Philosophy Archives

Do Systems Rob from Skill Development?

Do Systems Rob from Skill Development?

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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!


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.






Weiss Tech Coaching Clinics: Development Sequences

A few days ago we asked our readers to give their input as to which topics they’d like to see covered in our upcoming Coaching Clinic, which will be taking place online, in August (more details coming soon).

The response has been overwhelming to say the least! As of today, over 500 coaches have submitted their feedback, and I’ve personally read each one of their replies!

One of the most requested topics was how to use progressions in your skill development. So I’ve put together a two-part video sequence to help address this question. 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 1––Development Sequences:

If this video was helpful, make sure you get on our email list so you’ll be sure to receive access to part two when it becomes available. We’ll also make sure to keep you in the loop as we get closer to the registration date for the clinics.






Coaching Clinic Survey Results

A few days ago, we gave our coaches the chance to voice what they would like to see covered in our upcoming coaching clinic, which will be happening online in August (make sure you’re on our mailing list to get more info as it is made available).

The response to the survey was INCREDIBLE. We received feedback from nearly 500 coaches, and I personally read every single response. The answers were detailed, and very helpful. Here are a few samples. In the interest of privacy, I’ve omitted names and teams:

This is what would be most beneficial to me:

A very detailed description of systems (as if explaining it to the entire team), to include man-to-man d-zone coverage, neutral zone play, zone entry, setting up the offense, pp, pk.  I am enjoying your 4 e-books thus far. I am especially interested in expanding on your theory that hockey sense can be taught/learned. At times, I feel like I am trying to herd 25 cats (collegiate players with typically more than 15 years of playing experience). Thanks for making all of your ideas so accessible and at a fair price. I have been coaching for 27 years, and you have just made a significant contribution to my arsenal.


“Head Coach”
Men’s Hockey
ACHA Division I

Here’s another:

Excellent idea!

As a coach I’m always looking for drill progressions that can be utilized to help with Power skating development.

I’m also always tinkering with drill progressions to help players develop puck control, agility and speed.  Discussions on how and when to train for on ice speed would be helpful.  Discussion and drills for System development could prove useful as well for the older teams!



And one more for good measure:

This sounds really promising!

I mentioned before about covering of your systems through the eye of a player, like “I’m a winger, when the puck is here, I’m here etc…”


We received HUNDREDS of submissions of this caliber. I decided I’d post a generalized list of the requested topics that came in. I think it helps to see what other coaches have on their minds. I’ve consolidated the 490 submissions into the following list of 79 topics:

  • Systems
  • Team Building
  • Character Building and Identifying
  • Aggressive vs Passive – when to play each
  • Individual Skills
  • Off-ice skill development
  • Systems Drills
  • Age Appropriateness for Systems
  • Half Ice Drills
  • Keeping Practices Engaging
  • Small Area Drills
  • Dealing with Problem Parents
  • Dealing with Talented, but Unmotivated Players
  • How to Run Progressions
  • Tactical Play––not where to be, but WHAT to do
  • Structuring the Line-up
  • How to Support Child who wants to play High Level
  • Overcoming player deficiencies
  • Making Drills Fun
  • Motivating Youngsters
  • End of Game Strategies (6 on 5)
  • Gift of Coaching – Impacting Young Lives
  • Combating Different Systems
  • Passing Drills
  • Agility Skating & Battling Drills
  • Effective Practice Planning
  • Coaching Staff Working as a Team
  • Pregame Talks
  • In Game Coaching
  • Two-way Players
  • Season Structure: on-ice, off-ice, skills, systems, etc.
  • How to Teach Skating Technique
  • Offensive Thinking
  • Stick, Body, Skate Positioning in Various Game Situations
  • In-Season Workout Program––Including Nutrition
  • Shooting & Goal Scoring Technique
  • Mental Pre-game Prep
  • When to Move on From a Drill
  • Explosive Speed
  • Weekly Practice Structure
  • “User Friendly” Practice Plans & Sharing
  • Using Goalies in Practice
  • Puck Protection
  • Possessional Transitions
  • Developing a Season Plan for Using the Weiss Tech Playbook
  • Bench Management
  • Effective Communication
  • Identifying Problem Areas
  • Body Contact Progressions
  • Differences in Coaching Girls vs. Boys
  • Building Team Culture
  • Dealing with Talent Disparities in Practices
  • Offensive Attack Options
  • Selecting Coaching Staff
  • Systems Strategy
  • Off-Ice Training and Dryland Warm-up
  • Flow Drills for Full-Ice Practices
  • MOTIVATION – All Ages
  • Support
  • How to Best Utilize Half Ice
  • How to Coach Cross-Ice Systems
  • Defining the Needs of Your Team
  • Coaching Your Own Kid
  • Odd Man Rushes
  • Converting Drills to Half-Ice
  • Mental Toughness & Psychology of Coaching
  • Mentoring Coaches
  • Language & Terminology
  • How to Run ADM Practices
  • Skill Development vs. Positional Development
  • Defining Power Skating, Technical Skating, Conditioning
  • How to Organize a Station-Based Practice––Including Examples of Drills
  • How to Use Technology in Hockey Development
  • Tryout Process
  • Recommended Reading
  • Read & React in Hockey
  • Learning to Coach if You’ve Never Played
  • Checking Philosophy––Teaching Youngsters so they’re Prepared for Bantam
  • Is Winning the Ultimate Goal?

As you can see, there’s some AWESOME stuff here. Our curriculum before the survey was already great, but we’ll be able to make it even better with the feedback we received from you. Thank you!


PS – again, make sure you’re on our mailing list to receive more information about the clinics as it becomes available!

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