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  • Writer's pictureRick Traugott

Nuggets, OneNote and Teaching the Forecheck

I think tomorrow is the two month mark of “living in the basement”. March 17 was the day my son and I drove up to my office and literally loaded my entire desk into the back of the car, resetting it all up in our basement (which used to be an AirBnB but, as you can well imagine, isn’t busy at the moment).

In some ways, our way of doing business has changed across the board in the last 60 days. Whether we are running our own business, working in a small company or a large one, there has been a shift in mindset and often a huge transformation in business and communication strategies. I certainly see it in the hockey world. I am overwhelmed, in both a good and bad way, with the amount of coaching and hockey based material that is available online. In particular, there have been lots of great presentations, particularly from the NHL Coaches Association, The Coaches Site, Weiss Tech Hockey and Roger Neilson’s Coaches Connection. That’s the “good” overwhelmed.

Joshua Hardy posted yesterday in the “Minor Hockey Coaches Working Together” Facebook group that the “bad” part of the overwhelmed is the fear of missing out (FOMO). He writes:

“There are so many incredible resources being pumped out there, and most of them for FREE! It's easy to feel like you are missing out because you didn't attend that zoom meeting with an NHL scout, or you didn't read that great article. It's also easy to fall into the trap that 'oh if I just do this one thing next season is going to be so much different!’

“It's going to be OK. Give yourself some grace!!! You don't need to attend every single zoom session or read every article. It's not going to change the experience for your (players) next year.”

So, I am officially giving myself permission to miss the odd Zoom presentation and not stress about the few dozen bookmarks and saved articles I haven’t gotten to yet.

When I see or watch a presentation, I work on my “nugget” theory. In a 45 minute presentation I want to come away with one good nugget - one thing that I can add/subtract/do differently in my season plan or my lesson plans. If I can get two or three nuggets? A bonus. Now, this isn’t to say I am sitting through the other 43 minutes of stuff that’s no good. Just that these things are new ideas (or old ones that I have forgotten) that I really want to make note of. Just an FYI, my last nugget was the idea of tracking scoring chance +/- for each player rather than just the regular goals +/- - think scoring chance CORSI rather than shot attempts. If offensively we are trying to create scoring chances and defensively preventing scoring chances, then this seems to be a good statistic to track. Now, physically tracking it is a whole other problem but, I really like the idea.

In the past week I have also had a colleague share his digital solution for putting together and sharing a “playbook”. He uses Microsoft OneNote which is really a digital “binder” that can store text, graphics, PDFs, videos, almost any kind of digital media. The best part is that the notebook can be shared so that players can not only see/watch/read content but add to it as well. I have also been at a loss for how to save and access all of the digital media that I come across in one place and OneNote seems to be a tremendous platform for this. Everything from my “nuggets” from a presentation, great quotes that I want to share, YouTube videos that are particularly good, all are now in one place and easily accessed.

The 2020-21 season is going to be my 33rd behind a bench. I have coached everything from Novice house league to the CWHL. Over the years I have established my “go to” playbook. I have amalgamated the past 32 years of experience into what I consider the best way to approach the game with regards to team tactics and system play. My playbook, first and foremost, focusses on player development. That development is based on two things: simplifying the game and an “offence first” approach. One of the things I try not to do is read something that I think is terrific and then immediately feel I need to change my approach to the game, throw out the playbook, and start all over. Instead, I try to see if there are tweaks to my playbook that might effectively incorporate some of the new ideas (and these tweaks are WAY easier to make with a OneNote digital binder!!).

Here's is my smell test for making changes or tweaks to my playbook. “Does the change make teaching a certain aspect of the game easier or better?” Here is an example of what I mean. I had a conversation with one of my former players who is now a men’s national team coach in a European country and a former top defenceman in European division 1 leagues. We were talking about angling on the forecheck and he simply said “stop teaching angling”. I am like “Huh? I have been teaching angling for 30 years.” He said, “when you angle it gives the defenceman more time to make a play. Yes, you are forcing him to make a certain play, go a certain way but, you are giving him more time to do it. Better to go straight at a defenceman on the forecheck, thereby forcing him to have to make a decision, and giving him less time to make it.” I immediately changed the way I teach forechecking!

Ultimately, I find that everyone’s “playbook” is pretty similar. “There are 17 ways to fillet a fish” as they say. What we need to do as coaches is find our own playbook that we when we teach it, it resonates well with our players.

I mentioned my “go to” playbook. In 2018, I took the time to put my playbook together and write a book about it called “Just Go Score!”. It’s my “Strategic Plan for Developing Creative, Offence First Hockey”. In the spirit of all the great sharing going on in the online hockey world, I would like to offer this 150+ page book to you for FREE this week. Click here and enter the discount code OffenceFirst until Friday May 22, 2020. And, I would love to hear any feedback you may have about the book.

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