The multiplier.

Dave Mason

We like data. So we took a little poll.

Nothing too scientific — we posed a pretty simple question to hockey coaches via Facebook and Twitter.

Coaches: If you had to choose one of these scenarios for your team, which would it be?
Average talent / high chemistry
High talent / average chemistry

The responses were pretty conclusive. By a combined score of 187 to 9, respondents indicated they’d rather have a team composed of players with ‘average talent / high chemistry’ than the other way round.

Talent on a hockey team is, well, talent. Can the players skate, shoot, move the puck, make saves, make and receive passes, play a system, etc. with the requisite proficiency and consistency to succeed at a given level?

Team chemistry, on the other hand, is governed by the combined intangibles of a team’s individual players. And that stuff is a lot harder to see than the stuff talent is made of.

Will a group of players share a strong work ethic or will a few players be less intense? Will they collectively respect and support each other (and their coaches) or will a few players set themselves apart in some negative way? Will they as individuals accept and embrace the roles they are asked to play in order to benefit the group? Do they possess growth mindsets (ie they’re ‘coachable’) or will some project a sense that maybe they’re above learning? The list goes on and on.

Clearly team chemistry is important. Why? OK, I didn’t do so well in high school chemistry, but I’m guessing it’s because most coaches (and employers for that matter) feel that strong personal intangibles and team chemistry have a multiplier effect on talent. And that poor personal intangibles and team chemistry have a diminishing effect. I’m not making this up, it’s just that with two hockey-playing kids in my family I’ve probably watched the movie Miracle about 300 times.

I’m not looking for the best players, Craig, I’m looking for the right ones.”

Let’s talk about chemistry.

30 or 40 kids gather at a rink to skate, shoot, pass, make saves, take face-offs, etc. in front of a group of coaches. Some of the coaches may know some of the kids, others may not. Some of the kids may know each other or may even have been teammates. Others will know no one. It’s likely a short term event, so if a kid no one knows has a cold or a pulled groin, well, it’s just bad timing for them.

The coaches are tasked with assessing each player using whatever means they have at their disposal — most likely their eyes, experience, intuition, and in some cases their prior knowledge of a player. For a percentage of coaches and kids in this scenario (those with no prior knowledge or mutual connection), intangibles cannot factor in. That impacts an evaluator’s ability to even guess at putting together a team that will have an abundance of the thing that the majority of the coaches in our poll indicated should be heavily weighted on any team: chemistry.

We’ve developed a platform that helps improve that scenario.

By collecting, aggregating, and scoring a suite of subjective ratings collected from coaches, PowerPlayer helps players understand and make personal adjustments to improve the intangible aspects of sports that matter to coaches and scouts. Long term intangibles data, when shared with potential future coaches, fills in the chemistry gap by providing insight into a player’s individual personality, playing style, resilience, composure, etc. that can be factored, along with physical skills, into team composition decisions.

We want to help coaches help players improve every aspect of their game.

Skating. Puck skills. Goaltending technique and positioning. All important and worthy of focus. But if intangibles and the chemistry they help create are valued over talent by 95.4% of coaches even in an informal poll, maybe things like practice effort, communication skills, demeanor, and coachability are worth a little formal attention too.

Because if you’re a coach wanting to increase the collective talent level of your team, helping individual players focus on and improve their personal intangibles pays multiple dividends. For you. For them. For their parents. And for their future coaches.

Want to find out more about how PowerPlayer can help you coach the whole player? Give us a buzz.

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