Feedback: Dave Hearn

Dave Hearn may be the quintessential ‘hockey dad.’ The father of three hockey players, he’s a financial analyst by day, but for the last eight years he’s committed countless evenings and weekends to coaching the game he grew up playing from youth hockey, through high school, and on to college.

Now a USA Hockey Level 4 coach, he’s worked with kids ranging from Mini-Mite through Peewee. Currently the head coach of the West Seneca (New York) Wings Peewee Major AAA team, Dave is an early PowerPlayer adopter.

How would you describe your approach to coaching youth hockey? That’s a broad question so I’ll give two answers. First, I enjoy the game so I always want my players to enjoy being at the rink and being part of a team. That should always be a time to have fun, but also to learn along the way.

Second, I try to coach my players to ‘think the game’ — to know, for example, what it means to play while in control of the puck and at the same time know how to play without the puck. I try to teach a complete view of the game so the kids understand that even without the puck they can still control a situation with proper positioning and defensive work.

How do you see PowerPlayer helping with the way you teach? I’m really looking at PowerPlayer for communication — to get information out there to the people who need to see it. I love analytics, and I want the players and parents to know what I’m looking at, and to understand what I’m seeing. I’m always open to talk with parents, but sometimes that can be awkward for people. With PowerPlayer I can give them feedback without either person feeling awkward. And having data to support assessments definitely helps. I always want to communicate things that players need to improve on.

What aspects of the PowerPlayer system are you using the most right now? We’ve done off-ice stuff to set fitness baselines, and we provided some intangibles ratings and comments to let the kids (and their parents) know about specific things we think they do well and some things they maybe don’t do so well. We also did baseline on-ice testing like skating and shooting, and are doing more each week so we can see trends and improvements.

How are you fitting PowerPlayer into your practice sessions? Are you dedicating a session just to PowerPlayer or integrating it with normal practices? I typically run three PowerPlayer drills at a time, then move on to regular practice activities. We do it that way because it seems to suit our coaches and ice utilization best.

What is your use of PowerPlayer telling your players? Right now I think it’s letting them know that there’s more to the game than being on the ice. They’re young, so by introducing and focusing a little on the Fitness component of PowerPlayer they’re realizing that things like push-ups and sit-ups matter. And it lets them know that they should always work hard at practice and in games because we’re always assessing them.

Have you noticed any changes in your players since you’ve been using PowerPlayer? They know they’re being timed or measured, so when we do off-ice stuff or go on the ice for a practice where we use the system, there’s a lot more intensity, more competitive spirit. They want to be better than their buddies, but I always tell them they need to focus on being better than themselves!

How would you describe your own comfort level with technology? Ha! I’m not really a huge techie guy, not glued to a phone or tablet. I’m not an early technology adopter by nature, but if I see something that seems really smart or is working well for others I tend to go with it. As I said, I’m pretty big on analytics, and maybe PowerPlayer is a little different than what I’m used to, but it’s definitely a good thing.

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