Does film analysis work for youth hockey?

“We’ll watch the tape and make the necessary
adjustments, I won’t discuss it here.”

-John Tortorella

Thanks to the eloquent John Tortorella, coach of the New York Rangers, NHL fans around the world got some laughs and the media got nothing to report about. His responses are often short, like many other coaches that dwell on a fresh loss, coaches do not care to reveal immediate answers. Sports are often called a game of mistakes. Breaking down game film in professional sports is a staple, but in youth sports its usefulness is still up for debate.

Continue reading for game footage access

Arrows

Professional coaches, film techs and trainers will exhaust all their resources to dissect what’s dubbed “the tale of the tape.” While game-film analysis and its usefulness are obvious in many sports, a finer, more instructional approach to serve youth hockey players is quite foreign for novice coaches. The challenge however is no deterrent for Junior Freeport Arrows head coach Chris Hogan.

“I think it can be useful, and it can also be overkill,” said Hogan, who believes sports psychology plays a crucial role in the amount of video content he is willing to expose to his team. At this point in Freeport’s young season, Hogan is more focused on raising players’ confidence. He explained that a happy medium between game-film exposure and a players’ unique belief in their own skill set is important.

Hogan is striving for the approach of less thinking on the ice, translating into natural on-ice poise for his group.

“I can sit there with the boys, critique every little thing and for me it’s wasteful, I need the boys to not think as much, play high-paced and have more killer instinct in their game,” Hogan said.

In his ninth year with Freeport the bench boss, who has a reputation for an intense, passionate coaching style, has retained the position with great success. State and national championship banners hang from the Freeport bubble-like facility where junior players are molded into hopeful collegiate ice hockey players.

Hogan has used video on-and-off in his time as head coach and believes all players do have the ability to benefit from the tape in some way. “I think if used correctly this will be a great advantage for my team and the correct coaching process.” Hogan expressed his desire for less full-game video sessions, as he would prefer shorter, packaged content.

“Maybe four to six shifts, some of what you liked, and areas where we need improvement” which he believes will stop boredom, preventing players from sitting through hours of video.

The Product

The 18-and-under Freeport Arrows took to the ice last Saturday for an exhibition contest with the junior Bronxville Hawks. As a former Arrow under Hogan and part-time youth coach, with some novice video camera experience, Hogan agreed to let me work with his team as a videographer.

So, we inevitability discussed the product, the game video, during a two hour phone call. Making a quicker first pass, immediate foot movement on puck retrieval-plays, and the most basic “shoot the puck” frustrations of the Bronxville game were among the focal points.

One short video clip attached to this post is a simple three-on-two that deserves a more favorable outcome. “Just shoot the puck”, every coach, player or fan has admittedly used the common phrase, with frustration and wonderment, as a team’s collective stickhandle skills and passing quickly becomes their kryptonite on the scoreboard.

This week Coach Hogan and I will meet to discuss the short four-minute package I compiled, hopefully our discussion points align. Hogan is exited for the opportunity, “This will only help in providing more discrete, concrete feedback for the guys.” Hogan believes time-management; clip quality over quantity and the proper instructional methods will be instrumental in easing his players into this process.

Here is the game-film shortly packaged.

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