skip navigation

Watch and learn

09/18/2019, 12:45pm CDT
By Kim McCullough, M.Sc, YCS

Video is a fantastic teaching and learning tool for young hockey players

Video is a fantastic teaching and learning tool for young hockey players. Just think of how often in a given day players are watching videos on their phones or online. As parents and coaches, this technology simply wasn’t available to us growing up and so we might not be as attuned to it as our kids are. Most young people are visual learners so we need to teach them in a way that they’ll best absorb the information.

Many young players won’t truly understand a system, skill or drill unless they see it done.  Similarly, many players can’t really understand what they did wrong or right on a particular play or shift unless they are able to watch themselves do it. They won’t believe it until they see it.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the power of visualization before and its impact on sports’ performance. Basically, visualization allows you to replay a certain skill or play over and over in your head before executing it on the ice. Visualizing the perfect shift or a particular play can be hard if you’ve never actually seen it happen before. However, if you have the video footage of yourself, a teammate, an opponent or a professional player doing that same skill, it becomes much easier for you to “watch” that video over and over again in your head.

Here’s an example:

In an important league game last season, one of the younger players on my team made a great stick check in mid-ice to steal a puck and go down on a breakaway. She sniped it top-corner and popped the goalies’ water bottle off the net. Not bad for a kid with only one other goal all season. We got it on tape and we watched that clip a lot as a team and I watched it even more as a coach. And I can guarantee you the player who scored that amazing goal has it etched on her brain permanently.

So how can you incorporate video into your mental game this season?

Take clips of shootout moves and amazing plays from pros and show to your team. There’s nothing like learning from the best. Try to replicate those moves on and off the ice.

I recently found some great clips online on how to win faceoffs. I took that video link and sent it directly to my team. Since most players have a smart phone (at least they do at the high school level), they could easily just click on the link and watch it right away without getting to a computer. I will be sending footage from our games, as well as amazing clips from the pros, this way throughout the season because it is so quick, easy and effective.

Get a parent, friend, or a professional to film a game of yours. You can then use that footage in a variety of ways:

If you don’t want to edit the video into smaller pieces, you can simply get the team together and watch one period together and stop the tape at key points along the way. It will take the players awhile to get used to watching themselves on tape so allow for the fact that they might be a little uncomfortable at the start - especially if they are the one making a mistake or being criticized.

If you’re a little more technically advanced, you can clip out specific aspects of your game the team is working on at the time, such as power play or face offs. These clips can be super quick - ideally, keep the video sessions to less than 10 minutes of footage (5 minutes is even more ideal)  so that the players can stay focused.

Make sure you mix in positives and negatives. You can make a video session entirely of highlight reel moments, or you can have clips that are more critical mixed in with positives. Try to find something positive in every clip - trust me, it’s there...even if it is the other team that is doing it.

On that note, use the other team to teach as well. If they have a great forecheck, show it. If their in-zone system breaks down on a goal you score against them, point that out too. When you use the opponent’s game as well as yours, you really have two games you can break down within one set of footage.

If you want to get really fancy, you can do video sessions by position. You can sit all your forwards down, your Ds or your goalies separately. You can also do video by line & D pair, and even by individual, but it’s a lot harder to break down unless you have a specific person in charge of (and excited about) editing video.

Whether you are using clips of your own team’s performance, or showing highlights from the pros, video is a terrific tool for enhancing a player’s mental game. Whether you are doing video sessions with your team, or searching for shootout goal highlights on your own, it’s so important to be able to see what  high-level performance looks like and taking this mental aspect of your game to the next level.


Coach Kim McCullough is a leading expert in the development of female hockey players. She is the Director & Founder of Total Female Hockey and has coached at the Provincial and National team level. She is currently the Head Coach of the Toronto-Leaside Jr Wildcats in the Ontario Provincial Women’s Hockey League. To take your shooting and stick-handling to the next level this summer, click here.

Top Stories

Tag(s): State Of Hockey  News  Kim McCullough