Are you feeling it?

Dave Mason

Anticipation is building as a new hockey season approaches. Maybe it’s the comfort of old gloves holding the promise of a new stick that does it? Maybe it’s the idea that a new season offers an opportunity to build on time-tested knowledge by applying new thinking? Not sure what does it for you, but basically, if you love hockey, this is a great time of year.

At PowerPlayer, we’re looking forward to the opportunity to build on 2017-18 — our first full season offering a digital feedback platform for youth hockey. As PowerPlayer data piled up for young athletes (and their parents) from Anchorage to Montreal, New York to Newfoundland, we spoke with coaches, administrators, players, and parents about their experiences with the platform.

So what have we learned from our rookie year?

1. Kids love to compete. And they love feedback.

Virtually every coach we spoke with told us the same thing: as soon as their players found out they were going to be ‘measured’ via PowerPlayer, their compete level went up. And that’s 100% what we hoped would happen.

We set out to motivate kids to try a little bit harder all the time by helping coaches bring the spirit of personal competition not just to games, but to non-game aspects of hockey like practice habits, fitness levels, and intangibles like listening and communication skills. And because PowerPlayer covers so many on-ice, off-ice, and intangible aspects of hockey, the data is showing that it’s almost impossible for any one player to lead a team or group in all categories.

For example, a team’s fittest player may not be its highest scoring skater or possess their team’s highest intangibles ratings. A team’s strongest puck skills player may need to focus on their fitness in order to improve their overall score. Through PowerPlayer, players are seeing for themselves that being a ‘good’ hockey player requires not only a multi-dimensional hockey skill set, but also a host of additional attributes that contribute to being a well-rounded athlete. And they’re learning that things they can control, such as effort in practice, really do matter and are noticed by coaches.

2. Parents love to know how their kids are doing.

For the parents we’ve spoken with, even minimal PowerPlayer data is delivering more feedback than they’ve ever received about their child as a hockey player.

Seeing instructional and encouraging comments and ratings from coaches — along with trending metrics that show their child’s actual capabilities relative to their anonymous peers — is proving to be a great way for parents to understand their child’s progress. PowerPlayer data gives parents a way to talk with their kids about their hockey lives in a more informed way, and numerous coaches have told us that they feel having parents fully informed at all times builds greater trust and strengthens relationships.

3. Coaches are really good at providing constructive feedback.

Coaches are using PowerPlayer in a variety of ways, tailoring usage to their personal coaching styles and to the ages and skill levels of the players they’re working with. And while we’re seeing coaches provide lots of periodic metrics relating to skating, fitness, and puck skills, and ratings for practice and game play, we’re definitely seeing that the majority of coaches are running with PowerPlayer’s video and comments functionality in a big way. Invariably, coaches tell us that being able to quickly communicate with their players (as individuals, as a team, or as part of a unique group such as a powerplay or penalty killing unit) through ratings, comments, and video is what makes PowerPlayer so valuable. They love having comparable data to help them understand how best to work with individual players and back up coaching decisions, and they recognize the value and time savings in communicating rich, meaningful information with parents without scheduling one-on-one meetings.

4. Coaches are looking for ways to improve.

We’ve loved connecting with coaches who are eager to find new ways to reach and teach their players. It’s always exciting for us when we talk with people who immediately understand the potential in providing continuous feedback to the kids they work with. If, like so many of them, you’ve ever tried to fill out 17 checkbox sheets at the end of a season, or tried to collect data on players using a clipboard, you’ll understand the essence of PowerPlayer. And events we’ve been part of, such as The Coaches Site Hockey Coaches Conference and the Roger Neilson Coaches Clinic, show that interest in continuous learning and development at the youth hockey coaching level is strong. We see that drive to learn and apply new thinking to teaching as good news for kids, for parents, and ultimately for the game.

5. Feedback really is fuel.

We’re working hard to make PowerPlayer everything it can be, and the feedback we’ve received from coaches, administrators, players, and parents who’ve experienced the platform has been as energizing as it has been helpful.

So yeah, as we head into 2018-19, we’re feeling that sense of pre-season optimism and excitement that we all love so much. If you’re feeling it too, and want to add the power of feedback to your club or team, just let us know.


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