Do Systems Rob from Skill Development?

Do Systems Rob from Skill Development?

Sample Article from Hockey Development Magazine – Click Here to Download the App

I was watching a conversation take place in my Facebook feed a few weeks ago. The topic centered around whether Mites should be taught “systems hockey.”

It all started with a coach who posted that every coach in the USA needs to get on board with the ADM:


So people began going back and forth on this a bit, some coaches expressing their opinions more politely than others. Then one coach said something to the effect that ADM is garbage, and that the kids don’t learn systems under ADM. 

His comment garnered a reply from this coach:


Notice he says “positioning is a garbage concept” and that “skills dominate today’s game.” These two coaches went back and forth a bit more, until the first made the statement that ADM would eventually “kill USA Hockey.” To which the second coach replied as follows:


“Get on board or get passed by…”

Then a few other coaches threw in their 2 cents worth:



“Systems inhibit development of decision making and hockey sense…?!”

At this point, I figured it was time to address the topic, and show the results of my approach in action. So, I put together the video above. 

The Stakes are High

The reason I feel so strongly about this topic is that the stakes are extremely high. If we get this right, our kids will be miles ahead of their peers. Get it wrong and it’s a big setback. 

I believe that if we structure our development properly, Systems vs Skill Development doesn’t have to be an “either/or” proposition. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: skills can be developed BETTER when you’re teaching systems too; and systems can be progressed FASTER with better skill development. 

What Takes More Skill, Dump & Chase or Systems Hockey?

Next time you have a chance, go down to the rink and watch a Mite game. My guess is that you’ll see a bunch of kids, slapping the puck around and chasing it. If they’re going cross-ice 4 on 4 (like ADM recommends), wherever the puck goes, you’ll see 8 kids clustered around it, battling like piranhas in a feeding frenzy. Eventually the fastest kid will come up with the puck, take it all the way down the ice, and score. 

So here’s the question: Does it take more individual skill to slap the puck and chase it, or to set up a breakout, carry the puck behind the net, find a teammate on the boards, make a stick to stick pass, carry the puck wide, then pass to the middle for a goal?

Obviously, the controlled game takes more skill. It also takes more effort as a coach. But it is so much more beneficial to your players!


As you’ll see in the video above, I teach basic positioning to my Mite house team, and it works beautifully. Not only are they the team with the best positioning, but they’re also the highest skilled, across the board, of any team we’ve come up against. 

If it can be done at the house level, it can be done even better with higher-level players!

Raven Hockey: Game Changing Stick Technology for Youth

Raven Hockey: Game Changing Stick Technology for Youth

I don’t throw around the term “game changer” very often. And I definitely don’t use it lightly! But I believe Raven Hockey sticks to be just that – a GAME CHANGER. Let me explain why.

Crash Course in Stick Flex

In order to understand what makes Raven sticks so special, it’s important to understand how stick flex works. Here are the key points:

  • Every stick made has a number. This number is the “flex.”
  • The higher the number the stiffer the flex.
  • This number is established BEFORE the stick is cut. So an 85 flex stick is only 85 at full length. Once you cut it, that number goes up. For me, my 85 becomes closer to 100 once I chop it down––because I’m short.
  • Your stick flex, POST CUT, should be about HALF your body weight.

Chart Showing Stick Height & Flex Recommendations:


Typical Youth Sticks

Now let’s take a look at the specs on your typical youth stick. I recently bought new sticks for Tyler and Chase. The sticks were 35 flex PRE CUT, which is already too stiff for both my kids. They were also A LOT longer than they needed to be. So we had to chop quite a bit off, which increased the stiffness even more. By the time all was said and done, I’m guessing we were at about a 50 flex for Tyler, and possibly at 60 flex for Chase. Tyler weighs just over 60 lbs, and Chase weighs just over 50 lbs. So their sticks are way too stiff for their weight!

Enter Raven Hockey

About two weeks ago I came in contact with the guys down at Raven Hockey. It didn’t take long for me to realize these guys were onto something that would literally revolutionize youth stick manufacturing. Raven sticks are built to fit youth heights and weights.

