Take a Look Under the Hood
The saying “take a look under the hood” is one used by coach Urben Meyer. I like the saying because it requires coaches and players to take an honest look at individual and team performance to diagnosis performance issues for the purpose of making improvements. The best tool for diagnosing problems in individual and group performance is studying game video in all three zones of the rink. There is no better way than using slow motion video analysis of game performance paying attention to the details of the game in the execution of skills, tactics and systems.
Performance metrics are essential to measuring performance but more important is the ability to analyze performance with your best analytic tool, your “eyes”. Video analysis provides the opportunity to identify the causes of poor performance so you can make corrections and see better results in the win/loss columns and improved performance metrics. Players and coaches need feedback to be able to teach and video is the best tool to provide feedback. Video break downs focus players and coaches on the details of the game.
Replace Bad Habits with Good Habits
The sooner a player or team replaces bad habits with good habits the better. The longer a bad habit is ingrained in a player or a team, the more challenging it becomes to change behaviour(s). Every player and team should be focused on getting better every day, every week, even if the gains are marginal. If you are not recognizing and correcting bad habits in individual players and the group on an ongoing basis you’re not focused on getting better. Great teams and great players want the truth and they want the truth every day.
Game Highlights of the LA Kings 5-2 Loss to the Vegas Golden Knights
Any time your team has a negative goals against (GA) record or negative goals for/goals against ratio it is important to “take a look under the hood” to diagnosis the causes. You will undoubtedly identify bad habits of individual players and the groupings (D pairs, lines and special teams) that need to be replaced with good habits in all three zones of the rink.
Let’s examine four goals against the Kings to see if we can identify bad habits that need to be replaced by good habits. When a team has five goals scored against them in a game there are likely some bad habits that need to be replaced with good habits in their defensive game.
Bad Habits – Clip 01 Kings VS Knights
- Coming off the ice in the neutral zone when the opponent has puck possession and control in the zone.
- Over skating the puck in the neutral zone & getting caught above the puck unable to support the puck defensively by providing back pressure support.
- Finishing a check late after the puck has been moved and being out of position to be able to support the puck defensively.
- Not picking up your checking assignment (late arrivals) in the offensive zone as a forward backing checking from the blue line to your net.
Bad Habits – Clip 02 LA Kings VS Golden Knights
- Getting out of position to defend below your opponent’s net on an Attack Rush Play and not hustling to get back to puck level or above to be in position to defend on a change of possession.
- Getting caught as a forward line with 3 players below puck level in the offensive zone.
- Pinching as a D down low in the offensive zone without a legitimate chance to recover the puck or move the puck to a safe area with 3 players below the puck in zone.
- Back checking giving away inside position (between the dots) instead of angling with inside out control and boxing out your opponent to protect middle ice, especially as F3.
Bad Habits – Clip 03 LA Kings VS Golden Knights
- Coming off the ice when your opponent is attacking in the neutral zone with full puck possession and control.
- Not numbering up into man coverage on a 3 on 3 attack rush, allowing one of the attackers to score on the net zone loose puck. Trust your teammates to do their job.
Bad Habits – Clip 04 LA Kings VS Golden Knights
- Coming off the ice in the neutral zone with the opponent in possession of the puck entering and exiting the neutral zone with speed and puck control to attack your net.
- Getting caught as a forward line (all 3 players) below the puck in the neutral zone in a counter attack situation.
- Strong side D caught flat footed (stationary) unable to match the speed of the Puck Carrier at his blue line unable to defend. The D is not in position to defend.
Take a Look Under the Hood – Conclusions
Players and coaches at the professional level got there because they are talented individuals. The only way players and coaches improve is when they take responsibility for getting better every day, every week and are committed to the process of getting better. There is no easy solution, it’s hard work, perseverance, attention to details and takes the character of the group to make the sacrifices to do the hard work to clean up bad habits and replace them with good habits.
Often, you will see bad habits repeat themselves from game to game until they are corrected and replaced with good habits. Take a look under the hood as players and coaches, diagnose the bad habits and replace them with good habits.