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Coaches Crunch Numbers on Opening Day

08/22/2014, 7:00pm MDT
By USAHockey.com

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - An array of numbers and data served to the coaches here at day one of the 2014 National Hockey Coaches Symposium made the video boards look like a slot machine.

Numbers on optimal training age windows, weight training repetitions, game systems breakdowns and more were the talk of the conference rooms at the J.W. Marriott.

Mark Tabrum, director of coaching with USA Hockey, said they day's programming represents the ever-changing landscape of hockey coaching.

"A reason why continuing education is important is because as things change we want to continue to do the right thing for coaches and players," Tabrum said. "The information tells us that's what we should be doing. As coaches heard today, playing other sports develops the athlete."

Dr. Stephen Norris, one of the world’s leading sport scientists, opened the day with his presentation on player development.

A full ballroom of coaches, many of which are also parents, soaked up the invaluable childhood development specifics, in what was an empowering and energizing start to the day.

Norris’ actionable insights emphasized building physical literacy in children, and ultimately building better athletes, through sports programming that takes into account long-term athlete development and age-specific windows of trainability. In the process, he saluted USA Hockey for its innovative youth hockey efforts.

“USA Hockey’s ADM is a phenomenal resource for doing what’s best for kids,” he said, emphasizing that the guiding principle of youth sports and coaching should be thinking about what’s in the best interest of the child.

“An 11-year-old is not half a 22-year-old,” he said, noting how we scale everything else from elementary school toilets to bicycles for young children, “so why not youth hockey?”

The concept aligned well with the previous night’s comments from Dean Lombardi, president and general manager of the Los Angeles Kings, who emphasized that hockey players don’t truly reach full maturity until approximate age 26. In other words, “let kids be kids.”

After his presentation, several coaches eagerly engaged with Norris in discussions about their own specific player- and child-development questions.

Following Norris, the theme turned to Xs and Os, as New York Islanders head coach Jack Capuano took the stage for a presentation on the structure of systems. In his 60 minutes, he covered all the major concepts but gave special emphasis to one in particular.

“Too often, breakouts are never taught as a system, and to me, they are one of the most crucial systems,” he said. “Because if you can’t break it out, you’re in your own zone all night.”

In his dissection of breakouts, and their transition into attacking, he discussed the importance of having every player involved, including defensemen, whose jobs aren’t done after completing the first pass, according to Capuano. He emphasized the value in having them jump into the attack after moving the puck.

“With the rule changes and the speed of these players today, you have to play the game with five guys now. You have to work as a unit of five.”

After Capuano’s film-study session, attendees divided into age-specific breakouts with ADM regional managers, where they covered topics ranging from mental toughness to goaltending to practice planning and beyond.

Tabrum said the symposium's topics are carefully crafted to keep the four-day event a constant challenge to the attendees.

"We try to challenge coaches to think in a different light about these topics that maybe you haven't thought of before," he said.

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LAS VEGAS, Nev. - An array of numbers and data served to the coaches here at day one of the 2014 National Hockey Coaches Symposium made the video boards look like a slot machine.

Numbers on optimal training age windows, weight training repetitions, game systems breakdowns and more were the talk of the conference rooms at the J.W. Marriott.

Mark Tabrum, director of coaching with USA Hockey, said they day's programming represents the ever-changing landscape of hockey coaching.

"A reason why continuing education is important is because as things change we want to continue to do the right thing for coaches and players," Tabrum said. "The information tells us that's what we should be doing. As coaches heard today, playing other sports develops the athlete."

Dr. Stephen Norris, one of the world’s leading sport scientists, opened the day with his presentation on player development.

A full ballroom of coaches, many of which are also parents, soaked up the invaluable childhood development specifics, in what was an empowering and energizing start to the day.

Norris’ actionable insights emphasized building physical literacy in children, and ultimately building better athletes, through sports programming that takes into account long-term athlete development and age-specific windows of trainability. In the process, he saluted USA Hockey for its innovative youth hockey efforts.