The sticks come in 4 flexes; 20, 30, 40, and 50. The lower flex sticks are shorter, meaning the flex is measured at a shorter starting point. So you aren’t chopping off as much, which means you know you’re closer to it’s true flex, even after you’ve cut it.

They have also made some other adjustments that work really well too, including:

  • Proper starting height: means less to cut––more accurate flex specs
  • Thicker shaft: easier to grip for better puck control
  • 20/30/40/50 flex: less than 50% of body weight AFTER CUT
  • Feel: Proper flex for length
  • Blade: bigger, stiffer, more control


Our Experience with Raven Sticks

Our Raven sticks arrived early this week. We chopped them, taped them, then put them to the test. Tyler and Chase immediately had a 2-3 mph improvement on their wrist shots, and that has continued to increase as they get used to the feel of the sticks. Their hands seem to have improved as well, especially with Tyler (my 8 year old). We’ve had two on-ice practices with the Raven sticks, and the kids are shooting mini laser beams!

Game Changer

The sticks behave just like a scaled down version of an adult stick, which opens up the door for slap and snap shots. In the past I’ve always recommended players stay away from slap shots until they get older. Even if they can perform the mechanics, they don’t have the strength or weight to make the stick flex properly for them with a conventional youth stick.

This all changes with Raven. With a stick that works properly for the kids’ size, I’ve begun teaching Tyler the slap shot. He’s picking it up pretty quickly, and the stick works like magic for him. You can see in the picture below, the perfect amount of flex. With a slap shot being a possibility now, this opens new avenues in the development of youngsters!

Slap Shot Flex


In case you couldn’t tell, I’m REALLY excited about these sticks, and endorse them 100%. I don’t think I’ll be able to have my kids go back to anything else after seeing their game using Raven sticks. Having functional equipment allows players to develop better. On top of the performance benefits, Raven also offers a 60 Day warrantee on all their sticks. It’s a no-brainer… really!


Hockey Equipment Tips for Kids

Hockey Equipment Tips for Kids

Hockey is still a young sport here in Salt Lake City, which means we have many first-time hockey parents. While these parents all share a love of the game, and enthusiasm for their kids being involved, many of them are unfamiliar with the finer points of putting on hockey gear.

Over the past few years, I’ve consistently seen equipment issues with improper sizing (sticks too long), improper wearing (skates too loose, elbow pads upside down, etc.), and even non-usage (no cup?!?).

So I felt it could do some good, at the very least in my local organization, to put together a video detailing the key points of how to size and wear every piece of hockey gear, from start to finish. Obviously, this is a broad topic, so I’ve put together a time-stamped “Table of Contents.” This way, if you have questions about a specific piece of equipment, you can fast forward straight to it using the timestamps below. Skates and sticks are the two that do the most damage to your player’s ability to learn the game if you get them wrong. So I’d recommend at least watching those two segments. :

– 1:29 Cup/Jock & Garter
– 3:10 Shin Pads
– 7:33 Socks
– 9:24 Pants
– 11:22 SKATES
– 20:29 Tape & Shoulder Pads
– 23:25 Elbow Pads
– 25:26 Jersey
– 26:35 Helmet & Gloves
– 30:57 STICK

When gear fits properly, the players are able to focus on learning and having fun, rather than being uncomfortable with equipment fitting badly or falling off. With everything in place, your player will be able to develop in a safe, comfortable, and fun environment.

Article Taken from this Month’s Hockey Development Magazine. Click Below to Start Your FREE Trial Today!


Season Planning, Clinic Agenda, & Your Questions Answered

I’ve received a lot of great feedback from folks who are excited about our upcoming coaching clinic THIS WEEK. Register today to secure your spot. I wanted to take a minute here to announce a few things, and answer a few questions.


We’ll be running a LIVE training on season planning this Monday, August 10 from 6:00-7:00 PM (US Mountain Time). This will be a live example of the type of training you can expect during the actual clinics.

