20 February, 2018

Learning from the Olympics

Hockey tournaments are fun. The NHL tournament - the Stanley Cup Playoffs - is the hockey world’s longest tournament and is played over 2 months with truly countless games. I am engrossed in the two tournaments taking place right now in Korea - the men’s and the women’s Olympic tournaments. I love the high stakes, high pressure of every game. I am enjoying watching players I haven’t really seen before on the men’s side and of course, I am invested in the women’s team success having been part of the program as a video coach over the past decade.



Tournaments like these provide a great chance for coaches to use the games as teaching tools for their players. Here are two strategies to use watching the games with your players.


First, have your players watch games with something specific to observe. Give them something to look for in a certain game - something that you have worked on in practice that week that you know will be easy to spot. Some examples:


- Defencemen making good, hard first passed in the defensive zone

- Carrying the puck wide across the offensive blue line

- Screening the goalie

- Going hard to the net

- Angling on the forecheck

- Good stick movement on the penalty kill in the defensive zone

- For goalies, seeing around a screen on a shot from the point


A second strategy is to do some video analyzing. This can be done in two ways. If you have the tech capability, you can edit together some clips and with some notes (or voiceover) for your athletes to learn from. Or, simply send a link to game film (all the Olympic games are available online), send some typed notes of analysis with time markers and let your players watch on their own time - or in a classroom setting. Some examples would be:


- At the 7:15 mark, watch how the power play moves the puck low to high as soon as they set up in the zone.

- At the 23:52 mark, number 22 does a great job of screening the goaltender.


Here is a short video of four clips from the Canadian men’s team’s first two games against Switzerland and the Czech Republic. I am a big fan of finding ways to create goals so these clips are of four goals scored by Canada. The key learning points from the video:


1) Smart and effective dump in’s

2) First to the puck forechecking

3) Creating passing lanes

4) Going to the net with the stick on the ice

5) Good screens in front of the goalie

6) Tracking the puck on rebounds



If time is tight for video review, there is a lot to be learned from highlights of goals - both defensively and offensively. Using just these highlights can reveal lots of good (and bad) habits and, there is often an opportunity to show special team play.



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