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Breaking down plays in the film room

by Steve Webb and Pat LaFontaine /

In this week's 'Making of a Royal' blog, head coach Pat LaFontaine and assistant coach Steve Webb discuss the importance of film study and review. Film breakdown sessions play a critical role on teaching today's young players. LaFontaine and Webb spend several hours breaking down plays from recent NHL games and recent Long Island Royal contests.

Steve Webb on film study:

There are a couple things I love taking out of film study.

A lot of athletes are visual learners but we just sit there and talk to them, wave our hands around and paint the picture as we're telling it. We [as coaches] understand what we see, but for the younger athletes, they don't understand all the little tendencies that happen on the ice with body language or the way guys turn, where the stick is. It's always nice when you can go out and have the best players in the world as an example for your athletes to observe. We go out there and collect all the highlights on and all the goals scored. We want to look at the positive side of the goals scored and also what happened on the other side of things.

If you're the fifth overall pick, and having a tough time or struggling with something, we want to see how they handle it. It's how you bounce back and build that really strong mindset. If you make a mistake, let it go and get ready for the next shift so you don't let it snowball or basically be a downward spiral. You can't let one mistake effect you. We want to make sure the kids know they're going to make mistakes and that's why there's actually goals scored in the NHL.

The fact that they do bounce back and you can bounce back too. Not everything is rosy out there and not everyone has the perfect path. Parents love to share with their kids that there's going to be ups and downs but it's how you handle adversity that pushes you beyond that, so you can come back and perform at your highest level. These are the things we love to teach these kids because we need them sharp for an upcoming tournament or game. We want to help build them back up and help develop them long term for the future.

Using the NHL players as examples through highlights is all a part of that process. To be able to share some positive affirmation of what they're really trying to accomplish really helps. It proves that even the best players in the world go through tough times.

LaFontaine on film study:

I like to mix it up [by using film sessions] because I remember going through video sessions too, and I like to point out some positive things we're doing because you want to reinforce the positive. Every time there is a goal, there's usually a breakdown and it's important to know that mistakes are going to happen but you have to be conscious of how these breakdowns occur and be able to adjust.

I stress that usually the team getting the most shots and most hits is usually the most intense. The team making the least amount of mistakes is winning 98 percent of the time. So, it all goes back to working on your weaknesses and how do you improve … this game is really made up of details. There are so many little details during the course of a game, and making smart decisions when things don't go your way or if there's a breakdown and mistake, is important.

Through video, we can see how those breakdowns start and occur. A goal isn't usually scored by just one breakdown; only sometimes that's the case. But nine times out of 10, there are usually one to three breakdowns and then a goal. Life is about making mistakes and learning from those mistakes, but it's the teams who correct those mistakes and work on the solutions to get better on a consistent basis who usually have success.
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