“USA Hockey’s ADM is a phenomenal resource for doing what’s best for kids,” he said, emphasizing that the guiding principle of youth sports and coaching should be thinking about what’s in the best interest of the child.

“An 11-year-old is not half a 22-year-old,” he said, noting how we scale everything else from elementary school toilets to bicycles for young children, “so why not youth hockey?”

The concept aligned well with the previous night’s comments from Dean Lombardi, president and general manager of the Los Angeles Kings, who emphasized that hockey players don’t truly reach full maturity until approximate age 26. In other words, “let kids be kids.”

After his presentation, several coaches eagerly engaged with Norris in discussions about their own specific player- and child-development questions.

Following Norris, the theme turned to Xs and Os, as New York Islanders head coach Jack Capuano took the stage for a presentation on the structure of systems. In his 60 minutes, he covered all the major concepts but gave special emphasis to one in particular.

“Too often, breakouts are never taught as a system, and to me, they are one of the most crucial systems,” he said. “Because if you can’t break it out, you’re in your own zone all night.”

In his dissection of breakouts, and their transition into attacking, he discussed the importance of having every player involved, including defensemen, whose jobs aren’t done after completing the first pass, according to Capuano. He emphasized the value in having them jump into the attack after moving the puck.

“With the rule changes and the speed of these players today, you have to play the game with five guys now. You have to work as a unit of five.”

After Capuano’s film-study session, attendees divided into age-specific breakouts with ADM regional managers, where they covered topics ranging from mental toughness to goaltending to practice planning and beyond.

Tabrum said the symposium's topics are carefully crafted to keep the four-day event a constant challenge to the attendees.

"We try to challenge coaches to think in a different light about these topics that maybe you haven't thought of before," he said.

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March 27, 2017 | When USA Hockey implemented its American Development Model in 2009, one element of the nationwide age-appropriate training blueprint sparked more debate than any other: cross-ice hockey for 8U players. In the years since, an abundance of evidence, both data-driven and anecdotal, has proven the developmental advantages of cross-ice hockey.

This week, Hockey Canada announced that it too will introduce its players to the game through cross-ice play beginning in 2017-18.

“Re-sizing the playing surface to cross-ice or half-ice means more puck touches, which result in more chances to practice puck control and shooting, as well as overall more movement and motor skill-development – twisting, turning, balance, coordination, agility,” said Paul Carson, vice-president of membership development for Hockey Canada, in a release today. “Their field-of-play matches their size, and these players hone in on their skill-development in a way that larger ice surfaces just aren’t conducive to.”

The Grassroots Show on Ottawa’s TSN 1200 weighed in on the decision. Click the audio link below to hear how Canada is embracing cross-ice hockey for the coming season and beyond.

Tom Renney, president and CEO of Hockey Canada, appeared on the Grassroots Show to discuss the nationwide shift to cross-ice hockey, beginning this fall for 5- and 6-year-olds and expanding to all of Canada's Novice (8U) level in 2018-19.

“When you see 10 or 12 or 14 or 16 kids out on the ice in between periods and they’re playing 200-by-85 and 3 or 4 kids touch the puck in that whole six minutes, yet there’s people in the stands clapping and thinking it’s wonderful, I just can’t help but think about the 95 percent of the children that didn’t even touch the puck or get from one end of the rink to the other and I ask myself what are we doing when the opportunity is certainly there to have 30 kids on the ice playing cross-ice and everyone is having a much better opportunity to touch the puck, skate a shorter distance and really play. It just boggles my mind,” said Renney.

“We completely embrace, at the Initiation level and the Novice level, cross-ice hockey and we have mandated that in the Initiation program and we will mandate it across the country in Novice hockey.

“This is about the pure enjoyment of the game, and your first connection with it has to be something that’s pure fun, on a surface of play that is conducive to much more participation and joy.”

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