Sign up for the FREE sample session here: (this is a free sample, to register for the actual clinic see the button link below)


A few folks have asked for more details on what we plan to discuss. Here’s a general look at what will be covered, but topics are subject to change based on the needs of the participants. All times are US Mountain Time––Replays are available for people who can’t make a session (more details on that below):

  • Aug. 13
    • 7:00-9:00 PM: Welcome/Introduction; Overview of Program; Drill Share Setup; Philosophy
  • Aug. 14
    • 5:00-7:00 PM: Development Strategy; On-Ice Skill Development; Drill Development
    • 8:00-10:00 PM: Tactical Play––Read & React, Support, Puck Protection, Timing, Read & React for Defensemen
  • Aug. 15
    • 8:00-10:00 AM: Season Planning (in depth); Bench Management
    • 11:00 AM-1:00 PM: Defensive Zone Systems; Neutral Zone Play;
    • 2:00-4:00 PM: Offensive Attack; Forechecking;
    • 5:00-7:00 PM: Maintaining Offensive Pressure; Special Teams; Faceoffs
    • 8:00-10:00 PM: Technology in Hockey––Video; Software; Apps
    • 10:00-? PM: Final Q&A

In our survey, we had A LOT of requests for systems discussion; not just how to set-up, but how to beat specific setups as well. In the sessions we plan to hit both sides of the systems play––how to set-up, and how to beat certain setups. There will be lots of “digital chalk-talk” and live action examples in the systems segments.



Over the past few days we’ve had a number of questions come in. Here are the answers to the main ones:

  • Q: Can I split the registration fee among my coaching staff and have all 3 of us watch together?
  • A: Absolutely! This would be a great way to get your whole staff on the same page for the upcoming season.
  • Q: I live in a different time zone, what if I can’t make some of the sessions? Will I miss out by not watching it live?
  • A: This has been the most common question. The platform we’re using offers what’s called a “REPLICA REPLAY.” This will replay the session AND the comments in real time, as if you were watching it live. You will also still have the ability to submit questions after the fact, and I’ll track those and answer them in subsequent sessions. In a nutshell, you will still get ALL the benefits of watching it live.
  • Q: I’ve been following you for a long time. How much of the material covered will be new to this clinic?
  • A: Tough question to quantify. A good portion of it will be new. Some of the topics will be found in other places/products of mine. However, we’ll be going into more depth here, and including a lot of live action videos of the concepts as well.

That’s it for now. Let me know if you have any other questions about the upcoming clinics or anything else.








Weiss Tech Coaching Clinics: On-Ice Skill Development in Action

We recently published Part 1 of a video series designed to help coaches formulate their on-ice development processes with their teams. Over the past 4 days since the video went live, we’ve received a lot of AWESOME feedback from our coaches. Here are a few examples of emails that have come in:

Great video as always! Well presented, well organized and well explained.

Good video and topic. Far to many coaches lose patience when teaching for skill acquirement. They see the players struggle and not understand what it is they are trying to teach them. […] Thanks again for putting the video out and I am looking forward to your Coaching Clinic.

This is great stuff!  I really liked this video explaining the use of progressions. I am really pumped to participate in your clinic!  I’m always craving more knowledge.

Just watched part 1. Well done,  I know that these videos and topics you will be discussing will be very helpful to me.

I would like to personally thank you for this detailed break down, it will be very useful this September for me. […] Thank you very much. if you’ll ever come in Italy i’ll buy you a drink 😉

There were many more, just like these. Thank you for your feedback!

The purpose of this series is to give you a sample of the type of instruction you can expect in our upcoming clinics; and to give you some useful content in the process!

  • Part one discusses what I call “Development Sequences,” and gives an overview of the different goals, objectives, and drill types that should be used as you bring your players through various types of skill development.
  • Part two shows you what this on-ice skill development will look like in action, with some actual practice footage.

So, let’s get straight to it. Here’s part 2––On-Ice Development in Action:


If this video was helpful, make sure you get on our email list so you’ll be sure to be in the loop as we get closer to the registration date for the clinics.





 Page 1 of 52  1  2  3  4  5 » ...  Last »