How to properly utilize Videotape Review for Hockey

For years, NHL teams and collegiate hockey teams have used videotape review as an important part of their player development and coaching. Videotape review is an excellent way for players of all ages to assess their development, an excellent teaching tool for coaches, and an un-biased mode of performance evaluation. The NHL and collegiate levels have been using it for years, and now thanks to massive sales growth in the personal video camera world, it is fast becoming a tool for amateur athletes and coaches as well.

Using videotape review and analysis, if done properly, can greatly enhance the performance of any individual, as well as an entire team. However, the key is knowing how to use it, why to use it, what to focus on, and how to address your players in large and small group settings alike.

How and what to tape

As the vast majority of camcorders, as well as phones, sold in the marketplace today are personal in nature, they are often very small in size, even pocket-sized, and therefore seem as though they could record while in the palm of your hand. While this is true, it often leads to poor video quality and large segments of missed action. It is very difficult for the amateur fan, one that has ties to the action in front of them, to keep their eye on either the play or the camera. This is why it is recommended that you use a tripod whenever possible to record the play. Provided the camera’s pan and zoom are set to capture the entire rink, this will allow the cameraperson to record the action and not miss a second of it, solely by pointing it in the general direction of the play. To do this, try and find a spot high in the arena as close to the red line as possible. This way, the camera can capture all the action without unnecessary zooming, focusing or pointing. As we all know, those small screens make it very difficult to follow the action without missing something important. It is best to set up this tripod in a place where all you need to do is ensure the camera is pointing at the action without having to stare at these small screens.

Another trap many parents will inevitably fall into is focusing too intently on one player, usually their own son or daughter. This cannot be helped, nor should they be blamed. It is their child, of course. One helpful hint when speaking with these volunteers is to point out that you would like them to film the entire sheet, as this best allows the coach to recognize breakdowns, lapses and errors made by the team as a whole. Also point out to them that the camera can cover a large portion of the ice and does need to be moved as fast as one might think when considering the speed of the game. If this occurs, the footage will appear blurry, with choppy movements and a general difficulty in reviewing the tape. Also, remind them that while they are taping, they need to refrain from making comments, especially disparaging ones, about any of the people involved in the game, because all camcorders and phones do record sound. Now, while this can be muted during taping, it is nice to have sound because it tends to give the game some depth and feel of the action.


Why review tape?

Videotape review is beneficial to people, especially kids, of all ages. It provides them a chance to see themselves perform on television, as well as providing excellent pre-scouting opportunities, recruiting opportunities, and coach evaluations. It also enhances team-building and team unity, and most importantly, it addresses one of the fundamental principles of teaching: how a person learns. Human beings learn one of three ways: by hearing, by seeing, or by touch (feeling). It is important to note that the younger a person is, the more they rely on visual learning. In other words, the more they see it, the faster they will learn it.

For the best results, it is extremely important to make this experience for the players as un-intimidating as possible. It is not appropriate to attack a person with visual proof of their shortcomings or errors. It is simply meant to be a tool in helping this player understand their mistakes and rectify them. Never attack or single out one player for the mistakes they have made in front of their peers or team. This will serve no purpose other then to stir resentment towards you in that player, humiliate them in front of their teammates, and quite possibly alienate the team. Simply point out the mistake, ensure they understand what they did wrong, and ensure they know what they are expected to do in a similar situation the next time.

When meeting as a team, it is best to focus on team issues instead of individual play. This will ensure team cohesiveness and unity of purpose towards achieving perfection in what is being discussed. With younger kids, focus on issues like positions, systems, plays, rules, and penalties to ensure the players are all on the same page with certain situations, as well as the same page regarding a general understanding of the game. Older kids pointing out things like a lack of effort or hustle, poor performances, positioning breakdowns, systems, and helpful insights to anticipation will play towards their ego and pride levels, ensuring the desired reactions. When you are talking with the team or player, it is very important to follow a bad clip with a good clip. This technique of tearing down and re-building helps a player see that yes, they did make some mistakes, but they also did a lot of things right. This will enable the player to build off the positives. This will go a long way toward getting the desired results and building a young player’s confidence.

One of the best things a team can do with game footage is thoroughly track team goals and objectives. This is the most positive way to utilize this footage without stirring resentment, while getting the team focused on and attuned to the goals the team has set as a group at the beginning of the season. The sooner a coach has them caring more about achieving these team goals instead of individual goals, the sooner this team will become one cohesive unit and succeed. There are hundreds of things a coach can track from a game tape, but it all comes down to personal preference and team goals. In other words, if one of your team goals is holding the opposition to 21 shots on net per game, it makes more sense to track Shots Against Per Period and/or Per Game to better judge how your team is achieving its goals. Some standard tracking points are as follows:

  • Shots on net
  • Shots that missed the net
  • Blocked shots
  • Re-directs
  • Face-offs: won vs. lost
  • Length of shifts
  • Line combinations
  • Hits
  • 1 vs. 1's
  • 2 vs. 1's
  • Line rushes for
  • Line rushes against
  • Goaltender touches
  • Goaltender plays
  • Power play results
  • Penalty kill results
  • Team penalties
  • Player tendencies
  • Goaltender tendencies
  • Opponent tendencies
  • Player & team plus/minus




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