Hockey’s Latest Disconnect: Video and Reinforcement

Hockey’s latest disconnect could be extremely problematic to say the least.

“Did you watch the tape”

“Did you see that clip I sent you”

Two questions, coaches have no doubt asked their players countless times this season. Obviously, we are living a vastly different and ever-changing hockey world. With video reinforcement becoming increasingly important, more and more coaches and players are building that into their developmental model and framework.

You can watch all the video you want, but if you don’t know what you’re doing wrong and there’s no feedback being provided, then what’s the point?

What is the player learning or how are they expected to learn from their mistakes?

We all know that every player and person develops at their own unique time and pace. We all know each player sees and processes the game differently.

In order to better serve this generation of players, video reinforcement is becoming increasingly more important. From conversations at practice, before or after games to quick demos of certain sequences during practice, the coaching landscape when it comes to providing feedback has drastically changed in the last few years.

You see that’s where the disconnect occurs.

Some coaches are sending clips and tape via InStat or other platforms to their players and not providing constructive feedback if any at all.  The player is left on their own to figure things out, which is fine, in an exploratory setting, but there comes a point when the right feedback has to arrive.

Those impromptu conversations that occurred as previously mentioned always occurred face to face. We are living in a world of visual learners, they need to see it, before they can learn it. Clearly, that’s why it’s critical to provide specific and measurable feedback in a way that caters to each player’s needs.

Are teams doing video sessions as a group or are coaches sitting down one on one with players and providing positive and constructive feedback and reinforcement?

Obviously, time is always a factor when considering one on one meetings, but one would think that would save time in the end and help the team and individual grow.

Countless organizations and leagues are using InStat, which is a wonderful tool that’s extremely valuable when used properly. Clearly coaches are doing the best they can, they have lives outside of the rink, but what’s stopping them from building time into the team’s practice schedule to sit each player down and watch 15 mins of their shifts on InStat after each practice?

With all of the expensive programs being purchased, one can only hope some coaches and organizations aren’t falling short in delivering quality instruction and feedback in that area.

Most elite level teams practice three times a week. What if each coach on the staff was assigned two or three players that they could watch shifts and provide feedback to. Wouldn’t that be the best form of player development, especially given the percentage of players that are visual learners today.

Wouldn’t it be in a team’s best interest and the players best interest to sit down with every player at least once a week and provide them quality analysis and feedback?

Isn’t that teaching?

Isn’t that development?

Some coaches will make excuses that “players these days don’t have the attention span” or “even if we show it to them they still won’t get it” or “this is the hundredth time I’ve shown them and they still don’t get it.” “It’s on them to watch it and fix the mistakes, they should know what they are doing wrong by now.” Every coach has the ability to step up and change the mindset and change the way they teach and coach the game.

It’s all about the quality of question when providing feedback while evaluating and analyzing video.

“What was going through your mind when you made that particular play”?

“What did you read when you pinched in the middle”?

“Take a look at your stick position in this sequence, what would you change”?

Analyzing tape and critiquing it through a reflective teachable lens, not one of anger, criticism or negativity should be the top priority of any coach. Coaches and organizations are dealing with a lot of different variables when it comes to “today’s player” but perhaps if they slightly adapted their delivery model and emphasized development in all facets of the game they would see more growth amongst their players. The use of video reinforcement could only strengthen and enhance their delivery model of player development. Using video and creating a constructive and consistent feedback loop with each player sets and maintains an amazing benchmark with the player and team that every shift does count and that every shift is a teachable moment.

From scouts, to coaches, to players and advisors, InStat  and other popular platforms allow everyone to break down the game. Obviously, video has been around for a long time and this technology has as well, but when the spotlight shines on each shift things become a lot clearer for the players especially when instruction and feedback is provided.

Hockey’s new disconnect with players and coaches revolving video reinforcement doesn’t have to exist. It’s all about providing quality feedback and optimizing the way both parties communicate. At the end of the day everyone is after the same thing, to get better each and every day.


  1. Exactly Craig! This has frustrated me for years. Time worth spent is an understatement. Hope coaches incorporate this into their weekly schedule asap, if they haven’t already.
    Absolutely crucial to their development.


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