unlike last year when it was almost a month delay.
Our first Coach of the Day is Alyssa Gagliardi. Alyssa is the Director of Women’s Student-Athlete Advancement with the Carolina Junior Hurricanes Girls program. Previously, Alyssa was a USA National team player, a co-captain at Cornell University and she won the Isobel Cup with the Boston Pride. Check out Alyssa’s Champs App profile.
Anna can often be heard saying, “my goal is just to continue to get better.” She has played boys hockey for years and also played intermittently with girls above her own age level, with the hope of pushing herself. Anna is extremely poised and maintains great composure on and off the ice.