Coach Nielsen's Ice Hockey Drills

Keeping Statistics Yes or No

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Many coaches ask me if it’s a good idea to keep player stats. MY response in typically, at the older levels, absolutely. At the younger levels,(12 and under) maybe not. I believe that by the time a player hits the age of 13 he should understand the meaning of statistics and how useful they can be.

I keep track of as many useful stats as I can without overburdening my coaches or players. I like to track


For the goalies I like to track


I ask my backup goaltender to track statistics for the game so that he isn’t just sitting around doing nothing. I track the Plus/Minus myself to be sure we get that right. I will ask the coaches to monitor things like turnovers and hits. I also like to know where the turnovers are happening. All this information can really help during a game. For instance, wouldn’t it be nice to know which center is winning the most face-offs so if there is a big face-off to be won you have the right guy on the ice? Many times late in a game I will have two centers on the ice in case one gets tossed from the circle.

Plus/Minus is a huge help in knowing who is allowing the most goals. Now, I understand that Plus/Minus can be a misleading stat at times, but over the course of a long season it really starts to paint a picture of who the better defensive players on the team really are.

Goal Location is another that I like to track closely. Most coaches know that the major majority of goals are scored within 10 feet of the net, but if you track the location of the goals you can see if there is anywhere else that you need to cover more closely. Two seasons ago I found that a significant number of goals were being scored from the top of the left circle against one goalie and not the other. I called in a goalie coach and he found a hole in the goaltenders style above his glove that we were able to work on and improve the problem.

Nothing beats good old gut instincts when you are on the bench, but having hard facts in front of you can really help. I know between every period when I speak with the team I let them know how we are doing in the face-off battle and where the shots are coming from our opponent. It gives the players a quick insight to in-game situations that you may not speak to them about without stats.

My verdict is to keep stats and make good use of them.

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