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Top 10 features of the Mobile Coach App

02/27/2017, 11:30am MST
By Mike Doyle

We are in the Information Age and USA Hockey has put a wealth of hockey knowledge into your pocket.

With the USA Hockey Mobile Coach App, coaches, parents and players have nearly 3,000 pieces of hockey content, including drills, coaching manuals, practice plans, video tutorials and more.

The app has been downloaded more than 130,000 times, with more than 15,000 coaches opening accounts with the service. Its popularity has spread beyond the U.S., with more than 11,000 sessions opened in Canada and nearly 5,000 in Morocco (yes, Morocco).

“This has the potential to be a global tool. The No. 4 city [for usage] is Casablanca,” said Mark Tabrum, director of the USA Hockey Coaching Education Program. “What we believe happened is that they hosted a tournament, and someone there must’ve had the app, told people about it and it just blew up.

“This is a product we made for USA Hockey members to help hockey in America. However, helping hockey internationally is a bonus and it’s fun to see coaches around the globe using USA Hockey tools to grow the game.”

Maybe the best feature: it’s free to anyone with a smartphone or tablet.

“Used at the highest level, it’s a free tool for hockey coaches that puts all of USA Hockey’s coaching resources into the palm of their hand,” said Tabrum.

Here are 10 great features of the app that will help you get more out of your hockey experience, whether you’re a coach, parent or player.

Age-specific practice plans

At the youth level, coaches are often volunteers or have primary jobs outside the hockey world. So, as much as they might like to be full-time coaches, they just don’t have the time to constantly plan practices.

The app has entire age-specific practice plans available for busy coaches.

“You get off work late, you get to the rink and think, ‘What am I going to do for practice?’” Tabrum said. “A coach can go to their age-specific plan, find about where they are in the season, and print that plan and run it for practice.”

Practice plan builder

Once you become comfortable with the app, you can dive into customizing your own practice plans. The first step for this function is to sign up for a free app account. Once you’re registered, you can use all the resources in the app to create custom practice plans.

Coaches can outline entire practices, and use the app to assign drills and stations to their coaching staff. This feature will log an entire season of practices and help coaches ensure that there is a proper balance of skills, drills and small-area games.

“Even with multiple teams on the ice, you have the ability to, in the app, break the entire ice up into sections and stations, and those into drills accordingly,” Tabrum said.

Activity tracker

Previously parents or coaches wanting to track an individual’s activity on the ice had to log what the player was doing – whether it was skating, puckhandling, shooting or passing – on a piece of paper. With Mobile Coach’s activity tracker, you can log a player’s entire season of activity and monitor the amount of reps their getting with each practice. 

“Now it’s all tracked with the touch of a button,” Tabrum said. “If a kid is skating, you hit the button and it tracks, timewise, his or her skating. So, you can actually see what the player is doing throughout the practice or game.”

The thought behind the tracker was to compare the old-style approach against an American Development Model, station-based practice. Comparatively speaking, players are much more active in the ADM, station-based practices. But now parents and coaches can see the proof with data.

“It gives player analytics,” Tabrum said. “If you track 25 practices, you’re able to see the growth over time. When you have and see the data points of a properly run ADM practice, as far as puck touches, passes and shots, the benefits are clear.”

Small-area games

“The small-area games book used to be a manual that was printed – it was a big document,” Tabrum said. “It used to be this big manual that you had bring to the rink and flag and highlight and make photocopies.

“Now it’s all in your hand.” 

Every small-area game from the entire manual is now in the Drills section. Even better, small-area games are categorized to be age-specific.

“The small-area games section is probably worth the download alone,” Tabrum said.

Goaltending content

Oftentimes at the youth level, coaches don’t know a lot about teaching goaltending specifics. Sometimes lining up pucks at the top of the circle and firing wristers is the only goaltender-specific drill a team will do in a day.

The fear of not knowing what to do for your netminder is no longer a hindrance with Mobile Coach. It has five sections of goalie-centric drills and a video section specifically teaching goaltending technique. For those coaches who might not know much about the position, the app can be like another assistant coach specifically for netminders.

Coaching news


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There’s always something to learn and USA Hockey is a great source for the latest developments in coaching. Mobile Coach aggregates all the latest news from USA Hockey like an RSS feed.

“This pulls the latest articles from USAHockey.com,” Tabrum said. “The second we publish an article and tag it for coaching, it goes to the app. You always have the latest coaching news from USA Hockey.”  

Just like when receiving a text message, the app sends out push notifications whenever there’s added content, so you never miss out on the latest news and developments.

Video content

Youngsters learn by watching and there is an ever-expanding library of nearly 300 free videos for anyone with the app.

“Years ago, we came out with our Skills and Drills DVDs, which was 400 on- and off-ice drills,” Tabrum said. “Those are all on the app.”

The collection of Skills and Drills DVDs cost $80. Now, you can get the entire collection of 800-plus videos with a one-time purchase of $8.99.

USA Hockey Rulebook

Found under the Manuals heading, the app includes the digital version of the entire USA Hockey Rulebook. The rulebook also has a search function with which users can find a vast library of resources, including rules, descriptions, videos or examples.

“It has everything you need to know the rules of the game,” Tabrum said.

Smart search

Sometimes you know what you want, but just don’t know where to go. Just like Googling has provided internet users with endless information, the smart search function makes it easy to find anything in the app.

“As you start typing, it pulls content for you,” Tabrum said. “If I pull up the search and start typing ‘checking,’ by the time I get to ‘C-H-E-C,’ I have three Skills and Drills, the Checking the Right Way manual and probably 100 videos.”

Off-ice training

Development isn’t limited to on-ice sessions. Mobile Coach also hosts off-ice training resources, including age-specific dryland and stickhandling drills kids can do in their basement or driveway.

Whether it’s dynamic warmups, agility training, stickhandling, etc., coaches can now quickly and easily dial up off-ice programs to help develop athleticism.

Continuous expansion and improvement 

USA Hockey is always looking to improve its tools and the Mobile Coach App is no different. One of the best things about the app might be its potential. Currently on Version 3.0, Tabrum expects the next update will bring even more innovation.

“We’re always trying to make it better,” said Tabrum. “If you look at where it was, we didn’t even know what we had when we started it. It was just a library. We’re constantly listening to our coaches and trying to deliver a better product.”

Tabrum said there will be significant upgrades in the next version, especially to the activity tracker, whiteboard, navigation and expanded app tutorials.

“Version 4 will be a product that every youth hockey coach is going to want to have,” Tabrum 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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Tag(s): Coaches