All 60,000 USA Hockey coaches wonder the same thing as they head to the rink: Is this practice good for the kids?
Coaches put their experience and education to work crafting practice plans and aim to create the best possible plans for their age groups. But even the most veteran coach knows there is room for improvement.
Enter Mobile Coach 4.0. The app, available now on iOS devices and soon to be released for Android devices, features a first-in-class practice plan analyzer that will evaluate a practice plan and measure it against American Development Model recommended guidelines.
"Since we first launched Mobile Coach in 2012 we've tried to continually improve on an app that we feel enhances a coach's experience in the sport of hockey," said Mark Tabrum, USA Hockey's director of coaching education. "The latest version is the biggest step yet and puts so many tools in our coach's hands it's incredible."
Mobile Coach has for two years utilized a practice plan builder, which allows a coach to build a plan from a library of 1,500 drills, small area games and videos.
Now, once a coach builds a plan they select the Analyze Practice button and select the age group. Mobile Coach then crunches the attributes of every element of the practice and produces a breakdown of the areas of focus between Individual Skills, Hockey Sense, Systems and Goaltending.
"Once we realized the drills could be quantified with a content tag the analysis became a math problem, which is the easy part," said Cameron Eickmeyer, USA Hockey's director of internet content and development. "This new tool takes the guesswork out of evaluating a plan and we think coaches will like the result."
USA Hockey has produced recommended practice plan guidelines for several years as part of the ADM and those numbers are now the measuring stick for Mobile Coach's innovative tool.
The result is a chart showing the target next to the plan's attributes. Going one step further Mobile Coach will tell the coach what they should change to fall more in line with the recommendations.
"Every practice plan is different and the goals for a certain plan might fall outside the guidelines, but what this tool does is keep a coach within the rails as they set the course for their team," said Kevin McLaughlin, senior director hockey development.
Tracking goaltender activity has never been easier with the new tools in Mobile Coach.
“Coaches and parents who utilize the activity tracker for their goaltenders will be able to monitor how much time is spent on the fundamentals of goaltending development which is so crucial to proper training,” said Phil Osaer, goaltending manager for the ADM. “They can also see how practice activity relates to the game activity, which will aid in the design of practice situations to help goalies focus on the transferrable skills they need for success.”
An off-ice coach or parent can use Mobile Coach to track a game or practice and produce a chart of goals and saves from the five scoring areas. The visual feedback is one of the best new features in Mobile Coach 4.0.