The Value of Motivation

“Crazy Train” – Ozzy Osbourne
“Welcome to the Jungle” – Guns ‘n Roses
“Enter Sandman” – Metallica
“Lose Yourself” – Eminem
“Can’t Hold Us” – Macklemore

And the list of motivational songs goes on and on…

There are thousands of motivational videos on YouTube – and that’s just in the English language.

Those that truly reach their goals are internally motivated. They have a vision, a dream, an image of what success looks like and they use that as an end result to work towards. They know what success looks, feels, smells and tastes like and they strive to achieve it every day. They have an incredible work ethic and drive that keeps them moving on a daily basis.

So what’s the point? What’s the value of motivation?

Motivation adds gasoline to an already burning fire. It fans the flames on days when it starts to rain. Motivation gives you the extra jump you need to get over the next mountain or through the next valley.

Motivation is critical whenever you start to feel just a little bit complacent. Days when you think things are moving in a good direction and you’re happy with your progress – that’s when you need motivation. When you get a little bit down because things didn’t quite work out for you.

Motivation takes an already driven person and pushes them that much harder – it keeps them sharp and helps them achieve truly new heights.

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” – Zig Ziglar

Now we’re cooking with gas

Knowing vs Doing

A fantastic read on the Oakland A’s and what makes them successful year after year. A great lesson to be learned here: determine what it is that wins and stick to it despite all distractions and gut reactions. The game isn’t any different for anyone, but those that stick to their principles and build teams in the correct model will have continued success.

Diversity in the Game

Over the last two years, I’ve seen a lot of hockey played in a lot of different rinks around North America. I’ve seen it played by different age groups and ability levels. It quickly became apparent that while the game never changes in it’s objectives, the game is very stylistically different in different areas and leagues.

What areas of the game show the biggest differences? East/West vs North/South play, physicality, work ethic/attention to detail, skill/playmaking, pace of play.

Painting with a very broad brush, the game in New England is a very stop & start, gritty, North/South game. Canada tends to feature more skill/playmaking, East/West play, less grit but more big hits. The Central US centers around a much more disciplined, systemic game with good size and speed. Each region seems to have its elements that it does better than others (and some others that are less desirable). Even the junior leagues in each country have their own style of play.

Most coaches would agree that you want a mix of playing styles in your program. Optimally? Bring in some skill and playmaking from Canada, the work ethic and grit from New England, and some big, strong systems guys from the Midwest. Not only do these players bring different playing styles but they bring different life experiences. Your players will learn and grow from each other when a freshman from Ontario meets someone from Texas while hanging out in the room of a junior from Europe. Diversity enhances your team tactically and socially – a win on all fronts.

Wednesday Drill of the Week: Hobart 2v1 w/Cycle

Hobart 2v1 w Cycle

A multi-part offensive zone skill drill that ends with a 2v1 rush.

Everyone goes out of the same corner, but for simplicity in diagramming I split the drill into top and bottom (in the left side of the rink). F are all in one corner, D at the blue line. F1 pass to D, receive a pass back while accelerating up around the circle. Take a shot on net and stop at the net. F2 pass to the D, get it back, D walk the line and receive a second pass from F2 and take a shot. F2 then receives a 3rd puck from F3 for a 3rd shot.

After the three shots off the circle, F1 and F2 get wide and receive a pass from F3. D gaps and plays F1 and F2 attacking on a 2v1 down ice.

The drill goes out of both ends at the same time – all F’s leave out of opposite corners.

Speed Behind the Puck

I’ve heard a number of people (especially at the higher levels) talk about the concept of speed behind the puck. It’s a concept that has really taken hold in the NHL. In an effort to understand it better myself, I thought I would take some time to break it down.

What is it: Speed behind the puck is the concept that you have a player (often a forward) moving faster than the puck carrier. At it’s most basic level, a player can loop in behind the puck carrier to build up speed. As the puck carrier moves up ice, the support man builds up speed and times his attack to coincide with pressure on a defender. The puck carrier then distributes the puck to the player attacking with speed in space. It can also happen on plays into space – the puck moves north and someone who is supporting below the puck accelerates to cause a change of speed on the attack.

What it is meant to do: The concept is to cause a defender to have to adjust to a speed change and the puck in a different lane. A player may be attacking at a certain speed and in one lane, then someone who has built up speed behind the puck carrier suddenly gets the puck and attacks at a much higher pace along a different path.

