The iPad as an immediate on-ice feedback tool during training sessions
As coaches we understand our students are potentially as different in the way they learn things as in the way they play the game. Some people learn visually, while others learn by sound, feel or touch. Furthermore, as technological advances become available and affordable, goaltending coaches should seek out new ways to use technology to help students learn better and improve overall game skills. The iPad is an excellent piece of technology enabling coaches to provide immediate on-ice visual feedback during training sessions.
For years I have employed a video recorder on a tripod to tape both games and training sessions for goaltenders I have been paid to help and personally for my son. Although familiar with Steva Hockey software, I have never utilized it due to cost. The simple recorder has however allowed me to review game film and training sessions to break down performances from both a tactical and mechanical standpoint. I make notes and, if necessary, break film down frame by frame to verify my concerns about a certain issue. This is, however, something I prepare at home similar to a professional coach sitting in a film room.
Being a time consuming process it works well with game footage since it provides both student and coach some time for analytical thought / reflection about a certain performance before getting together to watch film. The video recorder is, however, not great for training sessions. It may get in the way if placed on the ice, tip over or get damaged. If located off the ice, coach and student clearly don’t have immediate viewing access. This is where the iPad is great.
During training a drill is executed by the goaltender. The coach assesses execution based on drill intent. Whether good or bad the coach intermittently makes comments and comes to the crease for a chat, demonstrates or describes pertinent corrections, and the drill resumes. This is auditory learning only! If the coach physically manipulates the athlete’s body for purposes of mechanical correction then a tactile sensation has been added. The iPad can then be used for immediate visual performance feedback.
The goalie coach may stand as far away from or as close to the goaltender as desired. He, or she, may also follow the movement of the drill while skating along and getting different angles as the drill unfolds from one repetition to another. The iPad is light and therefore it is easy to move around with it. The image is recorded and reviewed with the student immediately. Lines may be drawn on the screen to highlight areas of importance.
While working with my son, former minor professional player and current OHL (Mississauga Steelheads) goaltending coach Kory Cooper (Kingston Fine-line Conditioning and Athletic Academy) I took the film presented below. This clip involves a “high-low drill” with many technical components including head-on-a-swivel, visual tracking, down pivots, lateral slides, a stick save and hand-eye coordination. The image is very clear and coach Cooper is close to his student. In between sets the iPad sequence provides immediate feedback for error correction and discussion.
Another practical application of the iPad relates to off-ice training. If, for example, on-ice video reveals a goaltender moves laterally with greater power and efficiency in one direction than the other, the goalie coach may converse with the strength and conditioning specialist about these concerns and play the film. Through visual input the off-ice coach gains greater appreciation for the position-specific movements involved. Thereafter, a functional assessment is performed and a training program is developed attacking the element(s) contributing to a discrepancy in lateral power and movement efficiency in this particular example.
This is, of course, separate from a general broad-based training program.
Another potential use is for goalie school operators. Coach Cooper and I discussed the idea of having an iPad present at each station for on-ice training. There would clearly be a significant financial investment initially and would only really be necessary for students of a certain maturity and skill level. It would, however, allow for the immediate aforementioned feedback for very specific concerns. It also becomes completely personalized in contrast to the generic classroom video sessions where half the kids are not paying attention, and the other half are frustrated because they actually want to learn something.
It’s important to acknowledge that this technology is already being used for coaching purposes. The coaching staff at St. Andrew’s College in Aurora, Ontario have been working with a company (Avoca Technologies Inc.) to help perfect a new HD video to iPad coaching tool called myplayXplay.com. This process allows coaches to stream HD video back to the iPad for the purposes of both technical and tactical review with players while on the bench. This means the days of the coaching board may soon go the way of the dinosaur both during games and intermission sessions. It will also increase player accountability through supportive visual evidence.
In conclusion, the iPad has the potential to be greatly beneficial as an educational training aid for positive reinforcement, immediate error correction and enhanced communication between coaches dealing with different aspects of optimizing a goaltender’s abilities and team play in general. If you have yet to try it I encourage you to do so!