Game changer.

Dave Mason

A while back, I connected with a friend who’d spent part of his summer sitting in a hockey rink watching his 10 year-old run through some drills. And he was frustrated. Not because of what was happening on the ice during the camp, but because of what wasn’t happening. And this was the third consecutive year that he’d felt the same way.

Each camp had set him back a few hundred dollars, featured a high coach-to-player ratio, and definitely provided some beneficial skill development opportunities (and fun) for his son. But each camp had passed by without providing any meaningful, documented feedback about his son’s year-over-year progress as a skater / puck handler / hockey player. Sure, as a parent, he knew his son was ‘developing’ because he was bigger and more mature than he was two years ago (duh!) and he could see what he perceived to be improvements in his abilities as a hockey player.

But he always felt that wasn’t enough.

When parents send their hockey-playing sons and daughters off to school, their teachers—even with a current ratio of one teacher for every 30 or so students—provide a continuous stream of documented, archived, trendable development metrics and ratings in the form of quiz and test results, report cards and parent-teacher meetings. Parents aren’t left assuming their children are progressing academically or developing solid interpersonal skills, they’re shown the evidence.

Knowledge is power.

My friend’s son’s team has adopted PowerPlayer for this season. Recently, he and his son logged into the son’s PowerPlayer account to view a first set of data reports and read 8 or 10 early-season comments from coaches.

The coaches had run a few PowerPlayer drills to get some baseline metrics on skating, fitness and puck skills, and had commented on what they felt were his son’s strengths and challenges, set out some specific goals for him, and stressed they’d be monitoring his effort and progress through the season. In only a few minutes my friend and his son received more quantified, meaningful and personal hockey-related feedback than they’d received in the previous three years. When my friend asked his son what he thought about the comments, he agreed with all of them. And he was excited. And apparently the reaction from other parents on his son’s team are all along the same lines: they absolutely love getting the coaching staff’s feedback about their kids and they all want more.

It’s still early, but the feedback we’re receiving—from parents, players and coaches—is that more meaningful and frequent communication from coaches changes the game for the better.

And that’s the name of our game.

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