Where you see it: Very often it is seen on Power Play Breakouts in the NHL – they try to time the attack to occur at the offensive blue line against a passive forecheck. You’ll also see it against traps and the 1-3-1 forecheck. Speed behind the puck will also show up on simple chip plays – a puck is moved up ice and then chipped to someone with greater speed attacking in a different lane.

What it looks like:

Watch Jeff Carter accelerate behind the puck to retrieve this chip and attack up ice with great speed. With early recognition he gets his feet moving up ice to create speed behind the puck.

Here, Mike Richards has speed behind the puck through the neutral zone – the change of lanes and slightly different speed causes the defenders gaps to be off and allow for zone entry.

Notice Patrick Kane on this clip of the Blackhawks PP Breakout in Game 7. He loops behind the puck in an attempt to pick up speed – while it isn’t a dramatic clip, it shows the basic concept of coming behind the play to gain speed.

Should you use it? This is the biggest question about speed behind the puck. It requires a lot of hockey sense, skill and timing. Players need to be able to skate and move the puck with touch and timing. Personally, I think speed behind the puck is a concept that is a part of the game at every level, but it is rarely recognized or taught. Any time the puck is ahead of you, it is critical to try to accelerate and gain speed to force the defense into a tight spot. Forwards should be taught to accelerate and attack open lanes, even when not a direct option – look to build speed before you have the puck, then use your speed difference to give the defense trouble.

For more on Speed Behind the Puck, check out Darryl Belfry’s videos here and here. Credit to Darryl for being a pioneer in this concept and teaching both coaches and players about the high level skills in the game of hockey. I can’t recommend him enough.

Wednesday Drill of the Week: 3v2 Timing

3v2 Timing

This is a 3v2 rush drill that incorporates a neutral zone regroup and a timing element. The drill starts with 4 D just inside the blue lines and forwards in each of the two lower corners. The coach stands at the red line with a pile of pucks. Coach will pass a puck to the far D – the puck then moves D-D. F3 takes off on the pass and times it to receive the puck after the D-D pass. F3 then passes the puck to the other set of D who also go D-D. At this time, F1 and F2 have take off (again, timing the play) to present themselves as options after the D-D pass. F3 comes in close support for the D-D pass. After the puck moves to one of the F’s, they attack the original two D on a 3v2 rush.

Two new D step out and the drill starts again, going the other direction. Keys to this drill: Forwards need to have great timing and support all over the ice. Anticipating and moving in sync with the puck is critical. Defense need to move the puck crisply and quickly to keep the play moving. They should try to maintain a tight gap and good stick positioning when playing the rush. To add a degree of difficulty, force the D to move and create spacing on the D-D pass (hinge, use indirects off the boards, wide, etc).

Mapping My Days

A day in the life of a college coach can consist of any number of a thousand things on the to-do list. It’s impossible to do them all – there will always be work that is pushed to tomorrow.

I’ve struggled with how to best manage the workload and prioritize what’s important today. It’s easy to build a long to-do list, get one or two things crossed off and feel like you accomplished nothing on that day.

Recently, I began doing to activities on a regular basis that have really helped me manage my days. The first was to monitor how I used my time throughout the day in 15 minute intervals. Just a quick note to jot down what I was doing or how long an activity took me to do. If it took more than 15 minutes I drew a line through to the end. This helped me to get a much better feel for how long things really take.

The second thing I did was to add my “Top 3″ for every day on to this sheet. Every day, I have three things that are time sensitive (have a time assigned to them), three things that I want to do that day, and three things that I have to do for me. This helps me to prioritize my activities for that day and have a guide for what I want to accomplish. It also helps me to maintain some balance in my life – get things done in my personal life that need to be done. The time sensitive things can be meetings or just projects that I put a deadline on. The three things to do can be anything from phone calls to organize my desk. Personal items are often things like go to the grocery and workout. At the end of the day, I almost always get my “Top 3″ done, as well as the million other things that come across my desk.

Ultimately, there are a lot of different ways to organize your day to make it the most efficient and productive it can be. I’ve found this to work for me – I suggest trying a few different things and figuring out what works best for you. I’ve attached the sheet as an excel file – feel free to check it out for yourself.

Time Mapping


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